Sell More Books With Email Marketing – The Author Hangout (Episode 7 w/ Randy Ingermanson)

>>SHAWN: Hi, I’m Shawn Manaher. Welcome
to The Author Hangout. I’m your host of The Author Hangout, which is brought to you
by, which aims to equip authors like you with the right tools, education,
and community to help you market your books better. Today, we are greeted and have guest
Randy Ingermanson on the show today. He’s talking about selling more books through email
marketing, and we’re really glad he’s on the show. Randy is actually the author
of – he wrote the book, actually, on Writing Fiction for Dummies, and we’re really glad
that you’re on the show today, Randy. Thanks.>>RANDY: Thanks for having me on today, Shawn.>>SHAWN: Audience, you know how it goes.
We’re looking to connect with you through the comments on Google+, on Twitter, using
the hashtag #theauthorhangout. It’s fast and furious. We have more questions than our
30 minute time will allot us, but make sure if you have a comment, if you have a question
– we already have some coming through – that you put it in Google+, that you use Twitter
and use the hashtag #theauthorhangout so that we can connect with you there. Getting things
kicked off, The Author Hangout, we have three calls to action for you today. The first one
is that we want you to sign up and connect with Randy. He has a great list of authors
that he has built over time, and you should connect with him. The second one relates to
a product that we’re going to talk about for Randy. And the third one, we’re going
to be talking about at the very end,, one last time. So let’s get into it right
away, Randy. The first question I wanted to ask is what does it mean to be a strategic
author?>>RANDY: There’s really three problems
that we have to solve as authors. The first problem is that nobody knows we exist; the
second problem is nobody cares about us; and the third one is that nobody wants our book.
Those are problems, but they all have solutions, so I really should say, nobody knows you exist
yet, nobody cares about you yet, and nobody wants your book yet. And the purpose of marketing
strategically is to solve all three of those problems. Now, how do we do that? We have
to do that actually in order, so there are three distinct phases for marketing. The first
one is what we call the attract phrase. Somebody doesn’t know you exist, and then somehow
or another, they come to know that you do exist. That has now solved the first problem.
We don’t need to get into details about how they actually learn you exist; all we
care about is that somehow, by hook or by crook, they discover that you do exist. But
that’s not enough. They still have to care you exist and they still have to want your
book. So the second problem is that you need to make them care that you exist, and they
need to care about you and what you have, and that process is called the engagement
process, where they come to know who you are, know what you stand for, know what you can
do, and know that they might someday possibly want what you have. But that’s still not
enough, because you still have to persuade them to buy your book or whatever it is that
you’re selling. So the third stage is what we call conversion. You need to persuade them
on a particular day, at a particular time, to pull out their credit card, type it in,
and buy what you’ve got. That is the conversation phase. Now, those have to happen in order.
You cannot just attract somebody here and then maybe engage somebody else over there
and then convert someone else here. It doesn’t happen that way. You have to take a single
person, a single potential customer: first, attract them so they know who you are; second,
engage them so that they care about you; and then third, convert them so that they actually
buy your book. If you do not have a strategy that’s designed to do all three of those
stages – attract, engage, and convert – then you don’t have a marketing plan. You have
no marketing at all, in fact. Your machine is broken. So the entire goal of strategic
marketing is to figure out how you’r going to first atact people, then engage them, and
then convert them.>>SHAWN: And then with that, Randy, we’re
talking about email marketing, we’re talking about selling books with email marketing,
and I just want to point this out. Sally Sue brings up a great comment – actually, it’s
a challenge for us today. It says “Hi everybody. I’m a stubborn resistor to email marketing.”
Boo, hiss. “And I have no tool on my website. doesn’t allow them. Only can
use .org to gather email addresses. Who can convince me otherwise, Randy? The contest
begins in 10 minutes.” So the challenge is figuring out and convincing Sally that
email marketing is worth doing. How does email marketing play itself into the strategies
that you were just talking about?>>RANDY: Sally, that is a terrific question.
I couldn’t have come up with a better question myself if we planned this. Here’s the thing.
I know a lot of you guys are familiar with blogs, right? One of the world’s greatest
bloggers is Darren Rowse at The guy has a business in excess of a million
dollars a year. He’s a really, really good blogger. Almost a year ago, he did a blog
post titled “What’s Social Media Good For?” I think it was June 26 or 27 of last
year, his blog post. You can check it out. I will give you the short version of it here.
Darren had recently released a product that he wanted to sell on his site. It was for
bloggers, it was about blogging, so he wanted people to buy it. Now, Darren, he’s a blogger,
so of course he announced it on his blog. He’s also deeply connected with social media,
so he tweeted about it, he Facebooked about it, he did Pinterest things on it. I think
he probably had some LinkedIn stuff. He had an email list. And he tracked very carefully,
where did the sales actually come from? That is, he tracked the conversion phrase of this
process, and here’s what he found – and he also, of course, has affiliates, so he
has people who get paid a certain percentage when they refer a sale to him. He found that
3% of his total sales came from his affiliates. Three percent. He found that another 3% of
his sales came from all of his social media efforts combined, so Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook,
LinkedIn, everything he was doing netted him 3% of his sales. Now, he’s a blogger, so
of course he announced this product on his blog; 7% of his sales came from his blog posts.
Seven percent. This is the greatest blogger in the world. He’s the ProBlogger guy, and
only 7% of his sales came from his blog. Those of you who can subtract, 87% of his sales
came from email. Isn’t that amazing?>>SHAWN: Yeah, that’s incredible.>>RANDY: I think I may have just convinced
you. I think I’ve answered the question fairly. The reason you should set up an email
list is because it works fantastically better than anything else at the third step in the
marketing process, which is conversion.>>SHAWN: And in getting that – I think
we understand that conversion is going to be an important part of that; what Kevin is
asking, actually, he has a question here that’s a great question. He’s focused on the attract
part. Where do we find that initial audience?>>RANDY: That’s a very good question, and
the answer is that different people find it in different places. Some people find that
Facebook works fantastically well for attracting people, and then they just funnel those to
their website, where they will sign up for their email list. Or you can actually get
people to sign up for your email list on Facebook. Some people find that Twitter is a great way
to attract people. Some people find that their website works great, some people find that
blogging works great. I recommend that if you blog, that you put it on your website,
and there’s various reasons for that. All those are great at attracting people. I’m
sure you guys have probably talked about SEO in the past, search engine optimization; that
is one of my main ways of attracting people to my website, where they then have that opportunity
to sign up for my email list. But attraction is whatever works for you. There’s many,
many different ways you can do it, and I call those tactics. So any tool that you use, whether
it’s social media, Twitter, Pinterest, whatever, an email list, anything like that is a specific
tactic. The idea is that you take these tactics and you mix and match them so that they make
a machine. All you have to do is ensure that you have tactics that will attract people,
other tactics that will engage people, and other tactics that will convert them. Or in
some cases, some tactics are useful for attracting and engaging, and in some cases even converting.
A blog can work for all three of those. But we are not all created the same way. We’re
all different. Some people absolutely hate Twitter. It would be bad for them to be forced
to use Twitter as an attraction tactic because they don’t like it. They’re not going
to do well at it. You should choose the tactics that work well for you, but you should also
choose tactics that are effective. So you need to balance out what’s effective and
I like, and find the right mix for you. We’re all different, so the mix is going to be different
for most of us, but that’s okay.>>SHAWN: All right. Sally brings up another
good question I’m going to pull up here, that is – it’s a big question, I think:
“I can’t get email addresses from buyers from Amazon or Smashwords, can I?”>>RANDY: No, you cannot. That is unfortunate,
but you can’t.>>SHAWN: Is there a way – what about in
the book? Can they put something in the book to draw them, or is there another way?>>RANDY: Absolutely. For those of you who
are indie authors, so you’re acting as your own publisher, working on Amazon or Smashwords
or NOOK Press, here’s what I do at the end of my eBooks. First thing I want to do is
I want to get them to buy the next book in the series, so as soon as they have finished
the book and they’ve flipped the page, I have a page titled “Continue the adventure,”
and it has a link direct to the sales page for the next book that I want them to buy.
I don’t give them a list of every book that I have available; that’s giving them too
many choices. I pick what book do I want them to buy, and I give them the cover graphic
for it and a couple of sentences about what it is, and then a link to the appropriate
sales page. Now, there’s an issue there – do you want to get into this in detail?>>SHAWN: Yeah. One of the things to kind
of pile onto you, Randy, is that really, people are like, “Okay, how do you start this up?
How do you get this train moving? You’ve got some people attracted; what’s the whole
nuts and bolts?” Let’s talk about that.>>RANDY: Right. Really, at the end of a book,
you want to do three things. One of those is make the next sale; the next one is get
them to write a review for you, and the next one is then to get their email list. I put
them in that order because if you can get the next sale, why not do that? Now, there’s
a couple of issues there with linking to the sales page of the next book on Amazon. First
of all, if you sold the book on Barnes and Noble, you don’t want to be linking to Amazon,
so you need to have multiple versions of your eBook, one for each retailer. So on the Amazon
version, you would link to the Amazon page; on the NOOK Press version, you would link
to the Barnes and Noble page. But the problem is that iPads and iPhones, which a lot of
people read their books on those devices, will not link directly to Amazon or Barnes
and Noble. But you can do it indirectly through Bitly. A Bitly link will take you indirectly
to the appropriate retailer. Once you’ve made the pitch for them to buy your next book
– and it really can be very short. If they’re not going to buy your next book after having
just finished this one, then they are not in your target audience. But the next thing
that you want to do is ask them to do a review, so you give a link directly to the review
page for the book that they just finished reading. Just say something like, “Look,
you can really help me out a lot. The best way you can help an author is to write a review,
and it doesn’t have to be a long review. Just a few words about how the book made you
feel.” Then give a link to it. Again, it has to be an indirect link. Because reviews
matter. Reviews by customers on Amazon really matter a lot. Then the third thing is give
a short bio of yourself, really trying to capture who you are, and then at the bottom
say “If you’d like to be notified when my next book comes out, click here to my website
and sign up for my email list,” and make sure that on the page you refer people to,
there is a nice, prominent signup box for your email list in the upper right corner.
Because that’s the optimal place for it, is the upper right corner. And then be sure
that it is all connected up correctly to your email provider.>>SHAWN: With that quick pause, I do want
to take a pause for a second for one thing I want to pull out here. Christie Foreman,
I just want to say, I am thoroughly encouraged by the work you are doing. You come on The
Author Hangout I think every episode, and I want to encourage you, but also others,
that what you’re doing is you’re watching the show, you’re learning from the show,
and then you’re applying the work. I’ve seen the progress that you’ve been making,
and I just want to encourage you, Christie, keep going. The things that Randy’s talking
about with building an email list, I know it’s going to upset the applecart, so to
speak, in your entire way you do things, and maybe on your website you’re going to have
to change some things. But as an encouragement, I just want to say, you’re doing awesome,
and keep that up. For other authors, as you’re looking at self-publishing and “Should I
do this? Should I do an email list? Should I get on Twitter or Facebook?”, do it. It
does take one step at a time. One of the questions I did want to ask you, Randy, is how long
has it taken you to build your email list that you currently have?>>RANDY: I started it about 9 ½ years ago,
so I started I guess really in the spring of 2005.>>SHAWN: And that was probably an overnight
success, right? Immediately you probably went from zero to – I don’t know, you have
over 7,000 authors on your list now. So that was just within that first month, right?>>RANDY: It was pretty much an overnight
success, yeah. I think my first month I had about 500 subscribers already to it. But I
had a bit of a running start because I was consistently hanging out on writers’ email
loops for a long time before that, and so I had built a name and a reputation. I’d
already started teaching fiction writing at conferences, and that’s how I knew that
an email list about how to write fiction would be successful, because people kept telling
me “Wow, I really like what you have to teach. You’re really excited about it, and
you present it in a way I can understand. You make it simple.” So I already knew it
would work, and all I had to do then was to call in my contacts and let people know, “We’re
about to start this new venture.” People came running to sign up for it. But then,
once I started executing, it took off on its own because one of my principles of an email
list is every month, it’s my best stuff. I have this theory that you give people your
gold for free. Give people your absolute best every month. Maybe it’s not all of your
gold; maybe it’s just some of your gold. But the quality, it has to be your best quality
stuff. You never just sort of mail it in. I think that’s one of the reasons that my
Ezine has been successful, is that every month is the best I could do that particular month.
Now, some months, I’m just not as “on” as other months, but I do give it 100% every
single time. I can’t think of any month where I ever just sort of said “Eh, I’ll
just take it easy this month.” I think that’s a key part of it.>>SHAWN: Talking about that monthly – and
I believe it is, you email out monthly, is it?>>RANDY: Every month. It’s the first Tuesday
of every month. Unless it’s my wife’s birthday, like it was this time.>>SHAWN: So everybody, here’s your call
to action, is go to; on the right hand side, you’re going to
see a signup button. You’re going to get signed up and enrolled with Randy’s email
list, and I think it’s worthwhile for you guys to go and take a look at that. That’s
your call to action. With that, when we’re talking about email platforms and the tools
of the trade behind the scenes, some people are recommending different – MailChimp,
AWeber, Constant Contact; those are all options out there. Which do you use and which do you
recommend?>>RANDY: I recently switched to MailChimp.
The reason I switched to MailChimp is that they seem to have the best deliverability
statistics in the industry. Because we have a problem with email, which is that we all
get way too much of it, and a lot of what we get is spam. It’s almost impossible,
if you’re using MailChimp, to be spamming your users because they are so tight on making
sure that you do everything by the book, legally, and therefore all the internet service providers
deliver their mail at very high rates. It’s like 99+%, because they trust and respect
MailChimp. They know MailChimp is working really hard to keep the spammers out. So if
you do everything MailChimp makes you do, you almost can’t spam. You really want high
deliverability rates. They’ve also just got good tools for putting together your emails
and for sending them out. They’re just very good. Really excellent.>>SHAWN: In putting together an email, what’s
the structure of the things that somebody’s going to have to wrestle through? And also,
tailored with that, what content are you actually sending out to your readers?>>RANDY: I wear two hats, because I’m a
novelist, but I’m also a nonfiction writer. I teach about the craft and marketing of fiction,
and that’s a nonfiction subject. So if you’re a nonfiction person, what I recommend is what
I’d actually do, which is to send a regular email – mine is what I call the Advanced
Fiction Writing Ezine, and it’s on the craft and marketing of fiction. It’s very clear
what you’re going to get when you sign up for it. Every month, you’re going to get
one column on organization, just how to run your life; you’re going to get one column
on craft, how to write your fiction; and another column on marketing. That’s the core of
my email list. My Ezine, every issue is huge. I expect that very few people actually read
the whole thing cover to cover, because it’s big. It’s thousands and thousands of words.
But I expect that there’s going to be something for everyone in each issue. If you’re doing
nonfiction, I just highly recommend that you do something, pick some small topic every
month, and do a good job at delivering something new on that. Now, what about for fiction?
If you’re a novelist, you really don’t want to be telling your fans how to write
fiction. That would be a dumb thing to do, because what you’re doing there is you’re
marketing to your competition, not to your customers. So what can you possibly give your
fans in a regular email list? There’s not a whole lot. You might be able to give them
a short story or something, and that could be an effective way to market your work, but
what I recommend is that you just send people an email when you have something new or when
you have a special deal on your existing books. Like if you’re running a 99 cent special
on Amazon this week, let your people know. They are your fans, right? They want to know
about your novels. They want to get a good deal. If you have a new book coming out, let
them know. But if you have nothing to say, then don’t say it. That’s my own theory
on email marketing for fiction. For nonfiction, I try to be very regular, get something out
every month that’s of high value to people. Because it’s really a free sample of the
products that I sell on my website, and when you give someone a free sample and it’s
your gold, they’re going to look at it and go, “Wow, he’s giving this away for free?
I bet you the stuff that he sells is even better.” I’ll tell you, it’s not actually
the case. The stuff that I sell is the same quality as the stuff that I give away for
free; it’s just different stuff. So if you want to learn everything I have to teach,
you’re going to get some of it for free, and some of it you have to pay for. I think
that’s a sound marketing principle. But it’s the same quality. I give it my best,
whether I’m selling it or whether I’m giving it away for free.>>SHAWN: What’s the psychology behind giving
something away free? We see that a lot. Is it getting old, or is it still working?>>RANDY: Free I think really works very well,
both with fiction and with nonfiction, and the reason is it removes the obstacles to
that conversion phase. It’s easy to attract someone to your website, because it costs
them nothing to click on a Google link and come to your site. It costs them nothing to
read, if you’ve got an article on your site or a blog or something. It just costs them
their time. But if they’re going to actually buy one of your products, that costs them
something, and most people don’t want to do that. I don’t. We’re all very, very
resistant to attempts to get us to pull out our wallet and type in a credit card. Because
we’re inundated with like 1500 marketing messages per day, is what the average American
sees, we’re very resistant to that. We have a strong immune system to advertising. But
when someone has something and they’re giving it for free, it tells us first of all that
they believe in it, because they believe in themselves, that they’ve got something worth
giving away for free, and obviously they believe in the things that they’re selling enough
to give something for free. But it removes that barrier. It removes the speed bumps to
trying it out. If you try something out and you don’t like it, you’re not going to
be angry. If you get a freebie on Amazon and you read the first eight pages and you realize,
“Oh, this is just not what I wanted,” you’re not mad at the author. You’re not
going to write an angry review about it. But if it is what you wanted, then you’re happy
and you’re going to want to read more of what they have. And that totally makes sense
to me. If it turns out that you’re exactly in the target audience for that book, you’re
going to tell all your friends.>>SHAWN: Sure.>>RANDY: I think free is a great strategy.>>SHAWN: Yeah, and that’s good. Randy,
this has been really fast – you’ve got people that are completely disagreeing with
you. Kevin says your marketing to competition, what you said, he absolutely disagrees. What
we can do is take that comment off and go and answer that after the show, if you would.
Kevin, he’ll take care of that. But the show is wrapping up quick. I did want to ask
you something – tell me about Facebook likes, and why are they important to your author
marketing in the acquisition phase?>>RANDY: Oh, that’s a good question. We
could talk for a long time about whether Facebook actually has any value or not. Because I have
friends who believe Facebook is just the greatest thing since sliced bread, it’s wonderful,
and so naturally – I’m an analytical kind of guy; I have a Ph.D. in theoretical physics.
I like to understand how things work. So I just ask three simple questions: What is it
you’re trying to achieve with Facebook? Secondly, how, in principle, would you measure
whether you’re actually achieving that or not? And third, what are the results of the
measurements you have done on that? How do you know that it did work? It’s just really
hard to get Facebook aficionados to answer those questions. They want to talk about engaging
their readers. And I can understand, engagement is good, and entering into the conversation,
but at some point, any sort of a marketing strategy needs to get to that conversation
stage, and I want to understand how Facebook fits into that strategy. So if you go looking
for me to see, does Randy have an Advanced Fiction Writing Facebook page, I don’t.
I don’t. I just have my website. So I don’t care if people like me, Facebook “like”
me. I have about 3,000 friends or so, and I just sort of accept anyone who wants to
friend me, who doesn’t look like they’re a spammer or something, but I don’t consider
– Facebook is not part of my strategy. So when people tell you that it’s just imperative,
if you want to make any money at all or get published, that you must be on Facebook, that’s
not true. I’m a counter example. And my publisher had no problem at all with that
fact, because I didn’t highlight it. I said, “Here’s what we are going to do when we
launch my book,” and they go, “Okay, that sounds good to me. You make that happen,”
and I did make it happen.>>SHAWN: I think the point in all of this,
in what you’re saying, is that you do have the funnel, it’s been said in the comments,
and that sales funnel, and wherever you acquire them, the real meat of it is making sure that
you get them into an email list so that you can sell directly to them. And you’re living
proof, which is great, because a lot of people say “This doesn’t work for nonfiction,
and this works for fiction,” but you’re a great example of somebody who’s sitting
on both sides of the world there.>>RANDY: Yes. I know that email works excellently
for both nonfiction, because I’ve done it, and for fiction, because I’ve done it. Now,
let me just say that with fiction, it doesn’t have to be your email list. It can be paid
advertising. So there are numerous email lists that will sell you a day’s worth of ads.
BookBub is the premiere one. Ereader News Today, there’s BookGorilla, there’s Pixel
of Ink. There’s probably dozens of these that will take an ad for your book, and those
work extremely well, some of them. BookBub is the king. They just got some venture capital
for like $3.8 million. There’s a reason for that. It’s because they work really,
really well. So it doesn’t have to be just your email list, but your email list, you
have complete control over. BookBub is very hard to get into these days; they’re quite
stringent in their requirements. And they’re also getting expensive.>>SHAWN: With that, Randy, our time is up,
but everybody don’t go away right away. Audience, #1, you guys have been incredible.
I really appreciate the comments, questions, feedback that you’ve all been putting through
today on Google+. Really good, and we’re going to continue to answer those questions
throughout. Randy, I did want to give you a couple minutes to talk about where folks
can find you and what call to action are you wanting to leave with them today?>>RANDY: Check out my website at
You can just Google “how to write a novel”; I’m usually #1 or #2 on the results for
that, or “writing a novel.” Anything like that, you should be able to find me very quickly.
Check me out, sign up for my Ezine if it seems appealing to you, subscribe to my blog, and
we’ll continue the conversation there.>>SHAWN: Great. Thank you, Randy. Everybody,
as you leave, recently launched a tool that allows you to submit
your eBooks for free on a lot of the locations that Randy was talking about. So if you’re
looking for a tool that’s going to quickly and easily allow you to submit your book for
free during the free promotion period that you may be advertising it that way, take a
look at under our Tools section, that’ll allow you to get to the
free eBook submit. And we’re going to post a link for that very shortly here. Take a
look at that. Also,, we’ve got a free marketing checklist; if
you’re looking to market your eBook, we’ll help you there with that checklist. Again,
thank you, everybody. Thank you, Randy, for being on the show. Until next time, take care,
everybody. Bye bye.

2 thoughts on “Sell More Books With Email Marketing – The Author Hangout (Episode 7 w/ Randy Ingermanson)

  1. This is great advice, thank you. I'm going to try a few marketing strategies you suggested on the ebooks, I recommend this video to any indie author self publishing, it is very helpful advice, and offers new angels to marketing ebooks.

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