Social Media Versus Mailing Lists For The Writer

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Periodically I'm asked to speak about the business side of writing:  the dreaded "marketing."

My general philosophy after years of doing marketing via social media and email for a variety of nonprofits and other businesses is try to capture your followers' emails as often as you can. Use your social media to drive the growth of your mailing list. This is what I do when I'm working as a professional marketeer.

Social media, like display ads, may remind people that your product (your book) is out there. But it probably can't sell as much as a regular email to people interested in your books. 

Because I'm generally writing for other people, I let their marketing teams do their jobs, assist where I can, rely on their email programs to sell books, and then go back to my day job marketing for other people. It's not ideal. I should probably do more. If you want to subscribe to my "newsletter" -- well at this point it is subscribing to this website and you'll get random updates from me once and awhile. 

I see a lot of newsletters that ask people to subscribe to a social media feed (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). I don't see the opposite nearly as much and I think it's more important. Remember that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram own your followers. If any of those sites go away tomorrow ... and they could all go poof tomorrow .... then those followers are gone too. If you have a list of subscribed email readers safely downloaded to your computer and backed up elsewhere, that's a list that you own forever. Even if your email provider goes away. If you think of your reader as your customer, who do you want to own their names and contact information?

My friend Phoebe now has three series in print along with dozens of other books. She manages all her own marketing. She's built her mailing list to more than 6,000 over a few years. Today her daily emails account for nearly 90% of her sales. Email works even today. And frequent emails work very well for some writers.

Neither social media or mailings lists are the golden ticket to success. But the willingness to play around with both and use them to your best extent do help. Try what feels comfortable for you. Do not to worry too much about whatever the newest thing is. I missed a lot of trains pulling out of social media station. Caught a few too for great success.  For my own books, I largely treat FB as a way to connect with close friends. Twitter is my cocktail party conversation with writers and book fans around the world. More recently, LinkedIn was limited to my marketing professional network, who I now confuse with references to my books every now and then. Although it leads to fun conversations during events like Marketing and Communications Executives International. "So I see that you write books?" "Yes based on horror board games and RPGS."  "Uh...interesting?"

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Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash

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