Setting up with MailChimp

Setting up an email list isn’t part of every author’s platform but for those who are looking to set up, you have a number of them to choose from:

  • Convertkit
  • Mailerlite
  • Mailchimp
  • Aweber

….and so on…

Today, I’d like to talk a bit about MailChimp and show you how easy it is to get started. (It is free for your first 2,000 subscribers)

First, go to www.mailchimp.com and set up an account.

When creating a password, be sure you have a password using at least one capital letter, a number, and a special character:

Example_1 is an example of what would be accepted. If you don’t have at least one number, capital letter and special character it won’t let you go on.

After you set everything up, check your email and activate your account.

Here is where you enter your name and the name of your business.

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Next, you are going to have to add a physical address. This is because of anti-spam laws. Learn more about that HERE. But you can always come back to this page to change it later.

I would recommend your first and last name and the city, state, and zip in place of Do Not Contact. It looks more professional.

Your Name

Your City, State, Zip

Remember, a street address is optional so you don’t really need that and also remember that you can change this later.

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This is your dashboard. When you start sending emails you will see your campaign here, your data and so forth.

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Now for the fun part. It’s time to get started. First, you need to create a List. Click on the List tab.

Go ahead and create list.

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List Name > The Name of Your Newsletter

Default from email > Your Business Email

Default Name > I highly recommend using a name people are familiar with already, such as your name. I started with Literary Korner Publishing but then switched to Yecheilyah and my open rates have increased tremendously since then. For your default name, I recommend using your name.

Remind people why they signed up > Wherever people could have accessed your form, put that here “You are receiving this email because…”

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Scroll down and check the address for this list. If you want to change it from when you first set up, do that now.

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Scroll down. Now that Mailchimp has changed to offer Single Opt-In, you can decide if you want to continue with a double opt in or not. Double Opt-In means once people sign up to your list they will have to confirm again before they are added, like always. Single Opt-In means they are automatically signed up when they first fill out your form. No checking emails and confirmations. They will be automatically added.

If you want Single Opt-In, leave this as is. If you want double opt-in, click on it.

Now, move on to notifications and check all that apply. It’s just asking how often you’d like to be emailed on activity with this list.

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Next, you’ll see this page. Until someone is subscribed to your list, you’re done.

Or, you can manually add subscribers you have been given permission to add.

You can also import contacts from your email, assuming you’ve been given permission from those people to be added.

In any event, you won’t be able to send a Campaign or email until you have subscribers to the list.

To manually add subscribers, click add contacts and go from there. In the meantime, let’s move on to how to send emails.

(Reaching out to people to ask if they would like to join your list and if you can add them manually is another great way to increase your number of subscribers. Everyone doesn’t have to sign up, sometimes you can get creative and just ask around (Text messages, Facebook Messages, DM Twitter and IG Messages) All that matters is that you have their permission to sign them up.)

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I added myself so that I can show you how to create a Campaign. Click on the campaign tab to get started. This page will come up with the floating arrow to show you where to click.

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Click on Create Email

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Name your campaign. Whatever your email is about.

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The next page is self-explanatory. Just complete the fields based on your list. The To field will ask what list you are wanting this email sent to. Choose the list (you’ll just have one list if you just started), save and proceed to the other fields.

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When you get to Design Email, you’ll see a page come up that looks like this. Choose the template of your choice. I am going to go with the follow-up.

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This is where you design your email. It’s super easy. Just drag, drop and enter text wherever you want. I am not going to bore you with a step-by-step with this. At least not yet, maybe in another post. However, I would like to caution about one thing….

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When I first started my email list I had colors and pictures and it was just going all the way on. While I can only offer suggestions (not guaranteed solutions), I would advise against this. As much as we want to showcase our personality, it helps if our email design is plain and simple. I know, that sounds boring but it’s easier on your audience.

Your email list is really not about you, it’s about the people who read them. Everything, from your subject line to your content and even your design is about making it easier on your subscribers. Therefore, I would say to stay away from too many colors, lots of widgets and pictures, and super long emails.

Personally, I love using my Cartoon Bitmoji as well as my Banner. Aside from these basics, I have taken everything else away. Here’s a snapshot of my real email list to give you an example:

Top

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At the top I have my banner (which can be your logo) and a display of my social media buttons. I WOULDN’T PUT MY SOCIAL BUTTONS ALL THE WAY AT THE BOTTOM. I would put them at the top and at the bottom.

Body

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The body of my emails have gotten a makeover since I first started. Black letters or gray against a white background. That’s it. Plain, simple, and easy to read.

Bottom

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My bitmoji cartoon takes us on out with a reminder to add me to your address book (so my emails don’t go to your spam), check your Spam and Junk Folders (in case my emails go to spam), and a reminder that Gmail emails from Mailchimp tend to go into the promotions folder.

Very Bottom / Signature

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Under the reminders is another look at my social widgets and my links.

OK, we’ve had enough Mailchimp for today. Just make sure your emails are clean, easy on the eyes (colors that are not too light or dark), easy to navigate and to the point.


Yecheilyah (e-see-lee-yah) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet of nine published works including work in progress and short inspirational guide “Keep Yourself Full.” Learn more by exploring Yecheilyah’s writing on this blog and her website at  yecheilyahysrayl.com. Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her latest novel and is available now on Amazon.com.

Subscribe to Yecheilyah’s Email List HERE.

 

 

 

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The Process of Release – Planning Book Releases in Advance

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Consider this a commercial break into Laying Bricks. I’m still working on the next episode so you’ll have to wait another week. To make up for it, I decided to speak on another aspect of Self-Pub you may find useful.

What I love about book publishing, self-publishing specifically is the many new experiences I go through with each book I publish. When I look at some of my older works (which I still have available) I think “Goodness, how amateur of me!” To the point, I almost want to remove everything from the shelves and start over, but I don’t because of the way they aid in my experience and testimony, contributing to the proof of my growth as a writer. There’s so much I did not know way back when to include how to properly launch my books.

I won’t speak extensively on this topic, or at least not now. What I will say at this time is that one thing I’m learning is the importance of making some noise (OK so maybe just a few taps) as early as possible in the book release process. One of the ways to spread the word about a book is to create buzz about it before it’s released. It reminds me of something my sister always says, “Be thankful before you get your blessing. Say thank you that it’s on the way.”

Once I know for sure that I’ll publish a book, I try to begin the process of release as soon as possible. The process of release, what’s that? Well, it’s something I just made up (you can do that when you Self-Publish you know. Makeup stuff, try new things, your book, your rules).

The Process of Release (again, an EC thing) is not the same as the book publishing process. It’s part of that process sure, but it’s also a separate entity altogether. My book publishing process is when I am preparing my book for publishing. It includes first writing the book, of course, formatting, editing, revising, book cover, and everything in-between. My process of release, however, is when I am engaged in letting people know that I am going to in fact release another book. It’s the minor or major marketing and promotion I do to lead up to the book’s release. It could be as subtle as posting updates on social media, or as major as an entire campaign. The Process of Release can start as early as one year before the book is written to six months before it’s to be released.

The truth is that it’s never too early, but it can be too late. I cringe when I see debut authors release books that I never heard of. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a proud moment and I am proud of them. I do not cringe because of the book’s publication. I cringe because letting people know you have a book out on the day of release is not a good idea. And while I am no expert in the least, I do know that authors who release books their audience has been in on in some capacity has a greater chance of spreading the word in a wider capacity than those who pop up from nowhere with “My book is out!” Your book? What book? I didn’t know you were writing a book.

While I’m still learning concerning those major book release campaigns and will be soliciting the advice of many of you pros, I do know that there are some things we authors can do on the smaller scale in advance of our book’s release that may help a great deal:

The Process – People feel differently about this but if it’s your thing, go for it. One way to get the word out is to inform people of your process. Are you in the first draft stage? Have you finished your first draft? Have you met today’s word count? Are you revising? Beta readers? Editors? Let your blogger friends or social media buds know you’re cooking up something in the kitchen.

Sharing – If you’re feeling brave, share some excerpts on your blog (you do have a blog…right?). Again, people feel differently about this since not everyone wants to share their work. Some people feel it’s to an authors detriment and some feel it is to an author’s advantage. The truth is that no one really knows. The experience is different for each person and a solid list of rules for self-publishing does not exist. That said, it’s really up to you.

If you are feeling up to it, be sure your excerpts are the best of the best but don’t give away spoilers. You may go far as to be sure it’s a little bit edited for grammatical errors prior to uploading it. It may not be final, but it’s all about giving readers the best experience even at the early stages. You can use Grammarly or another program to help edit your posts.

Milestones– This is something I do a lot because it helps keep me on track. Set a series of short-term goals and share your milestones with your social media buds. Maybe you plan to have a book cover finished by the end of the year. Decide on a date for this and do a grand book cover release on your blog. When I say big, I mean be super-duper crazily excited about it. Plaster it across your social media. Use the book cover release as your official come out. People are highly visual. Use that to your advantage. This year, my book cover release will probably coincide with the official release date for my 2017 novel “Renaissance: The Nora White Story”. It will probably include social media headers and images of the book cover with the pending release date and perhaps a quote or two from advanced readers.

Flyers – Offline, print flyers of your book cover and pending release date and drop those babies off to libraries. They usually let you sit flyers around on the front desk or in the display glass (I’ve done it before). Or you can just deliver them to the people in the library directly! lol. Just don’t be rude about it.

Blog Hops, Guest Postings, Author Interviews – Believe it or not, even if you’re not talking about your book, being a guest on someone’s blog or doing an author interview can help generate buzz. Not that you should stalk people, but usually interviews end with something like, “So, what are you working on now?” I put blog hops in here because I’ve seen many authors doing it and it seems to work. Though I haven’t tried it yet. I am considering it but I’m not sure. Have you blog hopped? Tell us how it works!

Strategy – As Self-Publishers we can really do what we want with our release but I would still recommend doing so strategically. Release your book around high book reading cycles. A book reading cycle is a time where people purchase books the most or do the most reading. We’ve all heard it before: selling books are not like other businesses, nevertheless, there are ways selling books is similar to other businesses. One way is a cycle. Usually, businesses bulk up and do sales and all sorts of things around popular sales cycles. Could be a holiday or whatever the product is popular for. For your book release, consider releasing it around high reading cycles:

  • Holidays
  • Weekends
  • Summer

…and if your theme is AFAM historical in nature, February for Black History Month.

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Epic Book Release – Make your book release day a special one. Since 2014 (when I started this blog and got serious about book publishing) I’ve been releasing my books online and in person on the same day. If my book goes live on Amazon on release day, I’ll spend that same day pushing paperback sells at a hotel lobby or library with book signings. This gives me a chance to speak, sign hard copies, increase total launch day sales, and takes pics of my newborn to post online. I mean my new book of course.

Things to remember when you’re up close and personal:

– Purchase books in advance of event (like 3mos in advance. Live events are more expensive since you’re renting space, possibly traveling, and purchasing items so purchase books in bulk ahead of time).

– Include promo items: Bookmarks, business cards, flyers, post cards, whatever you can bring to liven up your table and give away as gifts

– Laptop – You can use your laptop two ways: You can have your eBook page open for staunch eBook readers. They can approach your station, which you’ll have set up nice and professional like they’re applying for a job at Walmart, and they can purchase the eBook there, supervised by a personal assistant, while you sell the paperback to those wanting hardcopies.

Or, you can use your laptop to show your book trailers. Of course this is all dependent on the internet. If the place has no internet, throw a QR code on your flyers. They can scan it with their phone taking them to your site and you won’t miss a sale.

– Make sure you have change and something to carry it in, and an electronic payment method. I used Square, a credit/debit card reader you can attach to your smart phone to process card payments.

– A bunch of writing pens for autographs.

– Optional. Print large Posters of your book cover and hang them around or attach to a board so that people entering know you’re in the place to be. Have an arrow next to your lovely sign that you, the awesome author, is selling books around the corner.

– Be sure to have someone designated to take pics, a photographer or your sister with the HD camera. Trust me, you won’t have time to do it and you wouldn’t want to miss capturing the moment.

Even if you release strictly online, there are things you can do for your electronic release:

  • Giveaway – have a major giveaway (include a bookmark, business cards, and flyer in package) or something exciting.
  • Blog Release Party  – Do a blog release party or a game related to the theme of your book. You can host this on your blog or by throwing a Facebook Launch Party. To learn more about how to plan for a Fb Launch Party, google it. No, seriously, everything is on Google pretty much.
  • Start a thunderclap campaign. I did this and its great. Instead of paying for social media  people pay in a tweet or facebook post. You set a goal and those who sign up pledge a tweet or post. On the day of release, their accounts simultaneously post about your book release!

To succeed in anything, we often look at what we know but the key is what you do not know. Only when you can understand that you don’t know anything, can you come to truly understand. The Stella Trilogy is not my first work. My Self-Publishing career did not begin with The Stella Trilogy.

I’ve actually been publishing since 2008 but it wasn’t until 2014 when I realized I knew nothing about publishing, that I truly started to learn a little and it is why I am most known for Stella and consider it my best work. My hope is that my next series does better, garners more reviews, and reaches a wider audience. Now that I know I know nothing, I am ready to understand all.

The same can be said for blogging in general. Do you really know how to blog or do you just perceive to know?

In short, this is why I cover the very basics of Self-Publishing. This is why I talk about the ABC, goo-goo, gaga. Because until we can admit that we don’t know anything, only then can we begin to see. If you don’t understand the simple, how can you understand the great?

And so, I am for building strong foundations so that from there, I can build on what I build.

In closing, we want to start letting people know that yes, we are writing a book and plan to publish it at least six months before the book is to be released. Funds are limited, at least mine are! That said, it doesn’t have to be anything grandiose, but set goals. Will you get lots of reviews? Probably not. Will you sell lots of copies? Probably not. But, what if you do? The truth is you don’t really know until you try. Don’t wait three months or two weeks before the book is to be released to let people know about it. A general rule of thumb is that when you release your book, no one should be surprised.

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Missed the first 3 episodes of Laying Bricks? This is a great time to catch up before next week!

Laying Bricks Ep 1: Guide The Bricks  (About Focusing on the Story)

Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar  (About the Revision)

Laying Bricks Ep 3: Cutting the Excess (More on revision with a focus on editing)

Sign- Up for my Newsletter  for a chance to read more Self-Pub Tips, Updates on my latest projects, and a free PDF of Book 1 in The Stella Trilogy: Between Slavery and Freedom.

Thunderclap: 1 Day Left!

Soooo we are only one day away from the conclusion of my Thunderclap and two days away from my next release. Friday is release day for the 3rd installment of The Stella Trilogy and my Thunderclap is at an amazing 30%, not bad for a five day campaign!

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Now, for the fun part. I have only ONE day left to raise the other 70%!

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I am not going to be on Facebook any time soon but for those of you who are, I’d appreciate it if you told your friends about my thunderclap. You can tell them how nice of a person I am and how I would LOVE to have their support :).

OK, tell them what you want, just don’t forget the Thunder Link! Hey, I like that, “Thunder Link”. Has a nice ring to it.

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Thunder Tip:

At this point I just like saying Thunder. Any who, here’s a tip:

Obviously, I started my Thunderclap late. When participating in any crowd funding, make sure to launch at least 2 weeks in advance. This will give the extra busy people in your life time to catch up with you. Secondly, if you are going to launch a campaign late (yes, like me), work smarter, not harder. This means you can’t be afraid to take risks. I knew it would be a challenge to launch a Thunderclap so late. I also knew I would possibly not reach my goal in time. So, to make up for what I’ll miss, I made sure to upgrade my plan to Thunderclap Lightening. Under this option, even if I don’t make my goal I will still get your support. That’s right! No one has wasted their time! To the 30 people who have supported so far, your social media messages will still post and your support will still count on friday! So you see, weigh your options. Know what works and what doesn’t. Know what will be a benefit and what won’t. With my campaign getting off to a slow start, it was a major benefit for me to go with the paid plan to ensure positive results.

Thunderclap: End of Day 3

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Day Three of my Thunderclap campaign did really well. The support  increased by 15%! I have now reached 23% of my goal with a social reach of 23, 415. I am striving to reach 100% by Friday! Can we do it? Of course we can! Please keep spreading the word about my Thunderclap Campaign, it is most appreciated. If you’re interested in swapping Thunderclap support, I would be more than willing to do so. Support me and I’ll support you. Like they say, team work makes the dream work!

Why?

To start, I am preparing to release the third book in my short story trilogy this Friday. The story is set in 1960 and is about a young man of mixed ethnicity (part European, part African American) who struggles to understand the plight of the African American in America. The twist is that he doesn’t know that he’s of mixed race. As far as he knows, he’s just a white boy with a passion for black history. Please see the entire blurb on my static page here to learn more. You can also Pre-Order the book now for 99 cents on Amazon.

I have joined Thunderclap in an attempt to help spread the word about this book online, not merely for my sake, but for the sake of our youth. I believe this story is not only important, but necessary in a society where young people are constantly struggling to find their place and their purpose as individuals.

Thunderclap: Day One Results

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Yesterday was the launch of my Thunderclap Campaign as we count down the days until Launch Day. One of the reasons I scheduled it so close to Launch day is because it helps keep the book fresh in everyone’s minds. I also will not have so much online time on the day of release. This weekend coming up is going to be very hectic and I will need the help of my blogging friends and social media buds to help keep the thunder alive online while I handle my thing on the ground.

So my first day and first time hosting Thunderclap went very well! Now, by very well I mean I only reached 6% of my goal lol. But over 10,000 people through social media have at least seen it. We just have to get 94 of them to thunderclap!

That was yesterday. Tonight concludes Day 2 of the campaign and I am now at 8% of my goal with a social reach of 15, 613. I’m really excited about everyone who put their hands in to assist me in this endeavor and I hope that you will continue to spread the word.

Click Here to Support My Thunderclap and Follow Me To Freedom!