I recently read a very interesting blog over at Lindsay Buroker’s excellent website. Lindsay talked about how important it was to cultivate a fan base, a following, a group of happy readers who love your work and can’t wait to devour more of your words. It was suggested that if you can cultivate around 10,000 fans, you can be pretty comfortable whether the market for ebooks crashes or Amazon changes its algorithms to make finding your titles even harder. This is a very obvious concept when it’s clearly pointed out, but I hadn’t given it much thought before. Build a thriving fan base, and you can be pretty much assured that you’ll have ‘X’ number of buyers and readers when any new work comes out.
Lindsay’s post made me realise the importance of creating a mailing list from the word go. It doesn’t mean more workload, and you certainly don’t have to be producing a newsletter every month. However, it does offer you a direct link to those who have read your work and are more than happy to know about milestone news. By milestone news I mean the launch of a new title, a public book reading that you may be doing, or perhaps an exciting competition you’re running. It’s important here not to overdo your contact with fans and bombard people with every new blog post and piece of information that you can possible think off – that’s one sure way of having people un-subscribe.
Creating a mailing list is VERY simple, and even Hotmail offers the ability to create categories of people who you can send mail to. Each time a reader wants to be added to the mailing list I simply add them under a contact name of ‘Inside Evil Updates’ and add them to the appropriate category. Then, when the time comes, simply send a group notice to subscribers using the BCC mailing address (this avoids you sending out the contact emails of EVERYONE on your mailing list to each other) and hey presto, job done.
But, how do you get subscribers?
- Put a note in the back of your books. At the end of your books, simply tell readers that if they send you an email at ‘X’ address with ‘Y’ in the subject line, they can be added to a mailing list for important author events.
- Put a note on your website. If people are visiting your website, then there’s a good chance that they may have read, or be about to read, your books. Offer them an obvious chance to stay in the loop.
- Flatly and out-rightly ask people. I’ve had a couple of emails from readers already and in my response, have ASKED them if they’d like to be put on the mailing list. NEVER just assume the best and add people, because this could put a black mark next to your name when emails start arriving in their inbox.
It’s now my belief that from the moment you finish your book, you should be looking to create that vital fan base. Nurture them, talk to them, help them grow. Writing is a pleasure, and having readers respond positively to your work is a complete wonder. And, though I’ve only just started out, my mailing list is already growing, offering the promise of readers when my next novel hits the virtual shelves.