One of the hottest topics in book promotion right now is the use of strategic Facebook advertising to build your author mailing list. While this has proven a hugely successful technique for some self-published authors, such as Mark Dawson, whose highly-regarded course helps other authors emulate his success, it's by no means a one-size-fits-all solution.
Facebook Ads Are No Gold-Rush
Many authors are disappointed when it doesn't work for them, but it's not suitable for all books or authors, as Mark's first to admit, for various reasons:
- Some books are not sufficiently mainstream or genre-specific to engage readers on Facebook
- Some authors can't or don't want to invest the time required to make it work effectively (it's a methodical, slow-burn technique)
- Many do not have the design or analytical skills to constantly refine the ad till it reaches the necessary sweet spot
- Many do not have the seedcorn budget required to launch a venture that is basically “sprat to catch a mackerel”, even if it does promise the potential to land giant whales
These are all valid reasons, and no-one should feel under pressure to take this route. (The same goes for any other marketing activity.) After all, there are plenty of alternatives, and if you can find other routes that you can afford and enjoy, far better to run with those instead.
Non-Facebook Ways to Build Your Author Mailing List
Over on the ALLi Facebook forum (a members-only Facebook group), New York Times bestselling novelist Diane Capri recently shared a handy checklist of tried-and-trusted tactics that have worked for her, and she's kindly allowed us to share them below:
- I moved my offer to sign up to the very front of my books. You'll find it right on the title page. I repeat the invitation at the end of the book as well.
- I do give away a free novella in exchange for sign up, and I've done that for more than five years.
- I remind my social media accounts to sign up from time to time.
- I have the offer prominently displayed on my website, on every page, in the sidebar.
- I also have a pop-up on my website to remind people to sign up before they go.
- I get involved in cross promotion with other authors in my genres and genres that are close to mine that are likely to have crossover readers. We always collect email addresses and share them with the participating authors. (To clarify: .I don't share my own email lists, and I don't recommend anyone do that. My lists are private and I never share. What I meant was that when I do a contest with other authors, we tell the contestants up front that entering the contest means they will be entered on all the authors' lists. Then those emails belong to the authors involved, who can then use the names on their own lists or not.)
- I've done several multi-author box sets to encourage crossover readers, and I include sign up invitations in those as well.
- I run BookBub ads as often as I can, and that results in a lot of downloads and an increase in subscribers every time.
- I participate in selective giveaways and contests that collect email addresses from readers of my genre and likely crossover genres.
- Every time I send something out to my list I add a PS at the bottom asking them to share the email with their friends who might be interested in my work.
“In general, I do whatever seems reasonable that is targeted to improving and increasing my mailing list,” says Diane. ” I find that all of these techniques are easier, cheaper and very often faster than Facebook advertising for me.
“I do want to make clear that I think Facebook ads for signups are a good thing, and I have done them in the past. It's just that at this point, I'd rather use my Facebook ad budget for sales ads and use these other methods for building my mailing list.”
OVER TO YOU Do you have any tips to add to Diane Capri's checklist? Would you like to share your experience of Facebook ads to build your mailing list? We'd love to hear from you!
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