In today’s Journal
* To Sell More Books, Stop Selling Books
* Guest Posts
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
To Sell More Books, Stop Selling Books
guest post by Matt Perryman
Matt Perryman graciously offered the following as a guest post a few days before it goes live on his own Substack. Visit Matt’s Meaningful Particulars substack at https://mattpmn.substack.com. I encourage you to visit and consider subscribing.
The other day while browsing a reasonably popular writing blog, I read a post about creating an email newsletter. The post was full of horrible advice.
The nuts ‘n bolts stuff was fine as it goes. The problem is that they ended up regurgitating that favorite old saw of the broke writer:
Don’t email your list more than once a quarter! Any more and they’ll unsubscribe!
Followed by the lemming-like commenters agreeing that they would never read any emails from a writer who sent more than once a month at most. They wouldn’t want to pester anyone unless they had a new book to sell.
I know that the friends I appreciate most are the ones that I rarely see, and only when they want me to buy something.
This advice, if followed, will kill any benefits you may get from having an email newsletter. If you insist on writing to the whims of the dour comment-lady telling you to send less email, you may as well save the money and time and not send it at all.
I propose that you do the opposite.
Send your email newsletter more often, not less.
Weekly is better than monthly. Three times a week is better than weekly. If you can spend 20 minutes writing an email every day, all the better.
Writers don’t only buy into myths about writing. They believe a good many falsehoods about promotion, too — such as this mind-worm that they must only send emails once every blood-moon, and only then if they have a new book for sale.
They don’t want to “bother” their readers. They don’t want to be too “salesy.”
Dour comment-lady even said she would unsubscribe if you dared to mail her more than once every February 29th.
Forget all that. If you have an offering that will make their lives better in some way or another, they want to hear from you.
There are two takeaway points in that last sentence.
First, do you want to spend your efforts pleasing people who are angered by hearing from you?
What are the odds that such people have any interest in your books? Do you think that a person who is upset that you emailed them is going to be a fan of your writing or purchase from you?
Reader, if that’s true you want her gone. She’s not your fan, she’s never bought your books, and she probably doesn’t even like your books. It costs you money to send her emails that she doesn’t want.
You don’t want dour comment-lady reading your emails when her spot is taking up space that a true fan could fill.
Second, if you’re sending good stuff that your real fans want, they aren’t going anywhere. Notice the two parts: “good stuff” and “real fans” are each an essential ingredient.
That means you can’t send the boring lectures and meandering monotone-voice engineering reports found in most author newsletters. If you only send boring 30% OFF ENDS TODAY sales pitches or boring walls of text, no wonder nobody wants to read it. I’d unsubscribe too.
It’s on you to send email worth reading. If you think that’s difficult, I remind you that the major obstacle to that target is pandering to subscribers that don’t like you.
Writers see the sausage made from inside the factory. Our world looks different than it does to the fans on the outside. What you prefer, like, want, wish, or hope doesn’t enter into the logic of the fan.
You are not your fans.
“Fan” is short for fanatic. These are your most loyal, engaged, and responsive readers. These are the people who buy everything you release the hour its available and then tell all their friends. They pay the food bill.
Write to your fans, for your fans.
One last thing to wrap this up.
Writers would love it if they could make their perfect thing and people would just come buy it. People should come buy their stuff if it’s good. No argument from me. Sadly for us idealists, however nice the “should,” reality is your only reliable guide.
It helps to think of your customer, in any business, as Homer Simpson.
Homer Simpson has no attention span. He lives on impulse. If you aren’t making your presence felt on a regular cadence, he’s already forgotten all about you.
That’s no insult, by the by. We’re all busy, interested in our own personal sphere of concerns, and easily distracted by an environment designed to distract. Even your fanatics are fallible, finite, limited, ordinary human beings just like you.
The more they hear from you, the better the response.
You don’t have to write something every day, although if done well, the effects might surprise you.
What do you send? You’re a storyteller. Tell an interesting story. What happened to you today? What’s an interesting takeaway tip, lesson, or mind-twisting insight you can pull out of that story?
Then drop a link to a book. Don’t sell. Offer the opportunity to buy. There’s a difference.
That’s all it takes.
If you want to sell more books, more is better than less, in general and for the most part. None of this involves any hard-closing strong-arm sales tactics that nobody reads anyway. You’re building lasting connections.
All you stand to lose is dour comment-lady. But she doesn’t like your books anyway.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you found this valuable, interesting, funny, or it made you upset that you had to use your mind for activities that don’t involve infinite scrolling, I ask that you do me a favor and share it with just one person.
Talk with you later.
I still want guest posts if you have something to share from your own experience from writing, publishing or marketing. But if those posts are available online elsewhere, from this point forward I will introduce them here in the Journal and then link to them instead of printing them here in their entirety.
See “Four New Pop-Up Classes Available” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/four-new-pop-up-classes-available/. Read this post. The titles of the new pop-ups alone should give you some ideas, especially #82 and #83.
See “How to Write a Class Essay Using AI” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/how-to-write-a-class-essay-using-ai/#comment-470171. Wow. The cover pic for the video looks like something straight out of the film Idiocracy. Somehow I am not surprised. (Of course to be fair, the vid is actually about how to write a “1st class essay” not a “class essay.”)
The Journal…………………………………… 150
Writing of Rose Padilla (WCG10SF5)
Day 1…… 4283 words. Total words to date…… 4283
Day 2…… 3963 words. Total words to date…… 8246
Day 3…… 1463 words. Total words to date…… 9709
Day 4…… 2445 words. Total words to date……12154
Total fiction words for June……… 12154
Total fiction words for 2023………… 110022
Total nonfiction words for June… 15210
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 124630
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 234652
Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date………… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 73
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 221
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark, adherence to Heinlein’s Rules, and that following the myths of fiction writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.