Selling books through email marketing can provide incredible results for authors when done correctly – critical for those hoping to make a living from their writing.
Through well-crafted email messages to your audience, you can exponentially increase book sales and establish a loyal readership that will buy all of your future books.
This article will explain 15 proven email marketing tips authors can put in place to see their book sales grow 10x or more. By implementing just a few of these strategies and some excellent email marketing tools, you can drive much more exposure, website traffic, purchases, and revenue.
Significance of Email Marketing for Authors
The importance of email marketing cannot be overstated for any author looking to expand their readership, increase book visibility, and drive dramatic sales growth. Most authors who implement email strategies see a 10-20x increase in book revenue over just using social media or online ads alone.
This growth is fueled by the high conversion rate of email, allowing you to directly market your books to engaged followers. Beyond increased transactions, dedicated email subscribers tend to become loyal, repeat customers.
An author with just 1,000 highly targeted email subscribers they regularly engage with can expect to earn $10,000-$30,000 more per book or product launch.
Additionally, you retain complete control over your messaging and who it reaches. For independent authors without a major publishing house behind them, focusing on email marketing provides the highest return on investment for their time and catapults their writing careers.
1. Build a Targeted Email List
The foundation of profitable email marketing is developing a targeted list of subscribers truly interested in your books. The first step is to identify who your ideal readers are – this will inform every part of list-building and email campaigns.
Gather reader demographic and psychographic data through online surveys, interviews, and examining reviews on your current book sales pages. Look for trends defining their common attributes like age, gender, education level, interests, values, and more.
Once your ideal buyer personas are mapped out, segment your overall email list into groups with distinct wants/needs.
For fiction authors, this may be by genre, with segments like “sci-fi lovers” and “thriller fans”. For non-fiction, you could group by topic, like “diet book readers” or “personal development students”. Customize the messaging in your emails to align with each segment.
There are several effective strategies to rapidly grow your email subscribers in a scalable way. Offer an opt-in bribe like a free ebook, course, or other resources to encourage signups to your email list.
Promote this through social posts, and website banners, and pay a small amount to run ads targeting your buyer personas. Also guest posts on complementary sites with a call-to-action to join your reader community for valuable updates.
2. Craft Compelling Subject Lines
Your email subject line is the first and possibly only thing subscribers read before deciding to open your message. Master the art of writing captivating yet relevant subject lines that speak directly to the interests of each reader segment.
For your thriller fan list, compelling subject lines could be “Our characters are in danger, can you solve the mystery?” or “Only you can unlock the clues in time”. When promoting a new diet book, use subject lines speaking to their goals like “The solution for dropping those last 5 pounds”.
- Always A/B test multiple subject line versions to see which drives the highest open and click-through rates – this will differ across segments.
- Keep lines short, personally addressing the reader when possible.
- Use emojis, brackets, or ellipses (…) to make them visually stand out in inboxes.
- Send different subject lines to small sample groups first before full list deployment.
Continually tweak and improve so your emails get opened more over time.
3. Personalize Your Emails
Making your email messages highly personalized and relevant for each subscriber will dramatically increase engagement. Build your email service integration to pull in the reader’s first names dynamically into subject lines and content.
When promoting a book launch, say “As a sci-fi fan, I thought you’d enjoy my latest novel” rather than just blasting out a generic broadcast. Segment your list by reader persona and location to reference things unique to them. Customize calls-to-action based on prior purchases and interests, guiding thrill seekers to similar works and dieters to your peak-performing weight loss books.
Timing is also key – only send when your subscribers are most likely to open, read, and act. Test sending book launch emails on different days of the week and times to determine peak response rates.
Optimize your messages for mobile since many will be reading emails on phones and tablets rather than laptops. Personalized dynamic content and strategic timing will make your emails feel like they were written just for each individual.
4. Provide Valuable Content
The content within your emails drives opens, clicks, and conversions so it must be informative and relevant. Share excerpts from your latest book, give behind-the-scenes details on the writing process, or provide exclusive access to additional materials.
Offer the first 1-2 chapters of an upcoming novel release focused around a major new character – guiding readers deeper into the story world to get hooked.
For non-fiction, embed instructional videos or audio of short 5-10 minute trainings that complement your self-help books. Present findings from related detailed market research or spotlight user case studies and transformation stories. Feature special guest posts from leaders in your book’s topic space your audience admires.
New book announcements should incentivize signups with free digital resources like workbooks, research reports, or discounts on paperback copies.
The example below is of an email sent to John Grisham fans:
Continually test different types of content to determine what your segmented subscribers respond to best. Mix these email content ideas with personalized messaging for maximum repeat engagement, leading to book purchases when strategically highlighting your catalog.
5. Use Clear Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
Compelling your email subscribers to take action is essential – otherwise, your open and click rates are meaningless. Every message and content piece must guide recipients to click or tap on strategic calls-to-action (CTAs) tailored to their interests.
Feature clickable book covers of similar genre releases readers purchased for fiction fans. For non-fiction purchasers, embed relevant training program CTAs that complement books they bought like your weight loss video course.
Make action-driving CTAs visually stand out through color contrast, size/shape differentiation, animations, or simply saying “Click Here Now”. Test whether descriptive action-focused buttons like “Download Free Chapter Guide” perform better than generic options such as “Learn More”. Monitor clickthrough rates on all CTAs, and continually refine their messaging and styling.
Strategically place your CTAs both early in emails and beside specific content pieces for increased visibility and conversion. Following these practices will encourage more of your subscribers to engage further and buy your books.
6. Optimize for Mobile
With over 50% of emails opened on mobile devices, optimizing the design of your messages for small screens is mandatory. Use minimal text formatting like bolding key sentences rather than lengthy paragraphs. List important book details in easy-to-scan bullet points. Feature a single clear call-to-action rather than multiple complex options.
Check your email render previews across iPhones, Android devices, tablets, and responsive web to confirm mobile friendliness. Adjust line spacing, font sizes, and CTA button sizes so all is legible and tapable in small formats. Test clickthrough rates from mobile viewers vs desktop to optimize.
Build your emails for thumb-stopping visually focused mobile users first, embellishing for those on laptops secondarily. Accessing emails conveniently from anywhere makes subscribers more likely to frequently engage over time – driving more book purchases across all devices.
7. Implement Email Segmentation
Segment your subscriber list based on reader personas, interests, and prior book purchases to deploy targeted email campaigns.
Fiction authors may split into genre-interest groups like science fiction, romance, horror, and thriller. Non-fiction could have segments focused on areas like money, productivity, health, or relationships.
Buyers of a specific book get tagged to receive similar recommendations – romance readers who purchased book 1 also receive books 2-3 in that trilogy. Diet book buyers get put into fitness & nutrition segments driving personal training program sales.
Customize your email content, offers/promotions, calls to action, and subject lines, and send times for what will resonate best with each group. Test engagement levels across your segments to double down on what is working and eliminate waste where emails go ignored.
Proper segmentation will boost campaign performance metrics like open, click-through, and conversion rates. It also provides a superior reader experience from the personalized relevance in their inbox specific to their preferences. Use segmentation for 2-5x higher returns from nurturing your book-buying audiences.
8. Monitor and Analyze Performance
Continually tracking user engagement and sales metrics will reveal what email strategies are most effective for selling more books. Closely monitor open rates, clickthrough rates, email sharing levels, and most crucially book purchases driven from each campaign.
Use personalization to improve metrics across the board, as evidenced by the example below:
Use connected tools like Google Analytics to evaluate traffic to your book sales pages and buying conversion rates by traffic source – assessing email vs other channels.
For detailed insights, use email marketing and list analytics tools to overlay metrics on your segmented groups. Find out engagement differences across geographic regions, genders, genres, and individual book offers. Refine subject lines, content formats, and calls to action that resonate based on the highest response areas.
Identify low-performing segments for either improved messaging or removal from lists altogether. Continual improvement comes from vigilantly analyzing metrics and then applying learnings for ever-increasing campaign performance and book profits over the long term.
9. Foster Reader Engagement
The most successful authors build personal connections with their audience that foster loyalty and book sales through regular email engagement. Share fun details about your latest projects or ask research questions to make fans feel involved in upcoming book creation.
Encourage subscribers to email you with suggestions on future plot lines or book themes aligned to their interests for consideration.
Solicit reviews from existing buyers when releasing new titles, amplifying exposure. Send periodic surveys to capture demographic shifts or new genre preferences to inform writing. Feature testimonials from long-time readers in emails to showcase how your books have helped other people, building affinity.
Email establishes direct relationships that social media cannot replicate in its broadcast style – leverage this for deeper reader intimacy that converts when highlighting your book catalog. Consistent insightful, valuable communications lead to readers feeling invested in you as an author, ultimately buying each book you publish.
10. Ensure Compliance with Regulations
As email marketer, authors must educate themselves and comply with relevant laws and deliverability standards. Display an unsubscribe option on all campaigns, immediately honoring opt-out requests per CAN-SPAM regulations.
Never purchase lists or use third-party emails without direct consent. Enable spam filtering tools to maintain the sender’s reputation, keeping emails out of Junk folders.
Consult with email legal advisory groups like Good Firm PLLC regarding disclosures around earning potential claims, testimony usage, or affiliate promotions in your messages. Conduct an annual audit checking your email signup flows, privacy policies and data security meets GDPR, CCPA, and evolving industry codes.
By self-regulating and emphasizing reader transparency, you safeguard delivery to inboxes and avoid issues with regulators that could jeopardize your author’s business. Stay vigilant through continuing education as protocols frequently update.
11. Test and Iterate
The most effective authors constantly test and refine their email campaigns through A/B testing different variables to unlock what resonates most with their readership.
Send one featured book teaser to a small sample of a segmented list using different email formats, calls to action, timing, and personalized details to discern what iteration converts best. Then roll out the winning variation to the full group for maximized impact.
Continually experiment by sending half your sci-fi subscribers email A and the other half email B – tracking open, click, and purchase rates to quantify improvements, doubling down on what moves the needle most.
Allow time to gather statistically significant data. Testing subject lines, layouts, content styles, and calls to action over at least 6 messages per segment provides learnings to optimize engagement and book profits. Apply insights in ever-evolving campaigns and watch your readership expand.
12. Leverage Pre-Launch and Post-Launch Campaigns
Strategically timed, multi-faceted email campaigns dramatically boost book sales before and after launch.
- Build anticipation by featuring your striking book cover in a pre-release announcement email 2-4 weeks prior.
- Offer those who opt-in sneak peek access to select material like exclusive chapters.
- Share inside scoops on protagonist details or future plot twists to start buzz-building through social shares.
- Follow up post-launch with segmented recommendations for what newly purchased readers should buy next based on interests.
Send personalized “while you wait” automated messages with related genre buying suggestions if a book is back-ordered. Request reviews from fans on sites like Amazon or Goodreads. Keep the momentum and book income going with ongoing nurturing emails that transition buyers into loyal long-term community members.
Coordinate launch timing with major awareness campaigns, holiday promotions, and paid ads across other channels using email as the lead prioritization vehicle to maximize exposure opportunities.
13. Collaborate with Influencers or Reviewers
Connecting with key influencers and professional book reviewers can provide credibility while amplifying the reach of your launch campaigns. Conduct email outreach to respected industry bloggers, authorities, and rising stars related to your book topics.
Provide exclusive previews of galleys or special insights around topics followers care about as fodder for posts, videos, and podcast appearances. Similarly, access top book reviewers on sites like the New York Times, LA Times, Publishers Weekly, and niche bloggers through personalized email pitches for book previews.
Look for influencer affiliates open to paid promotions and review copies driving organic sharing. Collaborate on giveaways or live video AMAs to increase social engagement best targeted through email fans.
An influencer tweet may reach a couple of thousand followers while dedicated co-marketing emails through their owned channels could reach millions of qualified followers in a more hands-on, conversion-focused format. Expand beyond your owned lists for maximum exposure through aligned advocates.
14. Send Surveys to Identify Reader Interest
Surveying your segmented email lists identifies evolving reader interests, desires, and pain points to inform writing new books tailored to who will buy them. Ask targeted questions like preferred genres, storyline archetypes, types of characters, obstacles they face, settings they relate to, and more.
This qualifies future opportunities both broad like confirming the popularity of dragon-themed medieval tales with fantasy lovers demanding that next series. It reveals specific chances as well by highlighting key problems single moms struggle with for your relationship advice books addressing those issues directly.
Keep surveys concise at 3-5 questions to encourage responses, incentivizing participation through book discounts upon completion. Tie survey promotions into customer appreciation emails, special date milestones, or major announcements.
Personalize by referencing prior purchases when querying. Analyze results to guide your book roadmap, resonating with readers in deeper ways through books they request. This propels more sales by intentionally writing what fans want.
15. Create Custom Book Recommendations
The most clicked email content comes from tailored book recommendations matching individual reader preferences. Segment your list by prior genre purchases or areas of interest to align suggestions to their taste. Analyze what each subscriber segment commonly purchases together for recommendations – historical fiction readers also buy certain types of romance books.
Personalize these custom content blocks addressing them: “John, based on the epic tales you’ve bought, others seeking that suspense enjoyed this new novel”.
Feature 2-3 specific products they are likely to purchase rather than generic lists to pique interest. Refresh recommendations dynamically integrating the latest releases continually. Test recommendation relevance by monitoring clickthrough and conversion rates, and modifying the suggestion engine over time.
Invest in connected recommendation software facilitating this if managing multiple complex segments and products, simplifying the process for boosting cart value through hyper-personalized book suggestions.
Implementing even a few of these advanced email marketing tips will exponentially grow your book sales, readership, and author income. Start by building targeted subscriber lists around core reader personas and book genres.
Craft captivating subject lines, personalized content, and clear calls to action tailored to each segment’s interests. Analyze performance meticulously while testing variations to continually improve results.
Launch new releases with strategic pre and post-buying campaign workflows. Email enables direct reader relationships and engagement beyond any other channel – lean into it and watch your books thrive.