This is the second in a mini-series in how to build a rock-solid mailing list. Part 1: Is Your Author Mailing List Effective: 5 Ways To Find Out

The ideal scenario from your mailing list is that your subscriber opens and reads your email, then takes some sort of action – whether that’s replying to your email, clicking on a link that you send them, or buying a book.

The more active and “engaged” your reader is, the more likely that an email from you goes straight to their inbox rather than to Spam or the promotions tab on Gmail – where it might never be seen. 

If you aren’t getting good response rates to your emails (check out Part 1 of this series on what stats you should be tracking), don’t panic! Here are seven ideas for you to try which greatly increase the chances of your emails being seen, read, and acted on.

1. Interact with your readers right from the start

For example, make your first “welcome” email as enticing as you can. If you’ve offered a free incentive for signing up, remind your subscriber to download it. You can even give away a second, short, free piece of content or other juicy material to delight your new reader. If you have an auto sequence of emails set up, this is easy to do. Otherwise, make sure that what you write about in your emails is on topic and useful or entertaining – or both.

Give readers plenty of opportunities to connect to you. Ask a question at the end of your email (and make sure you answer), or ask them to tweet or share a blog post you’ve written. These easy-to-do actions turn passive readers into engaged readers and make it more likely that future emails keep on going straight to their inbox.

If you get readers into the habit of interacting with you early on – even by doing something simple like replying – they’re more likely to do “bigger” things for you down the line, such as buying a book. Making your relationship two-way from the beginning can make your reader more responsive and enthusiastic about buying your books.

2. Bring your readers into your writing world

Build a relationship with your readers by inviting them into your world as a writer. Keep them updated on your work in progress, invite questions about your writing life – and show that you value their opinions by asking them for comments, feedback, or even expert help.

If your readers feel involved in the progress of your book, they’re more likely to want to buy it when you launch. Even simple ideas like contests for naming characters can make your subscribers feel part of your community.

3. Reward loyal readers

Make your readers feel special and important. Send invitations to become part of a super-group or VIP group, where your most loyal readers have greater access to you.

Some ideas: set up a closed Facebook group for your fans, invite people to become beta readers (or to get on to your advance reader team list), consider running “Ask Me Anything” sessions or live events on Facebook where you respond to questions. If you’re comfortable with video, you can do this via the Facebook Live feature, otherwise status updates also work.

4. Strike a good balance between too often and not often enough

If you leave months between your email newsletters, subscribers may forget who you are, so when they get an email from you they may ignore it, delete it, or report it as spam. On the other hand, if you email your subscribers too frequently, you might run into “email fatigue”.

Many authors email their list monthly or every other month, while if you have a non-fiction list, emailing tips and other actionable advice weekly can also work well.

If you’re stuck for ideas, check out 10 Things Your Readers Want To Hear About.

5.  Be relevant and interesting every time

If you regularly include exclusive content or early-bird discounts on new books, you’ll also be increasing the perceived value of your emails, meaning that people are more likely to open them.

Don’t blindside your readers. If they’ve signed up to receive information about your romance books, don’t go off-topic by writing exclusively about your science-fiction, for example. With our author mailing lists service, you can create multiple lists, which is ideal if you write under different pen names.

Then, reel your reader in with an engaging subject line. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and try to identify what would make someone care enough to open your email. Here are five ideas that you can use if you’re stuck for inspiration:

Time-appropriate
Do you have something that will tie in to a national or religious holiday, or even a month, season or sporting event?

How-to
Can you show your reader how to fix a problem, or learn something that can improve his / her life?

Curiosity
Can you share a sneak preview or behind-the-scenes glimpse at an important character or plot development?

Question
Pull your reader into your world with a question designed to get them thinking – and then opening your email.

Benefit
What’s in it for your reader? A special giveaway, access to an advance readers’ group, a way to make more money, for example? Paint a picture of what the reader will get if they open your email.

6. Keep your reader reading

Make your email easy to read. You can design your own template with Publishing Spark, but we recommend that you keep it simple. An email that’s easy-on-the-eye is more likely to be read than one with large graphics or tiny font.

Think about the emails you tend to read – and those you close. If it’s too long, or the paragraphs look dense and hard work, your reader might give up before they even start reading.

7. Build anticipation ahead of your launch

Ramp up excitement before you publish with more frequent updates. Share your excitement in your book’s progress through countdowns to publication day, and include cover reveals, or hints at plot twists or unusual character developments.

Cement your special relationship with subscribers by offering your new book at a limited-time discount ahead of the official launch.

Co-founder of Publishing Spark.

We help fiction and non-fiction authors grow their readership with a simple-to-use, no-hassle mailing list service. Check us out.

7 Ways to Turn Readers into Buying Fans

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