You did it. After years of writing and revising, your masterpiece is finally complete. The 500-page sci-fi thriller you’ve poured your heart into is ready for readers.
Your finger hovers over the button to publish it online. But doubt starts to creep in. Will anyone even notice your book among the millions of others out there? How will you get it in front of readers?
Building an engaged email list is the most effective way to launch a book and reach readers. One study found that email marketing generates 3600% more return on investment than Facebook and Twitter ads combined!
Why Email Lists Are Essential for Authors
- Speak directly to the audience – With an email list, there are no algorithms or gatekeepers blocking our messages. We choose when and how to engage with subscribers who actively want to hear from us.
- Transform casual readers into superfans – We can send launch updates, share excerpts, and offer preorder perks to get them excited about our next release.
- Drive sales in a way social media can’t match – Studies show email generates up to 40X higher revenue compared to Facebook and Twitter.
- Turn fans into collaborators – We can survey list members for new book ideas, get early feedback on drafts, and motivate those all-important reviews.
In this guide, we’ll cover proven techniques to grow your mailing list from zero to 1000 subscribers and beyond. Let’s dive in.
How to Grow Your Email List As an Author?
Growing an engaged email list requires a strategic approach to get maximum return on your time and investment. This guide outlines steps in the most time-efficient order.
Phase 1: Gaining Momentum – Getting Your First 100 Subscribers
1. Sign Up for a Newbie Friendly Email Service.
An email list service is a tool that helps you collect, manage, and communicate with your email subscribers. It allows you to create and send newsletters, campaigns, and automated messages to your audience. It also helps you track and analyze the performance of your email marketing efforts.
Here I am comparing popular email list services with the free and paid plans.
|Provider||Free Plan Features||Paid Plan Features||Price per Month for 1,000 Contacts|
|ConvertKit||Plain text only, landing pages, automation (no sequences), broadcast emails||All free features plus HTML emails, automated email sequences, visual automation builders, advanced reporting, integrations, etc.||$29|
|MailerLite||Drag and drop, plain text, HTML, rich text editor, landing pages, automation, A/B testing, surveys||All free features plus custom domains, live chat support, remove MailerLite logo, promotion pop-ups, click maps, etc.||$10|
|MailChimp||Drag and drop, plain text, HTML, templates, landing pages (limited), automation (limited), broadcast emails||All free features plus custom branding, A/B testing, dynamic content, behavioral targeting, etc.||$9.99 (Essentials plan) or $14.99 (Standard plan)|
If I were to recommend one email list provider for new authors, I would suggest ConvertKit. It has some advantages over other providers, such as:
- A free plan for up to 1000 subscribers with limited features.
- Powerful segmentation and tagging features that let you send personalized and relevant messages to your subscribers based on their interests and actions.
- A lot of integrations with other tools and platforms that you might use as an author, such as WordPress, Shopify, Gumroad, Teachable, etc.
- Referral program that lets you increase your contacts and features for free by inviting your friends to join ConvertKit.
2. Create Your Author Website.
Having an author website is very important for your success and growth as a writer. It is a centralized place for readers to find everything about you, such as your books, articles, poems, interviews, events, social media handles, and more. This helps you build your brand and online presence, as well as connect with your audience and fan base.
You can use WordPress to create a simple but elegant website. It has a lot of themes for authors you can choose from. The theme I am using is Kadence Theme.
Websites are hosted on servers. I suggest going for managed WordPress hosting by WPX. They are fast, and their customer support is beginner-friendly (mostly reply under 30 seconds!).
3. Offer A Valuable Lead Magnet.
Drive traffic to your squeeze page with an exclusive giveaway like a free novella or sneak peek chapter in exchange for emails.
Tips for creating irresistable reader magnets:
Aim to Provide Value
For example, a cookbook author could offer a reader magnet with bonus recipes, cooking tips, or meal plans not found in the book.
Make it Relevant
A novelist could offer a reader magnet that is a short story featuring characters from the book series, appealing directly to existing fans.
Keep it Focused
Rather than generically discussing “how to write a book”, an author could have a focused reader magnet on “how to develop compelling characters”.
Give a Taste of Your Work
A nonfiction author could provide part of an upcoming book as a reader magnet, allowing readers to sample the writing.
Offer Something Visual
For image-focused books like photography, the reader magnet could be printable artwork or wallpapers related to the book’s topic.
Use it to Build Rapport
An author could provide “behind the scenes” insights into their writing process as a way to engage readers.
Paul Newline has given 33 excellent reader magnet ideas here. Choose one of them if stuck!
4. Make Signing Up Easy.
Use popups and banners to promote your giveaway. Optimize your signup process for maximum conversions.
Leverage copywriting language to write good sales copy. Talk in terms of benefit to the subscriber.
5. Put Signup Forms Everywhere
Add call-to-actions on your site, in your book backmatter, and anywhere readers can find you.
One reader shared this anecdote: “After adding a sticky footer on my site and links in the back of my books, I get 5-10 new subscribers a day just from website traffic and existing readers. Easy passive growth.”
6. Refine Your Formula.
The first hundred followers will give you crucial experience, optimizing your signup incentives and processes. Keep refining until you have a formula that converts casual visitors into permanent subscribers.
Phase 2: Hitting Your Stride – Growing to 500 Email Subscribers
You’ve built a solid foundation with your first subscribers. Now it’s time to kick things up a notch on the path to 500 list members.
1. Expand Your Reach.
Create giveaways and start list-building campaigns on social media, through paid ads and on your website. Cast a wide net.
Comment on forums, Facebook groups and Subreddits related to your book’s topic. Engage authentically and add a newsletter link to your profile.
2. Start Guest Posting.
Guest post on complementary sites and propose list swaps with like-minded authors to tap into fresh groups of potential subscribers.
Some websites that accept author guest posts
Sample template you can use while pitching guest posts
Subject: Guest Post Pitch from [Your Name], Debut Author
I’m a huge fan of [website name] – I’ve learned so much from your incredible team of writers. Their insights on [relevant topics] are invaluable.
As a debut author, I would be honored to contribute a guest post. My novel, [title], follows a [protagonist] through [plot summary]. I think your readers would be interested to learn about my protagonist’s inspiring/empowering journey.
I have a few ideas that could provide real value for your audience:
– [Post idea 1 summarized in 1-2 sentences]
– [Post idea 2 summarized in 1-2 sentences]
– [Post idea 3 summarized in 1-2 sentences]
These aim to entertain and enlighten on topics your readers care about, while introducing them to my debut book. I’m happy to discuss other ideas too. Please let me know if you would be open to a guest post collaboration.
Thank you for considering!
3. Keep Subscribers Engaged.
Develop a welcome series and send targeted updates to interest-based segments of your list. Valuable content keeps them opening emails.
For example: One reader set up a 5-email welcome series with writing tips, free short stories and special deals to get new subscribers hooked. Her open rates increased by 15% in the first month.
Template for a welcoming email series for new subscribers
Subject: Welcome to the [Name] Reading Community!
Hi [Reader’s First Name],
Welcome to the community! I’m [Your Name], author of [Book Title]. I’m so glad you’ve joined us.
As a new member, you’ll receive the first chapter of [Book Title] to start reading right away. Just click here [link] to download it.
In future emails, I’ll share writing tips, behind-the-scenes peeks at my process, advanced reader copies, and chances to win free books. My goal is to provide value for readers like yourself who love [genre].
Let me know what topics you’d like me to cover! Just hit reply and share your thoughts. I look forward to getting to know you.
PS: Add me to your contacts so you don’t miss any updates!Email 1, nerdynav.com
Subject: Your First Chapter of [Book Title] Awaits!
Hi again [Reader’s First Name],
I wanted to make sure you got your first chapter of [Book Title]. Just click here [link] to download and start reading.
Let me know what you think! Which character is your favorite so far? Just hit reply to this email to share your thoughts. I love hearing from readers like you!
Enjoy the first chapter. More excitement is coming your way soon!
[Your Name]Email 2, nerdynav.com
Subject: Quick Question About [Book Topic]
Hi [Reader’s First Name],
I’m busy working on my next book about [topic] and I could use your insight!
Of these three options, which interests you most?
1. [Brief plot option 1]
2. [Brief plot option 2]
3. [Brief plot option 3]
Let me know which plot sounds most appealing to you as a reader. I want to craft a story you’ll love! Just reply to this email with your thoughts.
Thanks in advance,Email 3, nerdynav.com
This group of core fans can provide the launch support you need to reach that coveted 1000 subscriber mark. Onward!
Entering the Big Leagues: Getting 1000 Dedicated Subscribers
Making the leap from 500 to 1,000 email subscribers requires thinking bigger and understanding what motivates fans.
This phase is important for experimentation. You are large enough to get accurate estimation of what your audience likes, but not too large that you cannot experiment freely. Try different rewards, incentives, and find out creative ways to build a close-knit community.
1. Run Major Giveaways.
Join forces with fellow authors to host major book giveaways or writing contests with attractive prizes. Now you can target authors with larger following because you have a few subscribers already.
Alessandra Torre has shared the complete blueprint for running awesome author giveaways if you need some inspiration.
And you can use a platform like Gleam to run giveaways. They have several readymade templates.
You don’t even need a big budget. Handmade items like handmade bookmarks, signed books, your paintings, string art, etc. work as well.
2. Promote Your Backlist.
Offer deals on older published books to attract new readers.
YA author Michael said, “Putting the first book of my completed trilogy on sale helped a lot. I got 700+ new subscribers in just 2 weeks!”
3. Create FOMO.
Share special content, discounts or access only for your email list. Psychology shows people hate missing out on exclusives.
Offer VIP badges, tiers or premium subscriptions. Marketing data reveals people enjoy status symbols. Satisfy this desire with perks for your most engaged fans.
4. Spotlight Loyal Subscribers.
Celebrate milestones like most books read, years subscribed, referrals sent. Research shows recognition fuels engagement.
6. Leverage Psychology.
End your newsletters on a high note with big announcements, cliffhangers, contests. Studies show we remember the peak and ending most. This is called the peak-end rule.
Send unexpected gifts or special editions. Psychology finds we crave variability. Delight readers with surprise rewards or content.
7. Create A Community
Foster Facebook groups, book clubs, meetups. Studies reveal belonging satisfies our social needs and builds loyalty.
Leverage untapped social media platforms like Discord servers, YouTube live streams, and Clubhouse rooms to interact with your audience. Offer an exclusive invite to your mailing list.
Run an Instagram challenge or book club through Stories and Lives. Incentivize signups to participate and receive updates.
Team up with charities or nonprofits that align with your book’s message. Offer donations for each new subscriber. Promote the partnership through their channels.
Host in-person events like book readings, workshops or meetups. Capture attendee emails by scanning tickets or through a sign-in sheet.
Getting 1,000 highly engaged subscribers requires tapping into motivation and psychology while executing proven marketing tactics. You’ve got this! Use these tips to reach even greater heights.
Building an active subscriber list takes grit, testing different ideas, and getting inside your audience’s head.
But it’s so worth it. A solid email list lets you reach more fans, create buzz for launches, and expand your money-making possibilities.
In today’s online world, authors have a ton of tools to connect with readers. Now’s the perfect time to build your email empire! What subscriber-building tactics have been successful for you? Share in the comments!
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