A mailing list is the most effective marketing tool for authors. Ideally, it exists by the time the first book comes out: then the author can offer the book to her subscribers.
But this is more of an exception than the rule, and in most cases, authors start organizing a mailing list only after the release of their first work, and readers who liked the first book become subscribers.
A mailing list allows you not only to collect fans of your work in one place, but also to hold their attention and to stay in touch with them.
Five functions of an author mailing list
Let’s keep in mind that an author earns money when readers buy his books. Consequently, it’s very important for you to have people to notify about the release of your new books. This can be done with advertising – for money, but a mailing list allows you to attract readers for free.
Another critical function of a mailing list is the fostering of trust. We easily buy books by authors we know and are confident in. Interesting letters that an author sends to his audience help him grow closer to his readers and appear in the best light before them.
The third function of a mailing list is the advance creation of demand for new releases. It’s one thing to tell people about your book on the day of its publication in the hope that someone will become interested in it. And a whole other story to gradually stoke readers’ interest and to convince them time and again that they’re in for something exciting.
The fourth function is the ability to get feedback and investigate your readers’ requests. If you get them used to not just reading your letters but answering your questions, you gain the ability to conduct your own market research.
Subscribers will guide you in everything: what books to write and what ads to launch. If necessary, they will even give you constructive feedback – and that’s very valuable!
The fifth function is the creation of a support group. Communicating over email is very personal. You will end up forming a friendship with some of your subscribers simply by answering their questions.
In this way, you will find beta readers and volunteers willing to help you with your book release. These are the very people who will be first to buy your work and write the necessary reviews.
To sum up, a regular newsletter is the perfect tool for communicating with fans of your work that is practically free – if you don’t count the expenses of paying for the mailing list service.