Follow our guest blogger and author M.K. Williams as she writes the Marketing Your Audiobooks Series of blog posts  

M.K. Williams is an author and independent publisher. She has written and published numerous books under her own name and helped several authors realize their dreams of publishing their books as well. After having learned the ins-and-outs of self-publishing and independent publishing she is now on a mission to help aspiring authors get the answers they need, avoid money-traps, and navigate the process of self-publishing their first book through her brand Author Your Ambition.

Email Swaps are not going to get you the success you’re looking for.

Don’t throw those tomatoes at me just yet! Read on a bit.

I know many authors swear by the success they have seen with different groups and platforms where they do “email swaps.” This is where one author agrees to promote another author’s book in their email newsletter in exchange for promotion in their email as well. It is usually a one-for-one trade. Usually, authors offer a free review copy. This lets them get their book out far and wide (and, ideally, get more reviews) and usually they require an email sign-up to be able to download the book.

In theory, this can be a great way to offer your audience new books to check out while you are working on your next book. After all, they need something to read while they are waiting, and the author gets more exposure and email sign-ups.

But in reality, what I have seen is:

  • Authors sending multiple emails a week to be able to do as many swaps as possible.
  • Stuffing books into each email that they haven’t read.
  • Their audience feels spammed, or they know what the deal is and they claim all the free books to have them “just in case”, and then unsubscribe from the new author as soon as they get a confirmation email.

When you have a system like this, don’t be surprised when the real people on the other end of the email figure it out!!

I tried this strategy first-hand and let me tell you - it didn’t work. I pride myself on having a small but engaged email newsletter list. I hardly ever get any unsubscribes. I tried a service that helps facilitate these email swaps (for a fee) and my book was claimed once daily during my 90-day trial, only 1 person left a review, and almost all of them unsubscribed as soon as they downloaded the book. Not only did my unsubscribe rate skyrocket (although, I don’t want unengaged people on my list so I guess that is fine), but I couldn’t follow up to ask for a review.

So what will work then?

You might not like it, but no easily-gamed system is going to get you the results you want. Instead, I suggest cultivating a real genuine friendship with other authors. They can be in your genre or outside your genre, but a real connection is going to pay dividends.

Not only will you get to commiserate over the troubles of being an author (writing, editing, marketing, etc.), but you can encourage each other to keep going and act as accountability buddies. You can check in and hear how their manuscripts are coming along. Maybe you’ll be inspired by some new marketing strategy they are trying. And yes, when it is time for them to launch a book, you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops with them (and by rooftops, I mean share it on your social media and in your newsletter too!)

These kinds of genuine relationships make life better for you as an author, and make it very easy and organic for these authors to help promote your book when it is ready.

Can you have 1,000s of genuine friendships? Probably not

Will you get exposure in 100s of newsletters this way? Again, no.

But the recommendations that they will give for your book will be earnest. They will likely have READ your book and could speak to the content. They can amplify your message on their social media and they’ll be happy to do so. A few quality friends in the author space can help you much more than the superficial and spammy swaps.

It isn’t easy to make new friends, but open yourself up to connecting with other authors.

Today’s assignment is to go into one of your author forums and groups and congratulate other authors on THEIR progress. Show up for others, and you’ll start to notice those who cheer you on as well.