Friday, August 16, 2019

Trying to Build a UK Mailing List

I am finishing up a book called Newsletter Ninja that talks about some of the basics behind setting up an author mailing list. Overall, I think about 80% - 90% was already understood, but it did give out a few pieces I hadn’t known. However, I am now trying to decipher another potential gain, but I don’t quite know where to go. I’ve asked the Sub Reddit group I am in about it, with not much luck so far.  The focus I am aiming for is to build a new mailing list focused around UK readers.

There are three main reasons on why to focus on this market. First off, any books I produce can be read without much (or any) modification. The second reason is that this market is smaller and may have less competition than the main USA market. The final reason is that Audible has a UK site with unique codes. I get a lot of these review codes for the UK market and I’ve never been able to really give them away. I’ve given maybe a dozen away total, over all my books. I think if I can build a UK audience, it would really help boost things.

So far the advice on the Sub Reddit I’ve joined is basically a shrug. The sources I find potential readers is worldwide, so if UK readers join, then great. However, the majority of this source of readers is still the USA. I am going to dig into some online resources to see if I can’t find a way to build out this portion of my mailing list. If I can, it would be a huge gain I my growing author career / habit. I may also start to tag any email addresses that end in “.uk” or perhaps tag any country specific emails that are from the United Kingdom.

I would love to have three lists total: My Main USA list, My Main UK List, and my experimental list. The experimental list is more for group promotions, trying out new techniques, and trying to offer value back to other authors. The main lists I want to be groomed and well-maintained, where the experimental list should be focused on figuring out random feedback and group promotions.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Role of a Writer

"The Muse Rewards Action"

Lately I’ve been thinking of the role of the artist. What is their specific purpose? I am concentrating on a particular concept. A line I recently found is ‘the muse rewards action’. That resonates with me, because it is almost like an artist’s role is to be active in that rewarding action. An artist’s goal is to take the action, get the inspiration, and form that inspiration into a product. The world then consumes that product for a number of reasons. Perhaps for escapism or perhaps to show a vital truth that wasn’t uncovered until recently.

The next question then becomes, what kind of product does the artist want to build, which is much easier. I want to build something elegant and approachable. Something that is almost a common extravagance. I want to build something like a cup of Starbucks coffee. It’s more costly than coffee at home, but is done in a way that is more delicious than what I could brew. In addition, it still has a low enough cost that it can be afforded on a regular-ish basis. When I have a cup, I feel a bit fancier than if I were to drink from a mug I brought from home.

So the question becomes, what does it take to build that elegance? The answer to that is: pre-work. Research and study ahead of time. Using methods to help elevate what would normally be done. The thoughts I am trying to sort is what pre-work methods can be done that would be most effective? What modes of inspiration help start the cycle the best?

I’ve started with using music and images to help with inspiration. I’ve tried out using books to help me learn more about the craft. Hopefully, I can build that common luxury item that people enjoy. A splurge to make their lives a bit better and help them escape things. I still need a better system, and I hope to get to that end. For now, it’s a matter of trial and working things out, bit by bit.

My current thoughts are to use some kind of system between Google Docs and Google Keep. These can be connected together, are accessible from anywhere, and are backed up in the cloud. However, I haven’t yet thought of how to weave these together. Perhaps I need to look at the strengths of each and play to that end. I could build “bonus keep notes” in the main documents and these would be temporary storage to hold onto concepts I am looking into. However, they would only be used in a temporary capacity, with any more concrete capacity being Google Docs? I am not sure how this will look now, but I feel like I need to build some kind of system to capture all the various components I am gathering. Perhaps the best way to do this is to look at how I would consume the random bits and then play towards that? Again, I am not sure of the proper system here.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Changing Weekly Word Count Goal

Progress forward is sometimes a tricky thing. You can spend a bunch of time trying to figure out an aspect of your work (such as newsletters, which is what I’ve been doing). You can have great luck in that area, but then feel like a failure in another area. I’ve let my curiosity into building newsletters overshadow my daily writing habit. I need to put this back in proper order. I’ve taken a look at my past statistics and have noticed a few things of interest.

My average weekly output, since I’ve tried starting a daily writing habit nine weeks ago, has been 6k per week. The truth is I had two bigger weeks; which when removed, the average dives down to 4k per week. This is way more than I originally could do. In fact, this year is on track to be my most productive one yet. However, I want to build so much this year, and am just getting hazy about it.
What do I mean by hazy? I mean that there isn’t a sustainable focus. I want want want; but I keep changing that vision by increments. Originally, I wanted 300k words created this year, to be spread over four bigger books. Now the vision is 270k words focused on four other bigger books. I know this doesn’t seem like a major change, but I am only 75k words into the year. That’s a quarter way in and I already want to change everything. Beyond that, this daily writing habit is hard to focus with because my mind simply wants to go and discover other things. I think I need to revel further in inspiration. The year is way over half over, yet I’ve only got a quarter of my stuff done? Plus I want to do even more?

At the current pace, I’ll hit 150k in the year. That would get one book completed, another 5/6 completed, a third book 3/4 done and the last book 0% done. That’s not satisfying at all. I need, at very least, to up the output to be closer to 6k per week. I am going to modify my daily goal from 2500 to 1500. If I complete that extra 1k, that would mean that last book would also be done.

Monday, August 5, 2019

BookFunnel vs StoryOrigin vs BookSprouts: Results so far

To start with, I want to say that I am extremely happy with how this has been turning out! I've had some success with BookFunnel and I am hoping that will continue. I've also been able to email out a lot of review emails, so hopefully those will produce some fantastic results. On all of this, time will tell, but I am hoping it is moving in the correct direction!

When I last updated this, I had sent a test email to 153 users. Since that email on Friday, I’ve had 45 more subscribers join the list. That’s pretty amazing! As far as statistics go, I had a 64.7% open rate, 26.1% click rate, and a 5.9% conversion rate on the previous 153 person email. Currently, this is my high-water mark. In a previous post, that mark belonged to Noisetrade users. I am really excited by this, especially because I feel it’s going to be very cost effective to continue this effort. Currently, each subscriber gathered via this method is costing 4.8c, which is extremely cheap. Happy happy happy about this!

Over the weekend, 54 email addresses turned into 66. That’s good progress, but I still didn’t have a good open/click/conversion rate with this source of addresses. This might be good to do just to help round things out, but I don’t know if I would consider it my primary source of potential new readers.

So, two of the three people posted their reviews online. That’s fantastic as I didn’t pay anything for this service. Again, very happy with this option.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Testing Users: BookFunnel vs StoryOrigin vs BookSprouts

I've done a few things, so now I am looking to describe how those things went; or are going. The ultimate goal of building any newsletter list is to have users that interact with the content. I went ahead and removed around 200 users that had never interacted with any content. I think this purging is good to do several times a year. I then tested my audiences gained from several solutions. Here are the current results.

Measuring Stick (Low) - Giveaway Hops
So the way I can tell if the audience is worth it or not is by comparing it against my normal gains. These are low-interest users gained from book Giveaway hops. It's nearly free to participate in these, and I get a solid stream of users. I had 34 email addresses gained in the last month. I could have pushed this harder, but had a lot going in July. Of those people, 11 opened the email. 0 clicked on the link in the form which obviously resulted in 0 conversions. So: 32% open rate, 0% click through, 0% conversions. In the past this group has been at 27.3% open, 2.8% clicks, 0.36% conversion. What does all that mean? For every 280 people, I get one conversion.

Measuring Stick (High) - NoiseTrade
The best people I've found so far have been off NoiseTrade. A recent test of 430 users saw 51.8% open rate, 9.7% click rate, and 4.9% conversion. That is an absolute amazing amount. For every 20 people, I get one conversion. Again, that's amazing!

StoryOrigin - Results: Low
As you may recall, I messed up and used a universal link where I meant to get email addresses. I fixed this error and received roughly 54 email addresses total. I sent out my test email and 14 of those people opened the email. Of those 14 people, 3 clicked on a link to my form. None of them filled out the form for a free book. So: 26% open, 21% click through rate, 0% conversions. The result is moderately promising... The open rate is pretty standard, but the number of people clicking is high. However, none of them are converting. That probably means my offer is not hitting the mark correctly on this one. This is closer to my low measuring stick, so I am categorizing this one as "low" in results.

BookFunnel - Results: TBD
I just sent out the first test email to 153 new recipients. (Turns out some of the people are in both StoryOrigin and BookFunnel) This campaign will need the weekend to see how successful it is, but as of the writing of this, we've gotten 8.5% open and 2.6% clicks. That's nothing super impressive, but we'll know more over the weekend. I am categorizing this one as "TBD" until after the weekend. I will also take another look at my StoryOrigin results to see if those had any luck.

BookSprout - Results: TBD
So we still have only three users that requested an ARC. Those reviews are due soon. We will see if this sprouted any fruit over the next week or two.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

BookFunnel vs StoryOrigin vs BookSprout: 2 Weeks Later

It’s been another week since I started this experiment with these different services. We have about 1-2 more weeks to go until we figure out how well this all works. This week I need to prepare my list, moving motivated readers to a different list. The hope is to make one list a larger “trading list” and another list a “motivated” list that loves my work. We shall see if this will work.


I currently have been in two promotions. These are like newsletter swaps, but with more people. Last week I had about 47 email addresses. I now have about 124 email addresses. This has brought the $10/mo charge to be $0.08 per address.  I am pretty happy with these results. The truth of success through will be in determining how they respond to my unique content. I will be putting them in a different segment in a few weeks and sending a promo then.


I had messed up last time and my Amazon link was marketed. Oops. I’ve switched it to be my mailing list and now have 23 people that were added on. That’s not too bad, especially considering that this service is free. I’ve been on two newsletter swaps, with promotion groups starting tomorrow. That will really tell me if this succeeded or not. I am very excited about this one too!


This one hasn’t made any progress. I had three people claim my ARC, and I still have the same three people. However, even if only one leaves a review, it’s worth it. We shall see what happens.

Overall, I am really happy with this experiment. On a different note, I’ve investigated different email services as well. I am currently using MailChimp and am really enjoying it. However, I’ve studied the alternatives since the big uproar this year at MailChimp. I will probably switch to a “Pay-As-You-Go” plan when I break the 2000 freemium limit. I don’t think I will send out very often, perhaps 4-6 emails per year. That being said, I am going to do everything in my power to keep things free as long as possible.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

BookFunnel vs StoryOrigin vs BookSprout: 1 Week Later

So I’ve used these systems and now have an impression to share from a week later. Your mileage may vary, but this is what has happened in my own use.


First off, I had a hard time trying to figure out where I export the CSV file that has any user emails. I think that made it difficult to determine if this service was working or not. I paid $10/mo for this service, so out of all the ones listed, it’s the most vital to work. I ended up going to the book, then following it to the page in order to get the email list. I am scheduled for three promotions, the first one being kicked off yesterday. At the moment, I have 47 email addresses, which puts the cost per address at around 0.21c. It’s hard to say if that’s a bargain or not, as it all depends on how these users interact with my future newsletters. This is also the first day of things, and the promotions still have a long ways to go. The best users I’ve found (via Noisetrade) cost around 0.56c each. I am judging these users not by click rate or open rate, but by completion rates. If I am offering a free book, how many of them open, click, then take me up on the offer. The lower end users (Giveaway blog hops) cost around 0.09c each, but are only 1/10 as willing to interact as my best users. So, again, it all depends on how willing they are to engage with the content. I will probably put out a feeler email after these are all gathered up and see how well they interact. At that point I will truncate the best users off to my main list. The goal being a two part dance; first contact is through the massive acquire list. Once they prove they are willing to interact, move them to the main list. The reason behind making these two lists is to build a system of trial/error. Try stuff on the acquire list, but only use working methods on the main list.


This is a tale of “whoopsy”. So I setup my book as a universal link. That universal link goes to Amazon. I’ve been on one mailing list exchange, and I have another one setup, along with three group promotions. However, I used my universal link on these. I should have been using my giveaway link, as this is the one that collects all the email addresses. It’s not a big deal right now, but I’ll need to apply to a few more group giveaways with the correct link to see how well this service really works.


I am not really sure how to fully use this one. I don’t know how or why the ARCs are requested. Still, I’ve gotten 3 people to grab the book, which means 1-2 reviews hopefully. Seeing as this didn’t cost anything, I think it’s well worth it. However, without a means to maximize this, it's just a "nice to have" instead of an essential step.

Side Note: Audiobook Reviews

I’ve been doing some other efforts trying to get people to review my books: Audio Book Boom and my own mailing list. I haven’t really seen a lot of traction on building reviews via these methods. Perhaps I need to send out reminders and see how well that works. In the past, these worked a lot better for reviews.

I am going to continue on with these promotion efforts because they will help show me new ways to build my mailing list. The goal is to slowly build an awesome list that can generate feedback. That way, when I send out my main efforts next year, I have a wonderful list to help boost any additional efforts.

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