Author Marketing Part II: Action Items 9-12

Welcome back to the Author Marketing mini-series. If you missed Author Marketing Part I: 8 Action Items, you can find it HERE. Let’s get right to it, shall we? I’ll see you in the comment section. Over to you, Staci!

Nine: Landing Pages

Now that you’ve branded yourself, created the best offering you can, and started advertising your work, you need to think about traffic generation. The first thing you want to do is to create a landing page on your site.

Ideally, this page will not have a menu at the top. It’s a special page that you direct people to from other sites, and instead of them having the option to navigate to another part of your site, they only have the option to accept your CTA (call to action) or close your window.

Industry leaders tell you this non-menu page is ideal for a CTA.

I disagree.

Not only does a non-menu landing page require a special theme or plug-in or coding skills, it gives your reader a chance to say no.

Personally, I think it’s a bad idea to ever give a reader a chance to say no. I’d rather they not complete my CTA but go elsewhere on my site than not complete my CTA and leave my site altogether.

Statistics might not back me up on this. Maybe you get more CTA completions when there’s no menu than when there is one. But I’m all about good will and ease of navigation. If I lose names because I have a menu, I hope I make up for it in desirable content (which ultimately will result in more readers, anyway).

Menu or not, your landing page needs to be splashy, uncluttered, and have a simple CTA that’s easy for readers to complete.

As of the day I’m writing this post, this is my current landing page:

Author Marketing Part II: Landing Pages

 

It’s not the best one I’ve ever done, but it’s simple and it tells readers what I’d like them to do—buy the book or seek more information (and then buy the book).

Other landing pages, however, are geared toward collecting email addresses, and the importance of building that list is something I can’t stress enough.

 

Ten: Mailing Lists

More than social media, more than even your website, the mailing list is the most important tool you have for communicating with your readers. Assuming you’ve gathered the names in an honest way, these addresses are gold. Not only are they readers who have sought out information about you, they trusted you with their contact information.

Trust. That’s a 24-carat word. It’s a precious commodity that we can’t take lightly.

To build your list, do:

·         have a sign-up link on your website and across social media.

·         include the link at the end of your email signature.

·         add the link in your bio on guest posts.

·         be sure the link is in your book’s back matter.

·         bring a sign-up sheet with you to public appearances.

·         consider group giveaways designed to build your list.
(A word of caution here. You can get a lot of sign-ups who turn into fans. You can also get a lot of people just looking for a freebie who turn around and unsubscribe. High unsubscribe rates can cause your email provider to think you’re spamming, and CAN-SPAM laws have made it so stiff penalties can be levied to violators. Use your best judgment when participating in these giveaways.)

And do not:

·         ask people to sign up as a trade (because they’re likely to delete you after you’ve signed up for their list)

·         spam all your groups on social media.

·         ask people why they won’t sign up or why they unsubscribed. (If your provider has a form that asks why they unsubscribed, that’s fine. But don’t message them yourself with the question.)

Remember, subscribers trusted you. They don’t want to be bombarded with emails, and they want valuable content.

·         Create a schedule and stick to it (once every two weeks, once a month, once a quarter…)

·         Offer exclusive content they won’t find elsewhere.

·         Promote other authors as well as yourself.

·         Use the same tone as you do on your website. This consistency reinforces branding.

·         Include non-release things your reader may enjoy.

o   Relevant news articles.

o   History or folklore relating to your work.

o   Recipes.

o   Crafts.

o   Photography.

o   Games.

o   Contests.

Eleven: Loss Leaders

Okay, we decided we want to build our list. Who doesn’t want devoted readers? The best way to do that is to offer free content in exchange for a reader’s trust (and by trust, I mean her email address).

The best thing to offer is book one of a series. When readers fall in love with your best-effort book, they’re going to buy the sequels. What you lose in sales in book one you’ll make up in fans who buy your other work.

But what if you don’t have book two done yet?

Don’t give away book one. Write a series of short stories or a novella and give those away.

This free content is known as a loss leader. And if the content is valuable, you can afford to give it away for free.

On your landing page, and also on pop-ups (if you believe in using them), offer readers free content. Market it as a bonus for them. This isn’t about you. Note the difference:

1.      I’d love to keep you up to date on my work. Sign up for my email list and I’ll send you notifications when my books release.

2.      You expressed an interest in my work. How would you like more of it? Free! I’m happy to send it to you. Fill out this form and you’ll have them in your inbox in no time.

The first option was all about the writer. No readers care. But the second is about the reader. That’s when they sit up and take notice.

The same is true for crafting your emails and subject lines. Keep them reader-centric, not writer-centric, and you’ll have a better open rate.

My offering is currently short stories, because I don’t have my publisher’s permission to give away a novel for free. As a hybrid author, though, I have indie titles coming out, and then I’ll change my giveaway. But this is what my pop-up invitation looks like:

Author Marketing Part II: Loss Leaders

 

Note that it’s reader-focused, not writer-focused.

 

 

 

Twelve: Lead Funnels

All this takes us to lead funnels. The concept is that one effort leads to another effort leads to another. This isn’t a straight line. This isn’t called a Lead Chain. It’s a funnel—wide at the top and tapering down.

At the top of your funnel are your free offerings, your loss leaders. There’s a very low barrier to entry here—all it costs a reader is an email sign up. You can catch a lot of people with this wide net.

Then the funnel narrows. Book two is maybe 99¢. And you’re offering a companion book—character interviews, author introspection, deleted scenes, bonus content—for $1.99. Fans don’t mind this low price-point. You won’t get everyone that you got at the free level, but you’ll get people who are definitely interested.

Then the funnel gets small. Third and subsequent books in the series are priced at the regular $3.99. Other books in the same genre are also full price. Who do you find here? Enthusiastic fans.

See, it’s much easier to keep a fan (if you offer value) than it is to gain a new one. That’s why the people at the narrow end of the funnel are so important. They’ve proven they like you. And by delivering new and consistently good content to them, they’ll stay with you.

The more expensive your items get, the smaller the funnel opening. But every “yes” you’ve already received makes getting the next “yes” a little easier.

Author Marketing Part II: Lead Funnel

So you go from a free novel to a discounted sequel to a full-price third novel. Then you create a bundle of the series plus bonus content and offer it at a higher price still. That’s a funnel. Each level will have fewer takers, but the ones who say yes at the narrowest point are your truest fans.

You can’t create a funnel without multiple items. (Multiple related items are even better.) But consider this:

·         Your free offering can be touted anywhere. Social media, your website, at speaking engagements. Cast a wide net.

·         Once a reader moves on to the next level, you have their trust. You can promote the second tier directly to them as well as in your novel’s back matter and through all your original points of entry.

·         As you follow through with your promises of quality content, your readers won’t even need you to market to them. They will seek you out, signing up for release notices on Amazon, BookBub, etc. (The narrowest part of the funnel.) That doesn’t mean you should ignore these fans. No. Continue to correspond with them via newsletter and keep giving them exclusives. Do that, and you’ll have created a life-long relationship.

 

Lead funnels are designed to appeal to a broad audience and eventually filter out all but your truest fans. An unknown author can’t start with an expensive bundle and expect people to buy it. But if an author eases people into her work, she’s more likely to get buy-in, even at the highest (or narrowest) level.

Thanks for your time. And Sue, once again, thanks for having me here today.

Connect with Staci: Web | Newsletter | Facebook Group | Twitter | Facebook | Other Social Media Links

When We Finally Kiss Goodnight

Chloe Upshaw suffers from what she calls the trifecta of awful—unfulfilling job, disappointed family, bad luck with love. Just before Christmas, she travels to Pittsburgh hoping to land a job that will change her career. But not only is she in stiff competition for the position, she angers her mother by rejecting her matchmaking efforts and not going home. Worse, she runs into the guy who got away—and this time, no matter how many lies she tells to protect her heart, she leaves herself vulnerable to hurt.

Britt Garris’ callous and careless behavior in college cost him his dream girl. When fate crosses their paths ten years later, he thinks it’s serendipity. And he launches into one deception after another to win her back, including an auspicious trip for the two archaeologists to Gettysburg. Britt plays on Chloe’s love of history to spend time with her. He doesn’t count on the local lore and legend predicting their future—a future his duplicity puts at risk.

When their lies finally crumble, their budding relationship is threatened. Their dishonesties and disillusions may be impossible to overcome. But maybe the magic of the season can make their dreams come true.

Click here for purchase information.

About Sue Coletta

Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is the bestselling, award-winning author of psychological thrillers and mysteries. Sue’s short stories and flash fiction have appeared in OOTG Flash Fiction Offensive magazine and numerous anthologies, and her forensic articles have appeared in InSinC Quarterly.

In 2017, Feedspot awarded her Murder Blog as one of the Top 50 Crime Blogs on the net. Sue’s the communications manager for Forensic Science and the Serial Killer Project, and co-hosts the radio show “Partners in Crime” on Writestream Radio Network. As a way to help fellow crime writers, Sue created a team of crime experts (detectives, coroners, police captains, etc.) and founded #ACrimeChat on Twitter. She’s also a proud member of the Kill Zone (see details in full bio — menu bar).

31 Comments

  1. More valuable advice! Even though my novel isn’t due out until 2019, I’m thinking about marketing. Thanks for this series, Staci!

  2. You’re not the first person I’ve seen recommending the mailing list – apparently, I need to start doing this. Thanks, Staci!

  3. I’m late chiming in, but this is another excellent post packed with great tips and helpful information. I really need to get cracking with my mailing list, especially with the holidays coming up. In fact, this post has just given me a wonderful idea, so a big “thank you” to both of you!

  4. Nice info for future reference! Thanks Staci and Sue!

  5. More great M-Info, Staci. Thanks! What’s your experience with placing a perma-free lead magnet on Amazon to start a funnel? I see other authors doing/recommending it but when I tried to set one up I was directed to Amazon admin for a review and then they denied me a perma-free spot. Is there a trick to this?

    And thanks for hosting this series, Sue! Very helpful 🙂

    • Hmm, Garry. That depends on a few things.

      If your book is on many platforms, every single one of them needs to have your book listed as free, and then you need to request a price match from Amazon. Don’t click the “I saw this free on another site” button, but actually send a message through your KDP account requesting the price drop and provide them with links to books on the other sites that proves it’s free.

      If your book is exclusive to Amazon (or maybe it’s KU), it’s my understanding that you can list it as free when you upload it. (I’ve never dealt with this, so I don’t know that particulars. Sorry.)

      If one of these is your situation and you followed the steps above, it should be listed free. If not, I’d message them and ask what more you need to do to make that change. I have to say, Amazon is within their right to deny you the ability to list it for free, but in my experience, no author I know has ever had their request declined.

      I hope that helps.

    • I can tell you my perma-free lead magnet on Amazon gets plenty of downloads, but I’m not sure if it drives sales to longer works. It’s much more effective on my website. ‘Course, it could be as simple as flash fiction collection vs. longer story.

  6. I always see a nice upsweep in sales when I send out a newsletter (monthly) and not just for the book I’ve promoted. I agree about the subscribers who signup looking for freebies so instead of gift cards, which are generic and don’t necessarily gain you fans, I run giveaways of MY books to people who answer my question of the month. And I tell them to check in next month to find out if they’re a winner. The aim being to get them opening the next newsletter filled with great offers 🙂

    • That’s a great way to encourage repeat openers/visitors. Thanks for sharing, Jacquie.

    • Excellent idea, Jacquie! It’s refreshing to see an author who doesn’t believe in giving away gift cards. I never saw the point in it. Winning free books makes much more sense. Plus, it’s fun to see readers excited to win. Love your idea to get them to open the next newsletter, too!

  7. This is really great advice, if I can stop procrastinating long enough to do it. I love seeing the advice to not give someone a reason to say no. It’s one of my mantras.

  8. These are all really effective marketing ideas! What’s especially appealing about them is that they aren’t difficult or expensive. In fact, I’ve been thinking of a newsletter for a long time. Haven’t done it (yet), but you’ve given me ‘food for thought,’ so thanks, both!

  9. Some very interesting content here, Staci. Thanks for hosting Staci, Sue.

  10. Well, Sue, thank you again for being such a gracious host. I appreciate you inviting me here.

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