Publishing

E-Mail Blasts

To promote Networking Magic, Rick and Jill Lublin ran a promotion known as an e-mail blast, which catapulted the book to number one on the Barnes & Noble.com best-seller list. Their blast was so successful that Networking Magic held the top position for the better part of a week and stayed in the top twenty-five for several weeks. Two years earlier, Rick, Jill, and Jay Conrad Levinson employed the same technique to lift their book Guerrilla Publicity to number eight on Amazon.com.

What Is a Blast?

Essentially, a blast is a coordinated effort in which authors or their publicists enlist partners to make a book a bestseller with one of the big online booksellers.

Randy Gilbert (Dr. Proactive), a leading authority on e-mail blasts and the author of the best-selling book Success Bound: Breaking Free of Mediocrity, defines the blast as,

“A powerful direct marketing approach that uses endorsements. Basically, it’s a technique that brings direct marketing online and uses endorsements to get people to open e-mail promotions. E-mails are opened because they are sent only to opt-ins who want to receive e-mail from the sender.”

E-mail blasts are known by a host of other names, including Internet blasts and Amazon blasts. Briefly, here’s how it works:

1. The author or his or her publicist makes strategic alliances with partners who have lists of e-mail addresses. They also use names from their own lists and their publisher’s and network partners’ lists, and they can buy addresses from list brokers. The object is to accumulate a huge number of names and e-mail addresses. Partners agree to give authors access to the names on their lists and contribute incentives that will sweeten recipients’ interest in buying the book during the blast period.

2. The author or publicist composes a sales letter that will be e-mailed by the author and the author’s strategic partners to individuals on all of the lists.

3. The sales letter offers recipients free incentives to purchase the book provided that they buy it (a) from a particular online bookseller and (b) on a certain date or time.

4. The sales letters contain links to the bookseller’s website, at which recipients can purchase the book.

5. After the book has been purchased, buyers are e-mailed instructions on how they can get their bonus gifts.

E-mail blasts are effective because every hour the big online booksellers calculate the sales rankings for their top 10,000 best-selling books. So, if you generate a flurry of sales within a certain window of time, it can propel a book onto an online bookseller’s best-seller list. Once the book makes the list, even if it’s just for an hour, the book can legitimately be promoted as a national bestseller.

My colleague Robyn Freedman Spizman says—

When your book is a national bestseller, it dramatically increases your promotion quotient. It invariably generates more interest in your book and boosts its sales. And once a book is a national bestseller, it can always use that designation. In addition, the author, even if he or she never writes another word, can always be called a bestselling author or the author of a national bestselling book.

When your book makes it to the bestseller list, influential members of the book world take notice. The media notices, as do industry insiders such as literary agents, book editors, and foreign rights buyers. “Instead of me having to hound the media to get coverage, the tables turned and they began calling me to be on their shows,” Gilbert reports. “The credential of being a bestselling author holds a huge amount of weight. The media loves to use that credential; it gets attached to your name—‘bestselling author Randy Gilbert.’”

On the basis of the success of a blast that Gilbert ran for Jenna Glatzer’s book Outwitting Writer’s Block, she was able to command a substantially higher advance for her next book. The publisher upped the ante because it knew that Glatzer had a mechanism to sell lots of books right away.

Interestingly, blasts have produced an unexpected secondary benefit—brick-and-mortar sales can increase during blast periods. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people hear about the book through blasts, which helps it gain name recognition and can prove helpful down the line

Randy Gilbert and Peggy McColl, authors of On Being a Dog with a Bone, have created a remarkable, in-depth online course, Best Seller Mentoring, which goes into great depth on how authors can create e-mail blasts. Their course provides everything you should know about e-mail blasts and even includes an extensive variety of forms that you can follow.

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