Recently, I’ve come to a decision in terms of my business. I want you to notice how I said that. I’m not just someone who writes books. I’m a person in the business of publishing and writing books. That distinction makes all the difference in the world in terms of mindset when I approach what I do here at the website and everything else concerning the RIU.

When I make decisions, I want to make decisions that will ultimately be good for my business and be a win-win for everybody involved. That means my fans, my publishing team, and myself.

Just recently, within the last month, I’ve made the decision that I was no longer going to be giving away free books… sort of.

If you know anything about business in general, you’ll know that it is imperative that you build a mailing list. This is essential for anyone who is serious about self-publishing because it keeps you connected with your fans. I love being connected to my fans. If it were up to me, I would be talking with them every day. But everyone’s lives aren’t the same and I have to temper my communication to best suit what is comfortable for them.

What I’m about to talk about is giving you a small glimpse into the background of what happens in running my business. This is not exclusive to me but for anyone looking to build a fan base through a mailing list. My hope is that this will give you some insight into why I made the decision I’ve made.

There are many different kinds of mailing list providers. MailChimp (the one I use), Constant Contact, AWeber, MailMunch, and several others. These services help to organize and keep track of data in reference to activity on your mailing list. Building a mailing list is crucial because the old marketing mantra is still true: the money is in the list.

Reputation and TrustAs a self-published author and business owner, I want to make sure I’m in good standing with the services I use. One of the things that can jeopardize that is having a mailing list with a lot of unsubscribes. What these services interpret a lot of unsubscribes as is spam. If you are labeled as a business that is sending out spam, you can have your account suspended. This, of course, would be a bad thing based on the fact that the mailing list is the nerve center of a successful business.

When I first started building my mailing lists seriously, I got a lot of sign-ups because I offered a free book to those who would join my mailing list. The problem with that is that many of those people would sign up to my mailing list and unsubscribe. All they really want is a free book and then they simply get off of the mailing list, go to another author who is offering a free book so they can download that for free, and unsubscribe. They keep doing this over and over again building a library of books they will more than likely never read.

Now, I don’t mind people getting stuff for free. I actually offer part of my catalog for free and I direct people to those offerings if they just want something for free to try out. Understandable. But what these people don’t realize is that when they sign up for something and immediately unsubscribe, they are hurting the author. It puts their good standing with their mailing list service at risk, especially if their mailing list is small. If you have a big mailing list, it may not have as much of a negative impact because you can afford a certain percentage of drop off.

So to combat this in a positive way, I’ve decided not to give away any of my books for free except to those who join my advanced reader team. These are people who have stayed on my mailing list for a good amount of time and have shown interest in my work. These are people who I know are true fans and these are the ones who I count on for more than just reading my books. So, as an incentive, I allow them to get advance copies of all of my books for free as long as they are on the team. These are full novels and is the only way you can get any of my novels for free.

That being the case, I haven’t left all the rest of my RIU Citizens (my mailing list) in the dust. They also get a look at all of my books in an exclusive sample copy. This goes beyond the sample you see on Amazon or other online retailers. It actually is the first 30% of all of my books (I’m thinking of increasing this to 40%). This way, potential fans can get into the story deep enough to know whether or not it’s something they would like to continue to read. This is the same thing I give away to people who join my mailing list now.

What has been the result? My unsubscribes are extremely low. Few and far between to be quite honest. That’s because most people looking for a free book skip over free samples. My mailing list growth has slowed down but my unsubscribes have also taken a steep nosedive. What that says to me is that I’m getting a quality list of people actually interested in my work. It’s a win-win.

The question that may come up is how do people get on my advanced reader team. The answer is that you have to be invited to be on my advanced reader team. In order to be invited to advanced reader team, you have to be on my mailing list, a part of the RIU Citizenship. If you’re interested in my work or want to see the kind of things that I write, just hop on over to my online store and take a look at what I currently have available. For the more direct route, just click on the link below:

RIU Citizen Sign Up

The goal is that by joining my mailing list, it will be a win-win for both me and you.

So until next time, see you in the Tapestry!

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