The Email Marketing Trap Fiction Writers Must Avoid

POSTED ON Jun 24, 2015

Jason Kong

Written by Jason Kong

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Does any of this sound familiar?You hear of a successful novelist that runs a monthly email newsletter. So you decide to do yours monthly too.A fellow fiction author says he paid to have a custom design for his emails, consistent with his brand. You fork out money to do the same.You read a blog post about the importance of offering a free gift to encourage more email signups, thus growing your list. You have no idea what to use, but figure something is better than nothing.Generally speaking, looking to others for guidance isn’t a shortcoming. When we tackle a new endeavor and have no clue what to do next, it’s natural to seek information from the people around us. That’s especially true with a complicated undertaking like email marketing.Fiction writers are familiar with this dilemma. Time is precious, which means shortcuts are welcomed.The problem is that you can waste a lot of your energy following the most popular tactics and so-called best practices. Not because any of these actions are flawed, but because they don’t quite fit what you’re trying to achieve. Putting faith in such a method is a trap.Ultimately, your circumstances matters most. The email marketing approach you take needs to work for your situation, regardless of what it does for everyone else.Here are three questions to help you avoid the email marketing trap:

  1. What are you able to do?

    You want an honest assessment of your skills, resources, and experience.A simple example: some fiction authors send out emails to their subscribers no less than once a week. No joke.These writers thrive on engagement. They want to stay on the radar of their readers as much as possible, even if it’s with a small update or a brief message to ask how’s it going.That type of exchange frequency may not be for you. If figuring out what to say and responding to responses feels overwhelming, acknowledge that limitation.Email marketing is an on-going effort. Unlike a book, there’s no ending. Be mindful of long run consequences.If that means doing less or a simpler plan, then that’s what you do.

  2. What are your preferences?

    Knowing what you can do is one thing. Knowing what you want to do is another.What is the impression you’re giving when a reader finds your website, or sign-up form? What kind of experience are you creating for the recipients of your emails? What is your vision? While email marketing will always be about connecting with your readers, there’s a wide range of ways to accomplish that.So yes, do your research. Observe your fellow authors and learn tactics from trusted sources. But beyond that, attain the insight of why certain actions are taken. You’ll be in a better position to make an informed decision about how to conduct your email marketing.Most of all, realize that you always get to choose. You don’t have to use html in your emails, and you don’t even have to call what you do a newsletter. The good news is, there’s always another way.Visualize what’s important to you. Then make it happen.

  3. What tactics support your strategy?

    When you take a lot of random actions, you tend to get a lot of random results.That’s the danger of doing things without the knowledge of why they’re done. Offering a compelling bonus in exchange for an email address may increase signups, but using an incentive unrelated to your fiction writing will attract the wrong kind of subscriber. Knowing the reasoning helps.Email marketing is a process, but it’s best executed with a plan. There are foundational parts that work in concert, and certain steps that need to be performed before others. You can’t expect to be successful just by copying a few fellow authors and reading a couple of blog posts. Go deeper, beyond the how. Educate yourself on the why and make more impactful decisions.


The bottom line

No, you won’t do everything perfect the first time, just because you’re equipped with the rationale behind your actions. But chances are, you’ll be less frustrated if you take a smarter approach.Email marketing, at its best, is a sustainable system that provides promotional leverage for your fiction writing. Assessing your situation, preferences, and strategy is an investment towards that effort, and not necessarily easy. But it’s worth it.


Jason Kong

Written by
Jason Kong

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