Kenney Myers - April 22, 2021 - 7 min. read
Newsletter Marketing – What You Can Expect for Your First Book?
After publishing my novel, like most authors I was excited and optimistic about what was coming next. Which was finding a way to get my book in front of the millions of potential readers that I knew were out there but I didn’t quite know how to reach them.
With so many books being released, I think most authors almost immediately get discouraged when they find out that the act of publishing your book doesn’t usually lead to any sales or attention whatsoever.
Why is that?
It’s simply because there are so many books out there that you are competing with that it is highly unlikely that readers are just going to stumble upon your book. They are going to need a gentle nudge in order to make it happen.
A great place to start with that is just reaching out to friends and family on social media and through a personal email whenever possible. That should provide you with a bit of a reader base to work with but then you will need to look for other marketing opportunities.
Many of those will come to you as several services seem to monitor publish dates or other lists to proactively reach out to you. One of those types of services that you should become aware of is newsletter marketing.
It offer you a compelling service but it’s important to know a few critical things about these services especially for first time authors.
A Definition of Reader Newsletter Marketing
What I mean by reader newsletter marketing is any site that has a large database of book readers that offers authors a spot in their daily, weekly, monthly newsletter that gets sent either to all of the readers in their database or to a segment of those readers that have expressed an interest in the genre of book you have written.
There are some large lists out there like The Fussy Librarian, Many Books, BookSends, and tons of similar websites and providers. There are some great newsletter marketing articles you can find online that will help you find more, but even with a few examples you can get a clear picture of what these services offer to authors.
They are essentially going to include your book along with several others in an email that is going to go out to potential readers that hopefully will result in more readers and sales for your book. Sounds great, right?
It is great, and they will do it but there are some things that you need to know to set reasonable expectations.
The top newsletter marketing services are exceptionally hard to get your book into. They have stringent requirements around the number of excellent reviews that your book needs to have earned in Amazon, Goodreads, and/or other large sites.
Some of the most coveted newsletters to get into are the ones that BookBub sends out. They reject most of the books that submit to their service most often because they can’t verify the quality of the book and they really do want to only recommend excellent books to their readers.
We don’t necessarily know all of the criteria used to select books to accept but large sites like BookBub are likely not going to accept a new author’s books unless they are notable for some specific reason (written by an industry expert, a celebrity, or something along those lines).
Don’t be discouraged if you get rejected by them, most books get rejected.
You can always try again later after you have success with some other marketing tactics and have an easy way for them to verify the quality of your book.
Be skeptical of the sites that promise you dozens or even hundreds of book sales. Some sites are going to make you some promises that sound really great.
I don’t want to list them out because this article isn’t meant to be used to out those services and in some cases they may indeed deliver the 20, 50, or 200+ sales they promise you from their email blasts to readers.
My experience has led me to believe that at least for a first time author these numbers are very overstated and are unlikely to happen.
I would recommend that authors just keep that in mind when they are budgeting their marketing spend. These services can cost anywhere from $10 to $1000 and up.
It’s not always the case that the more you spend, the better your book will do.
There are some exceptions to that which I will go into a bit later in this article that might be worth paying extra for depending on your specific situation. In general though, do not expect a massive number of sales from these services.
Unless you are buying an exclusive book of the day email just be aware that you are going to be listed with several other books in the same email.
Try to look at an example email that goes out from any provider you are considering using.
This is incredibly important because if you are one of twenty books going out if you happen to be listed toward the bottom of that list, chances are readers are not going to even see your book. This is probably my biggest complaint with most newsletters that are sent out.
Every book could have paid the exact same fee, but in reality those that are listed first are most likely the books that are going to see the most views and therefore the most sales. If you are one of the unfortunate ones to be listed at the end of the email then you are less likely to see the same levels of success.
Some General Advice on Using Newsletter Marketing
So up to this point in the article it may seem like I am not convinced that newsletters are a great deal for authors and especially first time authors.
While that is probably a fair statement, I do think that newsletters have their place and that they can be effective if they, like most things are looked at as a part of a long-term newsletter marketing plan for your book.
In order to use newsletter marketing effectively I would recommend the following:
#1. Frequency matters – Just like with traditional media advertising (radio, tv, newspapers, etc), newsletter marketing can be looked at as a frequency game. It may take three or four times for your book to appear in a newsletter for you to see some sales traction. Readers that get exposed to your book more than once have a higher chance of clicking on it and ultimately buying your book.
2. Placement matters – Know how many books are in the emails that get sent out and try to work with the newsletter provider to see if you can get your book placed higher in the list (you may have no control over this whatsoever, but it is worth a try). If there are only a handful of books in each email (less than 10), it may not matter. The higher the number of books in the email, the more your position in the list will matter.
#3. Familiarity matters – I would highly recommend and most of them do as well (because it increases their subscriber counts) that you sign up for any newsletter services you are considering as a reader. You should know what their experience is and think carefully about which books are getting your attention when you get the emails sent to you. This will help you know what to ask for and possibly which of their offerings you want to buy.
#4. Your book cover matters – It’s very likely when a reader is scanning especially a long email that your book cover needs to catch their eye. If you are a first-time author you may have to revise your book cover several times (that is also a risk to though so keep it to less than 3 iterations if possible).
I would definitely encourage you to compare your book cover with the others in the emails going out. Pay attention to color contrast and other factors that will give your book an advantage on various devices. For instance, color contrast is especially important if the user is viewing an email on a monochrome ebook reader.
If You Are a First-Time Author
If you are marketing a book for the first time, it’s important for you to go into everything with your eyes wide open. Most services are actually not trying to mislead you, they want to see you succeed as well because it’s great for their business too.
If you sell a bunch of books from their newsletter blasts then you are definitely going to tell everyone how amazing they are and that is a win/win for them. That said, they are often painting a picture that is far more elegant than the reality of what you should expect to see. You are likely to have to launch several newsletter campaigns before you see any sales at all.
If you do see some success then great, by all means celebrate those victories. However, if you don’t then please don’t get discouraged. Just know that it is very common for other authors to get poor results as well and that it is not a defining statement about the quality of your book.
Like anything else, you just need to keep trying until you find what works for you and also to give potential readers as many looks at your book as possible.
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• My Book Is Not Selling! – What’s the Problem?
• Why First-Time Authors Need an Editor!
• Never Judge a Book By Its Cover! – Are You Really Sure?