One of the biggest challenges for authors is determining how best to stay connected to their readers. There are many options for us today and here are a few you might wish to explore.
First, consider those you meet in person. How will you capture their contact info? Business cards and bookmarks are great tools for marketing yourself. These make it easy to give your contact info to others but how do you capture the reader's contact info? That takes a little finesse. One idea is the monthly drawing for which you offer to place your readers in the drawing for a chance to win an autographed book, a recipe, a package of notecards—anything that promotes your brand. When speaking, offer to send your PowerPoint's, a copy of the poem you quoted, or a special gift if they will stay connected and sign up for your newsletter. Which brings us to the second step.
Once you have that contact info the next question becomes where will you store it? When I first began, I used an Excel spreadsheet. However, after my list grew unwieldy, I determined I needed a contact database. I also realized that having a database without a plan to use it was silly, so I looked for a database program that allowed me to send newsletters. There are several to choose from in today's marketplace. Here are a few of the more popular: Mailchimp.com, Act.com, ConstantContact.com, ConvertKit, VerticleResponse.com, and iContact.com. Do a little research because some are free, but only for a limited number of contacts. Others offer a lot of bells and whistles you may not need, so spend some time weighing the options. Ask a few author friends what they use, but in the end, you will need to find the one that works best for you to stay connected.
Your website and/or blog is another place where you meet fans and need to stay in touch. Ask your web designer to add a place for fans to sign up for your newsletter, tips sheets, or announcements about new books. Give something away to those who sign up, just like your offer for the drawing mentioned above. Everyone wants something for free and most are willing to sign up for a newsletter to get the free thing. All of the programs mentioned above offer the important opt-in/out feature so some may think they will get the free thing and then in a few months they'll unsubscribe. But after they receive your first value-packed newsletter they won't be looking for that unsubscribe button.
Social Media is another great way to stay connected to fans. There are many options here. The trick is to find one that fits you: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked-In. The tip here is to be regular and consistent in your posting. And again, give away good content. Don't make your posts all about you, but instead look for ways in which you can serve your readers.
Finally, stay connected to your readers by consistently putting out good content. Your name should be all over the Internet. Articles, blogs, and new books are the glue that will keep your readers connected because they will hunger to know what you are writing next. Writers write. But good writers also look for ways to get and stay connected to their readers.
Cheri Cowell is the founder of EABooks Publishing and a speaker and author. For a list of writers' conferences where EABooks will be participating,
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