59. Building a mailing list shouldn’t be like The Krypton Factor

DO YOU remember the Krypton Factor?

It was a programme on ITV presented by Gordon Burns in which contestants were tested on qualities like memory, strength and resilience.

You had to be a superhuman to come out on top and I’ll admit here and now I wouldn’t have fared particularly well.

When I set out on the path to becoming an author the plan was to simply write books. Now I find it is becoming more and more like a TV endurance programme every day. I’ve been sucked into the dark, mysterious and, some might say, evil world of marketing.

At times I’ve felt myself turning into one of those fanatical salesmen who jump on desks and recite a mantra before grabbing the phone and interrupting you in the middle of your busy day, only to get a mouthful of abuse.

It’s probably easier being a Jehovah’s Witness, but some salesmen are extremely good at this sort of thing and leave the rest of us standing.

Mark Dawson runs a course about how to get the best out of Facebook Ads and is full of tips and tricks. It’s very good, but the trouble is you need an accompanying course on how to use the many online tools needed to make it work.

Minimum requirement is a mailing list compiler, a lead pages generator, a company who will supply free eBooks on your behalf so you don’t have to deal with complaints… it goes on and on. It makes the Krypton Factor look like Snakes and Ladders.

Come to think of it, I started feeling like that was what I was playing. I would get something right, check it out and find one of the components wasn’t doing what it says on the tin. Down the snake I went.

Result: Customer wasn’t receiving the free book they had asked for, and it makes you feel like a fraud.

I became so frustrated I was driving the family to distraction and, at around £600 a pop, I would suggest the course is for authors a bit further down the line than those like me with one published book.

With finances a bit tight, I plumped for the money back option after trying my luck with the ads.

The one thing I did learn, though, was how effective a lead generation ad can be on Facebook. You can do this on twitter, too.

You still need a mailing list compiler (I use the paid version of MailChimp so that I can set up an automated email response to anyone who joins my list) and also someone like Book Funnel to provide the link to your free eBook.

But other than that it is great because you don’t need to have confirmation pages, thank you pages, welcome pages, captcha pages and a number of other things that  tend to get between the customer and your mailing list.

With a lead gen ad all the reader needs to do is click once on your offer then agree to hand over their email address. Facebook does the rest.

Of course, it still won’t be successful unless you sell your offer to the reader, but you can experiment with your ad and your targeting.


For instance, the Ad that worked for me targeted Martina Cole readers (mine is a UK gangster novel) who were women between the ages of 30-65. I did this for two reasons: I have surprisingly had better responses to my book from women and Martina Cole is hugely successful in the genre.

Having done this I used a new FB picture that my book cover designer JD Smith set up for me and put it out there. I was astonished at the response: Around 140 new email sign-ups for just under £40.

Happy days. I’ll explain in the next blog post step-by-step how to do it, but if you haven’t set up a Facebook Ad account yet it is probably worth checking how to do that first. FB provides plenty of advice in this respect and it is key you have an author ‘page’ rather than just a personal account.

29. Meeting the public

THERE are some who say I shouldn’t be allowed out in public. On Saturday, though, I will put my best-foot forward and step out in the heart of the Rhondda as a published author.

I will be one of 30 creative souls engaging with readers, discussing our work and, hopefully, selling a few copies at the Rhondda Book Fair in Penygraig.

I’ve never been to Penygraig but am looking forward to a unique experience and hope I might pick up some tips and tricks from some old hands more versed in the business of book marketing than myself.

My wife Liz and daughter Olivia will be with me, holding my hand and keeping me out of trouble as I take this big step into the great unknown.

Marketing is obviously a key strategy in the process of attempting to become established and getting your book out into the wide world. After doing a few interviews on radio and for newspapers, from which I saw a decent result, sales have stalled a bit so I am looking at a way to bump them up.

I haven’t gone down the free book route yet because I wanted to see exactly what I could do before taking such a step. Maybe after the Rugby World Cup will be the time to try a more radical approach.

Meanwhile, I am experimenting with Facebook ads at the moment and was very pleased with the response I got to my before and after carousel ads that I put up last weekend.

As any rugby buff will tell you England played Wales at Twickenham on Saturday night in a World Cup “Group of Death” match. It had created a real buzz and I piggybacked on it with an ad asking: “Are you ready for a REAL thriller?”

I’d like to give you an example but it seems I’ve over-written it with the follow-up idea, but it was a strip of five pictures, a face painted with a St George Cross, a superhero ripping open a shirt to reveal a Wales flag, Twickenham, a Rugby World Cup graphic and finally a picture of the book cover.

The captions went “Passions will ignite, heroes will be needed, as the tension builds, in a massive sporting event… will you brave: Crossing The Whitewash?” There was then an option to click to my website and I managed something like 68 at a rate of 13p per click, which I was pretty pleased about.

You can target the people who see the ad, too. I went for sports lovers in England and Wales with a love of reading, thrillers, suspense, novels and a few other things.

When it was all over I tweaked it to look like this and targeted just Wales. After all, they did win…


I am now working on an ad to send people straight to Amazon for the book and will see how it goes. Meanwhile, I’ve changed the name of my Facebook page. I can’t call it I’m going to Publish, when I already HAVE published. Why not like Crossing the Whitewash/Rugby World Cup thriller?