Writers who have been in the promotion trenches for a long time have a lot to teach business owners who are thinking about using email or email newsletters to promote their product and/or their businesses.
I reached this conclusion as I reread articles from last winter's Authors Guild Bulletin. You see, we're in the 4Q of the year so it's time to start clearing out the clutter of accumulated magazines and newsletters that still arrive in my mail box. Don't get me wrong. I like these hard copies because I can read them at my leisure instead of on the computer monitor. I like to stack them on the bedside table for reading in bed.
Of course, I hang onto them for most of the year too. I like to refer back to them and again read the particularly good articles. The subject of one such article is what I want to talk about today.
If you're an author, or you're in business, chances are you either publish an electronic newsletter, or you're thinking about publishing one because the buzz is that it helps sell books or whatever product in which you have a vested interest. At the very least, you think it may help fix your name, product name, or business name in the minds of the reader.
Authors Guild Also Wondered
Authors Guild, of which I'm a member, also wondered if email newsletters helped so they did a survey and published the results in last winter's Authors Guild Bulletin. (I'm always pushing membership in the Authors Guild because I think they do great work on behalf of writers. If you're eligible for membership, please join us. Tell them I sent you. *g*)
More than 2100 working writers responded to the survey. About 40% of them said they either use email newsletters or compile email lists in order to promote their work. In fact, two thirds of the respondents think using some sort of email promotion helps, but another third don't know if it helps or not.
Like most authors can tell small businesses thinking about doing an email campaign of some sort, you do a lot of stuff - everything that comes down the Internet pike - hoping it makes a difference and will give you some definable benefit, but you never really know whether any of it really works.
What Writers Can Teach Businesses
Some writers say they can see a rise in their ratings on Amazon after sending an email to coincide with the release of their latest book, but those writers seem to be the minority. I suspect the writers who can verify an increase in sales in relation to an email newsletter are the already big selling authors.
Most writers don't see any increase yet they keep sending out into the electronic ether with the thought that they are promoting their name. They look upon the effort as laying a foundation and building upon it. Eventually, payoffs will result.
Sending emails or newsletters is wasted effort if the recipient just hits the delete key. The result you want is for the recipient to open the email or newsletter and to read it. How do you achieve that?
1. Don't make the newsletter nothing but an advertisement for your book or product. Just like a good book, your mailing must have a hook that makes the recipient read on.
2. Think of the recipients and what you can give to them. Entertainment? Education? Escape from reality? Contest prizes? You want to think of who they are, how they live, and what they need. Then give that to them in your newsletter.
3. Don't wait until you're famous to get something going. Cindi Myers aka Cynthia Sterling started publishing her Market Newsletter long before she herself was published. Most romance authors know her because of that email newsletter, and so do editors and agents because of her information gathering from them. Start early in order to build an audience for your information.
4. Never email anyone who has not requested information from you. If you plan on an email or an email newsletter, make sure they know you're gathering their addy for that purpose. You want to befriend people, not alienate them with what they'll consider spam.
Promotion via email is something that can work for any author, even those who would rather walk barefoot over broken beer bottles than speak in public.