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Take a look at my fiction author website and you don’t see me offering a free book giveaway as an incentive to join my email list.

The only thing you see on my fiction author website is readers can get free books if they buy any of the books on my Payhip store.

You don’t see me offering a free book giveaway in exchange for the email address, let alone an opt-in form.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner author or a seasoned author. There’s no denying that you need to build your email list.

That’s how you can have direct communication with your readers.

Sure, you can do the same with social media. But it still can’t beat emails when it comes to getting your message out effectively and conversion.

If you have to pick between growing your followers on social media and building your email list, then I will say that it has to be building your email list, hands down.

But for some reason, you don’t see me driving people to join my email list on my fiction author website, though.

Sad to say, the strategy of doing a free book giveaway doesn’t work for me.

So, I stop doing it altogether.

What I’ve been taught about building your email list all this time

When it comes to building an email list, it doesn’t need to be a free book giveaway. It can be pretty much anything as long as it’s something that your readers find interesting or helpful.

While nonfiction authors have more options to incentivize people to join their email list, it can be a little tricky for fiction authors.

It’s because of this reason that many authors tend to resort to giving their books for free to get people to join their email list.

Well, who doesn’t love free stuff, right?

If you’ve already taken Nick Stephenson’s free or paid course, Your First 10K Readers, you’ll know that it’s one of the key things to get people off the retailers and onto your email list.

Of course, there’s another thing that you need to do to make the whole thing run by itself.

But suffice it to say that it’s more effective to get them to your email list when there’s a dangling carrot.

And in this case, it’s the free book.

What is inherently wrong with this approach

There’s a reason why many marketers from every industry are such big advocates of this strategy.

Well, it works like a gangbuster to build your email list. So, it’s no surprise here why everyone is doing it regardless of where they are in their author business.

But here’s the thing that not many authors are willing to admit.

Sad to say, the people who join the mailing list only want the free book. They’re not going to care about your future releases which obviously aren’t going to be free.

As a result, they just ignore your emails every time you tell them about your new books.

The only time they care about you and your books? It’s when you offer any of your books for free, of course.

Other than that, they’re going to give you a cold shoulder every time you send them an email about your new releases.

It can get worse than that

Think that having freebie seekers on your email list is the worst thing that can happen to you?

Well, you’ll be hard-pressed to find out that some people can go as far as using a temporary email address just to get your free books.

If you try to send an email to that temporary address, you’ll get an error message, saying that the email address doesn’t exist.

I knew about it firsthand because someone did use a temporary email address to get my free books.

And when the autoresponder tried to send an email to the address, it said that it failed to send the email since the email address didn’t exist anymore.

I even have people who unsubscribe from my email list right away after they got my books.

To be honest, I didn’t find it unusual that people will unsubscribe from my email list right away. In fact, I thank them for doing so.

I don’t need anyone who has no interest in my books to be on my email list.

But the people who will go as far as using a temporary email address just to get my books?

Not going to lie that it frustrates me. But at the same time, I find it amusing that they’re doing all they can not want me to contact them.

What I do instead to build my email list

Rather than giving my books for free, I get people to buy my books directly from me instead to build my email list.

Not only that I will get their name and email addresses which is just as effective as giving my books for free. But I have more data about my readers too.

Things like what books they tend to buy, how effective my upselling strategy and how they discover me in the first place.

What’s more, my book promotion converts better too since they’ve bought one of my books before.

And even if I don’t send any promotional email, they’re more likely to open my emails because of the purchase they made in the past.

Can you still get the same result if most people who are on your email list are the people who get something free from you in exchange for their emails?

Well, here’s the hard truth for you.

It’s harder to convert these people into paying customers since most of them are only there for your free stuff, nothing else.

If you want to build an email list, then you’re better off building an email list consisting of paying customers instead.

Remember that these email marketing services and your time are NOT free.

So, you may as well build an email list consisting of paying customers if you want to make the list-building effort worthwhile.

This is what retailers do. You don’t see them offering you swags just to get you to join their mailing list, do you?

Even if they do, they only offer a coupon code which you’re more likely to sign up for because you do want to buy from them.

Make it a secret link instead

While it’s no secret that my approach to list building is to get people to buy books directly from me, readers still have the option to opt-in to my email list through a landing page.

It’s just that the link to the landing page is only available on my books, though.

They’re not going to find the link to the opt-in anywhere on my website.

Don’t brush this free book giveaway strategy just yet

Okay, I won’t deny that my experience with the free book giveaway strategy tends to err on the negative side.

But it doesn’t mean that you’re going to experience something similar or much worse than what I’m experiencing.

Just to be clear that many authors do find success in this strategy.

It’s just unfortunate that I’m not one of them.

So, please give this strategy a try first before you brush it off, saying that it doesn’t work for you only because I have a nasty experience with it.

You’ll never know that you have much better luck with this strategy than I do.

Will I be coming back to this free book strategy again somewhere in the future?

Well, sad to say the answer is no. I just don’t want to deal with the freebie seekers anymore no matter how much people convince me that they will eventually buy from me if I connect with them long enough.

They’re just not going to buy from me even if all of my books are 99 cents.

People always say to me that money is on the list.

Sad to say that it can only hold true if you have paying customers on the list, not freebie seekers who have no chance of converting into paying customers.

This is one of the things that they failed to mention when we talk about the money being on the list.

P.S While getting people to buy directly from you is a sound strategy to build your email list, it can still be an uphill battle to get them to buy directly from you.

So, what’s the best way to let them know that they can buy the books directly from you?

Well, one of the ways you can do that is to use social media. And the platform that seems to work well for me is Twitter.

Yes, Twitter can suck the life out of you if you’re not careful. But if you want to connect with your readers strategically without draining you, then take a look at my Twitter Marketing for Business guide.

Interested in wanting to make Twitter work for you, not the other way around?

You can get the guide right here on my Payhip store:

Buy Twitter Marketing for Business guide

Don’t forget to use the coupon code THEEFFICIENTYOUBLOG to save 20% off on your purchase.

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