This post follows my post about publishing successfully on Amazon. Newsletter swaps have been hugely important in my success and this post will walk you through how to promote your book with newsletter swaps.
The biggest question authors face when publishing a book is: How do I promote it?? This is not a new question. It’s not unique to indie authors, especially given that traditional publishers want marketing plans for books they publish. Newsletter swaps are an effective and cost-effective way to get started with more organic promotion for your fiction book.
LISTEN TO EPISODE 153 – HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOK WITH NEWSLETTER SWAPS
WHAT IS A NEWSLETTER SWAP AND WHY SHOULD YOU USE ONE?
Newsletter swaps are an effective promotional tool where authors send their audience an email promoting another author’s book, in exchange for that author promoting them in return. The trade doesn’t always (or even usually) take place on the same exact day, but the authors set up the swap for when they have new releases, sales, or just a book they want to promote.
This is an effective marketing tool and a great way to network and build rapport within your niche and community. I’ll continue to stand by email as a selling tool and when you can leverage the power of another person’s audience, you can grow your own. I’ve also made great connections and done other collaborations with authors in my niche after connecting in Facebook groups.
HOW DO YOU FIND PEOPLE TO SWAP WITH?
- Facebook groups by GENRE
- Story Origin
- Paid and free services if you Google
My personal preference is to find these in Facebook groups. It becomes about community and networking, not just piggy-backing off someone else’s platform. We all want success for each other.
You also build trust there and know who you are dealing with. This is important because you are putting those people before your audience. You don’t want to break trust with your readers. If I send something to my clean romance group that isn’t clean, I’m going to get angry emails. My readers will stop trusting me.
HOW DO NEWSLETTER SWAPS WORK
I would recommend signing up for some author lists first to see what they send. Get an idea and then consider what YOU want to send. Do you want to have a close relationship with your readers? Do you ONLY want to give book recommendations without being very personal? Plan out what you want this too look like.
Get clean links from Amazon or wherever you are sending. That means that they stop after the ASIN and don’t have a ton of extra gunk on the end. Also, it’s against Amazon terms of service to use affiliate links in email and they also don’t want you to mention the price, because so often it changes.
- More reading: Important Rules for the Amazon Associates Program
Typically you’ll pull the book cover image and maybe a quick blurb, but different authors handle this in different ways. If I’ve read the book, I’ll often give a brief, personal review. I’ve found that it can help increase the clicks.
TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE NEWSLETTER SWAPS
Be familiar with the books you send. Maybe you don’t read each book, but check out the author and their other books. Use the Look Inside feature. I’ve sometimes found books that were engaging in poor practices like book stuffing, which violates Amazon’s terms of service, or ones that were supposed to be clean and had content that wasn’t clean even within what I read in the Look Inside feature.
Give before you get. When you’re starting out, you may not have a big list. Maybe you don’t have completed books. Start your list. Ask to send for people. Maybe at first they don’t need to reciprocate. You’re still building goodwill with those other authors in your genre.
Send books that will cultivate the right kind of audience. You are building a personal author brand and want to attract the kinds of readers who love your book. Send books that are going to attract and keep the kinds of readers you want.
Rarely go outside your genre. Every so often, it’s okay to test the waters with a different kind of book. But it needs to stay within the bounds that keep that audience you’re cultivating. I could send a Christian devotional to my clean romance list. Some would love it. I would never send books with adult content.
Keep track so that you’re trustworthy. I don’t always send other authors the link to my newsletter. I like the buddy system and usually know the people I’m swapping with. Sometimes it’s nice to get that, but overall, it takes time and I never click. But it’s a good idea to ask what the expectation is! Some people use a spreadsheet to keep track and some make people sign up with a google form to swap. You can click to Save a Facebook post, which will help you if you have set up your swaps in a group.
Don’t send too many books. This looks different for everyone, but I wouldn’t send more than four. Some only send two. It’s a good idea to be up front where possible or as people ask with those numbers, like your list size or how many books are in each email. More books = less clicks.
Be genuine. No matter how personal your emails are, you should always remember that even when you are sending for other people, you are building your author brand. People don’t respond as well to straight sales pitches, but are more likely to buy from word of mouth. As in, PERSONALLY. If you only send emails with books to buy and nothing personal at all, you are wasting an opportunity to connect with your readers. Find even small ways to be personal and genuine in your emails.
NOT SURE HOW TO GET STARTED?
Start building your list! It can be a slow process, but it’s very worth it in the end. Read my post on growing your email list to help you with this. Get in some swaps groups and see how they work, who is in there, and what people are sending. Then, start giving before you ask for something in return.
A NOTE FOR NONFICTION SWAPS
Because nonfiction readers are generally not reading those books as voraciously as fiction readers, this approach should look different. Instead of using a swaps group, email the people you know who might promote your book to their audience. Email people you DON’T know who might have a similar audience. You can ask for them to share with their list in exchange for you sharing something for them in the future. This is much more organic and still very effective.
- Email Lists Made Easy for Writers and Bloggers
- How to Successfully Sell Books on Amazon
- A Simple Book Launch Formula
I’ve found good success pairing newsletter swaps with other paid email promotion services. It’s free (other than the costs to start up a list) and has benefits beyond just book sales as you connect with other authors in your community.