Writes And Wrongs: Shiloh Walker On Building Your Mailing List

Best-selling author Shiloh Walker pens this bi-weekly column of online advice for writers. Walker is a full-time author who is published in both e-book and traditional print formats. Now she shares her experience and advice to help aspiring and published authors figure out the "Writes and Wrongs" of the digital world.

A few columns back, I talked about collecting business cards/addresses when you visited bookstores or met booksellers at conventions or conferences. I also mentioned asking if it would be okay to add the bookseller’s name to your mailing list…

Today, we talk about that mailing list. If you don’t want to build your own or just need some extra exposure, you’ve got several resources for mailing lists. Patricia Rouse is one. She provides a mailing list service. RT provides a service called Bookstores That Care Network. There may be even other options out there.

Now I can’t speak personally for these resources as I’ve built my own mailing list over the past few years.

Why? What was the point? Why should you?

Easy.

Promotion.

About eight to twelve weeks before your book releases, you can send out postcards to the bookstores. Now ideally, this works best for print books at this time, but with the ever-changing e-book market, there may well come a time when it’s worth your while to try this marketing tactic with e-books as well.

You can send out bookmarks, perhaps 10 or so to each store, about two weeks before your book releases—and this could work whether it’s an e-book release or print, so long as the book will be available in the store’s online e-book store—say the Borders/Kobo store or the Nook/Barnes and Noble store. I do say so long as it’s available because think about it…it’s kind of tacky (and all out rude) to send out bookmarks promoting your work to various bookstores and the book is only available on the Kindle. It’s not very considerate to the booksellers. It’s rather disrespectful. Don’t be disrespectful.

If you’ve got extra cover flats and there are a few bookstores that you know really push your work, send them a cover flat. Send extra bookmarks. There is a bookseller in Australia I routinely send an ARC to. 

My mailing list started smaller, with probably twenty business cards I collected at a reader conference. And I just built on it…and building…and building…

- Shiloh Walker

Check back for the next installment of Shiloh Walker's column in two weeks. Seeking more specific advice? You can ask the author any questions about the "writes and wrongs" of online behavior here. Your question might even get featured in an upcoming article. And of course, you can also follow the Shiloh Walker online daily at her website, on her Facebook page and via Twitter.