The Book Marketer’s Silver Bullet

By Tim Riordan

Wouldn’t it be great if you could discover the silver bullet of marketing success? When I say silver bullet, I’m talking about the cream of the crop, the book marketers’ Mecca, the mother lode for marketers…you get the point.

Let’s consider this from another perspective. What if I gave you an option of reaching six percent of your followers or twenty percent (or more)? Which would you choose? An amazing fact I’ve discovered is that many authors opt for the six percent. 

According to Campaign Monitor, your Facebook post will reach only six percent of your followers while an email sent to your followers will be opened by nearly twenty percent on average (my most recent email had an open rate of forty-nine percent). I believe it was statistics like this that led marketing expert Rob Eagar to say, “There is no better way to ensure future success than growing a large email list.”

If you want to use emails as an important part of your book marketing strategy, you’ll need several important ingredients. Here’s a summary:

·      Email Marketing Service – For starters, you’ll need to enlist the help of a service that will assist you in gathering the email addresses from potential readers and distributing your emails to them in a useful strategy. I’ve used TrafficwaveConstant Contact, and Mailerlite. At this point, I favor Mailerlite.

·      A Lead Magnet – This “magnet” is a gift you offer to readers that requires them to give you their names and email addresses. Don’t be cheap. I deal with this issue in a chapter of my newest book on marketing, and Rob Eagar also offers great help with the process in his books. Even before you make the decision of which marketing service or create a funnel of correspondence for those who accept your offer, you need to work hard on something worthwhile to give away. My gift is a whole book on how to study Psalms. As authors, this is usually a free book or another resource you can share as a pdf. It will cost you time and money spent on editing, and graphics, but that’s all.

·      A Process – A process begins with letters that your new subscribers receive automatically. One could be a welcome letter, and another could be a letter to introduce yourself. Once your series of four or five letters are delivered over a period of a month or two, your subscribers will only hear from you through regular meaningful and useful emails. Some people refer to them as newsletters, but I don’t think many people want to sign up for just a newsletter. Be creative. Call it something that will capture your readers’ attention and interest. Make sure that your weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly correspondence is worth opening. The best way to kill your open rates is to send people stuff that is a waste of their time.

·      A Request Strategy – People don’t want to open your emails only to be hounded to buy a book or write a review. Look for creative ways to mention your book without saying, “Buy my book.” Share helpful material that your readers will appreciate getting. You want them to look forward to hearing from you. At the same time, you will periodically have a request for them. It could be to purchase your newest book or to write a review. If you offer fun, meaningful material most of the time and occasionally promote your book or resource, your readers will be okay with that. If you ask too much, your readers will opt out. Develop a strategy and follow it. I suggest a five to one ratio (or higher) where you develop a strategy that gives material away or points readers to useful information or fun activities five or more times to the one time you promote something or ask for something. Be strategic and intentional.

Email marketing can be a useful and essential tool. For one thing, you own your email list. Facebook or Twitter doesn’t. They can’t shut you down. You also have better overall success with your followers when you connect by email. Your readers want a relationship with you, and email offers them that regular contact.

Maybe calling email marketing a silver bullet sounds a little too aggressive. Let’s call it the ace in the hole—now that sounds like gambling. You could consider it the oil that keeps the marketing machine running along bringing about positive sales and helping you to continually influence your readers. Whatever you call it, you can call it success.


Dr. Tim Riordan is the author of The Next Bestseller: Book Marketing for Success and a bestselling author of eleven books including Wisdom Speaks: Life Lessons from Proverbs, which received the 2019 Christian Indie Award. He is a pastor in Newnan, Georgia and works with various authors through speaking at conferences, consulting, and publishing. You can learn more about Tim or follow his blogs on his website at timriordan.com.


This post is part of the Writers’ Room, a collaborative writing advice column by Christian writers.

Published by headdeskliz

Elizabeth Jacobson is the author of Not by Sight: The Story of Joseph. She lives and teaches in sunny California and loves fantasy, science fiction, and historically-based Christian fiction. She has multiple other titles in the works.

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