I am going to come right out and say it. The Elf on a Shelf is creepy. I mean I have cats who watch me all the time. I can’t go to the bathroom without them. I can’t eat without them. But they’re cats. They’re ninjas who will kill me if I don’t feed them on time. But that Elf? Creepy!
You know what else is creepy? That opt-in that’s smack-dab on the front page of your book. Look, I know why you did it. Even if someone downloads a sample of your book from Amazon or Smashwords or whereever, they see the first 20% of your book. So BAM! Like Emeril in the kitchen you hit them with your opt-in so you can capture their names–even if they don’t buy or even finish reading that sample of your book.
It reminds me a lot of the perfume sales lady in the department store I will never go into now that I live out in the middle of nowhere. Or those kiosk sales people in the mall. You walk up to me. Force me to see/hear your offer, and I am walking away as fast as possible. Or in the case of my kindle, swiping to the next page.
I’m not saying don’t do it. I’ve seen the ol’ opt-in in the front of the ebook done well. Really well. But I’ve also seen it done kind of badly, enough so that I rolled my eyes at my kindle. Once someone reads your book, even just a portion, you want to capture their email and get them on your list. I get it. But let’s try not to be creepy and follow these three simple rules:
1. Give some to get some.
Content, that is. I don’t know about you, but I am more likely to continue reading a book if it’s engaging. Nothing engages me as a reader of non-fiction books (and most of the offenders are nonfiction) is to start getting good, solid, actionable content. I already like you, because instead of spending 30 pages telling me your story, or immediately making it all about you, you’re helping. You have just stood out in a completely awesome way from all your competitors, and I love you for it.
2. Give me a reason.
See above. If you just slap your website there, and say “go here to get more information from me”, I’m going to roll my eyes at you and maybe snort a little. If you tell me I can get your “free tip sheet to woohoo and hahas”, I am probably going to just roll my eyes. But if you tell me the benefits to signing up, the bonus content, the freebies, the many things you are giving me, then even though I know why you want me on your list, I’m going to be more inclined to sign up. I have a reason.
3. Make it classy.
Look, we know you’re trying to build your list to make more sales. Your ebook is a sales vehicle. Got it. We really do understand that. So think about how you’re presenting the information. Saying, “Get free copies of my templates and additional goodies with each chapter by going here” is better than “Sign up for my list if you want to know more.” See numbers 1 and 2.
The bottom line is that it is okay–a good idea even–to have that opt-in towards the front of your book. You’re right. It will get seen with downloads of samples. But make sure you’re not being creepy when you ask for their information.
No one wants to be an Elf on the Shelf.