About mailing lists & stuff

I would like to take a few minutes to go over mailing list compliance tips and how mailing lists are valuable resources to authors. I’ve received questions asking why I do not provide a total list of all the readers who sign up for my giveaways so that all the authors can put them on their mailings lists. The straight answer is that I can’t do that because of things like the CAN-SPAM Act found HERE.
Readers need to opt-in to your list. If you are adding emails manually to your list, you are dancing with trouble.

Many of you have been around long enough to know how to manage your email list without getting into hot water. We also have a great bunch of new authors who may not be up to speed on how it all works and how your mailing list is a powerful tool for your career. This post is aimed at those who are just starting out so that (hopefully) you can build a quality list without having to experience the stumbling blocks lots of us have already been through.

Ideally, you want your list to be full of readers eager to read your next book. The best way to encourage sign ups organically is to put a link to your mailing list in the back matter of your books, include it on your website and all your social media accounts. Make it super easy for readers to find. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to find a list sign up for an author and simply gave up because it was just not accessible. Check out my website, and you will see that my mailing list sign up is in the upper right hand corner along with my ARC sign up; it is also listed in the menu bar for even easier access. (See HERE for example.) On my FB Fan Page, I use the “sign up” button which is right at the top of the page. (See MY FB PAGE HERE for example.) The point is that you need to make is super easy for readers to find information; the more clicks a reader has to make, the more likely the reader is to give up. **As an aside, that goes for links to buying your books on your website as well. Make your book covers clickable straight to Amazon, or make a landing page with all your retailers. (example: EB Brown landing page)**

Back to lists. As I said above, readers need to opt-in to your list. This means they need to sign up voluntariliy. If you are purchasing mailing lists or manually adding to your lists, you can end up in big trouble with your mailing list service, including having your account shut down until you can PROVE that all those people opted-in to your list. Can you see where I’m going with this? If you’ve manually imported emails to your list, how exactly will you prove they signed up? You can’t. That’s why all the major list services provide opt-in confirmation prompts.

So you’re new and you want your mailing list to be huge RIGHT NOW. Well, I say hold your horses. This is one of those things where it is not the just quantity that counts – quality of your list should be an equal consideration. Your list ideally will be filled with people who want your books. Signs of a good performing list are many: high open & click rates, minimal unsubscribes, and no spam reports. Many successful authors go through and prune non-performing emails in their lists on a regular basis. You really do not want people to sign up if they aren’t interested in your books. That leads to unsubs and spam reports, and it’s a big waste of your time. Cultivate your list carefully and soon you will be able to estimate how many books you can sell on a release day, or how many readers will share your posts, or how many on your ARC list will write a review. When you know your readers, you can start to plan your career rather than throw everything out and hope something sticks.

So how does the mailing list promotion come into play? Well, I started doing mailing list promotions because I participated in one that was successful. It was full of authors I knew were popular in my genre, who I knew had fabulous fan bases. I ended up with new list members (who stuck around!) and ended up selling books and moving lots of copies of my freebie. What confirmed to me that it worked was the sell-through — I not only moved a bunch of freebies, but the rest of the books in that series sold as well. I took note of the way the promo was managed and I made a few changes, and that’s how I came up with the method I use. It’s actually funny that I ended up doing this, because I’m not a fan of inorganic methods of attracting sign-ups.

I hope that all makes sense. Any questions, ask away.

A few other links to check out:
10 Email marketing spam laws you need to know

Examples of compliant & non-compliant lists

Guidelines for List Compliance