7 Questions With Story Origin Founder, Evan Gow
Evan Gow is the indie developer of StoryOrigin, a marketing tool and community of authors that work together to build their mailing lists, increase sales, find reviewers, and stay on top of deadlines.
For the ones of you who are new to my blog, I’m Esther Rabbit, writer, content creator for authors and massive nerd. If you’re interested to know all the tips & tricks surrounding the process From Writing To Publishing Your Novel, you’re only a click away. For writing and marketing tips consider subscribing to my YouTube Channel.
What gave you the inspiration to start StoryOrigin?
I got into writing back in high school, and then in college, I discovered entrepreneurship as well, so I really wanted to find a way to combine those things, and one day I ended up talking with an indie author about how they were doing all of these cross-promotions with other authors and how effective they were, but also how much time it took to set everything up and the 4 or 5 different tools they were using and I thought “Huh. I bet I could make that a lot easier!”
So, I built StoryOrigin, which is a community of authors that anyone is welcome to join and where other authors will promote your work in their newsletters and you can promote other authors in your newsletter. The part that is awesome is that you don’t need to use 4 or 5 different tools to set up those cross-promotions. You can do everything just using StoryOrigin.
Why is it important for authors to have a newsletter?
Newsletters are the best way to own a direct line of communication to your readers. You can use social media to connect with your fans as well, but at the end of the day, those platforms control how much of your content your audience sees. Back in the day, when someone liked your Facebook page, your posts would then start showing up in their newsfeed.
Then, they decided to change the algorithm and now only 2-3% of your posts are actually going to be seen by people who like your page unless you pay to boost your posts to more of your fans, and the cost to boost your posts to more of your audience keeps rising.
At the same time, the cost of advertising on Amazon is also increasing, so it’s getting harder for everyone, except for those authors that own a direct line of communication to their readers through a newsletter. Once you’ve got that reader’s email, you will always have a way to reach them and let them know when you’ve got a new release or have a special deal on a box set or you’re looking for reviews on one of your books.
A lot of authors are hesitant about starting a newsletter because until you really get going, it can feel like you’re putting in extra work that isn’t going anywhere. What are some ways to build your newsletter?
The best way to build a mailing list is to provide them something of value for free when someone signs up for your newsletter. So, the approach I recommend is to write a 15-20K word short story prequel to your book or series and then cross-promoting that “reader magnet” with other authors.
Cross-promotions can certainly seem daunting at first, but one of the great things about being an author is that there are so many people who have been in your position and remember what it was like when they were just starting out. A lot of authors are really happy to lend a hand and help pull you up, and that’s where StoryOrigin can be helpful.
Everything depends on how involved you get, but it’s fairly common to be able to go from a mailing list with no one on it to a mailing list with over a hundred people on it after just 1 group promotion.
At what point should I start building my mailing list?
As soon as possible! Your series doesn’t even necessarily need to be out yet. Just get your short story out there and start giving it away as soon as possible. Keep the audience that you do start to build up-to-date with how the writing for the rest of the series is going, and then when you go to launch your first book in the series, you’ve got an audience that’s ready and waiting to buy it or leave reviews for you.
How do group promotions work in the world of newsletters?
Group promotions are a type of cross-promotion where a bunch of authors get together and list their books on a single landing page and then each author in that group promotion send the link to that landing page to their mailing list. As an example, let’s say you, me, and 20 other urban fantasy author are in a group promotion together and we each have mailing lists with 1,000 people on them.
If we each send the link to that landing page to our mailing lists, then it could be seen by up to 20,000 people! The other thing to mention is that there are different types of group promotions with different goals. There are group promotions designed to help everyone in the group sell more books or get more page reads in Kindle Unlimited.
Then, there are group promotions that are designed to help everyone get more reviews. And lastly, there are group promotions that help everyone build their mailing lists. You could actually manually build these group promotion landing pages on your WordPress site and try to recruit other authors to join, or you can use something like StoryOrigin, which can automatically generate the group promo landing page and also helps you find other authors that might want to participate.
What should you do to keep readers on your mailing list engaged when you don’t have a new release coming out every week or month?
That’s a great question! I would say there are 2 important pieces to keeping your audience engaged. The first is to make sure you build a rapport with your audience. You want readers to feel like they’re getting the inside scoop on your writing and making them feel like they know you personally. So I recommend sharing how your writing is coming along, maybe things that you’ve struggled with, and just snippets out of your everyday life.
The second thing I think is important is to try to make your newsletter into the go-to place when the reader is looking for recommendations for their next book. A good way to find books to recommend by sharing those group promotions that you join on StoryOrigin or by doing newsletter swaps on StoryOrigin, where you agree to share another author’s book in your newsletter when they share your book in their newsletter.
This is a win-win for you and the authors you promote. You’re giving back to the author community, and it gives the reader a reason to keep opening your emails. That way, the next time you have your own new release to promote, readers will be more likely to open that email and see it.
What can you do with a direct line of communication to your readers?
Once you have a list of readers on your mailing list, you can then reach out to them to:
- Find beta-readers: Reach out to your list and ask if anyone would like to read through a rough draft for plot holes, etc. and let them help you shape the story. This is a great opportunity for super fans and you as the author to make sure you’re crafting something amazing.
- Increase reviews: The easiest and fastest way to get more reviews on your books is to simply email your mailing of people who have read your books, explain why reviews are important, and ask them to leave a review if they haven’t already. Or, if you’ve got a new release coming out, you can use the “Review Copies” feature on StoryOrigin to give them the book before the official release date and StoryOrigin will automatically follow up to make sure they leave a review
- Increase “read through” rates: Read through rates are incredibly important and if you don’t use a rapid-release strategy, it’s likely that some fans simply won’t know that another book in the series came out. If you’ve got that direct line of communication, you can reach out to those readers and let them know when you have a new release
- Boost sales: One great tactic for increasing sales is by running limited time discounts and then promoting those to your newsletter subscribers, which gives them a reason to stay on your mailing list.
- Get word-of-mouth: One of the best ways to grow an audience is by readers sharing your book by talking to their friends. By providing regular updates and building a rapport with your super fans, your book stay top-of-mind so that they are more likely to share your work when talking about the books they’ve read recently
Are you in the Writing Industry?
Shoot me an email, I’d love to interview you!
And check out Lost in Amber: An Out Of This World Paranormal Romance if enjoy girl power, adventure & a toe-curling love story.
She just wanted to mope over her breakup but the universe had other plans for Zoey Mills.
Read the full blurb here.