This weekend I was at ConFusion (Which explains why this post is uncharacteristically late), and one of the first panels I sat in on was one regarding Mailing lists.
Now I walked into this panel thinking that I already had a bunch of stuff on my “To Do” list, and I really didn’t have time (or space) to add anything else.
I walked out of that panel seriously considering creating one.
Well, there are a couple of good reasons.
The first is that, like income streams, you are going to want to diversify your capacity to market yourself and your work. Sure Twitter might be a great channel, and you may have thousands of followers. What you don’t have is any kind of control over whether that platform will remain viable over the next couple of years. It might implode, you might decide to stop using it, you may be forced to stop using it–being an author doesn’t mean (nor should it mean) that you don’t get to have opinions on contentious subjects.
The second, is that, out of all of the platforms out there, a mailing list is one that you’ve got complete control over. You decide what goes out, when, and how often (Myself, I’m digging the concept of the once-a-month newsletter).
In addition, the folk on your email list are folk that have sought you out. They’re making an effort and that’s more than you get with your usual Twitter followers.
And, there are several platforms out there that start off with a “Free-to-play” model and will only require you to start paying, once you’ve reached your x-Thousandth, subscriber. That’s a hell of a lot of folk to start off with as a base.
So, to answer the question: Do you *Need* a mailing list?
All you *Need* to do is write good stories. Everything else is set dressing.
But, you may want one, so that when the time comes to reveal that cover, you can let your subscribers know first.