We cannot rely on Amazon (or Google Play, or Smashwords) to e-mail our readers when we have new books out. Rather, when a reader's finished reading one of our books, we need to grab their e-mail address as soon as possible, so we can send them e-mails about our new books, and make sure that they know about our promotions. Not only that, but readers tend to love reading about an author's life, so sending them regular newsletters can only be a good idea.
There's another problem - we're all so inundated with information these days that we tend to forget. So a reader who's never heard of me before sees a Tweet or something from me, clicks through to my website, and thinks Oh, this is interesting. I'll check him out later.
The problem is, that reader gets busy with other things going on in their life and forgets all about me. Then they see a Tweet from a different author, and the cycle repeats.
The solution, of course, is to get an e-mail address out of them the very first time they visit my website. But that's easier said than done. Again, because we're so inundated with messages nowadays, that reader may already be on more than a few mailing lists. And e-mail overload is real, which makes an e-mail address a very valuable (and closely guarded) thing.
Why should the reader give me theirs?
It's a big dilemma for authors like me, trying to get noticed. You may be interested in me, but if I don't do something to keep myself on the top of your mind, I'm going to lose your interest very quickly. How do I convince you to give me your e-mail address?
Most independent authors opt to give away something for free - "If you sign up to my e-mail list, I'll give you...." That seems to be the most effective way at the moment.
Some of those authors even give away whole books for free. That's the strategy I've adopted myself, but since I'm a multi-genre author, I have four different books to chose from: if you sign up to my e-mail newsletter, you can pick one of those four books to get as a free download.
It's still difficult, though. Even at the prospect of a free read, so many people are still reluctant to give up that precious e-mail address. Perhaps they don't trust us enough not to abuse it, or maybe for some people, nothing can ever be enough for them to tolerate yet another intrusion into their already overflowing Inboxes.
So what about you? Do you, as a reader, subscribe to the e-mail lists of any authors? If so, what was it that made you sign up? Did you give them your e-mail address freely, or did they have to woo you with something?