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Discussion Starter #1
I felt I needed to separate this small part of my ongoing promo thread, because this is a vitally important part of publishing. While the size of your mailing list is important, the quality of those subscribers and your interaction with them is far more important. You don't need a megalist to have a good launch. Last fall, I released Fallen Mangrove with a mailing list of exactly 300 readers. It cracked the top 1000 within 24 hours.

Fallen King went live in the Kindle Store at 4:42 pm Eastern time. At 5:55, I emailed the 738 people on my mailing list with a very short email, announcing the release. At 11:46 pm, Fallen King debuted in the ranks at #1,668. Now, at 9:00 am, only 16 hours after it went live on Amazon, Fallen King is ranked:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #475 Paid in Kindle Store
    #1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Sea Stories
    #1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Sea Adventures
    #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Sea Adventures
    #6 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Travel
    #11 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thriller
    #30 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure

That, with only 738 subscribers, an open rate of 62% and a click rate of 43%. These are motivated readers. Readers that I've engaged with at least once a month. Twice a month just before a launch. I get emails from readers by the hundreds every month and reply to every single one. Not with a simple, "Thanks for reading" either. Engaging means getting to know them, having a dialogue. With most of the emails I get from readers, we go back and forth getting to know each other through several emails. A lot are now friends and advisers. Having volunteer advisers in certain specialties is very important and I recognize these folks for their contribution in the Foreword of my books. It's been less than a year since I started my mailing list and only six months that I've included signups in the back of my books, immediately after "The End".

Fallen King has sold 307 copies with 19 borrows in 16 hours, nearly all of them through my mailing list. But, now that it's on a lot of genre first pages, it'll continue selling well.

So, if you haven't started one, you need to get going. Today! Right now! Get off KBoards and set up a MailChimp account. It's not that hard. If an old trucker can do it, you can.
 
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Wayne, well done again. :)

My mailing list isn't very large, but it did give me a kick when I launched. however, not having had to push my books at all in the past I rather dropped the ball this time and didn't have any follow through. My mistake. I will work harder from now on.

I had an open rate of 56.49% and sales on launch of 89 downloads. I hadn't really considered the importance of that figure until now.

This year is the year for my website and mailing list. Next year I won't be sitting waiting for sales.

I enjoy your books, keep writing.
 

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Wayne Stinnett said:
Fallen King has sold 307 copies with 19 borrows in 16 hours, nearly all of them through my mailing list.
How do you know theses sales came from your mailing list?
 

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Hey Wayne:
When you say that you interact, do you do anything after the MC notification pops into your inbox or do you just reply to their correspondence?

I leave my list alone and only reply to emails for the interaction b/c I don't want to take the risk of being spammy with the list- restricting its use for new releases and promos. Is that congruent with your method?
 

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I just went to Amazon and picked it up.  Just now saw the email.  Wayne on your next release,  do not mention it here just send out the newsletter.    That is the only way to make sure it is your mailing list only.
 

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I just created a mailing list in January and then re-formatted my ebooks to include the link. I've had five readers join it so far. I should have started the list four years ago, but I was lazy. This year I promised (ordered) myself I'd start acting like an author.  ;D
 

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This thread reminded me I had yet to set one up..! Was wondering if it was too early as I won't be publishing until April at the earliest, why would anyone sign up? But what the heck, I've tossed it up on my site anyway. Already got five subscribers!! (Well.... four, the fifth is me...)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Chris Fox said:
This is very encouraging to see, Wayne. My mailing list is small, but highly engaged and I've already seen the positive effect it can have. I'm really hoping it helps catapult the release of my next novel in April.
The link in the email is the affiliate link from my website. The Amazon Associates page shows that I had 147 sales from that link yesterday. Total opens as of midnight last night was 142. I credit 4 of the remaining five sales to my friend Michael Reisig's email to his mailing list. The single unknown was possibly one of my subscribers who emailed me to say he'd just bought it before the email was sent.

Desmond X. Torres said:
Hey Wayne:
When you say that you interact, do you do anything after the MC notification pops into your inbox or do you just reply to their correspondence?

I leave my list alone and only reply to emails for the interaction b/c I don't want to take the risk of being spammy with the list- restricting its use for new releases and promos. Is that congruent with your method?
The call to action tells prospective subscribers that updates will come monthly and that their information will never be shared in any way. I send an update email on what I'm working on, to the whole list once a month on or about the first and the first sentence is always to thank the new subscribers and remind them again that their information is safe. The only information I ask for in the CTA is their email address. Sometimes I'll ask a question or request help in naming a character or boat or something. My readers seem to love that and I get far more replies doing that. I'll have a contest sometimes in that monthly newsletter, with the prize being a signed paperback. In any month that I have a new release, there will be two emails, one on the first and another on release day, the one on the first being a heads up of the pending release. Aside from those, it's one to one emails, initiated by the subscriber. Not responding to a reader's email, even just to say thanks when they email saying they bought it, would be rude and could alienate them. In nearly a year, I've had only 6 people unsubscribe, usually immediately after an update email. That's less than 1% and I'm good with that. Those are disengaged readers, who may or may not buy the book when released. I would prefer to lose a tiny few to have only engaged readers who will be ready and buy the book at the 24 hour reduced price the day it's launched.

Fallen King is now ranked at #451. DON'T BURN THE BOOKS!! :eek: Some of the older folks on here will get that.
 

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But here's my question:

How do you get subscribers, thus a good mailing list, thus a good launch when your first novel isn't finished yet?
How do you entice people to get on that mailing list when they don't have your first book to go off of for whether they want more from you?
How do you fill the list when you are new?
 

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I have eight subscribers, and I know all of them personally. It seems to me that the mailing list is the most important marketing tool we have, but it's the one that requires the most patience to build. It's something that takes a lot of time, especially for new authors or authors who publish infrequently. Unfortunately, we all want the magic or secret to a suddenly large list. The only way to get that list is through time. And, as Wayne says, it's not necessarily about list size, but about quality of subscribers. It's something we preach to our clients at work. Same goes for social media. Quantity of likers and followers is more important that  volume.
 

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Arshness said:
But here's my question:

How do you get subscribers, thus a good mailing list, thus a good launch when your first novel isn't finished yet?
How do you entice people to get on that mailing list when they don't have your first book to go off of for whether they want more from you?
How do you fill the list when you are new?
Maybe set up a blog and review other books in your genre? I think you have to offer content they are interested in, or they have no reason to trust you with their email address.

The thing is that time could be spent finishing your novel, and that more than anything else will get you subscribers.
 

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Arshness said:
But here's my question:

How do you get subscribers, thus a good mailing list, thus a good launch when your first novel isn't finished yet?
How do you entice people to get on that mailing list when they don't have your first book to go off of for whether they want more from you?
How do you fill the list when you are new?
Mailing lists are a chicken and egg dilemma. But like a career in writing, it's not a get rich quick tool. The mailing list is a very powerful long term tool to develop in your publishing arsenal. It's also a tool that needs to be constantly maintained. If you release four or five books and get a thousand signups but then go eighteen months before another release or update, you will find yourself nearly back to square one. The list will deteriorate.

Starting a mailing list when you don't have any books or just have a couple that you already released can be simple. Blogs, twitter, and FB offer quick and easy venues to reach potential customers. Mailchimp even has a Facebook plugin to catch signups. Offering free give-aways or contests for signups is another way to kickstart your mailing list. People don't seem to hesitate to make their books perma free or run huge free promos yet never think to capture an email signup.

There is a thread about culling your mailing list as well that deserves a read. It has a lot of information about how mailing services work that you might not be aware of as well as the demographics of the types of people who sign-up.
 

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Arshness said:
But here's my question:

How do you get subscribers, thus a good mailing list, thus a good launch when your first novel isn't finished yet?
How do you entice people to get on that mailing list when they don't have your first book to go off of for whether they want more from you?
How do you fill the list when you are new?
At a certain point, authors like us (me with just one book out and you working on your first) have to set some of what we learn here aside a little bit and know it isn't going to apply in quite the same way until we have a few books out. That isn't to say don't start a mailing list - but with your first book, you probably aren't going to have a mailing list that helps launch your book to #1 in a subcategory :).

I think the thing to do is set up your author website with a mailing list and start blogging. I think I read in Tim Grahl's book about building a platform that writing is like an adventure, and you can share that adventure you're on with your potential audience. Obviously some things are more interesting to other writers, but you can post updates on your progress, announce when you hit certain milestones, talk about your process with designing the cover or working with an artist, etc. Basically, pretend there's people who are interested (lol) and keep them updated on what's going on. You can also use it as a platform to plug other books, give recommendations, and even reviews. I don't have time to start reviewing books, but I do plug other books once in a while. At first you may only get a few sign ups, but you're laying the groundwork.

When you publish your first book, you can include a link in the back of the ebook directly to your sign up page and hopefully you'll start to get a trickle of new sign ups. List building commences!

Then with your second book, you might have a small list to release to. Book three... bigger list. Book four... and so on. That's the idea, anyway. :)
 

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Wayne Stinnett said:
The link in the email is the affiliate link from my website. The Amazon Associates page shows that I had 147 sales from that link yesterday.
I thought using Amazon Affiliate links in email/newsletters was against their TOS. Or is this something else?
 

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Arshness said:
But here's my question:

How do you get subscribers, thus a good mailing list, thus a good launch when your first novel isn't finished yet?
How do you entice people to get on that mailing list when they don't have your first book to go off of for whether they want more from you?
How do you fill the list when you are new?
I'd say don't expect to, not before you have anything out. Put a sign up form on your website, sure, and you'll probably get a few sign ups if you put content up on a regular basis. Just don't worry too much about it at this stage, as of course it'll be tricky to drive anyone to it when you have no work out.

I'd say any you get before you have anything out is a wonderful surprise bonus! After you have work out, it should become a little easier.

Also, think of something you can add to entice them to enter their email. I'm giving away a free short book. Can you offer something like that now, or down the line?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Arshness said:
But here's my question:

How do you get subscribers, thus a good mailing list, thus a good launch when your first novel isn't finished yet?
How do you entice people to get on that mailing list when they don't have your first book to go off of for whether they want more from you?
How do you fill the list when you are new?
As others have said, it's a work in progress from day one. I started my mailing list after publishing my second book and it's grown slowly over the last ten months. The biggest boost was when I did a BookBub Free Promo on 12/31 and got over 50K downloads. Since then, I've averaged 6 new subscribers per day.

As with every aspect of writing, you're in an ultra-marathon. Shortcuts don't help in the long run. The absolute best subscribers are those that see the sign up after the words, "The End" and having enjoyed your work so much they want to know when the next one will be.

SevenDays said:
I thought using Amazon Affiliate links in email/newsletters was against their TOS. Or is this something else?
Yes, they frown on using affiliate codes outside of the website, so a redirect from the email to the website, to the Amazon page is how you do it. Otherwise, businesses like BookBub wouldn't be in business. Their main income isn't generated by the cost to the author for the ad, but by the affiliate links in the email. Open a BookBub email and hover over any link. At the bottom of the screen you should see the redirect "outbound" URL. In today's BookBub ad I expect to sell more than a thousand copies. BookBub will get a 7% commission, or $.07 per sale, plus 7% of anything else the buyer buys. The other day, a buyer bought one of my books from an affiliate link on my website and then bought a Gibson electric guitar for $500. That one click netted me over $30.
 

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Wayne Stinnett said:
The link in the email is the affiliate link from my website. The Amazon Associates page shows that I had 147 sales from that link yesterday.
Very clever! Thanks.
 

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Thanks for the clever affiliate linking tip Wayne!! :)
 
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