Why and How Should Authors Build a Mailing List?

I’ve done a bit of research into why authors need mailing lists. If you have a strong mailing list, you will sell books. If you don’t, you might, but you might not. Therefore, your best effort is spent building an email list so you can sell more books.

With an email list, you can promote and share new ideas, products, and services and then direct readers to a place where they can make the purchase. I began building my mailing list two months ago and it sits at a comfortable number but I regret not starting when I created this blog.

If you haven’t signed up to my mailing list to recieve exclusive offers, free stories and extracts from my novel. Click the link below to be taken to my sign-up page.

Mailing List

To continue from the title, below are Why and How Authors Should Build A Mailing List. 

Why Should Authors Build A Mailing List?

Building an email list is arguably the most important element in building a following and getting your message heard. It is the most direct and cost-effective way to communicate and engage with your fans and subscribers on a personal level. The bigger your list, the bigger your online marketing asset–and the more interested publishers are.

A large Twitter following, significant traffic to your site, or an active Facebook community is great, but an email list is better. Here’s why:

  • You own your list. If Facebook deletes your fan page or Twitter kicks you off, you are effectively kicked out of the conversation. You don’t own the content, and what’s worse, if you don’t have an email list, there is no way to contact your followers to let them know what happened.
  • Blogs, websites and RSS readers can disappear. Once you have an email list, you can always stay connected with your audience and keep them informed of what you are doing.

Here are a few more benefits to building and maintaining your email list:

  • The conversation via email is personal, direct and private. It provides an excellent medium for staying in touch with your readers.
  • It’s cheap, cost-effective and everyone online has an email address.
  • You will always have a way to communicate with your audience.
  • Use your email list to broadcast every time you have a new blog post and send a surge of traffic to your site.
  • Inform your readers and fans of a book launch, new product or freelance service and provide a link to your sales page.

Should I Use My Mailing List to Sell?

Use your email list like you use social media–as a way to connect further with your readers and fans. Interact and inform your readers; don’t constantly promote and sell.

Use your own experiences as an email recipient to define what is great content. Spammy, hard selling is out. Remember, as with everything involved in building your writer platform, you are trying to build trust in you and your brand. It only takes one click to unsubscribe, so make it worthwhile for your reader to stay.

If your subscribers trust that your newsletters or updates provide awesome and unique content (and are not just filled with shameless self-promotion), your open rate will increase and your subscribers will be happy to spread the word about you–and what you have to offer.

Provide a call to action or link that directs your reader back to your site where you are promoting your book launch, speaking engagements, a new post or other events and services. Keep it conversational, engaging and have a single purpose or action.

Think quality, not necessarily quantity, and consider managing your reader’s expectations by letting them know when and how often to expect emails from you. By attracting relevant pre-engaged visitors (for example, through guest posting, social media, and great on-site content) and providing the most useful information you can, you should see a steady rise to your email subscriber list.

How to Build a Mailing List in Three Steps

One of the biggest oversights many writers make in their book marketing efforts is not starting an email list right from the start. In fact, many successful online entrepreneurs have stated that waiting before developing their email lists was a big mistake they made early in their careers–and a costly one.

Don’t wait for perfect. It’s tempting to put off list building until your site is tweaked to perfection, you have a killer “ethical bribe” (more on this below), or you finally have a book to market. It also might seem easier to just work on your social media strategy and leave list building for a later project.

The problem is, that building your email list is just too important to ignore.

With this in mind, move to build your subscriber list to the forefront of your book marketing efforts and ensure it has a prominent position when developing your author blog or website.

Step 1: Make an Unforgettable First Impression

  • Keeping in mind that “perfect” is an unreachable goal, try to present your author blog in the best possible light. Site design, aesthetics, and branding should be unified and cohesive.
  • Get a good email service like MailChimp which allows you to send email newsletters. I use Mailchimp and it is by far the best option in my opinion. I am most impressed with the ease of use and level of customer service. Plus you also can manage several lists from different websites under the same account, if you choose.
  • Create a hook or “ethical bribe”. An ethical bribe is a freebie, something (of value) you give away in exchange for your reader’s email address.

Some marketers and bloggers refrain from the free giveaway model because they don’t want people to join their email list just to receive the freebie. They prefer that readers join because the blog resonates with them and leaves them wanting more.

The quality of your subscribers is far more important than the number of subscribers.

The more people on your list who are genuinely engaged with what you have to offer, the better. Consider both options and choose what best fits your brand strategy and your views.

Step 2: Create an Awesome Sign-Up Form

  • Create a sign-up form in Mailchimp. Include the benefits the reader will receive from opting in, like free updates, exclusive tips or promotions, or your free giveaway.
  • Ensure your form fits with your overall design and doesn’t just blend in. Make it pop! It should be very clear to your reader that signing up is an action you wish for them to take.
  • Place your form at any point on your site where a visitor is likely to be engaged in your content: minimally, at the top of your sidebar, at the bottom of all your articles, and on your about page.

Set up a page on your blog that contains a link or allows the reader to download your free gift.

Step 3: Have a Dedicated Page for Your Free Gift (optional) and Sign Up

  • Create a page that is dedicated to nothing more than obtaining email sign-ups. Consider giving your reader a list of reasons why they should sign up.

Ideas and Tips for Growing Your Email List

Although there are many ways to begin growing an active and engaged following through your email list, here’s a few clever ways that are easy to implement right away:

  • Add a sign-up prompt at the end of your book. The perfect time to ask a reader to sign up for more is after they have turned the last page of your book, and they are looking for more!
  • Include calls-to-action on almost every page of your site. Remember to include an email sign up boxes or forms on your homepage, your About page, and after each post.
  • Create remarkable email content. Not only will this help keep your subscribers, but it will also increase the likelihood that they will share your emails with their friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Add a sign-up link to your everyday email signature. You can even include a reason to subscribe.
  • Include a link in your bio when guest posting. If a reader is engaged enough in your content to read your bio at the end of your article and link back to your site, make sure they are linking directly to your email sign up page!
  • Add a sign-up tab to your Facebook author page. This way, you can encourage people to sign up right from your Facebook page by adding a custom icon to your mailing list tab.
  • Collect emails at offline events. Conferences, meetups, speaking engagements, and other promotional events could provide great opportunities to gather email addresses.
  • Have a simple call-to-action at the end of your newsletter. Word-of-mouth is a valuable tool for growing your email list, so try adding “Did you enjoy this email? Maybe your friends would too!” at the end of your email or newsletter.

Building your email subscriber list is a key component in creating and maintaining a ‘captive’ audience. By following some of the tips above, you will grow an accessible, thriving fan base that will be the cornerstone of your successful writing career.


If you have any questions or ideas, make sure you post your comments or/ and answers below. If you think someone has an interesting point of view, a question or an answer, please invite them or share this post with them.


#DouglasWTSmith #mailinglist

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