Issue #31

7 automations authors can use to connect with their fans and sell books

Writers Email Marketing
12 min read
In this Article

When you get in the writing zone (or you’re on a deadline), everything else falls away for a moment.

Your thoughts and ideas consume your mind—and your fingers can sometimes barely keep up.

One thing you’re probably not thinking about in those moments? Telling your subscribers where to buy your latest book. Or asking if they would share your work with a friend. Or deciding what to share in next week's newsletter.

So you either have to stop your writing flow to focus on marketing (not ideal) or skip marketing altogether (definitely not ideal). It would be great if you could promote your work while staying in the writing zone. That’s where email automation comes in.

Email automation lets authors like you write a series of emails once and send them to the right people at the right time automatically. Then, your automations work behind the scenes to grow your list while you’re typing away on your next project.

Sound interesting? Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Email automation is good for you and your readers

You want your readers to enjoy being a part of your email list. At the same time, it becomes hard to personally write to every subscriber as you grow your email list. Email automation for authors offers a personalized emails for subscribers without taking up all your time.

Authors get a lighter workload and boost engagement

Rather than manually sending welcome emails or offers, automation does the work for you. You only have to set up email automation once, then those emails are sent automatically to an unlimited number of subscribers without you needing to invest more time—meaning you can spend more time on writing. Automation can also boost engagement and book sales since you’re constantly promoting your work.

Readers get a personalized experience and ongoing content

Subscribers receive your email automations automatically when they meet certain conditions, like joining your email list or downloading a lead magnet. Since you can customize automations for your audience, they receive content precisely when it’s most valuable. Automated emails keep sending even if you’re away, so subscribers stay in the loop.

7 author email automation strategies to use as plot points in your story of growth

Every book begins with a sentence. Similarly, each author starts with a single email automation. Rather than going all-out with automation on your first day, it’s best to build your automation strategy over time. Start with one automation, get comfortable with it, and then add another.

Each of the seven strategies we’ll cover below has a free Automation template to make getting started easier. It only takes a few clicks for ConvertKit creators to launch an Automation with these templates.

1 – Welcome new subscribers

Each time someone signs up for your email list, use an email automation to roll out the welcome mat. Sending an instant welcome email builds goodwill with subscribers. It’s also a perfect opportunity to introduce your work and where to find it.

Ryan Holiday, the bestselling author of Ego Is The Enemy, customizes his welcome sequence so new subscribers receive different content based on where and why they signed up. Ryan shared,

Let's say someone signs up for my piece on how to be a great leader, or the art of journaling. We want the first emails they get to match that interest. Otherwise, potential lifelong readers bounce out because you're not showing them what they want or need.

-Ryan Holiday

Get the welcome email Automation template here

Make it your own:

  1. Identify your sign-up points. You may only have one newsletter sign-up form to start. That’s okay! As you grow, you’ll add lead magnets and campaign-specific landing pages that all connect to the same welcome sequence. This will maximize your exposure and signup rate.
  2. Choose what content to send. The welcome email for your general newsletter should include links to your best content. If someone signs up for a specific resource, include related resources for that topic to share your expertise and build trust.
  3. Write a welcome email. If you have a lot to say in your welcome email, consider splitting it across a few messages. Use the first email in the sequence to thank subscribers and let them know what types of content you’ll send. Extra messages can invite them to follow you on social media, check out your latest work, or tell you about themselves.

2 – Run an evergreen newsletter

You don’t want to leave newsletter subscribers hanging while you’re deep in the writing zone for your next novel. The solution? An evergreen newsletter.

Instead of writing a new email each week, an evergreen newsletter sends out a pre-written email series. New subscribers start at the beginning, making sure everyone sees the same content. You also get the benefit of a backlog of content that is sent without your input.

email automations for authors

Setting up your first evergreen newsletter can be as simple as repurposing past newsletter editions. New subscribers won’t know you’ve sent the content before, and you can quickly create an evergreen sequence to build on.

Get the evergreen newsletter Automation template here

Make it your own:

  1. Pick a content strategy. Do you want to use past newsletters or create new content? Will you add content as you create it or order emails strategically? Choosing a strategy upfront makes writing easier.
  2. Write your newsletter. Your entire evergreen newsletter will be one email sequence. Be sure to update your settings so subscribers stay in the sequence after reaching the end.
  3. Move existing subscribers to the evergreen newsletter. It’s easy to add new subscribers to an evergreen email automation automatically. You'll need to manually add existing subscribers to your new evergreen newsletter, though.

3 – Promote your book with a free chapter

Offering a free sample chapter from your latest book can help boost book sales, and automation helps you continuously promote your free sample to potential subscribers. You can even set up a condition to follow up with people who didn’t buy right away.

email automations for authors
Free samples give readers a taste of your work before buying. Image via James Clear.

Bestselling author James Clear includes a sample of his book, Atomic Habits, in his welcome email. The email has a link to access a free chapter or buy the book outright.

Get the free book sample Automation template here

Make it your own:

  1. Decide when to send the offer. Some authors, like James Clear, offer a free book chapter right away. You could also wait a few days after someone joins your newsletter.
  2. Write the email. Your offer email needs to tell subscribers what they’ll get by signing up, and how to download their free sample.
  3. Send a follow-up. By tagging everyone who purchases your book, you can follow up with people who don’t buy. It’s possible they liked the free chapter but forgot to go back and buy it.

4 – Release a new book

Book launch days are exciting but busy. To give you time to soak up the joy of the day, set up your email promotion ahead of time. A book release automation helps build excitement, boost pre-sales, and remind potential readers once your book is live.

email automations for authors

Your automation can begin weeks or months before launch day. Subscribers can click a link to trigger a tag that shows they’re interested in the book. Then, the automation can send an email on launch day with links to buy your work.

Get the book launch Automation template here

Make it your own:

  1. Pick your audience. Chances are you’ll want to tell your entire list about the upcoming book. You could write different messages for people who have and haven’t purchased one of your books before, though.
  2. Write your pre-launch message. Let subscribers know what your book is about and when it launches. You can add a countdown timer to make the news even more exciting.
  3. Set up a launch day email. Be sure to include links to buying or downloading your new release. It’s also nice to thank subscribers for their support!

5 – Launch a paid newsletter

Recurring revenue from a paid newsletter helps you smooth earnings between book launches. Your paid newsletter could take many forms, from hosting Q&As about your past books to hosting a book club or sharing exclusive content.

email automations for authors

Create a landing page to gauge interest in a paid newsletter before committing, then tag subscribers to notify once it’s live. If you already have a paid newsletter, use email automation to pitch it for you.

Get the paid newsletter Automation template here

Make it your own:

  1. Gauge interest with a link trigger or form. Running a paid newsletter requires ongoing work, so you want to make sure it’s worth the effort. Asking people to sign up for updates via a link trigger or form lets you determine how many potential paid subscribers you have.
  2. Write a pitch sequence. Your pitch email should let subscribers know what content to expect, how much it costs, and how to sign up.
  3. Pitch subscribers after they make a purchase. Existing customers are more likely to care about exclusive content than brand new subscribers. So, you can set up automations to pitch people only after they buy from you.

6 – Grow your list with referrals

Your subscribers have the power to help grow your email list. Since subscribers know and enjoy your work, they may be willing to tell their friends. Adding a newsletter referral program gives them an incentive to do so.

email automations for authors
Newsletter referral emails let subscribers know how to earn free content by sharing it with friends. Image via James Clear.

A month after someone joins James Clear’s newsletter, they receive info about his referral program. James thanks subscribers for sticking around and lets them know how they can help. The email also lets people know what freebies they earn for referring a few friends to subscribe.

Get the newsletter referral program Automation template here

Make it your own:

  1. Pick an incentive. You can use existing content, like a free chapter, as a referral incentive. As subscribers refer more friends, increase the value of the reward.
  2. Decide when to introduce the program. It’s best to wait at least a week after someone joins your list to share the referral program. You want to give people time to use and enjoy your work.
  3. Write the introduction email. Dedicate an email to telling subscribers about your referral program. Explain why you use it, how they can get involved, and what they’ll gain.

7 – Part ways with inactive subscribers

It feels counterintuitive to delete subscribers, but keeping your list clean is a positive thing. For one, you’ll only pay for active subscribers. Sending only to your committed readers also boosts open rates and engagement, which helps you gain a newsletter sponsors or impress potential publishers.

email automations for authors
Emails to inactive subscribers can be short and simple. Image via Srinivas Rao.

Srinivas Rao, the author of Unmistakable, asks inactive subscribers if they want to stick around. If someone hasn’t opened an email in a while, Srinivas sends a message to check-in. If the person doesn’t indicate they want to remain on the list, you can delete them.

Get the inactive subscriber Automation template here

Make it your own:

  1. Tag cold subscribers. ConvertKit automatically measures which subscribers are inactive, but you’ll need to apply the tag. Go through your list each quarter to review cold subscribers.
  2. Create a “don’t delete me!” trigger. You'll give subscribers the option to remain on your list by clicking a link in your inactive subscriber email. The link trigger needs to remove the “cold subscriber” tag so you don’t delete them.
  3. Write a heads-up message. Your reactivation email to inactive subscribers should be brief and kind. Let them know it’s okay if they don’t want to be on your list anymore. Give them an option to stick around by clicking the link trigger you set up in the previous step.

Grow your audience with ConvertKit

Writing a book is an admirable feat. It takes weeks, months, or even years of getting in the writing zone to see a project through. Then, it’s time to promote your work. You have to wear a few different hats to self-publish your book, so you need a way to manage promotion without constantly interrupting your creative flow.

The right tools help you make the most of your time. Authors like Jennifer Armstrong use ConvertKit to connect with their audience and sell books. ConvertKit lets you manage and grow your email list, create landing pages, and sell ebooks from a single platform.

Learn more about how best-selling authors leverage ConvertKit here.

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Steph Knapp

Steph Knapp is a freelance B2B + SaaS content marketer that loves educating and empowering curious humans. When she's not typing away, you'll find her volunteering at the animal shelter and obsessing over a new hobby every week. She shares marketing, freelance, and cat content on Twitter @ hellostephknapp.

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