Turning Your Once Off Readers Into Return Readers
Many a successful marketer will tell you it takes anywhere from seven to fourteen connections between you and a prospective buyer before they will trust you enough to purchase what you have. Granted no internet marketer I have ever met was giving away their product for under 5 dollars, or free for that matter. So my instincts say we have the edge here and can probably downgrade that number to around two or three. But the current mind set in our industry is that you sell a copy of your book, and let the buyer go. And hopefully when you release the next one, the reader will find their way back to you using some sort of sixth sense and discover you have a new work. This seems like a roundabout way to make an income. This bookish sixth sense is not reliable by any means and seems to depend on how well you wooed your reader when you wined and dined them with your words.
What if there was a way that you could stay in touch and have the reader flocking to your next book when you contact them? “Em, you’re living in a fantasy land,” you say, “People don’t just give their email to random authors, that’s crazy talk.” The point that many an author seems to be missing is that, as a race, humans like to socialise! It’s part of human nature to join communities and be a part of something. You are cheating your readers by not giving them the chance to connect to the community you create, not give them the chance to be pulled back into your world when the pressures of life get too much and they’ve just forgotten how good it feels. Every reader needs a little nudge. You are wasting your time on all this marketing if you are not giving readers the opportunity to opt into your database so you can communicate with them later. Cutting a reader loose after they have delved into their pocket only once is a bad business plan in any industry. Remember, a reader’s attention span lasts all of 5 minutes. You need to keep cropping up in their lives to be remembered. Kind of like a spinster aunt who randomly shows up at birthdays and christenings to prove that she still exists and wouldn’t mind a helping hand here or there with the cats.
Readers go through so many books, so many authors, that we become forgettable. We merge together in one giant author lump so we look like an unappealing Picasso. What you, as an author, should be doing is making sure they know you are still here! You’re still alive, and look; you’ve trained your cats in the mean time to do some pretty cool shit. Why don’t they come and have a look? The question is, how do we get them to give their name and email? It’s easy really, I’m sure you would know the technique by now. Stop selling upfront! If you shove your novels at them like a mother shoves greens at a child, you are going to end up with one very mess floor and a really pissed off kid. You need to connect with readers first so they will trust you. And the best way to capture the attention of a reader and their email, is to give something for free. Whether it is information, audio interviews, a short article of handy tips, a weekly or monthly newsletter on topic X, or a signed caricature of you turning a Dragon into a mouse, it doesn’t matter as long as it grabs their attention and they see some value in it.
If you are a non-fiction author a fortnightly newsletter with handy tips and articles on your niche is a fantastic way to connect. Whether it be a self help book you’re selling, or a book on the world’s best nudie runs. The best part is you don’t have to create all of the content yourself. A great place to get free articles is ezinearticles.com, there are articles on just about every topic (I’m sure nudie runs are in there somewhere) and it is free as long as you keep the About Author section at the bottom of the article. You can disable any hyperlinks attached to the section if you are worried about it being too easy for your readers to access someone else’s product rather than yours. One of the great mantras you should constantly repeat back to yourself is, ‘People do not buy content, they buy convenience’. Though you may be giving away some of your tips for free in a newsletter, the reader will still buy your e-book because all the information is there, in one convenient, ordered location. Another great idea for non-fiction authors is to give away information for free, or part of their e-book for free and then offer their services as a consultant in that field. If you have enough knowledge to write about your niche, you have enough knowledge to advise others.
So give something away for free, and then follow up with other emails! “Ok Em, that’s all very well and good, but I don’t have time to email all my thousands of fans that decide to join me.” First, let’s deflate your ego a bit there; second, this is really a non issue. It is at this point in time that you turn to auto-responders. Auto-responders are your best friend. Anyone who opts in to your ‘list’ can be entered into an auto-responder (One such auto-responder is Get Response). Then, all you have to do is write one email, which you can customise with your readers first name and then send it to your entire ‘list’, all your readers, with the click of the button. So not only does it allow you to provide mass updates to your readers with very little grunt work, but it also allows you to be spam compliant. Do not spam your readers with constant promotions! Your email should be 70 percent content, 30 percent focus on your novels. You are trying to create a connection, don’t screw it up by pissing them off.
Having said this, you also need to know that readers are a little like dogs. You have to train them to be committed, as it were, to your community. At the end of each email you want to make sure you have a call to action. Whether it is to get them to click through to an interesting link, check out your latest blog post, or participate in a character naming competition. You need to get them to take some sort of action at the end of your email. Because once they are use to taking that action, once they connect your links and your call to action with things that amuse and entertain them, then when it really matters, like when you are launching another book, they will willingly take a look at the book and purchase it.
This is the best way to rocket up the best-seller charts, by sending an email to your readers asking them all to purchase your new book on the same day, let them know that by helping you sell more books, you will be able to take time away from marketing to write more books for them!
It is only by converting one time readers into return readers that you will start to see real e-book success. But nurture your connection carefully, because the readers can bite…
TOMORROW: The Media Machine: How to target influential reviewers and how to use your reader reviews to your advantage.