One of the fastest and easiest ways to sell more books and get your brand in front of new readers is to tap into the power of newsletter swaps. This is one of the ways I’ve been able to build targeted lists of die-hard fans.
With a newsletter swap, you are exchanging advertising with other authors. They will email their list with information about your book and you return the favor.
They key to a successful swap is to target writers in your specific genre. I’ve seen countless authors make the mistake of cross promoting with authors that don’t share the exact same audience.
Two writers could both publish books in the romance genre, but if you write paranormal romance and cross-promote with an author who writes contemporary erotic romance, your audiences may be very different.
Begin by identifying authors in the same genre and who are at a similar level as you. That way, you are able to provide equal exposure.
If you’re brand new with only a debut novel, then try to find other authors who are launching a new pen name or are just getting started themselves. Chances are, they’ll be more open to cross-promoting because they are also looking to build their audience and extend their outreach.
I’ve found most of my newsletter swaps in Facebook groups. It’s a great place to start because you can easily find author support groups in your genre with just a few clicks.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1: Create a Google Form
Every time I want to find authors to cross promote, I create a Google form that serves as a type of application and helps me choose the best newsletter swaps possible.
Create your form here: http://google.com/forms
Your Google form should ask authors to include information about their book such as their book title, blurb, cover and URL to all the online bookstores where it’s available. This will make it easy for you to choose authors who write in the same genre as you and whose books look the most appealing.
I also ask them to include a date or time frame in which they can promote my book as well as when they want me to send out an email about theirs. This will help you stay organized and create a newsletter-swap calendar so you never forget to email out on time.
And finally, I ask them for the size of their newsletter. This may not matter to you if you are just getting started and your newsletter is smaller but for those with larger newsletters you’ll likely want to match up with authors who can provide equal exposure, especially because you don’t want to email out that often and make sure every newsletter counts.
Also, keep in mind that the quality of a list is far more important than the quantity. An author with a list of 800 people with an open rate of 45% is the same as someone with a list of 3,500 with an open rate of only 10%.
It’s important to follow-up with authors, verify dates, and confirm when you have emailed out for them. Failing to promote when expected leads to disaster and isn’t fair to authors. Word will spread quickly within the indie community and no one will want to cross-promote with you again. Your credibility is everything.
Create a promo package, zip it up and upload it to DropBox. That way you can send the download link to every author you are cross-promoting with and don’t have to worry about file sizes bogging down email servers or worse, causing your email to end up in someone’s spam folder.
Your promo package should include: your book cover in multiple sizes, your book blurb, author bio including your website and 2-3 social media links, links to your books, any pricing promo that may be offered during the time they email out for you and any other pertinent information that they should know. The easier you make it for them to create a newsletter, the better.
Money Saving Tip: You can create all your own promo graphics for free, even if you have absolutely no experience with graphic design. Check out: https://www.Canva.com
Once you’ve emailed out for an author, wait a few days and then log into your mailing list and take a snapshot of your CTR (click-through rate). Many authors will appreciate knowing how many clicks your email sent to their book listing and will provide the same to you. This helps to identify the best partners for future promotions.
Another way to maximize the results of a newsletter swap and attract attention from authors with bigger mailing lists than yours is to offer them a feature-listing. I did this when I was just starting out because I didn’t have as many subscribers as the authors promoting me.
So, to sweeten the deal, I offered to email out a newsletter that featured only their books and no other offers or links. It put them up front and center and made up for the fact I had fewer subscribers than they did.
This strategy works well because while you may not have the outreach they have, you’re making your newsletter an exclusive which allows you to really highlight their books.
Tip: Be flexible with pricing promos so that you’re able to offer readers with a special deal or free copy of a book. Established authors will be happy to share a discounted, perma-free or perma-99c book with their readers as it gives them something valuable to offer while minimizing their risks in the event a reader doesn’t like your book.
You also want to be selective with who you do newsletter swaps with. Not only should you make sure that your genres/audience match, but you want to buy a copy of the book(s) you’re thinking about promoting so you can gauge the quality. Only promote books that you’ve personally read and feel good about recommending.
Another strategy that’s worked well for me is to create a customized book landing page and then giving that link to authors who are interested in newsletter swaps. I add a catchy headline to the top of the page that greets readers and mentions the author’s name that sent them there, such as: For Readers of AUTHOR NAME Only!
So instead of sending their readers to Amazon, I have the author send them to a hidden page on my website that features a discounted or free book that they can get by joining my mailing list.
That way I’m able to build my list through the newsletter swap! Plus, by using www.Bit.ly.com links on the page I can track how many clicks specific links have received as well as how much traffic was sent to the page.
Newsletter swaps with authors in your genre is one of the best ways to grow a list that’s organic and targeted. And it doesn’t cost you a penny!
BookBoast is a great way to connect with authors looking for newsletter swaps. You can create an account for free (up to 2 pen names, unlimited book giveaways and access to a private Slack chat group).