Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Growing a Beanstalk (part 1)

Okay, you've planted your bean (written your book). Now comes the watering, fertilizing and nurturing part in order to grow a healthy, sky's-the-limit beanstalk. So how do you get word out to an ever expanding audience? How do you invest in your marketing future now so that your next book will fare even better?

Read on for some tried and true ideas on expanding your online contact list.

This is the first of a series of excerpts from a recent interview conducted by Shinebright Design: I had the honor of being one of their first clients when I started sending out e-newsletters several years ago and I was also co-author of Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers with Shinebright's founder, Joanna Bloss.

First class work by a classy company! See for yourself - if you're not already receiving my free quarterly e-newsletter, be sure to sign up at

Q: Debora, over the past five years, I've seen your e-mail list soar from a few hundred to upwards of 2,000! What's your secret for growing a great list?

A: It's really no secret, just a determination to create an online community by following a simple plan:

1. Gather email addresses at every speaking event by offering a prize to the person who can guess the closest number of chocolate kisses in a large glass jar. I don't wait for them to come to my book table to sign up (they won't) but instead come to them by passing around a clipboard while I'm speaking (subtle peer pressure).

I make it clear they're signing up for my newsletter and thank them for helping me out (nice people like to help others). I make a big deal out of playing the guessing game and give good prizes. People need to get something out of signing up for your newsletter and it's even more motivating if it's fun.

2. Network at writers conferences and book events. I transfer email addresses from the business cards I collect directly to my contact list. People are happy to receive news about the new friend they've just made and will gladly follow your progress.

3. Create an interest in my work through my books, two blogs, media interviews and articles (online and paper). I also advertise my website at every opportunity (in bios, beside my signature in all correspondence, on the back page of my books, mention it in every interview, etc.) where a sign-up box for my newsletter is highlighted on the home page.

4. Drive people to my website through contests, giveaways and word of mouth, where hopefully while they're there, they'll sign up for my newsletter. Keep info fresh on the website to draw them back; a Twitter feed on my home page has gotten excellent feedback.

5. Try to make my newsletter content interesting, fun, and appealing to my target audience (women) by including recipes, cute images and swatches of humor ... stuff women like and will tell others about.

*Stay tuned ... More ideas coming in the next post!