If you write fiction and you’d like to expand your reader base, a free limited-term email subscription could be just what you need
Readers used to unreachable
In the past, a typical novel reader either ordered your novel from Amazon or some other online retailer or downloaded it for their eReader. Either way, you might not have ever known who they were, what they thought of your novel, or even if they actually read it.
While readers have always been the most sought-after entities in an author’s world, they have remained largely unreachable. Not even publishers were privy to who purchased the book they sold in bulk to retailers. All that changed when the gatekeepers died.
Now readers are reachable online and offline thanks to the advent of email list providers like Aweber (aff link), ConvertKit (aff link), and MailChimp. A great many authors still shy away from embracing these technologies for fear they will become nothing more than an information marketer.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Instead of viewing email subscription software as information marketing technology, it can be viewed as your ability to reach out directly to readers with new offers, sample chapters, and a whole lot more, all the while building a loyal reader base.
Sounds good, right? But here’s an important point…you have to think outside the box. As a fiction writer, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Think outside the newsletter
Just about every blog or website on the Internet offers a free update or newsletter. That’s a wise practice but what a fiction writer needs is something different. You need to think outside the ubiquitous update or tips-and-tricks newsletter.
LTS: A limited-term email subscription is using your email provider software to drip send selected information in a planned sequence via email for a specific time frame.
By offering such a freebie on your blog, you immediately jump to the head of the line in front of the lowly update online newsletter.
Here are 6 Ways a Fiction Writer Can Use a Free Email Subscription to Grow Their Reader Base
1. The 4 Chapter Excerpt
How many chapters does it take for a reader to get really hooked on your latest novel? Four or five, maybe just one? In this scenario, you offer the reader (in exchange for their email address of course) four to five free chapters, dripped out weekly for four to five weeks. At the conclusion of the series, you send them an additional email with links to a special sales page for your novel at a significant discount. You might also include links to similar email series for your other novels or works.
Main Benefit: You grow your reader base and perhaps sell more copies of your novel. If 250 people taking you up on the offer and only 10 percent purchase your novel, that’s 25 sales you might never have seen.
2. The ‘Sneak Peak’ series
This works well when you have a list of folks who love your novels and stories. In this example, you offer a weekly sneak peek into your author’s life, routines and thoughts in a letter with occasional links to a video of you sharing a tour of your writing space, photos of your office, what kind of software you use, etc.
Main Benefit: It connects you to your readers. It reveals you as a human being with thoughts, an audible voice, and an engaging smile. It helps you to build trust with your readers and loyalty as well.
3. A Mini-Course on Plotting
As a fiction writer, you’ve mastered processes like plotting, editing, character development, etc. There are probably a good number of your readers who also aspire to write novels or story collections. A brief six-lesson email subscription where you teach/share your processes for plotting or character development is a great way to attract new readers. The sequence ends with an offer on your latest novel, links to other short courses, etc.
Main Benefit: Your readers see you as an expert and a teacher. Even if you’ve never been a teacher or facilitated a workshop, your readers will view you in this light. It greatly enhances your trust and likability factors.
4. The Limited Run Author’s Interview Series
This one is very cool in my opinion. In it, you conduct an email, audio, Skype, or in-person video interview and create a series of four to six emails with the transcript/audio file/video of the interview. If it’s an audio or video interview, the emails would contain a link to the audio or video files on your Dropbox or behind a password-protected page on your blog. You might even have another author/blogger interview you and use this material in the same way – just get the other party’s permission to use the material.
Main Benefit: This reinforces your stature as an author with expertise and connections. It elevates you to the slightly famous category with your readers. Who doesn’t want to buy from a celebrity?
5. Insider Book Recommendations
As a fiction author, you read a lot. You might even post articles to your author blog about those you recommend. What if, instead of posting these online for public consumption, you created a 10-edition email subscription with each email containing a book review with your thoughts about plotting, character development, structure, mistakes, as well as suggestions for making it better? You might already have some old blog posts that you could repurpose for this series.
Main Benefit: You offer exclusive, insider information that reinforces your stature as a trusted individual. It’s long been stablished that people like to buy from people they know and trust. This series helps you further establish your identify and reinforces trust with the your readers and potential customers.
6. A MicroMagazine that Repurposes Old Blog Posts
I’m assuming you have a blog and regularly write blog posts. If you have several that are topically related, you can place them into an email series. One way to do this in a unique manner is to create a PDF document for each post using iBooks Author (Mac only) or using Adobe InDesign (a little complicated…but you could get one of your designer friends to help). Call it a micromagazine and it will feel like a completely unique publication. If you created six of these, each email would contain a link to the PDF on your Dropbox for download.
Main Benefit: You breathe new life into your old material and attract new readers. If the articles are dated, it gives you an opportunity to refresh them and gain more traction from them.
There you have six ways that an LTS can help you attract new readers. But that’s not the best part.
The Best Part is How You Use Your New LTS
Each of these LTS’s can help you grow your readership and attract new readers and customers by offering them to other authors and blogs running promotions of their own. Here is how this works.
Let’s say that you know another author who is coming out with a new novel. You want to support their efforts and approach them with the following proposition. You offer to promote their new novel to your readership in exchange for them including your Author’s Interview Series or your Mini-Course on Plotting as a bonus for their customer purchasing their novel.
If they agree, perhaps your readers earn a discount on the book, plus they become aware of the other author’s work. Simultaneously you get in front of a new audience, some of whom will join your email list when they enroll in your free series.
It’s a win-win!
There are myriad other ways to leverage your free email subscriptions to boost your readership. If you start brainstorming other ways, I’m sure you can come up with some of your own.
If I can help, please get in touch or leave me a comment in the section below!