Last year, Autumn rolled out a pretty unique system for organizing and encouraging engagement with her reader email list through a tiering system. Would it work for you?

We go over the details along with the pros and cons - like "Yay, readers sharing your books on social media while website stats skyrocket" to "OMG, I have to write how many emails to do this?" 🤣  Check it out and see if you find a piece that will help you reach and motivate your readers in a new way!

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Read the full transcript below. (Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).

Narrator (2s):
You're listening to the Am writing fantasy podcast in today's publishing landscape. You can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing. Join two best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them now onto the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt, and Jesper Schmidt. Hello, I am. Yes ma'am. And I'm autumn.

Jesper (36s):
This is episode 107 of the am writing fantasy podcast. And today we have some interesting thoughts to share with you. I guess I could say that it's a way to almost gave me your email list. Would that be a fair way to describe it?

Autumn (57s):
As long as readers don't get offended by that kind of a scheme, but yeah, it's a way of maybe strategizing the best way to market books so that readers keep buying them and become fans with a bit of a game to it.

Jesper (1m 16s):
Yeah. What I meant this it's like, it's a bit like engaging your list with like a tiering structure, which is similar to what you see in games, right? So you can sort of level up to the next year. Yeah. But, but more on that in a bit, first, I wanted to hear if you have actually survived the snowstorm or right up there, automotive was close.

Autumn (1m 39s):
It was very close. We are so lucky in many ways, because this snowstorm that of which you speak was originally supposed to miss us in just smear my parents who live in Pennsylvania, but Vermont up where I'm at, they thought it was going to move off the coast. Well, yeah, no, it came inland and we got over 25 inches of snow from nothing bare ground to two over two feet. But just North of us, just North, they got guests. How many feet of snow from zero to,

Jesper (2m 16s):
I have no idea.

Autumn (2m 19s):
Feet, eight inches, four feet. So that would have been up to my chest. No two feet it's been hard enough, but especially since we live in a small cabin that we actually don't drive to, we have to walk about a thousand feet through the woods to get to our cabin. And that's challenging enough in two feet of snow, but four feet. I mean, my dog you've seen pictures of my dog. He's like, what? 18 inches? Tall jumps like a little rabbit. It looks like a little wee, a Wolverine, you know, jumping through this still. I can't imagine we have to dig a tunnel for him to go.

Jesper (2m 59s):
And I was just about to Say he needs to make some tunnels,

Autumn (3m 3s):
But Oh, it's all getting cleared out and packed down. And it's actually, it's sad. I, I should be very upset because it's supposed to rain on Christmas day and we'll probably end up with bare ground again. But yes, I cannot wait to get rid of the snow for a little bit. That'd be fine with me. Yeah. But yeah.

Jesper (3m 20s):
So yes, as the listener, as you can hear, we are recording a bit just before Christmas here. So that's why we're talking about a snowstorm. So if you're listening to this and think of that snowstorm, then it's not because you miss something very important. It's because I'm trying to do a bit of free recording because yeah. We'll like most people we would like to take a bit of time off during Christmas holidays. But on the other hand, we don't want you to miss any episodes on Mondays since we've now been going for, I think more than two years releasing podcast episodes every Monday. So we're not gonna miss any now. So that's why we are prerecording a bit. So you can get some new episodes, even though we are taking a bit of time off.

Jesper (4m 3s):
So, well, that's the explanation why you're talking about while there might not be, well, maybe there won't be a snowstorm in January who knows?

Autumn (4m 10s):
No, please. No, no, no, no, but you're still unpacking. So let's get away from weather too. How are things going in the new apartment? You you've officially handed over the house, hopefully you're settling in.

Jesper (4m 25s):
Yeah. Well, I don't think there's that much news to say other than it's the same situation as last time in the last episode, my wife has been away. So that also means that the unpacking has sort of stopped a bit because it's pointless of me unpacking. And then she comes home and say, I know I don't want those pieces there and then reduce the whole thing. Right. So it's just sort of waiting a bit until she comes home. So it's still the same situation, but in between all the moving and honestly, I guess in the future episodes, we need to get away from talking about moving all the time Then for you guys. Yeah, it is true. But instead I wanted to mention that last night I finished watching a series on Netflix called the haunting of Bly Mannor.

Autumn (5m 12s):
Oh yeah. You mentioned it. Yeah. I couldn't help. But to email you right away, right afterwards before I went to sleep last night. Yeah. That's a good, that's a good series. If you're you really think of getting out your phone to let me know, it's a good series at the middle of the night. That's pretty nice.

Jesper (5m 31s):
Yeah. Yeah, because I wanted to mention it here as well because the title is perhaps slightly misleading and then again, not, but the haunting, well, it is a ghost story as such, but, and I guess it's also pitched as sort of a horror series or horror story, I guess, but it's really not. So even, you know, if, if you dear listener thinking like I hate horror stories and I don't want to okay. Bear with me just a moment here, because there are huge gaps here and there, but they are very, very minor. I it's not jumps gas like that. That might be a few pieces.

Jesper (6m 13s):
I think there's nine episodes. And let me say that maybe twice doing all of those nine episodes, there's something that might scare you slightly it, depending on how you are. Well, how we use your scale, I guess. But so they are here and there, but they are very far between, because the focus of the series is really on the characters and their story. And in case you haven't checked it out yet, I really wanted to, to make you aware of this one, because it is really worth the watch. Yeah. So just say it emailed, but I think why are emailed you to be honest? I think it was because I just watched the ending of it.

Jesper (6m 56s):
And first of all, usually something that is categorized as a horror story, it's like the endings, most of the time, it was pretty bad too. And this one just, it actually moved me. It was like, I was a bit like, okay, it actually hit me a bit in a very good way. Excellent. You know, and that happens very, very rarely. So yeah, it's definitely five stars from me. And that recommendation has now been passed on to our listeners, everyone.

Autumn (7m 32s):
Well, I thought it was interesting. I did look it up and I saw that it was from the same director as the haunting of Hill house, which you also recommended and we watched it and he said something very serious, similar about not being too jumpy or scary. And I do remember watching the first episode and my husband turns and looks at me, he's like, I thought this wasn't supposed to be scary. So I'll let you know what he says about this.

Jesper (7m 56s):
Yeah. Okay. Well, I think personally, I think a haunting of Hill house is a bit more scary. It's not, it's not very scary compared to what you would normally categorize as a horror story, but it is a bit more scary than this one. This one is less scary. I think even excellent. I won't have to protect him all night. Excellent. No, at least, at least in my opinion, but I mean, I know, I understand her with stuff like this. Model's very, and it's very different. What people get can stomach, but I don't think it's bad at all. I just think it's a very, very good story and it's very well done. So yeah. Give it a try, check it out.

Narrator (8m 35s):
A week on the internet with the yam writing fantasy podcast.

Jesper (8m 41s):
Now we're going to talk about email list today and sit, stop there at, at, at the top and the way to market to your email list. But I also wanted to mention that we have actually finished up and released our new course on email marketing as well, Third course for a 2020, because we're recording this in 2020. So we did it all right. It does Everything from getting set up to how to write onboarding sequences, how you should be thinking about your emails. How often do you send the emails? What is a good open rate, a good click through rate and all that good stuff that everybody always asks and wants to know.

Jesper (9m 25s):
Absolutely. It's all covered.

Autumn (9m 28s):
Yeah. And I'm so, and actually I have to admit I was wrong. This is our fourth course for a curse. Yeah. Course for 2020. So that's, it makes it even better, but no, it's, it is an excellent course. If you have questions on how to talk to readers or some of the stuff I'm talking about, and we're going to be discussing later in this episode, and you want to know how to market, to readers and what all this stuff means, and what's a good list and how to engage them. It's all in there and it covers everything. So that'll really help you out.

Jesper (10m 3s):
And in terms of how to get access to this course, it's slightly different from what you would normally expect. So it's not really a cost that we are going to advertise, like our ultimate fantasy writers guides, which is our comprehensive HSE writing course or the world building costs that we just released or opened up for quite recently here. Yeah. But those, we promote on something like a six month cycle, but this one we're not. So the way to actually get into this course, if you are interested is to first sign up for our free self publishing success course.

Jesper (10m 43s):
And by the end of the free course, you will then be given a link to the email course. And the reason we structured it this way was that the free course actually puts all the fundamentals in place. And that will have you operating from the right position when you get into the email marketing stuff. So, yeah. So that's how we decided to structure it. And we've added the link to the free course in the show notes. I know we've mentioned the free course a few times on the past couple of episodes. So this is probably going to be the last time in a good while that we're going to add that link to the show notes. But for the last time here we have added it.

Jesper (11m 25s):
And so if you haven't checked it out already make sure to sign up as soon as you listen to this episode and at least get the free cost cost completed. And then at the end of that, you can always decide if you want to do the email is course or not, that's fully up to you.

Autumn (11m 41s):
Yes. That's sort of like the finishing school for the free course, but definitely the self-publishing success course will teach you the fundamentals for free that you need to know to be running it. And the email will be the capstone that really will make your marketing just shine

Narrator (12m 2s):
Today's topic.

Jesper (12m 4s):
So autumn, you have this great idea on how to operate a mailing lists. Different way than what is considered traditionally. So Pat, you could Start out by more like explaining the high level concept before we get into details.

Autumn (12m 20s):
I think that sounds like a good place to start other than saying my brain squirrely. And I've always got to do things different, but did I ever tell you what actually gave me the idea? The little problem I was nibbling on that made me want to figure this one out.

Jesper (12m 37s):
Ah, you know, this is one of those questions that you should, Because if I say No, I'm not sure I can't remember it. And that sounds like I didn't pay attention.

Autumn (12m 50s):
Okay. That's fair enough. Well, you should answer for what the readers or the listeners need to, to hear so that they can hear the story.

Jesper (12m 60s):
So no, at all, I'm sure you have never said anything about it.

Autumn (13m 4s):
I really don't know if I have, so that's fair enough. But you know, when you go into most email service providers, as you're working on stuff, they often give you tips. And there's one that usually says, Hey, did you know, open rates and response rates go up. If you just send to a subsection of your list and I'm like, well, that's nice, but I'm sending to readers. How do you speak a subsection of readers?

Jesper (13m 31s):
I mean the readers, what do you, how are you going to segregate them into smaller lists? And I must've chewed on that for a good four to six months. Wondering how I could, how, if this is such a good thing that this email service provider is telling me, I should be doing it. And it's going to totally revolutionize the way I send emails. How can I do it? How can I make that happen? So, yeah, that's what spawned this idea. And I finally, I finally came up with something and that is what I eventually did send to you saying, am I just crazy? Or do you think this might work?

Jesper (14m 9s):
And you said, no. Yeah. I actually still very much liked the idea because I think there is something about it, but Become clear as we talk through this stuff. I'm not sure We've worked out how to actually do it well. So this is more like also for the listener. It's, it's A bit more like a brainstorming Kind of conversation, I guess, and maybe will trigger some thoughts in the listeners. And, and I don't, I don't know.

Autumn (14m 46s):
Yes. Maybe it'll inspire you into doing something different with your lists. Maybe he, while you and I are talking Yesper, we'll out, what kind of went right. And what went wrong with my experiment? Because as I see in our Patreon page, I love living my life life as an experiment. So everyone else knows what not to do or the benefits of what I did. So, you know, it saves everyone else. Some agony, I sacrifice myself for that, but what I realized, so I have to admit this was set up well for me and other listeners, other authors might have to think about teaming up for this to happen because I have three series of books.

Autumn (15m 27s):
One is the main entry point to all of the books. I've written one that is set after that initial series. It's in the same world and the same characters. I have one, that's an entirely different genre that the readers who read it, absolutely they're like mega fans, but you know, it's not even fantasy. It's more post-apocalyptic. So it's completely different. It fits what I'm writing now. But then I have two novellas that are in completely different storylines and also a short story, compilation novel. So I've got three series and three sort of a standalone books. And I realized that besides having a lot of books out, I can't keep them straight half the time, but I could actually create four tiers of readers.

Autumn (16m 13s):
And that's sort of what triggered everything. I could have a tier of people who finished that first series, a tier of readers who finished the first end, the second that's related to it, a tier of readers who have read the other unrelated post-apocalyptic series and then a final tier who has basically literally read everything I have written in the fiction world. I, I spared everyone, the nonfiction. I thought that was only fair. So that's it. I finally, I figured out my tears that I could break up my reader list too. And I gave them names. I did book explorers for the new arrivals.

Autumn (16m 54s):
So spell binders for the second ones, the fifth order, which relates to the main, the first series. It relates to my Epic fantasy series and the high counsel for the ones who have finished everything because they have some special powers why they ended up being called the high council. And it also came straight from my fantasy world too.

Jesper (17m 17s):
Hmm. So how, how were you in practical terms? How were you keeping track of who had read everything and who hadn't and what they have read and so forth. Right.

Autumn (17m 28s):
So funny, it's like, it's like, you can read my mind or, or the list of notes I have in front of me, because that is actually the next bullet point. We're so good this way. I, because I hadn't been keeping track on where people were coming in or emails I'd gotten from readers saying, Hey, I finished this book. I thought it was great. So I went ahead and I asked them what, what they had read, where they had read and told them, Hey, is this really important? I need to know. And so I had them segregate themselves. And then anyone who did not email, email me back or didn't, it was a survey. I will talk about it later, but I actually use mailer Lite and they have a very cool survey that allows you to tag people if they click on things.

Autumn (18m 10s):
So I use that so function, and if people didn't click on anything, I just put them in the lowest tier book, explorers and figured they had to sort themselves out if they did to get their act together. So that's how I sorted everyone out. I made them do it themselves and figured that was a good baseline to start from. And I did, I ended up with, and there's a few people, you know, you know who your mega fans are. It's not like there was hon I wish there were hundreds of mega fans that I didn't know all their names intimately, but I have, I have a core group that I know have read everything. And so it was basically like, Hey, by the way, I'm just putting you over here. So those were easy. Yeah. Yeah.

Jesper (18m 47s):
Did you then also think about adding in some, you know, this kind of questionnaire in the onboarding sequence or the end of the onboarding sequence to, to basically figure out new readers or did you more just track where they came in from and then say, okay, if you came in from here, that means you've read this book. So I'll put you in that tier or did everybody just go into the lowest tier from the beginning? Or how did, how did you do that?

Autumn (19m 13s):
Well, after I let them segregate themselves, the new arrivals would basically automatically go into the lowest tier, the book explorers, unless they were picking up. I did have an offer in my first book to pick up the second book. And so if they came to me through that second book in that sequence I had at, Hey, pick up the final book in the series with this coupon code. And if they picked it up through that, I immediately put them in the next higher tier, because I assume if they're buying book three, I can pretty much assume they're going to go finish it because I know my readthrough rate between book two and book, if people buy book two, my readthrough rate to book three is a hundred percent. So I know they're going to finish it.

Autumn (19m 54s):
So I just dump them into the next higher tier. Yeah.

Jesper (19m 60s):
Because I know as well for myself, for example, I mean, sometimes I ended up signing up for some authors email list, but in reality, I might have read several of the person's books already, but for whatever reason I never got around or didn't decide to sign up until now or something like, so it could happen that somebody comes in and I've actually read several books, especially in our, you, you have several different series going, so it might have read one full series and then coming into another series and then say, Oh, okay, cool. I'll sign up for this stuff here for whatever, you know, so that, I guess that's a bit of the challenge here in terms of labeling them correctly from the beginning.

Autumn (20m 42s):
It is. And I try to, there was actually the reason I wanted to do it this way is because really does come down to marketing. So if people were in the first section, I was going to market to them, I was going to give them expert excerpts and coupons to the second series. And if they were in the second tier, I was going to give them coupons and excerpts for that unrelated non fantasy series. And then if they had finished that one, I'd be making sure I gave them excerpts to either what I was writing or the standalone novellas. So by knowing that I could target what I was sending them and the materials and the coupons, and trying to generate that interest to go to the next highest one.

Autumn (21m 25s):
And I put moving between tears totally in their hands, they were supposed to contact me via social media. Preferably they could send an email. Obviously email always works. They have my email, but it was just, Hey, give me a shout out on social media that you finished the final book in this series and that you want to go to the Spellbinders or you want to go to the fifth order. Tell me, tell people that's fine. And that's, and I'll happily give you a like a, you know, a little shout out and I will move you to the next year and you'll get access to a, it was a new webpage. Each of them had a special webpage that was hidden on my website, that they could only access through the emails or through, you know, going and saving that link.

Autumn (22m 7s):
And on that page would be some social media posts that they could share some images if they wanted to download them and a coupon code for the month to a book that was discounted. That was kind of, you know, saying, Hey, I want you to go read this series. So you're getting that book discounted this month. And it was all very much structured and targeted that each one was just really kind of dialed into like, this is where I want you to move to. And it's in your control to move up, to get ed with each level, they were supposed to get an only in a better coupon, but I wasn't going to give any free books away. Like a paperback giveaway wouldn't happen to the lowest tier. They'd have to be at least in the second or the third tier before I started running some contests and giveaways and some kind of big, you know, brouhaha stuff like that.

Jesper (22m 58s):
Yeah. I like this tie in with the social media stuff, because then that gets word of mouth going automatically. Right. So I really liked that, but this is also why I labeled it as a gamification at the top of the episode, because it is a bit like, okay, you are this level and then you can move up to level. Number two, once you get more. Well, let's say once you've read more. Right. And then you watch the level three and you're getting benefits and so on. Right. So, yeah. And I think that not To everybody, but that appeals to some people a that the gaming people, at least they like to leveling up stuff. Right. And, But did you, did you Sort of share that structure thing with them at the lower level?

Jesper (23m 42s):
So once they come in and do, do they get information about, okay, is how I'm structuring things and once you've done decent, these things, you can move up and then this is what you're going to get at that point or something like that. Did you do anything like that?

Autumn (23m 55s):
Yes. So it was on each email. One of the neat things again about MailerLite is I could conveniently, instead of sending four different emails every month or every newsletter. So that's twice a month for me that were targeted to each group, I could send one newsletter and Miller has a function where you can hide certain things or just have it shown to people who are in a certain subsection. So I could just go ahead and generate everything in one newsletter, even though it looked like chaos. If you could see everything once it, if you were just in the lowest tier, you would just see the stuff you needed. And in part of that would be like, Hey, don't forget to move up to the Spellbinder and get, you know, get access to giveaways and get access to better coupons.

Autumn (24m 39s):
You have to do this. And it would also be on the webpage that they would land on would be a little announcement at the top saying, Hey, don't forget to get better access to this and that you need to, you know, follow these steps below. And again, that's sort of why there were even availability of being able to download pictures. I tried to make it super easy, so they didn't want to go to if they bought everything online, they didn't have any actual photos of books. They could. I gave them some paperback photos and things that they could use. And I would change them out every once in a while, because I'm a graphic artist and that's what I do for fun. So it was, it was all set up for them. So it's as painless as possible for them.

Autumn (25m 20s):
At least for me, it ended up as you can imagine four different levels. It was a lot of work. And of course you still have that. I remember I mentioned that high council, they have literally read everything I've written. I mean, even short stories, a few of them, they're just the voracious. It's crazy. They're little sharks and Paranas, they want to read it and just read everything. I love him to death. And so for them, I mean, I can't offer them a coupon. They literally have everything I've written. So for them, their ultimate reward and why they were called the high council is they got exclusive access to what I was currently writing. I thought about a Facebook, but you know, I'm my love hate thing with Facebook.

Autumn (26m 1s):
So I ended up going with a small forum plugin. So I would have some stuff where, Hey, we can talk about books. You like, I could talk about what I'm currently writing plots. I could give snippets, I could talk about characters. And if I had a question or if they had a question about something they saw, we could actually have a discussion. They could help me problem solve some plot problems as I went. So this was why I called them the high council, because that's how the high council in my fantasy world, you know, functions, they are the ones who basically rule everything. So this was going to be my select tier of readers who really knew my writing and knew, really were passionate about what I was doing.

Autumn (26m 42s):
And they would have complete to helping me out as I wrote. And they were also guaranteed to be, get the copy of the next book before it hits stores, they would get access that, you know, no one else could get. And that's why they were, that was a very special function for them. And another benefit of, of all of this is that you, you also get rid of the freebie seekers, meaning that when you do new launches or you're looking for an advanced reader team and stuff like that, you can start itching this to the higher tiers so that you actually getting people who, you know, have actually read your books. And they're not on your list just to capture free copies of advanced reader copy.

Autumn (27m 25s):
But they actually there because they are reading your stuff, right. And that's one of the challenges you have with the recruiting, a launch team is that how do you ensure that you're just not getting a bunch of people who just want a free book and half of them is never going to leave that review that you would like them to, to leave once the book launches, or they are never going to give you the feedback that you asking for or whatever it may be that you're looking for a launch team to do.

Jesper (27m 54s):
Right? I mean, for us, we have started to say that in order to get onto our launch teams, you have to send us a link to two reviews. You left on two of our books. And if you haven't, then you're not going to get onto the launch list. So that's another way of doing it. But I do think, I do think there's a good point in trying to make sure that whoever you allow onto a launch team or an advanced reader team or whatever you want to call it is people whom, you know, have actually in one way or another done something in return. You know, that it's it's, otherwise you will get those people who just, they figured out the system, right?

Jesper (28m 34s):
It's like, okay, I'll get onto the author's email list. And then I will get invites to advanced reader teams. And I'll say yes, and then I don't have ever to buy a book again. Right. There are those peoples out there.

Autumn (28m 48s):
It is. Unless you're really paying attention, you can easily. I mean, as you know, I just told you that I, I just put out an art call for my next series. And I did find it amusing. How many people said, Oh, I've never read one of your books. I'm like, really why I read her list. But again, like you said, that they came in either they're so new, they haven't read much. And they just signed up to get a free book and they haven't finished it yet. And they're willing to go get another free book. Of course, it's an addiction is an addiction for me. I try not to read too much because I would just read all day if I could. So this did I, I told people flat out, if you're in the lowest tier, I'm not going to ask you to be an arc reader.

Autumn (29m 29s):
You're not going to be part of a launch team. You have to at least finish a series. And then when you're in that second tier and the third tier, you will pretty much you'll be asked. And if you're on the final tier, if you're in the high order, of course, of course, you're on the launch team. You've read everything well, how could I not reward you with that?

Jesper (29m 50s):
Yeah, but I guess,

Autumn (29m 52s):
Yeah. I mean, the really question is we talk about it being not early at a failed experiment, but I mean, the question is, did it work and why didn't it work? Or what were the pros and cons, I guess, yeah, let's go down there. Let's go down that rabbit hole. So I would say the first few months were a complete success. I was pretty thrilled. Actually. A lot of readers went and picked up the discounted books. And the nice thing about that is those were books. I was self hosting selling through my website. So I was not getting, you know, it wasn't through another retailer. There was no royalties taken out this except for taxes. This was a hundred percent sales straight to me, which is fantastic.

Autumn (30m 36s):
And it was teaching readers that you can go to my website and buy books directly from me. They've set up the account they're already there. So that's kind of a win-win that was very nice to see so many people going and hitting those pages and taking advantage of that. And I did have people going on social media if they finished. And some of them were totally into it saying, yep, lead I'm ready for the Spellbinders. I am ready for this. Even my niece did it. It was fantastic. So it was definitely, and I had a few people who just chose, Hey, you know, emailed, I just finished this one. I want to go to the next one. Cause I did.

Jesper (31m 13s):
I mean, I even to do this correctly, the information to like move up a tier should be in the back of the final book to move up into your saying, Hey, don't forget, you can go do this.

Autumn (31m 24s):
Now that would, that was a tie in, I didn't bother going and doing. Cause that was a lot of work at the time. So I didn't do that, but that would be another thing I could do to make it more of a smooth flowing system to remind people, Hey, you finished this book, you deserve more rewards. So go let people know and move up to the next year. So that was good. There was some definitely some success and it was a lot of fun and it was neat to see it in action and readers responding. And the nice thing is because also with people going to certain pages on my website, I was getting the SEO boost. So I have people going from your email, going to your website, which helps your email standing, you know, with your email marketer, it's raising the level, their email platforms are saying, Hey, you know, people like this email provider, they're clicking the links.

Autumn (32m 14s):
This is not spam. So it's showing up more in their email accounts. And then my personal website, SEO jumps up because I have a few hundred people going to my website two days every month, if not more often. So that's another benefit. That's fantastic. My standing went up, I still have a few things that I started on my website and then moved to am writing fantasy and never removed them from my website because the links are still out there. And I still get them hitting my website before I'm writing fantasy sometimes because I boosted the SEO of my website so much through the system, which was, Hey, that's kind of cool. Readers are finding me through just website searches score, but Oh my gosh, it's so much work.

Autumn (33m 1s):
I, as you can say, I've phased this out for several reasons, but one of them was definitely let, unless you're going to hire like a virtual assistant to help with changing out the website. So I'd only changed them once a month on the, so by the first of the month, a new coupon, new images, new whatever would be on the website for them to land on. So I had to do that as well as two emails during the month that were set up to four different reader tiers. And plus you have to monitor social media and, Oh my gosh, there's so much, you know, I'm not on discord. So if someone was like, you know, typing away on discord, I'm not going to see it. I tried to go on Instagram and like, you know, you can filter out for your own hashtags.

Autumn (33m 44s):
I have book hashtags that people could use my own author, hashtags people can use, but you have to be actively searching for those and checking them and making sure that they show up or that they're tagging you appropriately. Not some other poor Autumn Raven or Autumn Birts. And so it was a lot as a single individual author who was also trying to write and market to maintain every single month, especially after that first initial burst starts to die down and people are starting to see, Oh, this is the second or the third time that you, you know, given a discount to that book and I've already got it. And they haven't told me to move up to the next tier.

Autumn (34m 27s):
And of course the one series is totally non fantasy. It's, post-apocalyptic, there's no magic in it. And even though people love it, some people are like, I don't want to read something. That's, you know, gun battles on a little cipher. It's not my cup of tea. I can't piss off your readers and say, well fine. You just can't move up in the next tier. You've have those discussions with people. So I would say when it comes down to it, it's the work, especially when it slows down and people are not going every month and you're not seeing 20, 30, 40, 50 sales straight to your website. That's when it's like, yeah, this is a lot of work for, you know, 10 sales people getting discounted books.

Jesper (35m 9s):
Yay. That's wow. Hmm. Yeah. I wonder if it would be possible to, you know, if, if one could come up with some different, what should we call it? Like entrance criteria is for the different tiers and also some different rewards for the different criteria for the different tiers. Meaning that, for example, instead of coupon, because for one to do the coupon code stuff, one, you need to have lot of books. If you only let's say you only have two or three books out, well, it will, you're going to run out coupon waste pretty quick. But if there was something else you could offer them as a reward for going to a different cheer.

Jesper (35m 54s):
That's one thing. But I'm also wondering about the entrance criteria is in the sense that if you could make it so that you didn't have to go and hunt stuff down, but it more comes to you, you know, that you have to email me this or whatever in order to move up here or something so that, well, at least if you only need to monitor your inbox for, for requests to get moved up, that that at least simplifies things.

Autumn (36m 26s):
Yeah. I think I would not use the hashtags. And I would say, this is my Instagram profile. This is my Twitter profile. This is my Facebook profile tag me on one of these three and only one of these three. And I will move you up or, and, or email me, but it couldn't be both. Or, you know, it didn't have to be through a book hashtag, but cache tags are exciting, but yeah, that's a lot of, you know, to go and add your own book, hash tags and stuff was quite a difficult.

Jesper (36m 56s):
Yeah. Or alternatively, if you want people to use book has tax wherever they want to use it, that that could work. But then you would have to tell them, take a screenshot of your post and send that to me in an email. Right? That's your way of doing it now because at least then they can post wherever they normally go. They, they're not forced to use one of the platforms. Right. But again, that that's, of course also it's somewhat a man to ask somebody to post about this, then take a screenshot and then email it to me. It has to be a good reward

Autumn (37m 35s):
The way I was going. Right. It has to be, the reward has to be something where the reader really feels, I, I really want this right. If it's more like, ah, that's quite nice, then it's not going to happen. No. And it's to get that reward. I mean, short of being a free book or something, it's, it's a big ask. Readers are busy as well, and it's easy to forget or wanting to get involved in your next book. And there were definitely, you're always going to have people not taking that step and not moving forward, even though they technically deserve, you know, they've met all the other criteria to do that.

Jesper (38m 8s):
Yeah. I think the more you move up the cheapest, the more you can probably ask for them to do in terms of your criteria is because the more engaged they will be and they will, they will go to great length once they are up to tears. But I think at the lower tiers to move up from the entry level, to the, to the next year level, it has to be something extremely simple, something, you know, you can do it in one minute or probably even less like 10 seconds. It nothing but 10 seconds from you to do it. And then you can move up to you because I think you need to get to that state unless you need to make it that simple. Otherwise I think it's going to be difficult.

Autumn (38m 50s):
Yes, exactly. It was. You have to get them used to the system and excited about it and good rewards and just very clear cut instructions on how to do it. And I, like I said, I think there's something there because it really did help me for marketing because at the end of all my emails, I usually do a little excerpt. And so if I'm doing an excerpt from a book that I'm pretty sure they haven't read, but they liked the characters from the previous story, you know, I could rotate through different things or I could even do excerpts from the book I was going to give a coupon from just to, you know, you just start really trying to catch their curiosity saying, Oh yeah, I did finish that series. Oh, and look, this character what's happening in the next, in that book, you can start getting their interest and keep it going and hopefully get them to buy more books.

Autumn (39m 38s):
And like I said, in all the other side benefits, I wonder, I don't know if I would do the web pages again, but at the same time, maybe if I could just not have to update them as much, or like I said, have a virtual assistant and be like, you can get to go update that this month, make sure it's done. But before the first that would make it a little bit simpler because of the SEO results and the open rates and how much it affects, like your standing as a, you know, email account of mail in, through your mail provider. Those are really good, solid benefits that I was seeing. I could, I still have some of those lingering side effects that my email has a or my website has a very good SEO score.

Jesper (40m 21s):
I like that. That's not a bad thing at all.

Autumn (40m 25s):
My main concern really is, well, if we just ignore for a moment, the workload on the author side here, I think my main concern apart from that is you need, it's a very, very thin and fine line to walk to make sure that readers doesn't start feeling like being on the email list is a job, right. It should not feel like it's a job to be on the email list. And that's, that's where, that's where it's difficult because you start asking people to do stuff. I mean, if you were like Stephen King, then yeah. I guess maybe people will start doing stuff because they, they, they just want to get to the next years.

Jesper (41m 11s):
But when you're in a Stephen King, then you know, how do you go about creating entry criteria as to the different tiers that does not feel like a job, but actually it should feel exciting to go through it. Right. And I think that's the challenge, to be honest,

Autumn (41m 31s):
It really is. And I, that's why I think there is something in the core of this that is, could be fun and exciting and a reward for readers and help tie the author and the reader together, but sort of the work or figuring the way I went about it. It was a little too complex. So I do think it's something I would be like to boil down and try to figure out again. And I think it is especially like, like this year 20, 20, Covid just, don't ask your readers to go do anything, just give them a free book or something for Christmas. But if, if the world's of fun, if you can make it fun and, you know, especially at the higher tiers, if you're really we're giving away a paper book or paperback book or something every once in a while, and you could really make it exciting and worthwhile to engage with, that'd be good, but you're always going to have some, you know, readers are often introverts.

Autumn (42m 23s):
It shouldn't be painful for them to be on your reader list and to be a fan either if they want to be quiet, but still hopefully get a few benefits. Yeah. I don't know. Maybe we can put the question out to the listeners and see, you know, may maybe some of what we talked about here, peaks peaked your interest or inspired you. And maybe somebody has some smart ideas about how to leverage this idea. Because as I said to me, I think the idea itself has a lot of merit. And I think there was some good points in it at the same time though.

Jesper (43m 5s):
I think the return on the investment in terms of how much time you have to put in to make it work, I'm not sure it's worth it, but maybe I just haven't found the golden way of doing this three, any listeners out there, if you think there's something in here and you kind of, you think, you know what it is and you want to chat, you know, send us an email, put it in the comments. You, we could talk about this. I'm all for it. I like to brainstorm with other authors. That'd be fantastic. Come to the I'm writing fantasy group and say, Hey, I got an idea about this whole, this one from the podcast and let's chat.

Autumn (43m 46s):

Jesper (43m 47s):
So next Monday we are stepping into the future by probably not as, but probably not as fast as you might think, but we're going to talk about artificial intelligence and how it merges with this.

Narrator (43m 57s):
I think what you just heard, there's a few things you can do to support the am writing fantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join Autumn Jasper on writing fantasy for as little as a dollar a month. You'll get awesome rewards and keep the M writing fantasy podcast going, stay safe out there and see you next Monday.

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