Will the Real Fan Please Stand Up!

It’s been a long week since I’ve returned from my brother-in-law’s funeral. There were moments of tears and moments of light-hearted memories. There were times of facing the reality of death and times of denying its existence. There were faces of despair and faces filled with hope. There were . . . but time moves us steadily away from those things. We’ll never have all the answers to life, death, and human suffering until we get to the other side. Now, let’s move on.

I want to look at appealing to your fan base. The following is from Randy Ingermanson’s, The Avanced Fiction Writing E-zine. I want to credit him with the following and acknowledge his expertise in the fiction writing world. It’s a little lengthy so take what you want and skip the rest. You can find more information on his website (http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com. Enjoy it and have a great week.


How to Appeal to True Fans

It’s time to talk about e-mail sign-up forms. These are typically small boxes on your website where your True Fans can subscribe to your e-mail newsletter.

There are several issues to consider:

  • What information to show in your e-mail signup box.
  • How to encourage your True Fans to sign up.
  • How to discourage everyone else from signing up.
  • How and where to display your signup forms on your site.

What Goes In Your E-mail Signup Box

Here are the various thingsthat can or should go in your signup box.

  • A headline that grabs attention.
  • Optionally, a graphic that also grabs attention.
  • One or more paragraphs that explain in some detail what your True Fans get if they sign up. It’s important to be clear and accurate here. You have nothing to gain by deceiving people.
  • A field where a True Fan can enter their e-mail address.
  • Optionally, other fields for the first and last name of a True Fan, and maybe other information.
  • A button to click to complete the subscription.
  • Some sort of code that connects your button to your e-mail newsletter service.
  • Some mention of the fact that you respect the privacy of your True Fans, with an optional link to your Privacy Policy. (Please note that a Privacy Policy is mandatory for your website. Normally you link to it at the bottom of every page. It’s a nice option to also link to it from your e-mail signup box.)

How to Appeal to True Fans

True Fans are people who are likely to buy your next book. You want as many True Fans as possible to sign up for your e-mail newsletter, and you want nobody else signing up.

The way to attract True Fans and repel everybody else is to offer something of value that would appeal only to True Fans. Typically, this might be a free e-book you wrote, or a free short story, or something else free.

But current law makes things a little tricky. I’m not a lawyer, and nothing I say should be construed as legal advice, but here is my understanding of things:

  • You are asking people to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter, AND you are giving all subscribers a free welcome gift.
  • You are NOT giving away a free gift and then attaching to that gift a subscription to your e-mail newsletter.

There is a fine line between these two things, and you need to be on the right side of the line. The issue is that you need people’s consent in order to send them marketing information, which is what your e-mail newsletter is. Consent to receive a free e-book is not the same as consent to receive a newsletter. Make sure your form makes clear that they are consenting to get your newsletter. The freebie is only an added-on extra.

You have a number of options for displaying your e-mail signup box. Some options work better than others. Here is a list of the most common:

  • A widget signup box which is always visible in the sidebar of a two-column website.
  • A signup form that is always visible and is integrated into the main body of one or more pages of your website.
  • A “lightbox” that pops up on a page of your website, forcing site visitors to close the box or else subscribe. The lightbox can be closed by clicking on an X in the upper right corner.
  • A “ribbon” that displays at the top or bottom of a page, with a button that pops up a lightbox when clicked. This lightbox then has the full signup form. The ribbon can be closed by clicking on an X in the right side.

The first two of these options—the sidebar widget, and the form integrated into your web page—are always visible. They both are unobtrusive, and if someone is specifically looking to sign up for your e-mail newsletter, they’ll easily find these forms. However, you’ll find that the “conversion rates” for these forms will be fairly low. Many people will ignore them and never sign up.

The other two options—the lightbox, and the ribbon—will get more signups because they’re more obtrusive. The lightbox obscures the page it’s on. The ribbon takes up valuable space at the top or bottom of the page. Your website visitor can’t miss these, and will either have to sign up or click an X to make the form go away.

Please note that lightboxes and ribbons are annoying to your site visitors. So if you use them, set them up so each visitor sees them only rarely—like once every 7 days or every 14 days—and only after they’ve been on the page for awhile. Visitors will put up with a one-time annoyance, but if they have to keep dismissing the same lightbox or ribbon on every single page of your website, they’ll leave.

  • It makes good sense to have an unobtrusive widget or integrated signup form on almost every page of your website. Nobody gets offended by them, and some people will be looking for them. You’ll get you some signups from these.
  • If you want to get more signups from visitors using desktop or laptop machines, then create a lightbox signup form that displays on most pages of your site. But remember that lightboxes are annoying, so set yours up so a user will see them only once every week or two. And make sure to disable lightboxes on tablets and phones, because they look bad on those devices.
  • If you want to get more signups from visitors using tablets and phones, then create a ribbon signup form that displays on most pages of your site. Again, remember that ribbons are a bit annoying, so set them up so a user will see them only once every week or two. And disable the ribbons on desktop and laptop machines if you’re using lightboxes on those devices.

4 thoughts on “Will the Real Fan Please Stand Up!

  1. My sympathies to you and your family.

    Attract true fans? I don’t try, really. I just write. If people want to buy the book, fine. If not, it is part of the Bill Holland Library, available long after I die, my legacy, and I’m good with that.

    Liked by 1 person

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