Whether you’re a seasoned author or starting out, you’ve most likely heard people telling you to get an author email list if you don’t already have one. They always tell you how important it is to have one but never explain what you can do with it. Keep reading to learn more about what an author email list is, how to create one, and how to build it.
What Is An Email List?
Before we begin, what exactly is an email list? It’s a collection of email addresses people have willingly given to you to communicate with you via email. It allows you to communicate with readers, fans, writers, and anyone in between who wants to hear what you have to say in an email.
What Does This Mean For Authors?
Having an email list is one of the best ways you can stay engaged with your readers and also stay informed about what they want and what they expect from you. An email list helps an author boost their work and books through direct conversation.
This communication opens many doors for you and your subscribers. It builds trust between you and them. It also builds hype through word of mouth for your work.
Choose An Email Service Provider
Once you know what an author email list is and you’re sure you want to take on this task, now it’s time to choose an email service provider. Unfortunately, no, you shouldn’t use your personal Gmail address and BCC everyone on your list.
Well, technically, you could. However, it won’t look professional.
Don’t worry; getting an email service provider is simple. Many of these providers have free trials or tiers, so you don’t need to stress about adding this to your budget immediately.
The hardest part of this step is deciding which service provider is best for you and your needs. For example, ask yourself these questions:
- What features do I need for my email list?
- What features would I like as bells and whistles?
- Can I fit this into my budget now? (Six months from now? A year from now?)
- How easy is the user interface for me to learn this service quickly?
Some email service providers you can choose from are the following:
- Constant Contact
- and more!
When searching for the right email service, look at their pricing tiers and compare the features of one provider versus another.
For example, let’s take a closer look at Mailchimp and MailerLite. Both of these services offer free tiers, but the features of each free tier vary.
The free plan for Mailchimp is only free for up to 500 email subscribers. Once you reach that threshold, you’ll need to upgrade to the next plan, which is $13 per month.
On the other hand, the free plan for MailerLite allows you to have up to 1,000 subscribers before upgrading to the next plan at $9 per month per 500 subscribers.
Subscriber counts aside, what features are worth it for you to have? What do you need versus what you want?
I will continue using Mailchimp and MailerLite as examples since I’ve used both.
A must-have feature for me is the ability to schedule emails in advance. It helps save me time in the long run, and I like to create content in bulk. The free plan with MailerLite allows you to schedule your emails for specific days and times. Scheduling emails was part of Mailchimp’s free plan, but now it’s a paid feature.
In addition, I like having the ability to create an email series (also called journeys) with automated triggers.
An email journey is a chain of emails you’ve set up that will automatically send to your list without considering it.
A great example of this is a welcome series. A welcome email will trigger the moment someone signs up for your list. This email will likely contain your reader magnet. You can set up a second email to be sent automatically a day or two after the initial welcome email is sent, and so on.
Similar to scheduling emails in advance, creating an email journey for your new subscribers allows you to engage with them without much thought at the moment.
Email journeys are not part of Mailchimp’s free plan, but they are with limited triggers on MailerLie’s free plan.
In conclusion, I would choose MailerLite’s free plan over Mailchimp’s. I can utilize the free plan with a larger subscriber count and save time by creating email journeys and scheduling my emails in advance.
Of course, there are many other features and many other providers to choose from. Take a look at all of them and explore the many options.
Gain Email Subscribers
Once you’ve chosen a provider and created an account, it’s time to start building your email list. Gaining subscribers may be easier said than done, but there are many things you can do to ensure your subscribing to your list is worth it.
Create A Reader Magnet
A reader magnet, also known as a lead magnet, is something of value that you can give to your subscribers for free. It’s essentially an incentive for people to sign up.
For example, if you have a popular book released, you can offer a free companion short story for download when someone signs up for your email list.
Do you have a unique writing routine or way you outline your novels? Create a PDF and share it as a free download when someone signs up for your list.
The possibilities are endless! Everyone has something unique and interesting to share.
You can also offer more than one reader magnet. If you write both fiction and non-fiction books, you can segment your list into two different audiences. When someone signs up for your fiction lead magnet, they’ll get added to your fiction audience and only receive emails about your fiction work.
Utilize Your Author Website
You’re in complete control of your author website. You can advertise your email list anywhere you want.
For instance, you can add the sign-up form on your website’s homepage, on the sidebar or footer, as part of your signature at the end of blog posts, and more.
You can also add a pop-up sign-up form that triggers whenever someone comes to your website or lands on a certain page. Actually, you can dedicate a whole website page to your email list, explaining why it’s a great idea for people to join your list.
Your website is most likely the best place to gain email subscribers. They’re on your website because they either already know who you are and want to see what else you can do, or they’re trying to learn more about you. If they enjoy your work enough to be on your website, then chances are they’ll want to see what exclusive information you have to offer to your email list.
Add The Sign Up To Social Media
Your social media channels are an excellent way to spread the word about the email list. Many people who follow you on Instagram, TikTok, or wherever may not even check out your website. However, they’re still interested in your work, or else they wouldn’t be following you on social media.
Host A Giveaway
Giveaways are also an excellent way to grow your email list. Is book two releasing soon from your new series? Offer a free copy as a giveaway to your email subscribers.
However, remember that many people may sign up for your list just to get the free book. Once the giveaway is over, you can expect a drop in your subscribers, but most people will stay and want to hear what you have to say.
Share Exclusive And Engaging Content With Your Subscribers
Similar to having a blog, content planning is key when it comes to having an email list. Of course, your emails shouldn’t be lengthy or stuffed with information similar to a blog post. However, you still want to give your subscribers something of value that’s exclusive to them.
As a thank you for being a fan of your work, ensure they hear big book news first. Offer them special discounts on pre-orders or previous books in a series.
Overall, you want your subscribers to feel like being part of your email list was worth it.
Quick Email List Tips
Creating an email list and gaining an audience is only worth it if you offer value to your subscribers. Many people are part of many email lists, not to mention they receive emails from friends, family, and work.
So, getting people to sign up for your list is great, but the work doesn’t end there. You’ll still need to keep their attention, send engaging and useful emails, and get to know what your audience wants and needs from you.
Add A Welcome Series
First, set up a welcome series, if you can, with the provider you chose. We touched upon this a bit already, but having a welcome series is a must. This chain of emails should be sent a day or two apart from each other and should only be about three to five emails long.
The fastest way to get someone to unsubscribe to your list is if they feel you’re spamming them and sending too many emails.
That’s why I like to clearly explain in my initial welcome email that they should expect to see another email from me within a day.
Your welcome series, across these emails, should include the following:
- Explain who you are and what you do
- Ask your subscribers why they signed up for your list
- Ask them what they want to learn from you or what they expect from being on your list
- Don’t forget to send them their reader magnet!
Segment Different Lists
Not everyone is the same and has the same interests. Just because someone signs up for your list, it doesn’t mean they want to know absolutely everything you have to offer.
As mentioned before, it’s best to differentiate your audiences based on why they signed up for your list. They may love your fiction books but have no interest in your nonfiction books. There’s nothing wrong with it, but that’s why you don’t want to group both your fiction and nonfiction news into one email for everyone.
First, most emails get skimmed. So, the longer the email, the least likely people are going to read it in full. And second, subscribers want a personalized experience. You can’t send thousands of individual emails, but you can group all the like-minded people together in one.
The Scheduler Is Your Friend (Email Regularly)
You don’t like receiving spam, so why would you send spam to others? You wouldn’t, of course. That’s why having a schedule for your emails is an excellent idea.
You can write your emails ahead of time, depending on the content, and schedule them to be sent to your lists on a specific day at a specific time.
Decide the frequency of your emails (based on what you can handle) and be transparent about it in the sign-up form. Let your subscribers know they can expect to hear from you once a week, once a month, once every other week, etc.
Don’t Forget To Engage
It’s no fun talking to a brick wall. You would ask readers to comment and tell you their thoughts on your blog post and then not respond to them, would you? It’s the same with email.
Keep your subscribers engaged and involved. Offer exclusive insights to your next book release. Create a poll and ask them which character name you think would be best for the protagonist’s love interest.
If you’re running out of content ideas for your list, then ask them in an email. You’ll be surprised at how many people will respond. All you have to do is ask.
Even if you don’t ask specific questions, respond to people who reply to your emails. Even if you only respond to them to thank them for their email, it’s still personable.
Do Writers Need An Email List?
If you’ve read this article and cringed at most of the information shared, then no. You probably don’t need an email list if you don’t want to. I don’t agree with anyone who says you must have an email list. However, having an email list doesn’t hurt, and you have 100% full control over it.
Rachel Poli is an indie author, podcaster, and content writer working on her debut cozy mystery novel.
Although she favors mystery, Rachel is a multi-genre author with too many ideas and characters in her head, often experimenting with short stories and flash fiction.
When she’s not writing, she’s reading, organizing something, or playing video games. She currently resides in New England with her zoo.