Use email to sell more books

I make a full-time living from writing and teaching about foraging wild edible and medicinal plants. I self-publish all my books and online courses. Wild plants are my niche.

Maybe you’re wondering how I do it? I’ll tell you. It’s simple. One of my main tactics is to use an email list. An asset I own and control.

But email marketing isn’t just having a sign-up form on your site, then hitting up your subscribers with product sales pitches or sending out ‘thin content’ disguised as a newsletter.

No. That’s not how to do email marketing.

Recently there was a discussion in a Facebook group, talking about building mailing lists, publishing newsletters etc.

One fellow who I know. Let’s call him Scoot, said this:

I have a funny situation where thousands have subscribed to my newsletter, but business is so good I no longer have the time/need to send it.

And then a fellow foraging friend of mine chimed in:

People quite often tell me they’ve signed up for my newsletter and that it’s not working, when in fact it’s simply because I haven’t sent one for months.

And another herbalist friend said:

Yeah, I don’t send one often. Not because of success though – more that I never have the time.

And I shivered when I read their comments. I shivered because these lovely folks were doing the two things I strongly urge you not to do…

… rest on your laurels

… use “not enough time” as an excuse

They simply didn’t get why owning and growing a mailing list is one of the most important things to do if you want a constant stream of daily sales of your books and online courses.

It’s not an afterthought. It needs to be one of the key focus points of your business strategy.

A strategy is an overarching vision, intended to fulfill your predetermined goals and objectives.

Most business owners focus on tactics, not strategies. If you don’t have a strategy, then you’re simply chasing tactics. You’re at the beck and call of others game-plan. Unless you have a strategy, you are not; master of your own ship.

But what Scoot and the others didn’t get, along with the hundreds of business owners I meet and talk to…is another very real possibility.

You have no idea when the tide of fame and fortune will turn.

And as one very knowledgeable, very experienced marketing colleague told me some time ago.

“When things are going well that is the time to really pump things up. Most people do a lot when they are in need. Then, sit back and relax when things are going well. But when things are going well is when you want to get it up into a whole new level. You want to get to a higher level so that even if it slows a bit you are still doing well.”

Let me ask you this. What happens to your business when suddenly the free platform you have been using to generate website visitors and clients stops working?

Have you thought about that?

I’ll talk more about why making your business dependent on using free platforms like Amazon, iBooks, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Medium etc. is extremely dangerous.

These are simply platforms that can help grow your business. They are not where real business growth happens. That’s something else entirely.

That something is called… RELATIONSHIPS. And all valuable relationships need to be NURTURED.

If all you do with your mailing list is send out discount offers and sales pitches, you are, quite literally killing your long-term potential. Period!

And although competition is not something many folks like to talk about. (They’d rather bury their head in the sand). It is a fact of life, that someone, somewhere could come into your market space and literally take it from you. What will you do then?

If you don’t think it will happen, then I urge you to pause a moment and consider this. Once Yahoo was the go-to search engine. Now it has disappeared from front-of-mind. Remember Myspace? Everyone and their aunt were on it. Then within a short period of time, it got replaced by Facebook.

See my point?

If you had been dependent on Yahoo or Myspace for getting clients, only building your business on these platforms. What do you think would have happened to your business? What do you think happened to all those businesses that did just that?

Let’s take Google.

Maybe you are currently top of the search engines for your chosen keywords. Then with one small algorithm change, you disappear forever. And if not forever, your rankings plummet, and your business is halved or quartered. And someone on the edges of your market suddenly dominates the rankings you once held.

Are you feeling into what I’m saying?

It’s uncomfortable, right? And not to put the frighteners on you. This can happen at any time.

In the last few weeks (at the time of writing this), Facebook has changed its algorithm… again!

All those businesses that relied on getting likes, comments, building their profile with a Facebook page and driving traffic to their website…

… suddenly

… over the course of a few days …

… have seen their “reach” (the ability to get their message in front of their follower’s newsfeed)

… fall off a cliff.

They have no way to reach their tribe, their audience. They are, in a word. Screwed. All because they simply didn’t have time or were too successful to build a mailing list. An asset they actually own and control.

Here’s something you need to understand.

Email is a protocol (SMTP). Which is basically part of the plumbing of the internet. All the other communication platforms are owned by corporations who have motivations that don’t always align with your own. This makes your email community your #1 asset that’ll stay with you no matter what. – Marc Eglon, Hackerpreneur

Instead, these writers fell for the lazy way to grow a business. They became dependent on the free platforms to reach their market. That’s like eating at somebody else’s table. You don’t get to decide on the menu.

And another thing. Those free platforms aren’t free. There’s a massive price tag. Which you need to wise up to. Quickly.

During my 20+ years of self-publishing, writing and marketing my self-help books, I’ve seen a lot. I got in at the start of the internet.

I was publishing e-books seven years before the first Kindle. Here’s proof. And if there is one thing I know from all my experience. It’s this

Never. Ever. Build a business that is dependent on a free platform.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s traffic from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever the next generation platform will be.

That’s like squatting a rented property. At some point, the landlord will demand rent. And if you don’t pay, you’ll get thrown out on the street. There’s nothing touchy-feely when it comes to doing business with the big boys and girls. Not when you get into bed with corporations like Facebook or Google etc.

Getting your business shut down overnight is not a place you want to find yourself. So where’s this leading? Simple.

If you are serious about selling more books and online courses, then it is essential that you get to grips with marketing. Most writers don’t like this part of the business, yet it’s essential to master.

It cannot be an afterthought, just because that’s what everyone else says you should be doing.

A super-engaged audience is what makes the difference between a broke self-published author, and one that makes a decent living from their creative activity. – Robin Harford

Here’s a quick snapshot proving that email (when done correctly) is a powerful way to keep in touch with your subscribers and over time turn them into customers.

Those numbers above are the average open and clickthrough rates for my entire email account.

My sublists often get far higher engagement. Like this:

So how do I achieve results like this? I am fanatical about segmenting my main list into tiny lists.

Only speaking to the people on my tiny lists in the way they want to be spoken to. Giving them exactly what they want, not what I think they want.

I don’t only send broadcast emails to everyone. You see in the modern world there is no such thing as one size fits all marketing. And sadly, this is why so many self-published authors fall far short of their potential.

They are being taught out of date, yesteryear marketing strategies and tactics that just flat out don’t work in today’s world.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. You deserve to be rewarded for what you write and publish. I am here to help. I’ll leave you with these parting words of wisdom:

Marketing isn’t about shortcuts, hustle or deception. Marketing is the art (and the science) of serving the people you seek to serve, to do better work by finding and satisfying needs. Marketing is the practice of making things better by making better things. – Seth Godin