Okay, building a mailing list was one of those things I should have done at the beginning of my self-publishing journey. But I didn’t. I’m not even sure why I refused to ask for emails from readers who enjoyed my books. All I can say is that in 2010, back when ebooks were starting to really take off, it was just so incredibly easy to attract readers on Amazon. If it had been harder, I would have thought seriously about nurturing a mailing list.
In 2020, Amazon’s platform is filled to the brim with competing titles, and readers are inundated with choices. The choices potential readers are typically shown are weighted by Amazon’s ever-changing algorithm. Established writers with name recognition and publishing houses behind them have an easier time of it. Indie authors, however, have to really get into the nuts and bolts of tag words, editorial reviews, verified reviews, and the number of times a reader finds a review helpful to get any tangible traction in this very competitive field.
Hence the importance of a currented mailing list. A list I don’t have.
I’m told…an author’s email list should be comprised of past-readers, potential readers, readers who enjoy your blog post, your social media followers who find you witty or just want to support you, and your immediate friends and family.
I don’t have that list. But I now have a way to begin one.
Let me tell you about Substack.
Whereas Patreon is geared toward everyone who produces art content in various forms, Substack seems specifically geared with writers in mind. The Substack platform is similar to Medium in that you can write articles, fiction, or poetry and publish it yourself. The difference in Medium and Substack is how you are paid. Substack offers an email subscription set-up for readers who’d like to support you as an author.
(Follow me on this short side tangent for a moment and it will become clear why I moved to Substack.)
Medium recently changed its payment paradigm. It when from claps, reads, and highlight-engagement to the overall read-time of a published piece. This rather simple change affected lots of Medium writers who saw their monthly revenue drop. (Like off a cliff.) The switch also changed what writers chose to produce. Suddenly longer how-to articles seemed to be the way to go if you wanted to get paid. I tended to write poetry on Medium so overnight I stopped making back my $5 membership fee plus enough for a few fancy coffees. Instead, I was making nothing and paying Medium $5 a month despite working just as hard as I ever had.
Here’s my Substack page: https://tarrant.substack.com/
Like Medium, there’s no limit to how much work I’m allowed to produce. I own the rights to all my writing. But unlike Medium, I don’t have to pay a monthly fee to put my work behind a paywall. If I want to get paid for my efforts then I can offer readers a paid subscription for anyone willing to sign up for my weekly newsletter/publication, Tales of the Pale. It can be a little as a few dollars a month if I want. It’s my choice to charge or keep everything free. Substack will simply take their cut from any money that comes in for my particular publication. So that’s pretty simple. And of course, this system works well if you, as an author, have a large following and already have a substantial mailing list to start with.
However, I’ve got two pressing issues at the moment. Firstly, I need to build a mailing list from scratch. That’s not easy. Second, I’m not sure I’d ever produce enough extra-valued material to justify ever asking anyone for $5 a month to receive my exclusive newsletter. (I’d be better off creating a Go Fund Me page, I think. lol)
So, what I’ve decided to do is use Substack as a platform to create an email list I can use to build buzz for my paranormal romance series. I have already imported all my writing from Medium into Substack. They made this so easy to do.
Here’s the cool part… I also get to produce my own podcast using this platform. That’s right, a whole new medium to master. Whoo-who! For the first few podcasts, I plan to do readings from the books. I might even produce a short story or two just for my weekly Newsletter/Publication. I could interview myself. Interview a character. Reveal a newly-written poem. The possibilities are endless.
I truly am excited about Substack. The first issue is 10/23/20 Click here to subscribe to the (FREE) Tales of the Pale.