This is my first year of publishing fiction – so I concentrated on building a big list and was very careful with what I shared. However, now that I’m focused on my books generating income, I’m prepared to promote other (talented) authors in my genre to my list, in exchange with them promoting my books to their list.
This is typically called a “newsletter swap.” I’ve avoided these in the past.
I don’t like recommending anything I haven’t read, and I don’t like the idea of exchanging help or promotion. I’d rather get people to share or promote because they want to. That said, newsletter swaps can be very effective, for a variety of reasons.
I heard someone say on Facebook recently that your list isn’t just about promoting you and your books; it also represents value to the other authors in your community. One of the reasons I like having a big list (25K+) isn’t just because it makes it easier to market my own books, but because I can have a significant boost on other authors in my genre.
Generally, however, you try trading with someone of about the same list size… on Facebook groups you can sometimes offer a list swap, or if you’re doing a launch or 99cent/free promotion ask people to share it in their newsletters and you’ll share theirs in when they have a launch. For someone like me though, who is pretty bad at staying organized and doesn’t send emails on any kind of consistent schedule, keeping track of who I’m supposed to be promoting has been a chore.
Recently I found Newsletter Swap, and I’ve been enjoying it. Authors can list their books, they dates they’d like to be promoted, and apply to swap. The really great thing though, besides keeping things organized and reminding you when you need to send an email, is you have to use a special link that keeps track of clicks. That way, it’s not all about the list size, because people can see your “average click” size. This also makes things more like a game – since people can see exactly how many clicks my list gets, it isn’t enough to say I have a big list, I need to also prove I can get clicks.
Besides the simple and obvious benefits of an email list trade, the other thing I like is that it lets me connect with other authors in my genre who are looking for promotion and really focus on getting them some sales. It’s their first interaction with me, and I want to make it positive and provide results. You’re only supposed to accept three books at a time on the Newsletter Swap site, but I did mine last minute and noticed a bunch of requests I hadn’t seen… so I accepted 9.
In part, most of these authors have much smaller lists, so I may need to trade my list with 9 others to get the same kind of results; but also, I really love all these covers and want to help as many authors as possible. I set up a very simple email, without the book description, and asked people to click on the covers to learn more (which I believe will result in more clicks for more books – getting them to the Amazon page is a bigger win, than losing them immediately if the summary didn’t grab them).
Then I made a quick post on my blog, Some Great New Reads for January!, then I posted that on my Facebook group and spent $15 to promote it with my audience… and then I’m writing this post, which will get these authors some long-term visibility. This was really easy to do, and took me about 20 minutes + $15.
Like I said, I want the results to be great, so the authors can see I’m actually promoting them and going the extra mile to get them some traffic. So far, I’ve gotten over 100 clicks on most of the books. I can’t tell how many sales that is, maybe not that many, but at least they’re getting visibility (and have seen the rank drop on most of them, though I’m sure they’re doing lots of other promotion right now for their sale).
Newsletter Swap is new, so it will be more powerful once more authors start using it, but I really like the idea (I tried to start something similar a few years ago, but have mostly abandoned it). If you write young adult, dark fantasy, dystopia or paranormal romance, see if you can find me and request a trade. I won’t accept everyone or do this much promotion usually, but if it’s a good fit for my audience I may share.