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Ep 072: “Engaging With Your Email List”

Welcome to the 72nd episode of The Author Hangout, a podcast designed to help authors, especially self-published and indie authors, with marketing their books and improving their author platform. Authors struggle with various aspects of marketing and we are here to help!

“If you’re not interested in you, then don’t expect anybody else to be interested in you either.”– Michael Bunker

Engaging With Your Email List

In this episode, we were joined once again by bestselling author Michael Bunker. He shared some great stories, including how he got his book optioned for a movie, as well as some fantastic tips about engaging with your email list so that they do not get fatigued.

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Intro

We have none other than Michael Bunker sharing with us some important information about engaging with your readers without fatiguing them.

To kick off the episode, he shared an awesome story about one of his books being optioned for a movie.

Tell us about how you can stay engaged with your readers so that they do not become fatigued.

“I think it’s probably one of the most important questions that authors will ever face is how do I continue to have interaction and have a relationship with my readers while not becoming an irritant to them and fatiguing them and I see so many authors doing it wrong. And so the biggest thing is to realize where you are and what you’re doing and what venue you are and to have those things pretty solidly in your mind. For example on Facebook on somebody else’s page or on a book type of fan page or people who like dystopian books or whatever. Unless that host has invited you to talk to those people about your book then you don’t want to do that. You don’t want to spam people, you don’t even want to spam people on your own page with your book because that becomes very fatiguing. A lot of times they’re there to find out about your life, maybe you’re writing how you write and they’re not really there for you to beat them out about buying your book.”

How do you identify when readers are becoming fatigued with your promotion?

“Well, that’s one of the things with the great email tools we have, I use MailChimp. You have the ability to look at how many people open your emails, how you can actually use clicks to find out how many people are clicking through. You can track sales through sites like Bitly. So email fatigue looks like you have maybe a certain number of people that are subscribed and yet they’re not opening your emails. They’re not interested in what you have to say anymore. A lot of them will unsubscribe and a lot of them won’t and so I actually have known writers, very successful writers with huge email lists, 7000, 8000, 10000 people on their email list and yet they get zero or 1% open rate and that’s because people become fatigued and they’re not interested. So what we have to do is make sure that we’re not that author that is creating a dead email list.”

How do you keep your list fresh?

“I don’t go through and unsubscribe people because I never know when someone maybe for some reason has been out of touch. Maybe they had cancer in their family or something and so I don’t want to break the contact with them. However what I do is I try to make my emails interesting to them, I try to make them where they’re receiving something on every email even if it’s not from me, even if it’s from another author. They’re maybe receiving a free book or a short story. I keep an eye on my open percentage and the click-through percentage and also I don’t just pound that list all the time. There’s a happy medium. I know a lot of people that never send out an email and that’s not the answer either. You do want a certain amount — you’re going to get a certain amount of unsubscribed for every email you send out. People get on the list for weird reasons. They don’t remember why they got on it and so it’s not that you should be upset with unsubscribes, you should be upset when people do receive your email and they don’t open it.”

What do you say to the author who doesn’t think they’re interesting?

Michael’s take on this is great:

“I think I disagree with them. First of all I think that that’s a problem with self-image if you’re an author. Everyday people send me messages and I told them the other day, if you can’t give away your book, don’t expect to sell it. Well if you’re not interested in you, then don’t expect anybody else to be interested in you either. I think everybody out there has an interesting story or an interesting element of their life that they can share. If not then get interesting. Find a hobby, something that you’ve always wanted to do but you haven’t done it, and then share that with your readers as you learn about it. You could start off a Facebook post and just say, hey, I’m going to learn Spanish, I’m going to learn German, I’m going to learn Russian. I’m going to start reading Russian novels, I’m going to read all the top 100 books in the world, whatever, and use that, because people are interested in that, and use that as your point of contact. But what you want to do is be interesting to yourself so that you can be interesting to other people.”

How do you use social media to market your book?

Here’s Michael’s take on social media:

“Well if you’re in the opinion that Facebook or Twitter is for selling books, then you’re already wrong. It doesn’t mean that you don’t host interesting things or if you have something on sale on occasion, but people don’t join your Facebook page or follow you on Facebook or friend you on Facebook because they want you to say — I mean I always tell people it’s like going to a meeting with some friends or a get together and somebody is trying to sell you Tupperware or something. It just becomes very irritating very quickly. What Facebook and Twitter need to be is a way to get people on to your email list.”

What one marketing tactic is working well for you?

“Have your blog sorted so that your blog is an easy place for people to communicate with you and to get on your email list. That’s the most important thing you can do. Bar none, is have a blog and have it sorted so when someone right now goes to michaelbunker.com, there is an opportunity for them to get on my email list and to find out more about me and to make contact with me.”

How can people connect with you?

Well definitely, go to my blog, michaelbunker.com. You can always email me at mbunker [AT] michaelbunker.com but if you go to my blog, all of the information is there and I’d love to talk to you. You can follow me on Facebook, just go Facebook.com/offgrid

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