The number of unique readers you attract to your blog or fans and followers you gain on Twitter, Google Plus or Facebook will never match the power of a large mailing list when it comes to author platform. And author platform not only helps you land a publishing deal, it helps you successfully market your book no matter how you publish.
Despite all the talk about building author platform on social networks, here’s the reason why a mailing list the most powerful platform and marketing tool you have at your disposal—and that you can build from your blog. A mailing list allows you to contact people interested in you and your services or products—your subscriber—directly at any time without relying on the rules or environment of a social network. This gives you great freedom and ability to reach and to market to your potential readers, clients and customers. You also own that list. It won’t go away. You will lose your contacts if Facebook or Twitter suddenly disappear, Google changes it’s algorithms in a way that affects your traffic or Feedburner suddenly decides not to provide RSS feed to blog subscribers any longer.
How to Get Readers to Subscribe to Your List
However, mailing lists are built most quickly with a free product, like a short ebook, white paper, or report. These days most people don’t just want to sign up for a newsletter—they are too busy and have email boxes that are full already. They will sign up for a list if they receive a valuable product they feel they need or can use.
That’s why when I work with my blogging, blog-to-book or author coaching clients, I advise them to set up an account with an email service provider, such as Aweber, and to then create a short ebook to help them attract subscribers to the list they want to build. Many of them balk at this idea because they already feel overwhelmed by writing an ebook or print book. I assure them they can produce an ebook in no time flat.
You, too, can create an ebook or quickly and almost effortlessly to give away to build an email list right on your blog. Here are two ways to do so.
Blog a Short Ebook
Using the same premise that forms the foundation for blogging a full-length book, create a blogging plan for a series of posts on a topic you know your potential clients or customers will find valuable. For instance, you could write 5-10 posts that answer the top questions they typically ask. Or you could write 5-10 posts on the benefits of your product or service. You also could write a series of posts that discuss solutions to common problems experienced by your clients or customers. If you write fiction, consider a short book related to a theme or topic in your novel discussed from a nonfiction angle. Maybe offer recipes from the location where your book takes place, or even tips on travel to that location. Produce this in a word processing program as well as on your blog. Once done composing and publishing this series, add an introduction and a conclusion, your bio and other contact information. You might also plan out one extra chapter (of blog-post length) with additional information. Then have this manuscript professionally edited, a cover designed and converted into PDF format. (You can choose to convert it to mobi or epub also and upload it to Amazon or elsewhere if you like.) If you want, try the Anthologize plugin to pull the posts right off your blog and turn them into a PDF or an ebook.
Repurpose Existing Material
You also can find material you have already written and published on your blog or even for your upcoming blogged book to repurpose it into a short ebook. Many authors give away sample chapters to their upcoming books, for instance, or they “book their blogs” rather than “blog their books,” which basically means they repurpose material. If you’ve written any series on your blog, this will be perfect for this purpose. Revise this material, have it edited and designed, and convert it into a PDF. Again, you can use a designer or try Anthologize.
Take the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge
These two options will provide you with a free ebook in no time flat—and won’t take too much time (if any) away from the writing of your “real” blogged book. I suggest you give this a try during National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), since most of the ebooks you produce will likely be nonfiction even if the book you are blogging is fictional. Give yourself the 30-day deadline to blog a book or book a blog next month. Then, in December you can start gaining subscribers to your mailing list. To find out how to participate in NaNonFiWriMo and take the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, click here.
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