My newest book, Emma + Elsie Meet Fitzwilliam Darcy, has taken forever to be finished and released, but I had over one hundred new readers interested in it before I even set it up for pre-order.
How? I’ve been collecting email addresses for months. And now, two weeks before the release date, I’ve had over 300 people download the first book to read this week. Many of those readers have already finished the book, and the feedback on email and blogs so far is incredible!
Once the book is out, I will email my list and ask for formal reviews on Amazon. All of this will kick off the series well and create momentum for book #2, book #3, and beyond.
Now, before we go on, I should tell you that Emma + Elsie Meet Fitzwilliam Darcy was built from the ground up for the strategy I used to find these new subscribers (and hopefully, readers). Here’s why:
- It’s a modern retelling mashup of two popular classics from Jane Austen, Emma and Pride and Prejudice – this means that there’s already a built-in audience of Jane Austen fans who are looking for their next read
- It’s the beginning of a series – whenever you’re promoting book #1, it’s always easier to convince people to read, as opposed to a later book in the series or (sometimes) even a standalone
- It’s free in digital – I do this with all my series as a lead generator, and it’s much easier to convince a new reader to sign up to read a free book than it is to sign up to be notified about a paid book
I want to point this out because this strategy may not work as well for other books, depending on the factors above.
Still, 100+ new readers is great progress for most authors. My list of readers was originally a little under 1000, with a 10-20% purchase-through, so 100 readers is the equivalent of a tenth of my current list. I expect to see at least a 20-30% purchase-through as the series continues, because the list is so targeted. And it’s possible that I could move these readers to some of my other series as well. Not bad for a release that isn’t even available yet!
The first thing I did was implement an email call-to-action on both my websites so people could sign up to read the first book when it’s ready. Here’s what it looks like:
A lot of people have an issue with popups. My popup doesn’t appear until right before someone tries to leave the page, and it’s easy to click away, too. If it works, it works! The people who don’t like popups are not my audience anyway.
- stock photos from Shutterstock (monthly plan)
- popup through Leadpages (You could also implement this for free using PopupAlly (WordPress plugin))
- email via Ontraport
- freebie delivery through Dropbox links
The Landing Page
I also put together a landing page for Emma + Elsie. This page is a little more specific to the first book (a novella) and also provides more information about the series. Here it is:
(You can see the page in action (and sign up!) here: http://monicaleonelle.com/ee)
I didn’t use a book description, but rather tried bulleted points about the book. The description of the book is this:
Emma Woodhouse is planning the wedding of the century for her practically-a-sister Annabeth Taylor—but when her relationship with the best man, Jace Knightley, comes into question, she worries that their bickering will ruin everything she’s worked so hard on… and change them both in the process.
Elsie Bennet intends to make a good impression on Rosebelle’s newest family, the Bingleys, but struggles when her family interferes. And then, there’s Fitz Darcy, who comes across cold, aloof, and at times, flat-out rude. He seems to have something against Elsie and the rest of the Bennets for reasons she can’t figure out…
What would happen if Emma Woodhouse and Elsie Bennet were best friends in modern times? Find out!
A modern retelling of Emma and Pride and Prejudice, Emma + Elsie Meet Fitzwilliam Darcy is the first book in the Emma + Elsie series, a New Adult contemporary romance collaboration by Maddy Raven and Monica Leonelle (recommended for adults 16+).
I definitely think the bullets work better as copy, but I can’t exactly pinpoint why. Perhaps it’s because I’m selling specifically to someone who already knows and loves Jane Austen books. The bullets explain what’s different about my modern retelling, and what sets it apart from both the original stories and other retellings (of which there are plenty!).
I also try to qualify people at the end of my copy, with “If you love Jane Austen and contemporary romance, give E+E a try.” This encourages Janeites to sign up. Because if they don’t, are they truly Jane Austen fans?
Another odd thing about this series that is different from others: I thought I was being so clever by reframing the first line of P&P as a quote to explain my book, but this is done OFTEN for these types of retellings. I feel so generic! But I continue to use it, because I think the foundation of these two young women being friends could help set it apart… and the quote is the most effective way to do this for Jane Austen fans, since they know the Pride and Prejudice original quote by heart.
I didn’t do much promotion for these pages outside of my own network. I spoke to one of the writers at an Austen site, who advised me not to start sending Jane Austen fans to my page until the first book was available. The book finally went live for pre-order on February 19th, which means that I have a few weeks to share the page with those groups. I’ve spent the last few months casually getting to know several groups of Janeites, as well as participating in the groups, so I have a good feel for the interest in modern retellings like mine.
My call-to-action message for those groups is pretty simple—sign up to get the first book immediately, for free. Or you can pre-order it on various retailers for free or $0.99. Which offer sounds more appealing?
I’m excited to see what happens and will have to come back and update my numbers if they increase significantly.
One last thing—you may have noticed in the copy that I say the first five books are free. This is 100% true. I have a generous review policy where anyone can get the next book in the series free when they review the previous book in the series. Just wanted to clear that up!
Why I Use Leadpages
Both of these crucial marketing pieces only took me about 30 minutes to create. Granted, I did have the images ready already (I made a batch of promo images around the time I made the covers) and I do have a lot of copywriting experience, so it’s easy for me to figure out what to write.
Still, a lot of the appeal of the page is in its simple design, which I could not have accomplished on my own, at least not without hours and hours of work.
Also, one nice thing about Leadpages is I made the page once but can use it on both my sites, as it also links up here: http://maddyraven.com/ee. This means that if I ever need to update it, it automatically updates for both pen names. It also means that all subscribers go to one list, instead of having to combine two from two different pen names. Super convenient!
If you’re interested in Leadpages, I’m happy to answer any questions you have in the comments. You can check it out here:
Get Leadpages »
And if you want to check out Emma + Elsie itself, you can sign up and get the first book immediately, here:
Get Emma + Elsie Meet Fitzwilliam Darcy free »
I use Emma + Elsie a lot in my case studies because, like I said earlier, it was built from the ground up to help me attract a lot of new readers to all my series. Reading the book is not a requirement in the slightest, but if you are interested in some of the strategies involved, it may be useful so you know what I’m referring to as I go on.
What tools do you use to get new and potential readers onto your email list?
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