Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – August 2017

by | Aug 30, 2017

By Amy Collins

School is starting. No matter how old I get, I still wake up each morning this time of year with more energy and a renewed sense of excitement. There is something about the cool and misty mornings that drives me to get organized and dig into new projects. It is in that spirit that I share with you this month’s edition of DO THIS, NOT THAT.

I was speaking with Spencer Michaels, author of the popular Twin Flames Trilogy. His latest book, IF, has just been released and he has been promoting it to libraries and stores all over Virginia and North Carolina as well as nationally.

What He Did

Spencer shared with me that he recently sent a mass email out to dozens of libraries in Virginia telling them about his book. It was a well written email. It should have gotten him quite a few hits and orders.

What Happened

He used MailChimp, which allows him to see the “opens” and “clicks” on his emails. He used a good list, pulled from a reputable source, but the amount of people who opened the pretty, well-written, email was only 2%. 2% of the librarians even bothered to open it.

What He Should Have Done

There is NOTHING wrong with doing a mass-emailing. It is a great step and helps start the process of making decision makers aware of your book. Marketing studies have shown that people need to see something multiple times before they notice it exists! They have to see it even more times to come to trust it and become comfortable with it.

Where Spencer fell short was thinking that one or two mass-mailed emails would do all the heavy lifting for him. Nope. A MailChimp email to a list is the same thing as using a chainsaw to start the process of turning a tree trunk into a square table. It does get the job started… But if you want to eat at that table without getting splinters and be able to put your fine china on it safely, you will need other tools.

Spencer SHOULD have done a mass mailing. THEN he should have put the chain saw down and taken up another set of tools to take the next step.

What are those steps? Spencer did them!

What He Did Next

To get a much higher number of librarians to open his emails and take a look at his book(s), Spencer picked up the phone and started calling libraries in the states where he wanted to focus. He simply asked to speak with the acquisition librarian. If they were unavailable, he got their email and contact information. After 6 hours of calls, he had a long list of librarians that he had personally vetted.

Next, he sent emails one by one to each of the librarians he had found and addressed each librarian personally.

What Happened?

His open and “click” rate went up to 60%! 60% of the librarians opened and read his email. AND he got emailed responses. Orders started to come in and it was all due to taking the time to approach his market in a thoughtful and individual manner.

This same practice has shown itself to be just as successful for bookstores and reviewers. Mass emails are easy. It is SCARY to reach out to people and ask them to review or buy your book. (What if they say something mean?) It also is time consuming, but I can show that mass-emailed requests to reviewers gets me a 7-9% response rate. Individual requests to that SAME group of reviewers garners me a 35% response rate.

May I suggest that we keep mailing to the lists we find and buy? It is a good first (and second) activity. But it is not going to get you where you want to be. The time will come when you will want a higher rate of return on your time. At that point, it is time to put down the chain saw and pick up the next tool in your tool box.
Photo: Bigstockphoto. Amazon link contains affiliate code.

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  1. Matt Aird

    It would be interesting to know how many sales this resulted in. Seems like a lot of time and effort that could be spent in more productive ways. Self-published authors need to make sure that every minute they spend on marketing really moves the needle.

  2. Karen

    Good article! Good advice!

  3. patriciaruthsusan

    Thanks for this thorough and helpful information. :) — Suzanne

  4. Nicholas Rossis

    Wow, an amazing example of email marketing done right. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Amber Polo

    The correct title is Acquisitions Librarian. Some libraries have Selection Committees.

    • Amy Collins

      You are so right! I should have included that. Also, Collection Development Departments….



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