Writers: Using Giveaways to Build your Newsletter/Email List

One of the latest "trending" theories on book promotion is the idea of creating a newsletter/email list so that you can communicate directly with your fans. Part of the reason there's been a movement towards this is that Facebook and Twitter are so "busy" now. If you post on your own Facebook "like" page about 16% of your "fans" will see the post. You need to pay to "boost" the page to the rest of your followers (Clever move, Facebook). And I've seen numbers as low as (or even lower than) 5% of Twitter followers see a tweet. Like I said, it's busy out there.

So an email list is a way of reaching out directly to readers. And more writers are catching on to this (which is why there are so many pop-ups and email boxes on writer websites these days). I've experimented with pop up boxes on my website with some success. But you have to drive traffic to get sign ups and that can be difficult and time consuming. And frankly, I like writing books instead.

My most recent attempt is to use a giveaway to encourage fans (or potential fans) to sign up. With the generosity of my publisher, who gave me five "adventure" books to giveaway, I ran two contests. One was with Rafflecopter where people could enter to win but if they joined the email list they'd get an extra entry. I ended up with 88 entries.

I ran the exact same "Adventure" prize a few months later, but this time used the KingSumo Giveaway Plugin (on Wordpress). I had read a rather amazing (and somewhat alarming) account of one person using the app and getting 200,000 email addresses. Read it here. Of course, I didn't expect to get that many. The way KingSumo Giveaway works is that in order for people to enter for the prize they need to sign up to your newsletter. That's made clear on the contest rules, so it isn't a surprise when they get an email from you. And it's also made clear that they can unsubscribe at any time. The clever thing about KingSumo is that if someone enters the contest then they receive a special link that they can email, Facebook, or tweet. And if other people click on that link and enter the contest, the original entrant gets more entries (3 in the case of my last contest). It's a way to reward people for sharing the contest. In other contests every time you share it and more people enter then your odds of winning go down. This gives each entrant a way to stack the odds in their favour. And it can help build buzz about the contest.

The key is to pick a prize that will attract the type of people who would be interested in your writing. So I didn't give away a Cadillac. Or two hundred golden ducks. Instead I gave away the Adventure Prize Pack that you see above. 

And here were the results:

So 175 people entered. Because several of them shared that magic link there were 229 entries in total. And one person won (and I tell you, he was overjoyed!). I imported all of them into my newsletter list (I use Mailchimp) and ended up with 103 new subscribers (the other 72 were already subscribed). I sent them all a "hello" letter and explained that they were welcome to unsubscribe, but also mentioned how hilariously funny my Somewhat Clever Newsletter is (click here if you want to find out for yourself). Three people unsubscribed. Since my biggest month of signups was just under 100 people, this was a success in my books. 

One caveat, I did spend $75 on Facebook ads. So that cost, added to the cost of shipping books, makes this whole experiment about $100. Or a dollar per new subscriber. Next time I'll skip the ads and see what happens. (Actually speaking of next time; I am doing another giveaway at this moment: A Writing Critique Giveaway, contest ends April 8th, 2016).

Anyway, that was my experiment with KingSumo Giveaways. Thanks for tuning in!

 

Art

A Createspace Experiment--Print on Demand

unknown.jpg  

I've been curious about Createspace's print on demand book publishing options for some time now (It's just one of the many arms of the Amazon). Since my novel Megiddo's Shadow was out of print in the US, I decided to use it to try out Createspace. It is a relatively easy way to self publish a book. All you need is a word file. They provide a template that I just copied and pasted my novel into (there were a few hours of fussing a fidgeting to get things right, but I expected this).  The actual book cover design system is also very easy to use. They have a variety of covers and styles that you can use. Since the novel is inspired by my grandfather's experiences in WW1, I decided to use his picture. Again this took me at least an hour of fussing--if I had better design skills it probably would have gone faster. And finally I submitted all the files and ordered my proof. It arrived a month later (there was some odd delay and when I informed them that it had been a month Createspace immediately sent new copies of the books to me).

Here's what it looked like when I got the books:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pfwcmqE9aI

Overall I was quite happy with how the book turned out. The font is perhaps a little small for my ancient eyes, but the whole process cost me less than $30.00 and now people in the US & UK can order physical copies of the books for $8.99. Which means I still make $2.41 for each copy sold. I don't expect to sell many copies, this was just an experiment to see how it worked. I also hope that it will actually help sell more ebook copies of the book because the ePrice looks better by comparison.

Am curious to hear anyone else's experiences with Createspace or other print on demand systems.

Art