It’s time once again for my monthly guest post over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. We’ve been exploring the choices for what path we want to follow in our indie publishing career, and today, we’re continuing to dig deeper into how to implement our chosen path.
My series about Indie Publishing Paths at Fiction University has highlighted some of the choices we have to make and given us a few guidelines.
We first discussed how we need to know our goals because that will help us make the best decisions for us and adapt as the industry changes. Depending on our priorities, we might make different choices for distribution, release schedules, or pricing, which I focused on in the first segment of the series, calling them the where, when, and how much of our decision process.
The second segment of my series focused on how to keep our readers after they finish our book:
- Part One: An overview of our options to keep readers
- Part Two: What type of buy links to include
- Part Three: How to prevent our buy links from going dead
- Part Four: Deciding whether we should use excerpts
- Part Five: Offering extra content on our website
We’re currently exploring the specifics of one of the options mentioned in Part One of the Reader Retention Plan above, which is to communicate with our readers via a newsletter. So far, we’ve covered:
- newsletter “best practices” for retaining readers,
- different philosophies for gathering subscribers,
- various strategies for getting subscribers to open our messages, and
- how to encourage subscribers to take action on our emails.
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the number of subscribers we have for our newsletter doesn’t matter if they’re not opening, reading, and ideally, taking action with our messages. If our subscribers delete our emails unread, let them sit in a “junk” email inbox, or never click links to buy, share, review, promote, etc. our work, they’re “dead weight” to our subscriber numbers.
We’ve talked before about the statistics of open rate and click rate as far as having engaged subscribers, but there’s a bigger reason why those dead-weight subscribers are a problem: They can cost us money.
Most newsletters services (such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, MailerLite, VerticalResponse, MailPoet, MadMimi, GetResponse, etc.) start off free—up to a certain number of subscribers. Once we reach that threshold of subscribers, we usually have to pay monthly for the service to continue sending out our messages.
So if we have a lot of dead-weight subscribers, we’re going to hit that threshold—and have to start paying—sooner than we would if our list was “clean.” In other words, it’s in our best interest to clean up our newsletter subscriber list before we hit that threshold (or cleaning it up after might reduce our monthly charges).
Most advice I’ve seen about how to clean up those dead-weight subscribers, however, is a bit…drastic, as it involves lots of deletions based on unconfirmed information of our open rates.
We’re never going to approach 100% open or click rates—unless we have an extremely small list made up of family and best friends (and maybe not even then *smile*)—and most consider open rates above 25% or so to be good. Yet no matter what our numbers are, those statistics aren’t completely accurate, which is why I recommend against following the usual clean-up advice.
In this month’s post at Fiction University, I’m exploring our options for less-drastic measures we can take to remove uninterested subscribers from our newsletter list. *smile*
I hope you’ll join me at Fiction University for this month’s post!
If you have a newsletter, are you still on a freebie plan? Have you thought about how to extend that free period by cleaning up your subscriber list? Are you worried about dead-weight subscribers? If not, why not? Do you have ideas for how to clean your list?
Also, if you have questions I haven’t covered yet about our options as an indie author, let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it to the list!