Book of the Year for Authors: Newsletter Ninja

I’ve been self-publishing for seven years. That’s quite a long period to be screwing up almost the entire time, but I managed it! My whole approach to email was backwards. I did all the don’ts, ignored all the warnings, missed out on so many opportunities to build myself a happy and engaged audience of readers that it causes me literal pain when I think about it. I don’t say this to elicit sympathy. Rather, I hope that my long experience of doing exactly the wrong things can act as a deterrent—a giant sign made of bones spelling out “Here Be Wolves.”

What did I do exactly? I only emailed people when I had a new release. I thought I was being considerate and not clogging up everyone’s inboxes when, in reality, I was only turning up at their door when I wanted something: their money. This was compounded by my slow production speed, particularly with those painstakingly researched historical novels I seem to enjoy writing for some reason. That problem was further exacerbated by working in more than one genre, so the books came out even slower and the emails were even less frequent. Clearly, I felt I wasn’t antagonizing my most loyal readers enough with this set-up, so I decided to have one Frankenlist—my fiction and non-fiction peeps all lumped together—neatly ensuring that everyone really wouldn’t care about at least 50% of the (increasingly infrequent) messages I was sending out. Read More…

7 Expert Tricks To Improve Your Author Newsletter

Authors these days are getting great at offering enticements to sign up – commonly known as magnets or bribes or sign-up bonuses – and also at deploying automated sequences to further warm-up new subscribers. But sometimes we can be a little… overeager.

Your first priority should be to keep the promise that you made to the reader, which means ensuring the subscription happens smoothly and they get their free ebook.

If you overload the first emails the subscriber receives, you might get dropped into Promotions or *gasp* Spam. If you’re lucky the subscriber will email you complaining they didn’t get their gift. If you’re lucky. Most probably won’t even bother complaining which means you’ve just lost a sign-up. Read More…

9 Ways To Unleash The Power of Free In 2021

Authors are giving away more stuff than ever before: permafree books, reader magnets, and ARCs are just the tip of the iceberg. What’s going on? Should you jump on the free train? Does any of this stuff generate money? Let’s break it down.

The self-publishing landscape today looks very different from when I started ten years ago, that heady time when ebooks first exploded in popularity.

But some things are suddenly feeling quite similar. The impact of the pandemic and lockdowns has seen a lot of economic change occur in a short space of time. With an increase in online purchasing for painfully obvious reasons.

That also means there are lots of new ebook consumers up for grabs. Read More…

Strangers to Superfans Resources

Welcome to the Resources page for Strangers to Superfans. All the links, books, tools, products, services, and other resources mentioned throughout the book are listed below, along with a bunch more stuff I thought you would find useful – roughly following the same structure as the book itself. However, it is definitely not a substitute for actually reading Strangers to Superfans so if you somehow stumbled upon this private page for book purchasers, please purchase your own copy here. Your Ideal Reader The concept of the Ideal Reader comes from Stephen King’s excellent book On Writing – part memoir, part writer’s guide, I highly recommend whether you are a fan of his fiction or not. There was a throwaway remark Read More…

How To Market A Book | 2020 Edition

Figuring out how to sell books in 2020 means facing a pair of imposing challenges : the multiplying complexity of book marketing and — speaking of things rising exponentially — the global pandemic, which has led to lockdowns, recessions, as well as no small amount of tragedy.

And I want to focus on that second challenge for a moment — before we dive into all the ways that you can get your books into readers’ hands — because there is something rather different about this year.

Writers are generally quite fortunate in that they can work from home and sell books online and, for the moment at least, the digital side of the publishing business looks less exposed than the physical end.

Indeed, retailers and distributors are reporting a boost in ebook sales, and freebies in particular seem especially popular. Anecdotal reports concur, and also seem to confirm that there has been a surge in new entrants to the ebook market — which makes sense when people are stuck at home or less inclined to go browsing in meatspace, for painfully obvious reasons. Read More…

Amazon Decoded • Book Marketing Resources

Hi there! Here are all the resources mentioned in Amazon Decoded, and a few extra ones! Oh and if you somehow stumbled on this private page for purchasers of Amazon Decoded, I recommend picking up a copy. Really, you will be missing all the good stuff if you just try and crib from this page, and will probably end up doing everything ass-backwards. It’s less than five dollars, and it’s just nugget after nugget for anyone wanting to increase their Amazon sales. Get your purchase links here. Knowing who you are writing for and what appeals to them is critical to success. Ensuring that you have a solid conception of your Ideal Reader and that your presentation and packaging is Read More…

What The Big Tech Hearings Mean For Indie Authors

The CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple were grilled on Capitol Hill yesterday, stepping up the anti-trust chatter that has been percolating over the last few years. While some of you might be tempted to reflexively dismiss these hearings as political theater, many commentators seem to agree that this time feels different.

Political sands have shifted. Public sentiment towards tech companies has soured — companies who were once almost universally loved. Well, at least in the case of three of them; Amazon always attracted some measure of criticism, I guess, probably given the particular companies it disrupted.

Indie authors, in particular, perked up at the news of these hearings, given that three of those places are where we sell most of our books, and the fourth is what many of us predominantly use to drive sales of those books.

Whatever your feeling on these individual companies, their effects on society, or the forces driving these hearings, the mere prospect of anti-trust actions creates uncertainty in business terms, at a time when we already have a significant amount of it. Which makes this an excellent time to examine how well your author business is future-proofed, given the average indie author’s dependency on this set of companies currently in the anti-trust spotlight. Read More…

Starting From Zero • Resources Page

Hello! These are all the course resources I mentioned in Starting From Zero. And if you stumbled onto this page without enrolling in my free course, Starting from Zero, you can do that right here. Free Course Books You have download links in the course materials, and you should also get an email a couple of days after enrolling, with those download links as well. But just in case you miss those, here they are again. Download Let’s Get Digital here. Download Following here. Let’s Get Digital is freely available from all retailers and you’ll get the links you need above, but Following is a mailing list/course exclusive, and you can only get it from BookFunnel. Click the NEED HELP? Read More…

Following – Resources

Here are all the wonderful platform building resources I recommended in Following (affiliate links throughout). Before we get into the nitty gritty, this podcast I did with Diana Wink at Story Artist on the topic of author platforms is probably the best one I’ve done on the topic, and gets into some things I only touched on in Following too like blogging and SEO and topic recycling, as well as newsletters, Facebook Pages, and websites. Diana did a great job in editing down our conversation into something logical and digestible: And if you need a quick refresher on author platform basics, here’s a quick guide I did on my YouTube channel: Note: As I said in Following, many of the Read More…

Email Marketing: Your Secret Weapon

There is no question that email marketing is the most powerful tool at your disposal; not taking advantage of all the unique benefits of email marketing is really missing a trick. Here’s why.

I’m sure all of you know the power of having thousands of committed readers signed up to your mailing list, allowing you to send each new release into the charts. Even if you’re not there yet personally, this should be something you are aiming for. Every single author should have a mailing list and be seeking to actively grow it.

But before we fly through the basics and delve into more advanced topics, let’s be clear about something: email marketing is not about spam. It’s not about fake intimacy. It’s not about posing BS questions to create false engagement. And it’s not about bait-and-switches, contrived urgency, click-baiting subject lines, or other emotional tricks; that’s what cheesy internet marketers do. Read More…

Moving from Mailchimp to MailerLite: A Guide

Mailchimp made some major changes recently which were received very negatively – causing many users to flee into the arms of alternatives like MailerLite.

I moved to MailerLite myself last month and have been very happy with the change but there are a few things you need to watch out for, whether you have multiple, big lists with lots of automations, or are still growing on the free plans. This post should guide you through all the issues.

First we run over the differences between Mailchimp and MailerLite – things like free plans, pricing, features, and integrations, and which of those differences really matter. Next we look at the steps involved in physically moving your list across to MailerLite. This is actually the easiest part of the whole process, but there are important things to look out for. With that taken care of, we move on to more advanced topics like switching over your automations, what to do about those pesky website forms and sign-up links, and also how to sweep up any stray Mailchimp forms out there in the wild so you don’t have precious reader sign-ups going to the wrong place. That last part can be tricky. Read More…

Time To Ditch Mailchimp?

Mailchimp attracted extreme criticism this week when it became clear how its new marketing services would impact its core email offering — particularly in terms of pricing — leading many long-time users to start explore alternatives (including this one).

I have been a loyal and happy Mailchimp customer for over eight years. I have also recommended Mailchimp to thousands of other authors. There have always been cheaper services, or those with more bells-and-whistles when it comes to advanced automation options and the like, but — for me at least — Mailchimp was always the perfect combination of price, user friendliness, and reliability.

Until yesterday. Read More…

How To Build An Author Platform

What is an author platform? Which elements should it contain? And is any of this stuff more important than just writing another book? Perhaps not. But certain aspects of an author platform are important tools for reaching readers and, especially, for holding on to them.

The topic can be confusing as everyone seems to be mean something different by the term. And then this problem is compounded by a lot of terrible advice proliferating, quite frankly. Number-chasing nonsense which doesn’t serve anyone.

Even the term “platform” seems to be quite nebulous and elastic — fertile ground for snake-oil salesmen. Let’s nail that down first: Read More…

BookBub Ads Expert – Resources

Welcome to the bonus resources page for purchasers of BookBub Ads Expert. If you haven’t yet purchased your own copy, well, congratulations on getting past security – pick up your copy of BookBub Ads Expert here. (You’ll need it!) For everyone else, we’ve got a gallery of winning images, followed by a step-by-step guide to ad creation – with some handy screenshots, I’ve got some up-to-the-minute information on the Also Bought situation at Amazon – with some useful workarounds for those affected, tons of detailed optimization advice – with some talk through my own process, links to a bunch more tools and resources – including some great case studies, a place where you can ask questions and get help, and Read More…