It's received wisdom in the world of self-publishing that authors should strive to develop email lists of readers interested in their writing. Author design consultant and ALLi partner member Aimee Coveney describes the mechanics of a simple, affordable way to do so: setting up free ebook giveaways to attract signings, using a winning combination of MailChimp and Bookfunnel.
While you may not have the intention of sending newsletters on a weekly or even monthly basis, when you have a new book available, what easier way is there to share the news with your existing audience? It's therefore well worth going to the trouble of attracting new subscribers to your mailing list.
Yet with many people tiring of overflowing inboxes, it’s becoming more difficult to tempt readers to sign up to author newsletters. Promising free books or sample chapters on sign-up, via your website or social media, is by far the best and cheapest option to get them to subscribe.
Whilst researching options for a recent website design client, I soon became aware of why so many authors rarely get off the starting blocks with this style of promotion: it can appear a very daunting process, with so many options for both newsletters and file hosting.
Simple Solution: #1 MailChimp
Mailchimp, which seems to be amongst the most popular newsletter providers, offers an excellent and easy-to-use system. It allows you to create sign-up forms in several different formats, including some which embed easily within your website or blog. It also provides a simple link for use on social media etc. All you need to do is sign up for the free account, create your mailing list(s) and customise your settings. Mailchimp is very user-friendly and is a fairly step-by-step process.
What's not so easy is using MailChimp to send an automated message with your book’s file, especially if you want to offer the reader a choice of ebook format. Sending new subscribers a generalised format, such as PDF, has limited value, as it makes reading the file more difficult. Every reader has their own preferred reading device or app, and it is helpful and courteous to offer your free book in their favoured format.
Simple Solution #2: Bookfunnel
By using a second service, Bookfunnel, in combination with MailChimp, you can offer electronic books in several different formats.
Bookfunnel is a great concept. For as little as $20 a year, you can upload and share up to 500 copies of your books per month – ideal for those starting out or even longer term. The website is also easy to use, allowing you to simply upload the file copies of your books in several different formats. Bookfunnel then generates the books as downloadable files, providing readers with the format options they need via a simple link. This link can then be placed in the ‘thank you’ message of your newsletter sign up, providing your readers with the book instantly in their preferred format, without the need for expensive software.
You're able to use Bookfunnel in combination with the free Mailchimp account, so it's ideal for authors who simply want to test the waters.
As your mailing list builds, you have the option to upgrade, but you will probably will find the free version adequate to start with. And if you reach the point of demand outstripping the limits of the free version, your book sales will by then most likely cover the cost of the upgrade – problem solved!How to use @Mailchimp and #Bookfunnel to build your #author mailing list - by @authordesigner Click To Tweet
OVER TO YOU Do you have any tips to add to Aimee's instructions? Do you have an alternative solution to share? We'd love to know!