Email List Building for Authors: Get Started with Email Marketing


The Most Effective Book Promotion Tool

If you’re a published author, you probably use several methods to connect to your readers: you tweet, you’re involved in Facebook groups and Google plus communities, and you blog.

What would happen if those methods stopped working? How would you reach readers?

The most effective and direct way to speak to readers and potential readers is by growing an email list. If you don’t have one, it’s time to start list building.

What is List Building?

List building is offering something of value for free, in exchange for an email address.

What are the Benefits of an Email List for Authors?

Direct emails let you tailor your message and speak directly to potential readers. If you’ve given them something of value in exchange for their email addresses, you’ve already established a relationship. email marketing

Imagine what it would be like to have a list of 5,000 people who read in your genre who you could email when your new book is released, with a direct link for them to buy your book.
Convinced yet?

How Do I Start Building an Email List?

Setting up a system to gather emails is relatively simple. First, sign up with a trusted email marketing service like Mailchimp or Aweber. Then create a sign up or opt-in form on your website where you offer something free using simple language (sometimes called a “Call to Action) that tells users the benefits of what you’re giving away and clearly explains that they need to submit an email address to get it.

What Can Authors Give Away in Exchange for Emails?

email lists for authorsIn order to get people to give you their email addresses, you need to offer them something in return. The most effective thing you can give away is information. Useful, entertaining, engaging information. What that information is will depend on what you write about, but some ideas are:

  • The first chapter of your novel
  • A short story you’ve written
  • Tips and how-to advice that relates to what you write. If you’re a psychologist writing a book on troubled teens, you could offer a short guide to communicating with your  teenager. If you’re in the process of writing a contemporary romance novel, offer a list of the 100 most romantic novels of all time. For writers in any genre, you can compile a list of 20 sites that offer free books.
  • A discount on your book, when it’s published
  • Marketing tips that you’ve learned from promoting your books
  • Writing tips

You will need to think creatively about the kind of information that your target audience will find most attractive, but once you’ve come up with an idea, it can be packaged in a PDF document and sent to new subscribers automatically, using the email marketing program you signed up with.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with what kind of giveaway works best. You may have to try a few offers and tweak the wording of your offer until you get it just right.

The Rules of Email List Building for Authors

Don’t buy lists. In some cases buying email lists is illegal and gathering emails yourself will ensure that the your emails are targeted to people interested in your genre.

Never sell or give away emails from your list. Doing so could violate anti-spam laws and will violate the trust of your subscribers. Guard your list like it’s gold.

Don’t over-sell. Yes, you should use your email list to let people know about book releases, new reviews and personal appearances, but you should also use it to continue to send subscribers valuable information. Tips, previews of new writing or even reviews of other books will keep subscribers interested and engaged — and will make them want to open your next email.

email list building

Other Ways to Grow Your Email List

Ask readers to share the content you’ve sent them. Mailchimp and Aweber make this easy, but don’t forget to enable the share buttons in your emails or newsletters. You can grow your list exponentially if your content attracts attention on social media.

Put a call to action inside your book. You can use the same language and same giveaway. Bonus points if you put in in the first few pages of your book so that anyone reading the free sample will see it.

Examples of List Building

RWJ Call to Action

Created using SumoMe and Mailchimp. Cost = $0

Readers+Writers Journal’s Tumblr Blog displays a pop up where visitors can enter their email address to get a free guide, “The 75 Most Important Hashtags for Book Marketing.” See it in action here (and feel free to enter your email address to get the guide.)

Joanna Penn Squeeze Page

Author and self publishing blogger Joanna Penn uses a squeeze page — an entire page devoted to her offer. The advantage of squeeze pages is more real estate to describe what she’s offering and to display testimonials. See the page here.

hubspot offer

Inbound Marketing agency Hubspot uses a discreet pop-up that offers a “featured download” in return for your email address. The title of the guide varies based on the content of each page – their page on email marketing offers a blueprint for writing emails. See it here.

See? Email List in Action.

See? Email List Building in Action.


19 thoughts on “Email List Building for Authors: Get Started with Email Marketing

  1. Pingback: Love the suggestions for setting up an email list. But then started wondering, ‘how do I do this?’ and ‘how about this?’…but it won’t get figured out until I get out there and make a list, right?Email List Building for

  2. I’m on the stage of experimenting. The thing I offered in exchange of emails didn’t really work. I’m trying something else.
    But really, I find collecting emails very daunting. I suppose I just need some practice 🙂
    Thanks so much for sharing this. It’ svery informative and practical.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Email List Building for Authors: Get Started with Email Marketing « amiecus curiae

  4. Thanks for the advice but I have a little question. I have struggled to gain emails even when giving away a copy of my first book. It seems free isn’t enough. Any suggestions on where to post the offer and share it to attract interest?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, the offer goes to my subscribe now page which explains the free give away offer. I also have separate landing pages for my 2 books.
    The giveaway was offered on all my interviews and guest posts on various sites when I launched book 2. I also have the offer listed on Amazon with book 2.
    I offered the free book in a pre-release of book 2 in the week leading up.
    The offer also features on the landing page for Book 2. Other than paid advertising, I can’t think of anything else.


  6. Pingback: Reblog: Email List Building for Authors: Get Started with Email Marketing | readers+writers journal | writerchristophfischer

  7. Pingback: The 2 Crucial Book Marketing Steps to Take Before You Publish Your Book | readers+writers journal

  8. Pingback: How to Start an Email List - The SITS Girls

  9. Pingback: The 5 Biggest Self-Published Author Mistakes that Kill Book Sales | readers+writers journal

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