Growing and Engaging Your Email List

Comment

Growing and Engaging Your Email List

The questions I get from clients regarding email lists are pretty straightforward. Mostly, they want to grow their list organically and communicate appropriately.

It all starts with a beautiful, professionally done website and quality content on your blog. 

If you’re serious about becoming an author (whether you go mainstream or the self-publishing route) it is vital that you invest in a website that is not only beautiful but is tightly and consistently branded. Folks who land on your page should encounter something that puts them at ease, immediately showing them just how much of a pro you are. Very often, the key is beautiful, original imagery.

To drive traffic to your site, you can use a combination of tactics, but my current favorite is Facebook ads, which allow you to get laser-specific with your targeting. These can leverage blog posts, forcing the redirect from Facebook to your website.

Upon 30-90 seconds (or on scroll down) site visitors should see a pop-up that invites them to receive something free.

As the great Don Miller says, “No one wants to read your newsletter,” so let go of that as your immediate call-to-action, and instead, offer something useful.

Here are some great freebies I’ve seen offered:

  1. Guided meditations.
  2. Inspirational images that act as phone backgrounds.
  3. Cross-stitch patterns for printing.
  4. Free e-book on team building.
  5. Exclusive videos teaching key principles of a book.
  6. Book club discussion guides.

Remember, these freebies should be meaty, as original as possible, and should include some kind of a CTA or opportunity for an up-sell (like “buy my book now” if your book is available for sale or pre-sale).

Once these leads have been captured, it’s up to you to communicate with your list responsibly. NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE needs to be spammed with emails from you, no matter how awesome you are. As you ramp up, a once a week email is just too much. You may consider starting with a once a month roundup including everything that’s been going on with you and your upcoming book. Always include a “buy now” or “pre-order” call to action somewhere in the email.

REMEMBER: Email automation is your best friend. Try tools like MailChimp or Emma

Key Takeaways:

  1. If you’re not web savvy, have a website built for you by a professional.
  2. On your site, feature beautiful, original imagery.
  3. Build a pop-up with a clear call to action, kicking out a great freebie.
  4. Use an automation tool and set a communication schedule that is respectful of peoples’ time.

 

Comment

Social Media and the Hopeful Author

Comment

Social Media and the Hopeful Author

As someone who entered the publishing industry when MySpace was still a thing, it’s hard for be to believe where we’ve landed with social media. The sad truth about the publishing industry is that talent alone no longer matters. If talent is not paired with some kind of metric proving that people already resonate with your message, I'll be honest, you could be introuble.

I cannot tell you how many sales meetings I’ve sat in on where the sales team has talked one another (and publishers) out of green-lighting a fantastic author with a ton of potential based simply on the fact that this or her social following wasn’t there. Furthermore, I’ve seen potential authors with millions of followers be rejected because their social following was not engaged. What these sales folks are looking for is a combination of numbers and engagement, which indicates a good chance at sales conversion.

So what’s a hopeful author to do?

I advise my clients to first come up with a plan to begin increasing their follower numbers on relevant social outlets. And relevance is key. Find out where your readers are and focus energy there.

In addition to the plan to increase followers, I encourage them to come up with a plan to engage with these followers by posting work from other authors in their space via snip.ly (which allows you to add a CTA at the bottom of the article driving traffic to your own site), to blog once a week, giving you original content to post, and to engage in rich, meaningful dialogue with followers.

Increasing social following is tough, which is why I always suggest that clients who can afford it engage with a service or individual who can implement growth tactics on your behalf. If that is not possible, just remember these key things:

  1. Create an author page and invite your personal friends to like the page.
  2. Use original content to populate your feed. 
  3. On days when you don't have anything original to post, use Snip.ly to curate articles by others that your audience will enjoy, and add a custom CTA to the bottom. 
  4. Plan to boost each post, particularly those about your blogs for $10-$25; if you do not do this, even those who “like” your page will not see it.
  5. Plan a combination of advertisements to draw “likes” to your page and to drive traffic to your website.
  6. Lookout for my next post on how to effectively grow your email list as you increase traffic to your site.

The bottom line is that in the publishing world’s current climate, one hard fact remains. The exact same thing you need to do to become a desirable acquisition target is what you’d need to do to sell books on your own. Ultimately, the choice is yours. However, I wonder, if you’re already working your butt off to build a following and a list of warm leads, why hand that off to a major corporation who will just take a (huge) cut?

Remember: marketing guru and author, Seth Godin, went independent with his publishing process years ago. Think critically about what this decision means for the industry as a whole.

 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Decide, based on your ideal reader, what platforms need your attention (for example, if your readers are motivated by art, you’d want to focus on Instagram and Pinterest).
  2. Consider hiring a firm or an individual with a proven track record to facilitate social growth (pro tip: ask for a portfolio and proof of growth achieved for other clients. Bonus points if he or she has experience in your space, but it’s not required.
  3. Strive to post great content and to facilitate meaningful dialogue.
  4.  If you plan to go mainstream to publish, remember, in your proposal, seeing a time and/or financial investment in growth can be just as valuable as seeing large numbers themselves.

Comment

What to Read When Writing a Book: The Surprising Answer

Comment

What to Read When Writing a Book: The Surprising Answer

Recently, I’ve gotten the same question over and over from my consulting clients: “As I start planning and writing my book, what books should I be reading?”

I love this question because it gives me a chance to tell clients something they need to hear: YOU CAN DO THIS ALL ON YOUR OWN! 

In truth, what other authors and bloggers say you should be doing doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that you take the time to get what’s in your head out on paper, no matter how disorganized or disjointed it seems.

The fact of the matter is, there’s no better way to stop the creative flow than by reading any material that shepherds you into doing things a certain way. It is vital that you remove any filters that could hinder your creative process. Reading books about creativity and how to jumpstart it can be helpful as you’re trying to figure out what to write, especially if they contain writing prompts. But if you have an idea and an inkling of how you want the book to turn out, reading will do nothing but slow you down, or, in the worst case, stop you completely.

The problem? Writing takes confidence and a whole lot of drive.

I have a daily battle with my clients’ Imposter Syndrome. It gets into your brain like one of those gross slugs from pretty much any alien movie and shifts your perspective drastically. An idea you were once excited about suddenly becomes a burden as your mind churns with questions like:

  • “Does anyone really care what I have to say? “
  • “Am I qualified to do this?”
  • “Who is even going to read this thing?”

When clients show signs of Imposter Syndrome, I ask them to take a breath and remember that the right move is to go back to the genesis of the idea. That’s where the purest, most clear, and often most productive thought comes. It’s the point where you come up with something untainted and are able to see a line between the book and a felt need that needs to be met.

After that thought process wears off and the excitement fades, it’s natural to fall into a state of analysis, which often leads to analysis paralysis.

Am I saying that all reading on the subject of writing is worthless? Absolutely not. But what I am saying is that reading a book about taking action is simply not the same as sitting and doing. The things that come out of you are far more valuable to your process than the things others will tell you that you simply must do. Those suggestions and guidelines can quickly become boundaries you’re afraid to cross, which become huge, unnecessary hurdles you’ll need to scale in order to write your very best stuff.

As an editor and writer with more than twelve years in the field, my recommendation is to simply sit down and write. Try writing at different times in different locations. Try your bedroom, your couch, dining table, a library, coffee shop or even an outdoor space. Take some breaths, take a sip of coffee (or wine, I’m not judging) and just have at it. I guarantee that what comes out will bring you far closer to meeting your creative goals than you ever imagined.

Once you start to get into the flow, your content will quickly take shape. As it does, take some time enjoy it. You’ve gotten through the hardest part. The rest is cake.

Key Takeaways

  • As you think about writing a book, several books on the theory of writing will be recommended to you.
  • Reading is great but, at this stage, it’s not as important as actually writing.
  • Find a safe space and a comfortable routine that works for you.
  • Once you get into the flow and your vision becomes clear, only then think about next steps.

Need help with getting this done, or with figuring out next steps? I hear you! Contact me today and we can explore how we can partner to make sure your unique voice is heard.

Comment

Comment

My Heart For Authors + The Work They Do

alee-first-blog.jpg

It was 2015 when my department closed and I was subsequently let go from a small publishing house here in Nashville. Throughout my time in publishing, things had been rocky at best. Amazon's rise to the top, the introduction of e-readers, changes in hiring practices, and the use of social media followers as markers of an author's worth are all things that impacted my time in the in-house sector of the publishing industry. 

Despite all the turmoil, I loved my job—going to work every day made me genuinely happy. My favorite part was watching the dreams of young, hopeful authors come true. I loved the rush that came with watching them sign contracts, the tears that welled up behind my eyes as they slid it across the table, and the butterflies in my stomach that fluttered as I realized their project was now in my hands. 

But the more time I spent at the publishing house, and the more changes took place as we were purchased by a much larger company, the more I started to see the dark side of the publishing industry. One where once excited authors called me crying because the book they worked so hard on was receiving little or no attention from our marketing team. And I listened compassionately, offered kind words, all while knowing that I had attended a meeting where their title was announced as low priority. The worst part? We had been drilled on using a series of codes for each priority level, so even if an author accidentally saw an internal memo, he or she would never know their book wasn't being given much (or any) marketing attention at all. I mean, if you hear your book is "ruby level" you're pretty convinced you're being given the royal treatment, right? 

As all this unfolded, I just began to feel yucky. So when I eventually met the end of my time at the publishing house, I decided to make up for (what I felt was) the ugly stuff I participated in. I would work with authors as an advocate, whether as an editor, ghostwriter, or branding expert, and I would be the person who treated their labor of love as gold.

Real, actual gold. 

Most recently, I co-owned a marketing and content development company with marketing guru, Jennifer Keller. Together, we served NYT best-selling authors, multi-million dollar companies, and iconic Nashville businesses. In this time, I still took on a single editing project per month, making sure that I was continuing to flex my editorial muscles. Jennifer and I have recently decided to close our doors to focus more energy on our families and to pursue our passions. And building relationships with authors that lead to their well-deserved success is mine. 

So, whether you're a seasoned author, an avid writer, or someone with a story to tell, don't be a stranger. Watch this space for monthly blog posts and check out my services page to see if there is any way we can partner. Don't see an offering that suits you? Reach out anyway! You could be the catalyst for a new offering I haven't yet thought of. 

I can't wait to see what we can do together! 

Comment