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How to Have Success With Email Marketing

Direct email marketing allows you to do three things at once: remind people of your work, promote your work and boost book sales.
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One of the best pieces of advice I was given when I sold my book, American Phoenix: The Remarkable Story of William Skinner a Man Who Turned Disaster Into Destiny, was this: "Make a list of 1,000 people to contact when your book comes out." This past holiday season I sent out a mass mailing to everyone on that list and quickly learned the following: direct email marketing is powerful.

Sending a mass email or an "email campaign" is different from making an announcement on Facebook, Twitter or even your own blog. It is probably the best opportunity for remembering all those people you came into contact with over the long course of writing your book and letting them all know that it has finally been published. Direct email marketing allows you to do three things at once: remind people of your work, promote your work and boost book sales.

My book was published in October 2012, but I waited until the holidays, two months later, to send out my campaign. I promoted the book aggressively during its launch but kept the campaign for a second publicity push in December. That proved very effective.

Although my email was sent en masse, it was still personal. It didn't come from a publicist, publisher or marketer; it came from me. I worked with my own designer and together we created an email that, to my surprise, people actually thanked me for. It reconnected me with long-lost friends and colleagues, drove lots of traffic to my website, generated more interest in me for book-related events and inspired more people to purchase my book as a gift for the holidays.

Here are some tips for creating a promotional email. (To see what my mailer looked like, click here.)

  • Make it colorful, simple and easy to read, like a good advertisement.
  • Prominently feature your book's cover.
  • Include a personal note and author photo.
  • Highlight some reviews or quotes from your book.
  • Include links to your website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc., so that people can learn more about you.
  • Include links to several online retailers so that people can buy the book.

Finally, I advise sending it through a professional email service (I used Mailchimp) to prevent it from landing in spam folders.

Sending out an email campaign involves time and money, but from my experience, it is well worth the investment. Happy New Year and Happy Promoting!

This post is adapted from an article that appeared in The Biographer's Craft.

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