Ep 033: “Start a Mailing List”

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Welcome to the 33rd episode of The Author Hangout, a “Hangout on Air” 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!

“I cannot impress upon you enough how valuable it is to have a list of dedicated fans who you can get your message into their mailbox.”– Joe Lallo

Start a Mailing List

In this episode we interviewed bestselling author Joe Lallo who was able to quit his day job to go into writing full time. He shared some of those insights, his insecurities, and some great tips on building a mailing list.

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He’s an epic fantasy and science-fiction writer who has sold more than 230,000 e-books via Smashwords and Amazon, as well as thousands more elsewhere. Best known for The Book of Deacon Trilogy, Bypass Gemini and Jade, his massive success has allowed him to purchase a home, quit his IT job and become a full-time author at the age of 32. When he’s not writing he contributes to BrainLazy.com, a popular humor, entertainment and technology website he co-founded with 2 friends. Please welcome Indie author, Joe Lallo.

How did you become an author and publish your first book?

Joe starts from the beginning:

“Well, I always wanted to write. I would day dream a lot when I was little and day dreaming and writing is the difference whether or not you have a pen in your hand. So I was coming up with stories ever since I was a little kid. What eventually would be The Book of Deacon Trilogy was a story that I had started making up with a couple of friends after I played the game Dragon Warrior and decided to do science-fiction before I know what science-fiction was. It was really not anything. I didn’t start writing it down until I was in 8th grade or so. It developed over time. It was originally about descendants. Then I decided it was stupid to write about people who had come after other people, so I went back and wrote about the first people that would have been the ancestors to those descendants and then I wrote that all down all through high school. Once I got into college some friends convinced me to type it and then those same friends convinced me to attempt to get it traditionally published. And when I failed to do that they convinced me to self-publish.”

He also tells about his initial failures, and there are some great tips in there about what to do and what not to do. Be sure to listen to the whole episode to get these insights.

What is your most recent book or project?

He has one just about to come out, at the time of this interview:

“The most recently released one was the third book in my sci-fi series. The book is called Artificial Evolution and that one came out in December. But right now, my main focus is, in a little less than a month, March 26th, I’ve got the second book in the Steampunk Series coming out. It’s on pre-order right now.”

Can you tell us about a time when you really struggled as an author?

We know a lot of authors struggle with this as well:

“I’m very, very bad at taking bad reviews. There are no shortage of bad reviews for my books. My books are thankfully quite well reviewed but there’s always a few 1’s and 2’s, and for a very long time I would read every review. In fact, for a long time I would reply to every review, which is not a good idea. Among other things it makes you look desperate and it sends you into some horrible spiral when you read a bad review. And most people who write a bad review will actually back paddle if you confront them on it. But it’s just not worth confronting every bad review because, again, you’ll get locked into a bad mindset so it took me a very long time to let bad reviews roll off, and it’s still an issue.”

He also talked about some of his favorite bad reviews. Some of them are hilarious!

What one marketing tactic is really working well for you?

This is huge for any authors with a series:

“The simplest and most impact I’ve had was, I wrote in a series and I made the first one free…not necessarily free but at a very low price. The entry to your series…making the entry to your series cheaper than the rest and free if possible.”

You have to get people to want to take a chance on your book, and making it free is one of the best ways, especially if you have a series, because you will get them hooked.

If you started over today, what 3 things would you tell yourself to help you sell more books?

He started off with a very popular tip our guests give:

“One thing I would say, basically if you’re first starting off is get yourself a mailing list started. I cannot impress upon you enough how valuable it is to have a list of dedicated fans who you can get your message into their mailbox. So, start a mailing list. I use Mailchimp. It’s very simple. It’s free for the first 2,000. Once you’ve got 2,000 you’re earning enough money that it’s worth paying.”

Shawn and Joe also discuss how he uses his mailing list, what he sends, and more, so if you have been confused about what exactly to send to your mailing list, then be sure to listen to the interview.

He also had some other great advice:

“You should make yourself available to your fans through whatever means they want. That means #1, putting it in any store where they want to buy their books. I don’t like exclusivity. I’ve seen a lot of people have a lot of success with Kindle Select which is the exclusive Kindle deal, but I like to have my stuff at every store that people are likely want to buy stuff at. I also like to be available in any social media outlet that people might want to contact me through. Even though I can’t stay active on all of them just being able to…if somebody was on Tumblr, “I wonder if my author’s here”, I want to be there. Just so that I can, just have my name on their list and they can get updates from me when the time comes.”

His third tip is a great one as well… but, you need to listen to the interview to get that tip!

How can people connect with you?

“You can find me at my website. It’s http://www.bookofdeacon.com/. There’s no underscore or anything like that and virtually in every social media you can think of I am jrlallo, so that’s https://twitter.com/jrlallo , http://jrlallo.tumblr.com/ I have a Facebook fan page. You can find all of that through my website so http://www.bookofdeacon.com/ Is the good place to do it and if I’m going to ask your listeners to do anything for me, since they haven’t read any of my stuff, I have free books at the beginning of everyone of my series you can pick them up or you can just sign onto my mailing list and you can find out about the new stuff as it comes along.”

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