As I’ve said before, you cannot can’t talk to a thousand people, or ten thousand people, at once. It’s not going to resonate the way speaking to each reader individually will.
By creating a subscriber avatar, you can send emails that resonate with all your subscribers—every one of them a unique individual who shares at least (and maybe only) one thing: a love of your writing—without driving yourself mad trying to tailor your emails to however-many thousands of people.
So what is a subscriber avatar, and how do you create one?
Subscriber avatars are similar to reader avatars. Let’s talk briefly about why we want to differentiate them:
- Not everyone who might like your books will like your newsletter
- The author with the most engaged mailing list wins
- Readers only somewhat interested will not stay subscribed to your newsletter
- Not all your readers will be good subscribers
A reader avatar is by its very nature a broad portrait. Something like: “My readers are age 35-60, upper- to middle-class, have white-collar jobs, enjoy fast-paced books, and read mostly on the weekends.” When you are trying to sell books, you have a more generic reader avatar because you want to sell those books to as wide a swath of people as possible.
A subscriber avatar is not a broad portrait. We create broad reader avatars because we want our books to appeal to many; we create focused subscriber avatars because we can more easily talk to one person at a time, and because we are trying to create superfans, not just casual readers. Your mailing list will be made up of many people, but it’s daunting to talk to thousands of people in a way that feels naturally intimate. So when you compose an email campaign for your subscribers, it’s often helpful to imagine that you’re writing to one specific subscriber.
Now, when you send a newsletter, aren’t you going to have an easier time relating to your subscriber (who might even be a lot like you)? Won’t you naturally write your emails to appeal to someone like her, and in so doing write a friendlier, more enjoyable and relatable email?
The cool part is that these subscriber avatars will, in a way, become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. When you address your emails to your subscriber avatars, you will naturally attract people who are like those avatars. It’s not easy, and it’s not necessarily fast, but boy is it effective.
I will say, down the road, your avatar may fall by the wayside in favor of addressing your emails to actual readers. When I send an email for my steamy romance pen name, I’m talking to Katie, and Ginger, and Tonya. I know who they are; they’re replied to me; and I speak directly to them now. But it has the same effect.
Respond to these questions:
- Who, specifically, is your subscriber avatar? I know it feels silly, but make one up. You’re authors; you can do this.
- In what ways are they like your reader avatar?
- In what ways are they like you?
- And how, if at all, are they different?