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Autoresponders Turn the Gift of Giving into the Art of Sales

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If it’s true that you have to
give to receive, then an autoresponder mailing for your book can lead to great


The tagline at the top of my
site’s home page says: “Straight pastor unicycles 1,000 miles for gay rights:
He cares so much he gives his book away for free.” Everyone who visits the site
can receive my whole book, entirely free, one page at a time. Once site
visitors submit their email addresses, my autoresponder begins sending daily
emails, each with a page from <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Straight Into Gay America: My Unicycle Journey for
Equal Rights


In the first week I received 208
signups. At 352 pages, that’s 73,216 emails that I will send to willing
recipients. Along with a page from the book, each email has a picture of the
cover, a link to my site, a link to my newsletter, and the essential Order
Today hyperlink. Every email also has a mechanism that lets those who have
received it as a forward sign up for A-Page-A-Day themselves.


On day eight, some anonymous saint
forwarded the page to her or his entire list, and I got an extra 450 visits to
my site. Even better, 44 more people signed up to receive A-Page-A-Day, so I
could send another 25,000 email messages to willing recipients.


Autoresponders help me achieve two
important goals. First, I do care passionately about equal rights, and I do
want the message of my book cast far and wide. The Page-A-Day autoresponse
makes my message available to a mind-boggling array of readers. Second, I do
want to sell my trade paperbacks and e-books. Autoresponders introduce my book
to potential buyers every time a person reads a page.


Autoresponders Explained


Because they automate the process
of emailing standardized messages to groups of people, autoresponders allow a
campaign manager to create a series of messages and set the time interval for
delivery. Once you’ve created your list of emails and set up your subscription
stations, everything is automated.


Many companies provide
autoresponder services. Some charge flat fees, and some base prices on the
number of emails sent or the number of campaigns created. Others sell software
for a onetime charge. I chose GetResponse (<span
) because I can have
up to 10,000 subscribers for $17.95 per month. At that price, this was one
experiment I wasn’t going to miss.


As with most other software, you
will have a learning curve with autoresponders. To create a campaign, you need


·      Set up campaign parameters,
including subscribe and unsubscribe information.

·      Create your Page-A-Day template
and choose features (link to your site, cover image, link to your newsletter,
copyright information, etc.).

·      Create your messages by adding a
page of content from your book to the template.

·      Assign delivery dates.

·      Test your messages.

·      Build your subscriber list.


How long it takes to learn to use
your autoresponder and create your template depends on your technical and
design abilities. Once I set everything up and established a routine, I created
about 20 to 25 pages per hour. Just inputting the Page-A-Day messages for 352
pages took me more than 15 hours. Spread out over a two-week period, the total
time invested was three solid days.


Now I spend two to three hours a
day cultivating Internet connections with my target audience. I contact blogs
and the Web sites of media, nonprofit, for-profit, and advocacy organizations.
All told, my marketing expenditures are $50 per month (plus the costs of
sending review copies) and a lot of keyboard time.


Evaluating This Option


Is A-Page-A-Day worth the time? It
depends on the content of your book, and the character of your target market.
Have you identified a clear target audience for your book? Are people in that
audience passionately interested in the book’s subject? Does the book solve a
problem or meet a need? If so, A-Page-A-Day might help you accelerate your
word-of-mouth impact. We’re a nation that loves the freebie.


Could A-Page-A-Day hurt sales? Not
likely. Once you demonstrate value in your book, readers are more likely to buy
it. When they discover you have answers to their questions, most of them will
want your entire book quickly.


After one month with A-Page-A-Day,
I had 627 subscribers and I was averaging 15 new signups per day. I don’t know
where the top of this curve is, but I’m already in great shape. Over the next
year, 213,704 emails will be circulating with the greatest advertisement I have
to offer, actual content from my book. Every time I add a new subscriber, 352
new emails queue up to circulate. As of today, sales are 174 books and
subscribers to A-Page-A-Day number 643. Approximately 120 to 130 of the sales
are from subscribers.


Because I help authors and
publishers create Web sites, I’m committed to Internet book marketing. I’ve
created www.BookResponder.com
to explain the A-Page-A-Day process in detail and provide a worksheet, which is
available there, for calculating the number of book sales needed to break even
on A-Page-A-Day investment.


Experienced marketers tell us we
need to get our product in front of consumers 7 to 14 times before they’re
ready to buy. To the list of bookmarks, postcards, key chains, and other
promotional materials you use to sell your title, you may want to consider
adding the gift that keeps on giving, and that offers subscribers as many
chances to buy as you have pages in your book.


Lars Clausen works
full-time with www.AmericanAuthor.com, providing Web sites for authors and
publishers to help create online success. For more information, call
877/700-2519 or email Lars@AmericanAuthor.com. To see the site he discusses
here, visit www.straightintogayamerica.com


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