One of the most drastic ways to grow your readership is to cross-promote with other authors. One of the simplest ways to run a cross-promotion is to do a mailing list swap, where you will write to your mailing list about other authors while they write to theirs about you.
Mailing list swaps work with any number of subscribers, as long as you have a list to begin with. Typically, you want to pair up with other authors who have the same or a very similar reach. If you have a thousand subscribers, you won’t get much from a well-meaning author with only fifty readers.
There are several ways to go about a mailing list swap, including writing emails to other audiences or running joint promotions, the most common I’ve encountered is mentioning other authors. You can place such a mention at the bottom of your standard email and give it a dedicated section (great for ongoing swaps!) or you could fill in an uneventful gap in your author life by sharing news from a friend as the focus of your newsletter.
If you want to get involved in a mailing list swap and team up to promote other books in exchange for getting your own news sent out, here are five steps you can take to boost your chances of success.
You should do this anyway, regardless. If you’re not already offering free treats to anyone and everyone who signs up to your list, you won’t get many subscribers. A reader magnet can be anything from a free book to a sample chapter of your upcoming work, but keep it fun and easily available to anyone who signs up.
(Yes, people will sign up. If they like your books, they will want to follow you, so you need to be ready.)
A bigger subscriber list means that you’ll be a more attractive prospect to work with, so you need to keep your list in shape and grow it if you can before you start branching outward.
Again, you really want your own list to be as big as possible before you start teaming up with other authors. Take a look at your landing page before you start and review it. Is it attractive? Is it easy for readers to find and sign up on?
It’s a good idea to revisit your landing page every few months just to make sure it’s still up to date and still offering your current reader magnet. At times when you want to grow your list, it’s more important than ever to review what you already have to offer and make sure it’s ready for an influx of new fans.
This is where we’ll really start working on the swap: finding those individuals you can swap items with and promote. The obvious choice here is to look up your author friends and ask who’s interested in running a swap. You only need one to agree to the idea, and then you can both promote each other’s.
If you don’t have any author friends, or if you write in wildly different genres and styles, you might need to break outside of your comfort zone. The good news is that there are places you can look that will allow you to pair with comparable authors. AuthorsXP and TCKPublishing both have services that you can sign up to for free to get a start in newsletter swaps.
It’s best if you prepare a series of options before you start swapping so that you can get the best returns possible. Search through several writing groups and promotional forums so that you can put together your own dream team.
The great thing about mailing list swaps is that you can take part in them even if you have nothing going on. Other authors always appreciate being promoted, and if you opt to share other books even when you have nothing to share in return, your efforts will be appreciated.
However, for the purpose of this post, we want to have the best cross-promotional newsletter swap possible. That means setting up something special that new readers will be extra excited about. If you have a new release, that’s one easy option you can toss in automatically.
If you’re between releases or only just starting on a new book, decide on a sale in advance so that you can turn some heads with your temporarily low prices. That way, your new readers will want to act fast to get in on what you have to offer.
Once you’ve agreed to a swap, you’ll need to let go of your own book and your own sale. At this point, the swap is more about the other writer. There’s no need for an extensive email or bulk essay about your partner’s books, but if you want to continue doing swaps in the future, you need to give some special space to the other person in your next email.
Have you tried a newsletter swap before? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below or join the Pen and Glory Facebook group for further discussion.