I had the opportunity (and the pleasure) of working with fiction author, Abby Arthur, a few months ago. During our one-on-one session, we worked on defining her author brand, identifying her ideal audience, and developing her online presence (building her author website, email list, and network). We uncovered some specific promotional campaigns that would entice her readers and help her meet her objectives. In this post, Abby is sharing the steps she’s taken and her results (so far), so you too can learn how to grow your audience and writer platform.
Are you an author trying to grow your mailing list and fan base?
Are you lost at what to do?
I was right there with you. And though I’m not done with my marketing mission for the year, I’ve made some steps towards building my fan base that I’m sure can help and encourage you.
But first, who am I?
I’m Abby Arthur. I write young adult fantasy in a fascinating modern world full of magic and adventure for teens who want an escape from reality.
For the last twenty years, writing has been a passion and way of life for me. I can’t count how many novels I’ve written while I’ve learned to perfect my craft (not all are great, I promise).
I used a vanity press to publish my first book at 16, and I learned the hard way to never do that again. I have now written a number of books I hope to traditionally publish, but while I wait for my literary agent to claim me, I’m focusing on growing my fan base.
This brings me to the major topic of today. What am I doing to get fans (that you can do too)? And what are the results?
What I’m Doing
First and foremost, I’m learning from people who have gone before me so I can accelerate my results.
1 // I’ve set up a coaching call with Kimberley here at Your Writer Platform.
2 // I signed up for Nick Stevenson’s Your First 10k Readers program.
3 // I listened to “Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller from Audible.
4 // I also listened to “Marketing Made Simple” by Donald Miller, also from Audible.
Because of these sources, I have a strong foundation to work with to achieve the following goals for this year:
What Are the Results?
Currently, I’ve had time to update my website, create my lead magnet, and implement the giveaway.
I learned the starting steps and direction for this process from Kim at Your Writer Platform, and I learned how to implement the steps through Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10k Reader course.
How I Got My Direction
My first step to start the whole process was talking with Kim here at Your Writer Platform.
That one-on-one coaching call with her was a whirlwind of information I needed to hear. I knew I needed fans. I knew I needed a brand. And I thought I knew who my target audience was, but she took it deeper.
Talking with Kim broke down everything about my author platform into small, precise steps.
Even Kim’s direction about color coordinating my brand was something I hadn’t thought of until I met her.
She also helped me put into perspective how I wouldn’t gain all my fans in one week. Building a platform takes time.
I also realized I couldn’t wait any longer. Every day that passed, I was missing out on the opportunity to get the fans I wanted. Kim helped me get direction and set my butt in gear to do the work.
// 1 // The Website
For the website, I used Nick’s “Author Cats” theme to make my site very author and book friendly.
Then, with the help of “Building a StoryBrand”, I came up with reader-oriented content to make readers interested in my work.
It took me a week to listen to the book. After every chapter, I did exactly what Donald Miller said, and that helped me come up with great content.
Note* [You can see how it all looks on my site www.abbyarthur.com if you want a reference to help with your own site. References are a great help when you’re trying to design your site.]
// 2 // The Lead Magnet
For the lead magnet, I wrote a Novella that ties right into my fantasy stories. I have a bunch of different series that take place in the same world, so I chose one to make a short prequel to.
I hired Natasha Makenzie to design the cover. I found her on www.Reedsy.com*. After pitching my cover idea to 5 artists, she was the one who fit my budget and vision the best.
I had a clear idea for what I wanted in a cover, but I told her to come up with the fonts and color schemes. I also told her I’d be using those colors and fonts as my brand theme.
IMPORTANT: I asked my cover designer to send me the cover without text. She also gave me the separate parts (title, photo, and cover without the characters) so I could use them as background images on my site and on social media.
My designer cost me about $550 US dollars, and the results were 100% worth it. See for yourself below:
// 3 // The Giveaway
For the giveaway, I chose to give away a KindleFire7 with 5 bestselling Young Adult fantasy eBooks. As a bonus to everyone who signed up, I gave away my lead magnet (Twins of Shadow).
Here’s the wording I used in the small info section of my giveaway page. You can do something like it:
BONUS: EVERY ENTRANT WILL RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF TWINS OF SHADOW: AN UNDER THE DRAGON’S SPELL STORY by Abby Arthur.
The winner of the Kindle Fire 7 will be contacted via email – so keep your eyes open for a confirmation email from Abby Arthur. Good Luck!
// 4 // The Free Book
The link to the free book was posted as a link in the welcome email the entrants received. In this email, I informed them that by clicking that link, I would add them to my mailing list.
I also told the entrants if they didn’t click the link, I’d be removing them from my mailing list. (This cut back HUGELY on the unsubscribe count. If too many people unsubscribe, you get flagged as a spammer and this causes problems with your email sending service.)
// 5 // The Ads
I made this ad below for the giveaway easily in Microsoft Word, and I’ll list the simple steps to make your own.
1 // Find the photos on amazon (where you’re buying the eBook from).
2 // Paste them into Word
3 // Organize them how you want.
4 // Copy them
5 // Re-paste them into Word as a “special paste” (turning them into a PNG file)
6 // Save it to your computer as a photo
Note* Copyright is sometimes difficult to navigate, and I’m not qualified to guide you in whether using the photo of another author’s book you’re giving away is strictly legal or not.
This quote from Tara at The Librarian Who Doesn’t say SHH! blog may prove useful:
Use thumbnail images (150 pixels). These small images are generally considered fair game for artwork and photography, so a book cover in this size should be legal under copyright law based on precedence set in court cases.
You can read more on her post on the topic here: Book Cover Images and Copyright.
// 6 // How I advertised
Nick, from Your First 10K Readers, advises using the King Sumo plugin, so I bought that for my website and followed the setup instructions from the company.
I chose to run the giveaway for 3 weeks, and I advertised the giveaway on GiveawayFrenzy.com. I bought the $90 package and they promoted the giveaway on over 100 sites.
It was fun to watch all those emails come into my MailChimp, but I was also nervous the whole month since I wasn’t sure how many people would click my link and stick around.
Some things I did to increase clicks:
- Sent an email 48 hrs before the giveaway ended.
- Told entrants the winner would be announced soon.
- Offered “Twins of Shadow” download link again with bonuses (see image below).
- Bonuses were “for a limited time” with instructions on the download page.
- Bonuses were available on a password protected part of my site, and the password was the last 3 words of “Twins of Shadow”.
NOTE* I made all of the bonus content on Canva. The books (‘Songs That Inspired Twins of Shadow’ and ‘My Top YA Fantasy Must-Reads and Why’) ended up being Canva share links because they had YouTube videos in them, and I couldn’t download them as a PDF from Canva.
After running the giveaway:
- I had a little over 3000 people enter.
- 300 people clicked my links and chose to stick around.
- About 20 people clicked the link, downloaded my book, and unsubscribed. (No hard feelings! It was bound to happen.)
- I also had over 40% open rate on my emails, which was amazing! I heard the industry standard is 20%. So awesome!
- Spent a total of $220 in adds, prizes, and shipping.
Some things I learned:
- Don’t buy the prize first. Just buy it on Amazon after the contest ends and let them ship it to your winner. (You save on shipping if you have Amazon Prime, so that’s why.)
- You can’t pre-download books to kindles anymore, so if you giveaway books in your genre (which was the way I attracted my ideal fan) you will need to buy each book individually and gift it to the winner’s email.
A Mistake I Made…
After I announced the winner, I sent one final email that said: “be sure to click the download link for my book” (which I included in the email again). I let the readers know I would remove their email from my list if they chose not to click the link.
When I sent this, I forgot to remove people from my mailing list who had already downloaded my book. I annoyed them and lost about 30 would-be subscribers. (Darn it!).
NOTE from Kimberley: to increase the likelihood of your ideal reader choosing to initially opt-in OR stick around after they’ve received their freebie, give them multiple reasons to stay. Allow them a sneak peek of future content, describe the community and vibe that you’re hoping to build, or create open-loop email content that draws people into a story or concept over several emails. In short, make it worth their while to remain a part of your community. 😉
My overall thoughts regarding the giveaway…. Maybe not the most cost-efficient way to gain followers.
But I only had 30 people in my mailing list beforehand, so I didn’t feel right about asking an established author to promote me to their 3000 fans when I had no fans to promote them to.
And that’s what I’ve accomplished so far this year. But I’m busily working on my other marketing plans!
The most important upcoming plan is my weekly email to keep my current follower’s aware of my existence.
Behind the scenes, I’m drilling out a short story series to sell later this fall. But I want to build my mailing list to over 2K before I launch it.
The next few months will be quite the adventure, and I look forward to a future post so you can follow along as I share how these endeavors go!
About Abby Arthur
Many teens are looking for an escape from reality; that’s why I write young adult fantasy in a fascinating modern world full of magic and adventure that lingers even after the last page.
With over 20 years of writing experience, it’s my pleasure to take you to a world with magic, villains, and heroes you will love in a place you can’t forget. Join my VIP mailing list and get “Twins of Shadow” FREE by clicking Here Now!
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Abby Arthur says
Hello everyone! I wanted to say I’ll be checking in on the comment section here for the next week or so in case you have any questions, so please feel free to ask away!
uk writer says
Wow, thank you for sharing this huge list of tips for beginner writers. I believe that one day I will be able to write something interesting and unusual in fiction genre. I hope that you will continue doing articles like this one.
Kimberley Grabas says
Glad you found it helpful! 🙂
Linda Charles says
Abby, thank you for sharing – you’ve been very generous. That was really interesting and you’ve given me a lot to think about. Thank you!
Adele Marie Park says
wow, this actually made total sense to me, a wonderful post thank you so much, Abby and wishing you all the luck in the world for success. Adele