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The Money's in the List

Created on: Mar 6, 2014 5:23 AM by CreateSpaceResources - Last Modified:  Mar 6, 2014 7:10 AM by CreateSpaceResources Friedlander.jpg

The Money's in the List

By Joel Friedlander


As authors have flocked to the internet and social media to meet readers, get market insight, create communities of interest and, perhaps, build a robust web asset of their own, many have run into a problem. How will all this activity translate into the income necessary to continue to do all the marketing and branding?


After all, most of us aren't involved in social media, blogging, or other online activities just to change the world, to tell as many people as possible our stories, or to improve people's lives. These are all noble aims, and many of us hope to accomplish some of them, but there's that one inconvenient truth: we all need to make a living somehow.


There's a "missing link" in the fan-finding, Facebook-liking, and blog-posting process that so many authors are filling up their time with, and that's building an email list.


A Sad Truth about Author Websites


Sadly, if you surf the web looking at author websites, you'll find that many of them lack this essential function: they have no sign-up place for people to add their names to an email list. Many of these blogs offer an opportunity to sign up for the blog articles, but all that will do in most cases is add you to a subscriber list that will be sent each blog post as it's published. That's not the same thing as your own email list, although there are some email providers who can combine the two functions.


On other sites you'll see an "opt-in" box where you can enter your email address and perhaps your first and/or last name, too. In exchange, you'll be promised a free download, or a free newsletter, or perhaps a free short course in a subject that's related to what the author is writing about on the blog. This opt-in box is the sign that the blogger is actively building an email list.


You might be wondering why this is so important. And it is important. In fact, I consider it the most important website element for any author who intends to make their writing and publishing into a sustainable business.


The Purpose of Social Media


You might think you don't need an email list, and I'm not suggesting it's a good idea for every single author. For instance, if you want to become a novelist but haven't published anything yet, it might be challenging to build a list particularly if you're not sure yet what kind of books you want to write.


But for the vast majority of authors, an email list is the perfect complement to your other marketing activities, regardless of the publishing path you've chosen. Since most of those activities are likely taking place in social media, perhaps we should look at what all those connections are really good for.



Social media is good for:

  • finding communities of readers

  • engaging with readers and other writers

  • determining how much interest exists for your topic

  • building a community of fans who will support your work

  • keeping up with current developments in your field

  • building "buzz" when you're launching your book


But notice that selling books or other related products and services are not really the best uses of social media. No, it's really more about being "social," whatever that means to you.


To me, that means meeting people who share my interests, finding out about new products and services, hearing about mass media events, and keeping track of breaking news.


The Importance of the Network


Once people find out about your content, you have the opportunity to take your relationship to a higher level of engagement.


When a reader signs up for your email list to download a free report, eBook, or some other piece of content, they are telling you two things:


  1. That they are part of your market, otherwise they wouldn't be interested in your free offer.

  2. They have given you permission to talk to them about that subject in their email inbox.


Unlike social media, you can have a longer conversation through email communication. In social media, most interactions happen in public, and that's part of their appeal. But in email, you are really talking to one person at a time, since each person opens their email in the privacy of their inbox. This leads to the ability to create a longer narrative about the kinds of books you write or about products and services related to your subject area. These kinds of messages are much more suitable to selling. People on your email list know you better than casual readers; they have already established a relationship where they want to hear more from you, so they are open to your communications.


Through regular communication with your email list, you can build your credibility, establish your authority in your field, and make offers to your readers that reflect your shared interests. It's this last option - making offers to your readers - that creates the opportunity for you to finally find a way to turn all the hard work you've done into financial support.


And as long as you maintain the respect and integrity that caused people to want to know and interact with you in the first place, readers will continue to value these offers. Your offers don't need to be books, either. Perhaps you've created a training program based on your expertise or decided to take a group of writers to an exotic location to work on your books together. Your email list is where you will make these offers to your readers and where you'll be able to fully explain them. For more complicated products or services, your email may be a vehicle that convinces people to take a look at a sales page, where the item is described more richly than it can be in an email message.


Sustainable Business is Built on Repeated Engagement


With your email list full of people anxious to hear your stories or learn from your expertise, you have the beginning of a sustainable business. Over time these people will get to know you better and better, and a percentage of them will become some of your best and most devoted fans.


They will help spread the word about your new books, let you know about opportunities you might have missed, and be open to offers you make them in the future. This network of engaged and interested readers is the base upon which you can build a truly effective, long-term business as an author, a speaker, and a subject-matter expert. So start building that email list today.


This article was written exclusively for CreateSpace by Joel Friedlander. Joel is a paid contributor and the proprietor of Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California, a publishing services company where he's helped launch many self-published authors. He blogs about book design, writing and self-publishing at Joel is also the founder of, where he provides tools and services for authors who publish their own books.


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