Joanne Phillips

A Writers Journey


Marketing & Promotion

Building (or shrinking) my mailing list

I recently dusted off my trusty mailing list and moved it from MailChimp to ConvertKit. I am loving ConvertKit (apart from a minor link glitch – learning moment!) and I have high hopes for growing my list with their lovely landing pages and forms.

What’s interesting is the unsubscribes! Now, I get a lot of email, and I also unsubscribe when I’m no longer interested. And of course, sometimes you just sign up to get a freebie and then you’re like ‘Huh? How come they keep emailing me!’

Photo by burak kostak on

I’m fine with it – really I am. I’m not broken-hearted. If readers sign up to get the free book but aren’t really interested in further books or what I have to say and share, then of course I don’t want them on my list. It costs money to keep subscribers on a list, so keeping it engaged is a key task.

So what I’ve decided to do now – just to keep my ego relatively safe – is focus on shrinking my list for a while. Yes, that’s right! I’m going to view each of those unsubscribes as a gift. I want to shrink my list down and down and down … and even if I end up with only 20 subscribers, if they are all people with a genuine interest in hearing about my books and engaging in topics around reading and stories, then I am happy to wave goodbye.

I do plan to do a bit of canvassing though, on social media, to find out how often people are happy to get emails land in their inboxes. All the experts say to send them weekly – and not to only email when you have news or want to sell a book. Which makes sense. But this is all new to me – or at least, it’s changed a lot during the years I allowed my list to gather dust.

What do you think? Weekly? Twice a month? More or less often? I supposes the answer is test, test, test, just like everything.

PS If you’d like to see what I’m sending to my subscribers you can sign up here.

Listen To My Indie Author Podcast – “Total Transparency Is My Style”

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by the awesome Paul Teague for my first ever podcast – and boy, it was fun! I was pretty nervous, but relieved that the recording wasn’t live. Paul has instructions on his website – including things you might not think about such as trying to make sure your environment is as noise-free as possible (phones ringing, kids screaming, barking dogs don’t do well on podcasts for obvious reasons) – and I had to get hold of some headphones and a microphone and log into Skype. No video, just audio. So I didn’t need to worry about how I looked!


The recording of the interview itself was stress-free – apart from an incident with a neighbour’s howling dog (!) which saw me dashing into another part of the house to find a quiet spot. And Paul is so incredibly professional, he put me at my ease immediately. I had no idea what we were going to talk about beforehand – Paul likes to avoid over-preparing to keep the content and the conversational flow nice and fresh. Chatting over Skype was fun and easy, and it wasn’t long before I was sharing … probably a little too much!

But hey, that’s what I do. Complete transparency has always been my default position, and while I completely support and understand other people’s desire to keep their mouths shut about such things as how many books they sell and how much they earn every year, I just open my big old mouth and it all comes gushing out. Along with some interesting thoughts about publishers, the world of writing courses, and writing in general.

If you’re ready to listen, click here. And please leave a comment below to let me know what you thought. Be kind!

Author Interviews – An Unmissable Compilation of Advice and Inspiration From Authors and Other Industry Experts

Going back through the archives of the blog, I found a wealth of information contained in interviews I’ve done over the last four years. Blogs are great, but who wants to trawl back through post after post, searching for content? Over the coming months I’m going to curate some of that content and bring you the highlights of the best and the brightest blogging from A Writer’s Journey to date. And we’re starting today with expert interviews …

Terry Tyler

Terry Tyler
I found two interviews with indie superstar Terry on the blog, the first from July 2012 about free promotions – and it’s amazing how much of this is still bang on and relevant today! Not so much has changed after all, which is surprising when we feel like we live in times where everything to do with publishing is changing constantly. There is tons of great advice in this interview about Twitter too, so do have a read.

The second interview is more recent, December 2014, and follows the publication of one of Terry’s many big hits, The House of York. This is a stonking good read, highly recommended, and as ever, Terry interviews really well, with lots of fascinating insights and down-to-earth advice.

Linda Gillard

L in Madeira cropped
Another regular, Linda has written a couple of guest posts for the blog, as well as allowing me to interview her, and she’s always so warm and enthusiastic, a real inspiration to other writers. In this interview, from May 2014, we talk about writing in different genres – whether it’s a good or a bad thing – and Linda offers up some great advice as usual.

Martina Munzittu

There are many indie authors publishing fiction, but fewer producing non-fiction titles to the high quality of my next interviewee, Martina Munzittu. With a wonderful idea for a specialised cookery book, Martina went to town and produced the most beautiful coffee-table style self-published book I’ve ever seen. You can read more about it in my interview with her from October 2014.

Kim Nash

In January 2014 I interviewed Kim Nash, who had just gone freelance as a personal assistant to help authors market their books. Here she talks about the best ways to reach readers, offering practical and specialist advice – for free!

Cover Designers Berni Stevens and Chris Howard


Chris Howard_blog
Last but not least in this compilation of interviews, I bring you two from January 2013 which were part of my ‘We’ve Got It Covered’ series. First of all we have Berni Stevens, cover designer to the stars and published author, giving you the benefit of her vast experience, and then the wonderful and talented Chris Howard, my very own cover designer, who is now so popular and prolific I’m worried he’s going to put his prices up! Chris and Berni offer go-to advice for anyone thinking about a cover for their self-published book. The rest of the We’ve Got It Covered series was a lot of fun too, and you can find all the posts on this by typing ‘We’ve Got It Covered’ in the search box above.

Coming next – a compilation of fascinating and eclectic guest posts!

Summer Self-Publishing Dreams? Take Action Now

What are your writing and publishing goals for the summer months this year? At Easter I always find myself thinking forward to July and August, because these are always quiet times for book sales. Three months doesn’t seem like a long time – but you’d be surprised at what you could accomplish in that period if you really set your mind to it. Here are a couple of writer-situations, and my ideas about what you could manage in the next three months …

What is your story

Suppose you’re just finishing your first book right now, and you fancy launching it in July – the idea beach read, right? To be honest, you’ve already missed the boat for the beach read market – that ship sails around May – but that’s no reason to give up on your goals. July and August are arguably great times to launch a new book as there is less competition. Here is your three month schedule:

April – beta readers for book, line up proofreader, start blogging and platform-building, decide on marketing strategy, think about cover design after analyzing competition, approach key book bloggers.

May – final edit, send to proofreader, get cover designed, keep building that platform and buzz around new book, finalize review requests, typesetting and formatting.

June – ebook ready (and print files ready if going for paperback), send to reviewers, plan launch event, arrange key advertising e.g. Facebook, build buzz, organise blog tour.

July – Launch that book into the world!

It sounds like a lot of hard work because it is – but that’s the fun part. And if you feel you need a bit of help with any of the above, don’t forget about the Self-Publishing Success course I tutor for Writers’ Workshop – it’s not too late to sign up for April’s presentation. You can sign up here, or read a great testimonial here.

Or say you’ve already got a book published, or a couple of books, but sales have been lackluster lately and you need a bit of a boost. What could you achieve in three short months? Let’s see …

April – pick your best book and submit it to BookBub for an international promotion. Whether you get a yes or not, decide this is the book you are going to push as a summer read. Visit VistaPrint and have some fun merchandise made up – people love pens and notepads, fridge magnets, little bags, mugs. Set a date for your promotion in mid May and decide whether you’ll go free or reduced price. (Free is usually best.)

May – build up a buzz about the book by blogging on a few author-friends’ blogs in various unusual forms. ‘Day in the life of’ the main character work well, or the history and background of the location/storyline. Keep up a profile on social media, sharing interesting stuff – not just about your own books! When the promotion date arrives, push it like crazy. No, even crazier than that!!! Get it out there, everywhere, and then get it out some more.

June – on the back of the promotion success, ask for reviews from key book bloggers. Keep up the momentum by planning your next promotion. Offer the goodies as incentives, or use as prizes on your website or FB page. Consider taking out an advertising banner on a key website, like Kindle Nation Daily, or some Facebook sponsored posts, to keep your book high in the charts.

Oh my goodness, I have so many ideas! But I’d better stop now as I’ve got work to do – and a lot to pack into three short months.

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