Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Learn from a Marketing Expert's Email Mistake

(This post is used with permission from Rob Eagar of WildFire Marketing.)*

Recently, I gave two presentations to editors and marketing professionals at a publishing conference. After my sessions were over, I realized that I had made a big blunder.

I forgot to ask people to join my email list.

Even a seasoned marketing expert like me sometimes makes basic mistakes. I blew the chance to add over 100 people to my email list who were a perfect fit. I got so caught up in the short-term focus of delivering my presentations that I forgot my long-term marketing focus.

A growing email list puts you in the driver's seat to control sales of all your products—both new and old. Live events, such as speaking engagements, book signings, podcast appearances, and radio interviews, offer a quick way to grow your list for free. You're in a room with people where an emotional connection and a quick response is the easiest to generate.

When I began my author career in 2002, I was dedicated to building my email list. At live events, I used to give away a giant, 5-pound, Hershey's chocolate bar as part of my presentation to encourage signups. In most cases, I got over 80% of the room to respond. Within a couple of years, I amassed over 8,000 subscribers.

You don't have to give away candy to get email signups. But, there are numerous steps any author can take to increase the size of your list, especially when appearing in public or giving interviews:
  • Tell the listeners you have a special incentive to join your email list, such as a free ebook, novella, video course, etc.
  • Pass around an email signup sheet to the people in the room at live events.
  • Display a link to join your email list on the video screen at events.
  • After your presentation, pass out a one-sheet of notes that includes a mention of your signup incentive and a website link to join your list.
  • Mention your email signup incentive and website link to listeners during a podcast or radio interview. 
An email list doesn't grow by itself. You must take command of the process and be intentional about adding new subscribers.

My bestselling author clients who have over 100,000 email subscribers didn't accrue that number overnight. They remained devoted to building their list over several years.

Learn from my recent mistake. No matter how long you've been writing and marketing your books, keep the main goal in focus. Whenever you speak or get interviewed in public, don't overlook the opportunity to build your email list.

* Rob is the author of The Author's Guide to Email Marketing and other helpful books for writers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Start to Finish (Part 10 of 10)

Stop. Let go.

When I finished the eighteenth draft of my first article, I knew I couldn’t improve it. Today I could, but that was the best I could do then. An editor or someone else might make it better, or in another year I might have developed my skills enough to make it better. But not then.

To myself I said aloud, "This is the best I can do at this stage of my development." I still repeat those words before I send in a manuscript. It’s my way to let it go.

When you say, "This is the best I can do at this stage of my development," you give yourself permission to stop.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Start to Finish (Part 9 of 10)

Polish the article again.

You've edited once and you're finished.

I doubt it.

Keep editing and revising it until you know you can’t make it better. The first article I ever wrote for publication (and it was accepted the first time out), I wrote eighteen full drafts—and that was in the typewriter days. My first draft was slightly more than 900 words. I tend to be a skinny writer (physically and professionally), and each time I revised I added information and illustrations. When I finished, I had about 2,000 words, which was the right length for periodicals in the 1970s.

Look for redundancies. Most writers tend to overwrite and to say the same thing three or four times with different words. In print, you need to say something only once (unless you're using it as a literary device). Therefore, when you polish, aim for brief articles and short chapters.

Today, articles run 800 to 1800 words, and if you stay below 1200 words, you're probably about right. Chapters have also gotten shorter. Look at the novels of James Patterson for example. None of his chapters takes up more than five pages. Each is one scene, and a decade ago editors would have combined several of them into a single chapter. Patterson caters to the byte-size generation, and his books consistently hit the best-seller lists.

Your writing may not hit the best-seller lists, but you can make it the best writing you're capable of producing. And if it's your best, that's good enough—for now.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Start to Finish (Part 8 of 10)

Ignore the manuscript for a time.

Many writers feel exhilarated or relieved when they write the final word and want to get it to the editor or agent. Resist that urge. Look at it again critically. Does this sentence make sense? Did I explain it thoroughly? Did I over-explain?

After I close the file on a manuscript and leave it a few days, perhaps as long as a month, I've always improved it. I use the absolute always because I mean without exception.

When I return to the material, I read it with new insight because the material has been churning in my unconscious mind. (I intentionally put the previous sentence in the passive voice. I could have written: My unconscious mind churned the material, but the emphasis was on the action (churning) and not on the actor (my mind). This is an extra tip.

Write to get the story written; rewrite to improve the quality.