I'm really excited to share some information about a website that helped me gain an extra 3,500 subscribers to my mailing list within three months. This website continues to net me some wonderful, targeted leads at a very affordable cost.
Which website do I speak of?
*Insert triumphant music here*
Instafreebie is what I consider a no-brainer move to make when it comes to employing strategies for building your list and growing your fan base. It was created in 2014 with the sole purpose of getting author's stories out there to more readers. For authors, this is an opportunity to have instant access to some fairly voracious readers. For readers, they get sneak peeks, free books, and access to giveaways that help them discover your writing.
What's so brilliant about this process is the way your books are delivered to prospective readers.
And guess what happens when they enter their email address to grab your free book? That's right. You have another potential fan to add to your subscriber base.
Instafreebie gives you a platform that offers a very nice looking leadpage. You don't have to design it, tweak it, or monk with it in any way other than to simply give them the information they need to list your book. Once that's done you get a lead page or opt-in page that looks like this.
If you're a fan of YA romantic fantasy then please feel free to actually visit this instafreebie page and grab a free copy of My Fair Assassin here.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Okay, back to business. Do you notice the way the page is set up? It is required that folks enter their email address in order to claim their book. After all, where exactly would instafreebie send it to. Ya know? Plus they have the option to choose epub for nook, mobi for kindle, or pdf for their computer.
I really love the way this opt-in page is set up. I've nabbed over 2,700 emails at the time of this posting, and I've received lots of emails from these folks thanking me for the book, excited for the next book in the series.
In order to set up an account with Instafreebie just go to their website here. Once there you just click on the sign up button on the top right. That will take you to a page with different payment plans.
There is a free plan, but it doesn't offer you the option of building your list. In other words, the free plan simply allows your books to be delivered to people who are interested, but it doesn't require that people enter their email address.
I suppose if you only want to do giveaways or book teasers then this option is great, but if you really want to build your list, you need to get the next option which is the Plus plan. An added benefit to this is that Instafreebie can integrate your Mail Chimp account if you use that autoresponder service. If not, the emails that are collected will be stored in a CSV file for you to download and import. I go that route since I use Aweber.
The first month is free, and then it's $20 bucks a month after that. I found this to be completely worth it, considering the number of new and engaged readers I've found and added to my subscriber list in such a short time.
Once you choose the Plus plan you enter your information and click the Register button at the bottom. You'll enter in your contact and billing details and from there you'll be taken to your Instafreebie dashboard which looks like this...ahem...minus my books and author name, of course.
You're also given an option to do DRM. That's digital rights management. Instafreebie will put a watermark on your book to prevent it from being shared with people who didn't sign up for your mailing list. If your book is perma-free then I wouldn't do this. The goal is to get as many eyes on your book as possible, even if people don't get your book through Instafreebie. Word of mouth is a big deal.
Fifty Shades of Grey, folks! Need I say more?
If you plan on giving this giveaway an expiration date and the book isn't perma-free then you might consider this option. Authors feel differently about this. For me, it still wouldn't matter. I want people to have access to my books. I want to be discovered by new readers. It's as simple as that, but this decision is totally up to you.
HOW DO I SET UP A GIVEAWAY?
Once you get that information typed in, your book will show up on your dashboard. Click on it, and then click on the button that says New Giveaway. You'll have two options for building your giveaway.
I like the advanced version because I'm all about control and I like to see what all of my options are.
If this giveaway has an expiration date, make sure to enter that in as well as how many copies will be available. Since I'm never ending my giveaways I left those spaces blank. It doesn't make sense for my perma-free books to not be permanently available for everyone who comes to Instafreebie looking for some YA fantasy and romance.
The last two boxes on this page will already be checked. Leave them checked. You want people to be able to share your giveaway and you want it to be public on the internet. Unless you are working a different strategy, but believe me when I say these last two options are for your benefit.
Hit next and then make sure people are required to opt-in before they receive their free book. Otherwise, what's the point?
Enter a name for your mailing list. Example: C.J. Anaya's Awesome Newsletter. Make sure it is something people won't mind being added to. Then hit the button at the bottom.
I wouldn't do the password protected thing, but that is completely up to you since I have no idea how you want to utilize Instafreebie. Then you choose which format options will be available. Make sure they are all available. It widens your reach of readers.
Once that's done you'll be given a link to your giveaway. Make sure you go to that link so you can test it out and correct anything that needs correcting.
HOW DO I DRIVE TRAFFIC TO MY GIVEAWAY?
After that, it's all about driving people to that particular opt-in page. I've got some great suggestions for you on that front. It's all about Instafreebie Facebook groups. Here are a few groups to get you started.
#FreebieFriday on #Instafreebie
Instafreebie Push and So Much More
Instafreebie Share Group
These groups are great for cross-promoting Instafreebie giveaways. Generally a person will post about an Instafreebie promotion they are doing, looking for specific writers in specific genres to join them. The Instafreebie books will be listed on one webpage and then each author participating will share the Instafreebie promotion with their newsletter and on social media. You're basically sharing each others audiences, growing your reach, and finding new targeted leads for you subscriber list. It's very effective.
There are temporary cross-promotions and permanent ones. Here are some permanent listings you can be a part of. You'll find my books there too.
Renee's Author Spotlight
Sign up for this listing here.
The Prolific Reader
Sign up for this listing here.
SFF Mega Promo
Sign up for this listing here.
You can also go to these sites if you are interested in some free reading of your own. Make sure you share the sites with others as much as possible.
Please note that the sign up links can change as time passes. I will try to keep this updated, but if you find a link broken simply visit the Instafreebie Facebook groups and ask the members how you can sign up for specific promotions. Or you can contact the people running the promos on their websites. Super easy.
When you sign up to be in different promotions make sure you participate in promoting them. It's insanely rude to rely on others to promote the Instafreebie giveaway without any effort on your part. We all win when we all collaborate and promote each other. You'll most likely receive instructions via email from whoever is heading the campaign at the time. Be sure to respond and follow the instructions to get the most out of these promo periods.
It's always free to be in these promos. So it makes absolutely no sense to not take part in them.
WHAT DO I DO WITH THE PEOPLE WHO OPT-IN?
As I mentioned before, you can either integrate Mail Chimp into your account or you can just download the CSV file provided and import those people into your autoresponder. I create an Instafreebie list on Aweber. Once I add the most current subscribers to that particular list, I generally like to send out an email explaining who I am, why they are receiving an email from me, and what to expect from me in the future. I also let them know that they can unsubscribe from my list with no hard feelings.
I highly recommend you do this simply because some people won't remember they signed up and won't remember who you are. I've uploaded a copy of this email for you to look over and get ideas. Copy and tweak it however you wish.
I truly hope this information helps you to exponentially grow your email list. I know the $20 investment may seem like a lot when you first get started, but it will be well worth it when your awesome fans start buying those books and developing a wonderful relationship with you. Some of my most favorite and fun-loving fans have come from my Instafreebie giveaways.
If you haven't grabbed that Instafreebie account yet you can get it here. The sooner you start the faster you build that mailing list.
The Blond Guerrilla
Many authors struggle with the decision between traditional publishing and self-publishing. If you're in that boat right now, here is a little information that should give you an idea of what you can expect from both sides of this equation.
When authors are given the opportunity to work with big publishers they generally receive an advance and a book deal, and publishers are hoping you will use that money to promote yourself. It would seem not only do authors have the heavy burden of weaving an intricate, compelling, interesting, can't-put-this-book-down storyline, but we must now be savvy in all things marketing. Emphasis on social media marketing folks.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace, websites, blogs etc. For those of you technologically challenged like I am, take it one step at a time and google "how to's" on everything. If I can do it, you can do it.
If you are wise with your advance then hopefully all of that self-promotion will pay off. This is no time for modesty people. Get excited about your amazing novel, novella, poetry, article or what have you, and light a fire under your soon-to-be ardent fan's fannies! (Say that five times fast) Once the sales of your books cover the (generous? :0) advance bestowed upon you, your royalties begin to roll in.
Big publishers have total creative control. The cover is their business, the editing is their baby, the blurbs and bios are regulated on your behalf, and for those of you hyperventilating at the thought of losing said creative control, never fear. You do have more options.
The upside to this total lack of control is what you have at your disposal. If anyone can get your name and your book out there it will be big publishers like Scholastic and Little Brown etc. Just having their name and logo stamped on your book gives a reader more reason to trust that your book will be worth their money and time.
Small publishers equals no advance...most of the time. Bummer. They are also in charge of all the publishing, editing, cover art and the contracting of those in charge of distributing your work. You might have a little more creative control, but that would depend on the people you work with.
Once again, you will be doing quite a bit of self-promoting and your resources will be limited to what your small publishers can offer. I must admit I wasn't sure I saw a huge upside to this, except for the fact that you will see your royalties right away...and most likely use them to turn around and market your material. Okay, that last part was a downer, but getting royalties right away sounds fun.
Both big and small publishers seem to be fairly close in the percentage of royalties they offer at the moment. Digital downloads (ebooks) are within the 25% range and print books are between 10-15%. These can fluctuate so pay attention to any contracts you sign and know what your options are.
You aren't just an author you're a business with a great product to offer, and quantity is important in any business you're a part of. Your fans want more than one great book to read so focus on giving them more of what they love. If you're in between novels and your next novel won't be published for a while consider writing novellas to tide your readers over. Blog about your latest projects and do articles on subjects your fans love. Edit one manuscript while writing another.
On to self-publishing. For all you type A personalities(like me)this might be the way you want to start out. Your profits are obviously much higher. You're looking at anywhere from 70-80% with ebooks; Smashwords, Barnes&Noble and Amazon will vary a little, and if you decide to get print versions of your books, Createspace offers anywhere from 40-60% depending on the venue they distribute to.
You are on your own completely in the self-marketing department, but when you look at traditional publishing you'll find that your publishers are expecting you to work just as hard on the marketing end of things as well...but your royalties are lower when working with them.
You can see why so many authors go the way of self-publishing. If you're putting in all the work anyway, it makes more sense to be able to have full creative control and a higher royalty payout. There are some authors who would rather have less control and leave all of those big decisions to their publishers. There is absolutely nothng wrong with that. Whatever floats your boat is exactly where you should dock your yacht.
With self-publishing you will have full control over your cover design as well. I love to take a look at book covers on Amazon that are within the same genre I write. If I like the cover I usually try to find out who the designer is and contact them to see what their pricing is like.
You can also design your own cover with Canva and visit sites that have stock photography like Adobe or Shutterstock. You can also visit Pic Monkey or Google pre-made ebook designs to see if any are a good fit for you. Fiverr.com is an excellent site where you can find cover designers for modest pricing.
Just remember that your cover needs to look professionally made. If you can't achieve that on your own, definitely hire out.
You won't have an editor at your disposal unless you go out and pay for one. Rewrite and edit that manuscript like crazy and once you think you've done all that you can do to your WIP send it to some beta readers and have them edit it as well. Once you've done that, you will need to hire a professional editor to get the job done. Do not skip this step. Your product will be of higher quality if you invest some money into your business by hiring someone who knows how to fine-tune that manuscript of yours.
Once you've taken your edits and rewrites as far as you can go, put the manuscript away for a little while and let it breathe. Go back to it and look it over one last time before publishing it. Just remember, no one wants to buy a damaged product and your readers will be disappointed if they pay for something that is poorly written.
When publishing on KDP(Amazon) you get 35% royalties for books priced under $2.99 and 70% royalties for books priced $2.99-$9.99. Once you are ready to publish that book, it literally takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to input the information. Amazon then has it published within 72 hours. You could literally be making money within a week of publishing your book depending upon how much buzz you've created for your new release...something you can easily learn about with the resources I provide on this website.
Here's a little hint: it's all about the author platform.
An author platform, or how many people follow you, is an absolute must to build. And the first thing I suggest you focus on is building a mailing list, a newsletter that your fans can subscribe to so you can always notify them about new books you plan to release.
Whether you're looking to traditionally publish or self-publish, it really is necessary to build an audience even before you sign that book deal, and lately agents and publishers have begun looking for self-published authors who already have a large platform and presence on the internet.
So if you're asking yourself, "Self, should I start building a mailing list even though I haven't finished my book yet?" the answer is YES.
"Self, should I create my own webpage with my name as the web address?"
"Self, should I have several social media accounts that all link back to my web page so my rating on Google will be higher and much more recognizable for readers, agents, and publishers to find me?"
Do I really need to answer that?
In the mean time, if you're set on traditional publishing, look for agents who will love your work as much as you do. Visit query shark and agentquery.com. You can also upload some of your work to wattpad.com where readers and agents alike tend to browse in hopes that they'll find something worth reading. Good content is key folks, so keep on writing and make your presence on the internet impossible to dismiss.
If you're on the fence about which course to take, I would start by self-publishing and see how you enjoy it. You can always search for agents and send out query letters while doing so. Research both options to the best of your ability so you will know which path is going to be most advantageous for you based on your personality, goals, desires, and financial aspirations.
It's obvious which path I chose. I'm an independant author all the way, but I didn't start out on that particular path. I was traditionally published first and soon realized that my type A personality meshed better with the logistics of self-publishing. I absolutely loved my publisher and the people I worked with at Beau Coup, but this avenue has been a better fit for me.
I was lucky to get my rights back within two years, but that doesn't happen for everyone. Be careful when it comes to contracts you sign. I always suggest that people give self-publishing a try first since the only contract you're locked into is the game plan you create for yourself.
Here is another resource on the pros and cons of self-publishing and traditional publishing. Joanna Penn is a very successful indie author and someone you should definitely be following if you're serious about building your author career. Here's a link to a stellar article she wrote about this very subject. Click here to read it when you get the chance.
I hope this information has been helpful for you. Make sure you subscribe to my blog below to receive weekly tips from me and a free book that teaches you how to push through the drudgery or writer's block.
The Blond Guerrilla
The Blond Guerrilla is your one-stop guide to all things Indie writing, self-publishing, and marketing! I hope you find everything you need to make your author journey a success.
Need some one-on-one coaching? Set up a call with me on Clarity. I'll be happy to answer your questions. Just click on the green button below.
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