As most of you know, I launched my fifth novel two weeks ago. It debuted in Amazon's top 1000 in less than twenty-four hours thanks to the dedicated fans I have on my newsletter mailing list. Do you have a mailing list? Do you engage with them?
During the course of writing Fallen Mangrove, I emailed my list about every two or three weeks, usually talking about how the book was coming along and recommending books that I was currently reading, but occasionally also asking for advice. My main character's new airplane was named this way. I asked for name suggestions and received nearly a hundred replies. Many readers from my mailing list correspond with me on a regular basis now. I have just over 400, but that was less than 200 when I started writing Mangrove and corresponding regularly. While that's not a huge mailing list, they are a dedicated bunch.
In the last two weeks before publication, while the manuscript was undergoing editing, I emailed them more often, culminating with two emails in the last week before publication, keeping them abreast of the editing process, getting input on the cover design and holding contests for free, signed, print copies. I set up a soft launch at $.99 for two days, where only those on my mailing list and Facebook Fan page would know about. This was a way of paying them back in advance. Do you engage your fans?
Fallen Mangrove went live on Amazon about 10 pm EDT on 9/29 and I already had the release email drafted and only needed to add the link to the book. Within the first hour after sending the email, it sold 30 copies and wound up at 87 sales in just the five hours left in the day. Amazon is on Pacific time. The next day, over a hundred more sales. Only those on my mailing list, Facebook page and those who read my blog knew about the soft launch. At 4 pm it was ranked at #10 million, but the 5 pm update had it at #1,722 and it peaked at #990.
On 10/4 the book had its public launch, with announcements on Twitter, my website and my regular Facebook page. Three days later, on 10/7, I had an ad on BookBub for Fallen Pride, the book immediately before Fallen Mangrove in the series. You can see the results of the soft launch, the public launch, and sell through from Pride on the graph below.
How important is cultivating a mailing list and engaging with them? Fallen Mangrove has never fallen below #3,700 since it launched and that was the day before the public launch. It's sold over 600 copies in twelve days, more than 400 of those at full price of $3.99. That's how important your mailing list is.