Friday, March 13, 2009

Mailing Lists: Create a Built-in Audience for Your Book

Have you ever bought anything at Radio Shack? If you have, you know that the salesperson nearly always asks you for your name and address. This is for no other reason than to put you on their mailing list. Radio Shack discovered many years ago that the best marketing they could do was to send a monthly sales catalog to their existing customers – someone who had already bought something from them was more likely to buy from them again.

You too can use this same marketing strategy for selling your books. Sort of…

Obviously, you won’t have sales clerks everywhere gathering names and addresses for you, so you’ll need to go about gathering your mailing list together a bit differently than the way a retail store would do it. You have two places to do this. On the Internet and… not on the Internet. You’ll want to do both. Here are some suggestions on how you might do this.

Not on the Internet

Create a form for people to fill out. Gather their name, address, and email address. Include a check box on the form for them to give you permission to send them emails. Here’s a sample:




Email: ____________________________________

[ ] Yes, send me email updates about your next book!

Now get people who buy your books or who are interested in what you have to say to fill out this form or to give you this information. How do you do that?

One way to start your list is to do so like that annoying friend who sells (insert your favorite annoying MLM, door-to-door, or party company, i.e. Amway, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, Melaleuca, Herbal Life, etc.). They started their list by gathering all the contact information they already had for their friends and family. Then they called each one to try to get them to sell (annoying company’s product or to have a party) which caused reactions like, “Dan’s coming, hide!” Your friends and family will want to avoid you too if you are selling the miracle cure that cleans your pores with magnets and rain forest tree bark, but they will probably enjoy hearing from you about your latest book. So start with friends and family. You will have a big head start if you keep an address book.

Have the form available for people to fill out at book signings, places where you speak, or wherever you may be promoting your book or yourself. Have a door prize or some such thing to encourage people to give you their contact information.

On the Internet

This can be easy if you are a techno geek who programs your own website. If not, you may have to get some help from your webmaster.

Add a form on your website similar to the paper form above. Try to capture as much contact information as you can from your visitors. Name and email at a minimum, but mailing address too if you can.

How do you get visitors to fill out the form?

You could start an email newsletter and use this form for them to sign up. You could give away a white paper, ebook, or an excerpt from your novel.

All this is much easier if you use a service like They make it easy to capture contact information and to send out emails to your list.

Okay. I have a list, now what?

With a list in hand, you now have one of the most powerful sales tools in the world. Protect it with your life. Make backups, print it out, put a copy in your safety deposit box. The value of your list is… priceless. Just think about what it would mean if when you are pitching your next book to a publisher you could say, “Oh yes, I have a mailing list of 10,000 fans who are dying to read my next book.”

I’ll talk more about what to do with your list in another installment.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Dan. This is very timely for me. I'm going to print off this information.

    I just self-published my first book, Woman at the Well, avaialable at

    I subscribe to your newsletter and enjoy it:-)