Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Email newsletters that promote digital books are one of the fastest growing methods of book marketing today. The Fussy Librarian is one of the new ebook promotion newsletters, started by Jeffrey Bruner in the fall of 2013. The newsletter has already acquired 10,300 subscribers and 1,925 authors and about 3,500 different books have been featured.
BB: From your perspective, can you see ways that email promotion newsletters changing the landscape of book sales?
Jeffrey Bruner: Absolutely! Email promotion newsletters are starting to level the playing field for authors. An author with a great book, great cover, and great blurb can now market and propel their title onto the bestseller lists without the backing of a traditional publishing company. We’re entering an era where authors are being recognized and rewarded by readers for the quality of their work instead of whether they have a Big Six marketing budget. That’s incredibly exciting.
Beth Bacon: Tell us about how and why The Fussy Librarian started.
JB: The idea came after my mom told me she was on the waiting list at the library for a book she had heard a lot of people talking about. After I convinced her that she might not enjoy “Fifty Shades of Grey,” it occurred to me that there must be a way to use databases to better match readers with their preferences.
In the end, The Fussy Librarian daily newsletter is all about the match—creating the best possible book match tailored to what individuals like to read. I think that’s what makes us different from other discount newsletters. Anyone can email a list of books each day and if you’re the kind of person who reads everything, you’ll have lots of great suggestions. But if you like to read British detective novels without profanity and minimal violence? Only The Fussy Librarian is going to deliver you a match that specific.
We’re perfect for moms trying to find suitable reading material for their sixth-grader. They want to read fantasy novels but you don’t want them to be the next “Game of Thrones” … we can help with that.
BB: Why did you choose to promote books at their regular price, not a reduced sale price?
JB: I think it’s important to give the author the option whether to discount their book. It should be their choice. If the book’s regular price is $2.99, why should they be forced to discount further? That said, while we allow a price up to $5.99, I encourage authors to sell at $2.99 or $3.99. I think that’s the sweet spot for both royalties and sales.
BB: Your email newsletter is free for some types of books. Can you talk about your payment schedule?
JB: When I began the newsletter, all promotions were free. In late January, I started charging a fee in some genres—$3 for the 10 most popular categories and $1 for about another 10 categories. I’ve kept about half of the categories free for now. While the website is an Amazon Affiliate and that generates some revenue from commissions, the fees allow me to do more marketing. The first few months were focused on smoothing out the rough edges. Now it’s time to market and grow.
BB: How do you recruit readers?
JB: A lot of it has been word of mouth and social media so far. But I started advertising on other websites last month and that will continue to increase this year.
BB: How do you recruit authors?
JB: I read a lot about the challenges authors have in marketing their books and then did my best to address those needs. It’s funny – I never needed to recruit authors. They found me. I think a lot of it has to do with being fair and transparent.
BB: What advice do you have for independent authors?
JB: First, the marketing blurb and the book cover are critical. No one will discover your writing if you can’t get them to click to the Amazon page. Second, include your email address in the back of your books and build your mailing list. Third, write what makes you happy.
BB: What has been the biggest challenge in starting a book promotion newsletter?
JB: Keeping up with all of the submissions from authors. I never expected to see 40 to 50 books a day submitted and it took a while to catch up. But now authors usually hear from me within 48 hours after they submit a book.
BB: What has been your biggest surprise?
JB: I love Twitter, but none of the research I had read about it was accurate. If it were, I would have 500,000 subscribers already! Twitter doesn’t have nearly the impact on driving eyeballs to websites that people think it does.
BB: Thank you, Jeffrey.