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Writer Wednesday: Marketing Tools Redux

Good morning authors and welcome to another #writerwednesday, where we talk shop, industry news, and more. While there is always something happening in the industry, I thought today, I'd take a pause and revisit the always fun topic of marketing. Whether you are a debut author or publishing veteran, traditionally published with the big five or shooting your shot in the indie realm with a small press or self publishing, marketing is our herculean task. A veritable hydra of pitfalls, marketing is the beast of a thousand heads, and I wish I could say it gets easier with time and experience, but like the industry, marketing fluctuates with trends and the rise and fall of apps and services. So today we are going to touch on a few tools that are relatively common knowledge and ways to build on them.

Marketing Tools Redux

As stated above, Marketing is a hydra and I could (and have in the past) featured multiple posts on the topic. From time to time, I do like to revisit topics and prod further into them to give authors a deeper grasp of how and why a tool works and can be used for their purposes. So today let's poke more at:

The Newsletter

Ah, the newsletter. Whether you consider the newsletter the end all, be all for delivering announcements to your readers or the bane of your existence, there is a lot of evidence to support that newsletters are useful. But they can also be tricky to sustain and grow. Hosting sites like mailerlite and mailchimp offer free services until you hit a certain subscriber count, but how do you build a sustainable subscriber base that will translate into sales? Building up a newsletter base can be a bit of trial and error. Building subscribers organically can be slow and steady, while utilizing newsletter builders have their own set of risks.

Builders- What is a builder? Exactly what it sounds like; usually an author or group that runs giveaways where readers can enter to win a prize, and entries take the form of newsletter sign ups or following the authors on various platforms. Some builders are tailored to specific genres or popular author brands like Leigh Bardugo, which help both the readers find new authors in genres they enjoy, and the signed up authors build an audience of readers likely to enjoy their books. However, builders do come with risks. If an author chooses poorly, they could face a high, rapid unsubscribe count with their first newsletter. Some host sites like Mailchimp will punish you if this happens by banning your account. Do the research. Ask around. In general, authors are fairly willing to share marketing tactics and services they use. Sites like StoryOrigin and BookFunnel both have fairly safe newsletter building tools that utilize Reader Magnets, or a second option is finding a promotional group which often have low cost buy ins to directly include your newsletter sign up.

Reader Magnets- This is another term that gets tossed around a lot but if you don't know what it is and why it's useful, it's a bit of a head scratcher. A Reader Magnet is a freebie, an offering from the author to the potential reader to give them a taste of their work. Under that umbrella, what is on offer can vary wildly, from full length free novels to short stories and every manner of word count in between. If you are writing a series, having your magnet tie directly into your series can be incredibly effective. I've seen authors offer everything from prequel novellas to the first book in the series as their magnet and really, it is important to do what is not only effective but what you the author are comfortable offering to your audience. Offering a short story over a full length novel does not mean the offer is less appealing. Plenty of popular authors have short stories featuring the characters of their series and readers love seeing these characters in new situations. Sites like BookFunnel, BookCave, and StoryOrigin often use Reader Magnets to create group promos for authors to organically build a steady audience.

Content- As we all know, content is king, and newsletters are no exception. It might not be easy to come up with new content every month and maybe you don't have to. The frequency of a newsletter varies from author to author and some choose not to send one unless they have something to say, and that is okay. Some obvious choices for newsletter content are sales, awards, events you'll be attending, and updates on what is coming next and when. But beyond that, what entices a reader to keep opening a newsletter every month? Injecting a bit of personality into your newsletter, whether it's sharing drink recipes or memes that made you laugh, is a small and non invasive way to share a piece of yourself with the audience and help your newsletter stand out.

It might take some time to nail what sort of content works best in retaining an audience, but the key is to keep at it until you find what works best for you. And really, that strategy works best in many marketing situations.

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