I’m so pleased to welcome friend, therapist and author Toby Neal to my blog! I invited Toby to write this post as soon as I saw her gorgeous email newsletter. Best to hear all about it from a pro – here’s the scoop:
Mailchimp is the best program since Twitter for authors.
In my minibook on author platform building I recommend building an email list of “Book Lovers.” These are hard-core fans of your work, people who are chomping at the bit for your next ass-kicking mystery (or whatever). But how? A year before my first book came out, I began copying emails from the comments left on my blog (I didn’t know this wasn’t kosher at the time), as well as work contacts, my kids’ friends’ parents, etc. – but I didn’t know what to do next.
One day I got an email from another author friend and she had done such a beautiful branded email announcement that I searched all over and found the company she used right at the bottom of the page. (Duh! But that’s often how I roll with techie things.)
Mailchimp is the bomb diggity! It’s the best thing since Twitter for authors, even technophobes like myself. Oh, how I love this program, and here’s why:
1. It’s FREE! Unless you go above 2,000 subscribers, then it’s cheap. (Who has 2,000 subscribers, anyway? I can only dream!)
2. Using your chosen cover art and matching the color scheme by creating a template, you can achieve a super-professional, good looking, “branded” email that fans will recognize at a glance. (Full disclosure: my webgal did this for me. She matched my website, Twitter, and Mailchimp template. Pay for this. It’s worth it, and it’s a one-time expense!)
3. Mailchimp has a widget that can be embedded into your blog so that people subscribe to email updates and get automatically added to a chosen list. (Again, my webgal did this, but she gave me the name of the widget, which is Gravity Forms. It’s on their website, so you DIY peeps can DIY.)
5. It’s truly user-friendly. I keep saying how non-techie I am, and I was able to import the entire list of Gmail and Hotmail contacts I’d been hoarding into Mailchimp, and develop different email lists without a professional Lamaze-coaching me!
6. Mailchimp breaks down what happens after every email campaign—how many people opened the email, how many forwarded it, how many unsubscribed from your “awesome newsflash” spam, how many tweeted it out (links embedded already) FB liked it (also already embedded) and so much more.
7. It compares your results with industry standards! I found it discouraging about half my subscribers didn’t open the email, until I found out that most campaigns only have a 20% open rate.
8. It helps you analyze what might have helped one campaign over another by creating a “Master Campaign List,” in which you can look at your wording, who opened what, etc.
9. Mailchimp respects spam laws—almost to a fault. When manually inputting any new email address, it requires you to click ‘Yes’ twice to confirm that you have subscriber consent. If anyone dislikes the email and complains, which they can do with a click of a button, it sends you a castigating email and threatens to cut you off from future use. (I did get one of these, because I had input the same name twice using different email addresses. Oops! I’m scared straight!)
10. You can configure different lists within Mailchimp (I have a sublist of Book Reviewers within my Book Lovers list) and it can autosend newsletters to different sublists on a preset schedule.
People say email is dead. I find that just as erroneous as saying print books are dead! Many people still rely primarily on email to communicate, and Mailchimp is the easiest, most attractive, cost-effective program I’ve found to develop your fan list. (Oh, and I am NOT receiving any sort of compensation from them by writing this blog post. I know how your skeptical little writer-minds work.)
If you aren’t developing an email fan list, why not?
Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii and makes the Islands home after living elsewhere for “stretches of exile” to pursue education. Toby enjoys outdoor activities including bodyboarding, scuba diving, photography and hiking as well as writing. A mental health therapist, she credits that career with adding depth to the characters in the Lei Crime Series. Visit Toby Neal’s Blog and follow her on Twitter!
About Toby’s novel, Blood Orchids: Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise. Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei’s intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.
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