TC Marti’s Rookie Mistake Episode II: Mailing List Failure!

Mailing List Failure!

It’s been a while between TC Marti’s Rookie Mistakes Episode I and my current episode, entitled Mailing List Failure! In this edition, I’ll talk about something that could have been a fatal error to my life as a user of the MailerLite platform and why I should have (but didn’t) get hit with spam complaints.

Crisis averted, nonetheless! However, it was still a heart-stopping moment for me that I was able to remedy with one simple move, which I’ll describe in the sections below. But still, given the number of signups I’d attained over the past week leading up to today’s post – over 100, I’m kicking myself for not discovering this error last week.

But, better late to the party than to no-show, right?

Here’s how it unfolded?

More Reader Magnets, More Subs to the Mailing List

Reader Magnets in the Readers Republic
Three Reader Magnets (a fourth on the way), Three Avenues for New Subs, ONE UNIVERSE!

First and foremost, I need to give a huge shoutout to Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy and his informative work, How to Market a Book. In it, Ricardo talks about creating a universe, as opposed to a standalone or a series.

Why?

Because it negates the perpetual chess game of finding ways to expose your work to readers when you’re constantly pouring out standalones featuring different characters with zero connections to previous standalones, or different series with zero connections to the previous series.

We live in a binge society, and binge we will. That said, creating a universe with entwining plot lines, systems, and characters is a chess game itself. But in my opinion, it’s the Truth and the Way in the indie publishing world.

And why not go big or go home?

That said, I created three reader magnets, with one hot magnet on the way – which will be exclusive to Prolific Works so I can tap into their audience – but they will also receive offers to the other free works which tie into the magnet they will download.

Related: TC Marti’s Rookie Author Mistakes: Part I

The Power Multiple Reader Magnets Have for Your Mailing List

Braden Hawk Prequel
Reader Magnet #3: Braden Hawk.

All four magnets, at that point, lead to entwining storylines in one single universe. But, different subscribers will come across different magnets. For example, if Subscriber A downloads Chronicles of the Elementals and Subscriber B, Chronicles of Rondure, they’ll each see the other reader magnet in their inbox three days later.

Why do this, you ask?

Because different readers use different means of searching when looking for their next read. While I may enter similar genres and genre-specific keywords to Chronicles of the Elementals and Chronicles of Rondure, I can also add new ones. For example, Chronicles of the Elementals is military fantasy, among other subgenres and keywords. Chronicles of Rondure leans into fantasy dystopia. One work features an ensemble cast and multiple POVs, the other doesn’t.

But, if you, as a reader, see Chronicles of the Elementals standing alongside Chronicles of Rondure, you see comp titles. Different stories on the outside, comp titles on the inside. And oh wait, their plots, beyond the magnets (paid works), entwine.

In the beginning, Rondure will attract a subset of readers, and Elementals will attract another. But judging from my conversion rates on Bookfunnel regarding their respective downloads, readers see the two as comp titles. I would never have gotten the Rondure readers onto my mailing list had I not introduced it to the world. And my mailing list would be half the size it is today.

Related: What are Reader Magnets?

So in late August, I decided to release Chronicles of Rondure, which initially served as a bonus freebie for readers that downloaded Chronicles of the Elementals. After positive feedback regarding Chronicles of Rondure, I knew it’d be a hit, and it received hundreds of downloads on Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin from those craving genre-bending fantasy dystopia. And boy, was it a hit.

The takeaway?

The more reader magnets you create, the more readers will subscribe to your list. This goes back to the universe Ricardo Fayet talked about at the beginning of this section. You can do this with different universes. But at the very least, they need to be in the same genre or a similar genre. You can’t market old-world epic fantasy to those that read tech thrillers. But you can market urban fantasy to readers that read science fantasy.

Entwine the stories sometime in your paid works, and odds are, readers that you otherwise never would have added to your subscription list will read more of your backlist.

But, there’s a catch. Keep reading so you don’t make my mistake.

Need to start a mailing list, but you’re unsure where to begin?

Discover how to build a mailing list in 6 steps from Reedsy.

 

The Horrifying Discovery

Chronicles of Rondure
Chronicles of Rondure, Reader Magnet #2.

The day before I wrote today’s post, I made a horrifying discovery. I forgot to split my automation into groups! Therefore, when readers joined my mailing list after downloading either Chronicles of the Elementals or Chronicles of Rondure, they got TWO welcome sequence emails – a series of 5 emails welcoming you to the Republic and even offering a few more tidbits.

Both automations held identical emails but were slightly different since only one was intended for readers who downloaded Rondure, while the other was for readers who downloaded Elementals. September was also a month where I’d garnered a little over 300 signups, literally a quarter of my mailing list. That’s a lot of readers I could have annoyed with duplicate emails.

Seriously if it were me, I’d be complaining of spam since I’m getting a crazy number of emails from this author whose freebie novella/novelette I just downloaded. Thankfully that didn’t happen, and I can breathe a sigh of relief. At least in the short-term, it seems like my readers are pretty good sports, and they also happened to download their second magnet the day they downloaded the first, as opposed to three days after.

Update – October 30th, 2021: I had OVER 600 downloads in October via Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin, with about 257 new members signing up before my Book Doggy Promo on October 31st. These numbers told me that most readers on my mailing list were cool with the rookie mistake. But perhaps they’d have been less cool if I also had Reader Magnet #3 – Braden Hawk in the queue as well. 

Luckily, I caught this after designing the automation for Braden Hawk (urban fantasy, also part of the Elementals Universe). Only one reader had gotten hit with THREE WELCOME SEQUENCE EMAILS! Still not ideal, but it’s something I can live with since about five minutes later, I split everyone into four groups – Eidolon, Rondure, Terrian, and Catenary – the latter will comprise the Prolific Works Group for a future release date of Reader Magnet #4.

Related: How Ferocious Self-Editing Spawned a Novelette in Ten Days

 

Not Too Costly for the Mailing List

Chronicles of the Elementals
My original reader magnet, Chronicles of the Elementals.

Overall, my Unsubscribe Rate for September was low, low, low, low, low. In fact, my mother stated that she thought I’d sent duplicate emails on purpose – yes, I have a few immediate family members subscribed to my list. And as it was, she did not inform me until I pointed it out earlier today.

This taught me one thing about my mailing list – they’re cool with rookie author mistakes. Back in June, I accidentally double emailed them, and hardly any of them batted an eye.

Of course, at the time, I had about 225 subs, as opposed to the 1,100-plus subs as of October 2nd, 2021. And funnily enough, this rookie mistake led to the creation of Chronicles of Rondure as an apology to my mailing list.

So I’m glad to see that they were cool with it. Because as a rookie author who’s not tech-savvy outside Google Docs, it probably won’t be the last time I screw up something on the mailing list. And if/when I do, you will read about it.