Saturday, July 10, 2010

Marketing: Something’s Working

fireworks 4 July 2010

A friend on a writing list the other day let me know I was the #22 most viewed author on Smashwords.com (Thanks, Celia!)  It took me by complete surprise.

Many authors, and I congratulate them for doing this, will regularly track sales and list numbers in many different places. I don’t. Honestly, I can’t imagine being organized enough to keep up with it. I’m not sure I’d even ever looked at the most viewed author list. *blush*

I wasn’t on the computer that day and so didn’t see it. By the next day, I was kicked off the top 25. Today I decided to go look again, just for kicks. What do you know?? I’m #25 today!

Here it is if you’re interested:
http://www.smashwords.com/100/authors

If you get there today, you’ll see me! Granted, I’m at the bottom of the list, but hey, I’m ON the list out of hundreds of SW authors. [And if you click on my name at the bottom of the list, maybe I can stay there a while!  ;-) If I’m not still there, find me here: LK Hunsaker]

So anyway, of course I started to wonder HOW I got there. That’s the big question. My best guess is that I just sent out my newsletter to a list that grows a bit every time I announce it’s about to come out. I also encourage readers to forward it to friends.

I always suggest to authors that they should have a newsletter. They don’t need to be monthly, since they are a lot of work and we may not have that much to say every month (yes, authors can run out of things to say!). I’ve switched to sending mine quarterly, with an occasional special edition for breaking news or more likely for a free read story. If you don’t want to do one on your own, join up with a friend or two or three who write in your same genre. I figure not only is quarterly enough of my own time, but it’s also enough to ask of readers’ time. People are busy. Don’t deluge them!

What do you put in a newsletter?

News, of course. But also, think about what you would like to hear from your favorite authors and give that to your readers. My favorite author newsletter came from Sue Monk Kidd. She always begins with something somewhat personal: thoughts about things, description of where she is as she writes, inspirations. It allows the reader inside who she is just enough to make a connection. That’s what I try to do. Your books should reflect who you are. If your newsletter does, also, it will be a nice sell for your work. If it is nothing but promotion, it will be easily bypassed.

If you can find a mailing service that provides web hosted links for newsletters you send, it can be helpful, as well. I grab that link after I send one out and post it to my Facebook page. Since I have FB linked to Twitter and Twitter linked to my blog and my website, it also goes out to all of those places with one quick entry. You’ll also find the links to my archived newsletters (the most recent) here in the right-hand column under my newsletter sign up box.

The newest that has a link to a free read story on Smashwords: Jun 2010

We hear often that it’s impossible to tell which marketing attempts work and how well each work, but in the end, something works if you have good stories to tell and know how to tell them to hold your readers. From my recent results, I would say newsletters with links and free things for readers do work.

Do any of you authors have Newsletter tips? Please share!

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10 comments:

StephB said...

Awesome, Loraine! Newsletter tips? Put a little of everything in there. An article, where you will be hanging out for the month, any contests or prizes you'll be involved in for the upcoming month, a small excerpt of writing, a receipe. Talk about the major events that happen that month, a sample of poetry, a line or two of the reviews you've gotten.

Ask an interactive question. "What ebook reader do you have?"

Hope that helps.
Smiles
Steph

LK Hunsaker said...

Steph, great tips, especially the interactive question. I might have to incorporate that. :-)

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hey Loraine! I also send out a quarterly newsletter. My focus is to let my readers know I'm still writing and selling, so I keep it light and interesting, and short! Like you I don't want to bombard my mailing list with a lot of extra stuff to read. Congrats on your Smashwords success!!!

Celia Yeary said...

LORAINE--you're welcome! I don't have a newsletter, but it's in the works. I haven't been able to nail down the exact format. I've looked at dozens of newsletters over several weeks, trying to find a common thread, or at least to find something that I would be comfortable with. I have not managed that yet. But I will. Celia

Linda Acaster said...

Interesting post, Lorraine. It's all a bit of a balance, isn't it, and seems never-ending. You are 24th on Smashwords as I write. Well done you!!

Regards - Linda

LK Hunsaker said...

Maggie, I agree with short, since most people don't read anything too long online. There is a point to that! Often enough to keep your name fresh is something to consider, also. :-)

Celia, I think you're a natural 'personal' communicator and look forward to your newsletter when you put one together.

Linda, yes, balance is a word I like a lot. ;-) That can be hard. And thank you!

Linda Banche said...

Congrats, Loraine. Everyone must be looking you up at Smashwords right now, because I can't even get in.

I suppose I'll be doing a newsletter, too, but I don't know when.

What's your mailing service?

LK Hunsaker said...

Thanks, Linda!

I use Vertical Response. It has a lot of nice premade themes so it's easy to design and has added short urls to make sharing easy. They also have great customer service.

Sylvie said...

What is smashwords and how did you get on it?

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Sylvie, Smashwords.com is a site where you can upload your own books from a Word file, if you own your rights to it, and they'll automatically convert it to most any ebook format. It sells directly from their site on your author page and can be distributed to major outlets if you choose to do that. You have to do the formatting and the cover, or have someone do it for you, but all your rights remain yours.

It's free to sign up! Also nice to share free read excerpts and short stories for promo.