Email List Building for Authors

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Since everyone and their mother is talking about email lists, I decided to add my 2 cents and explain why email lists can make or break an author’s career.

If you haven’t noticed it’s getting harder and harder to stay in touch with your readers on social media.  I’m  not only talking about the Facebook changes to their algorithm, as  much as that sucks, it’s not the only thing standing in the way of indie authors when it comes to reaching their readers.  As more people and corporations build websites and blogs, it makes for more competition in cyberspace.  To add insult to injury, online ads are becoming more expensive, not to mention, ineffective when promoting a book.  So what do we do?

Lots of authors (myself included) are building their own email lists and are having success at getting readers to sign up.  I’ve heard of authors who have over 30,000 people on their lists.  Yes, there are authors who have more subscribers than some major newspapers!  And don’t think this is an indie thing, I know several traditionally published authors who are quietly building their own email lists.  You know in case they get the shovel from their publisher.  That way, readers can follow an author and not the stinking publishing company.

Email lists are quickly becoming more important than social media to a lot of authors. It’s gotten so important that even Amazon is collecting email addresses on your Amazon author page!

Amazon Author Page Opt In Form

The cool thing about email lists is that they’re not time sensitive or at the mercy of some search engine’s algorithm.  Bestselling authors like C.J. Lyons have even replaced blogging with email newsletters.  So if you find yourself overwhelmed and short on time, this may be the route for you.  An email newsletter once a month is doable even for the busiest author.

Last year, I explained the importance of newsletters so I won’t rehash, but I will be giving you a few tips on how to grow your email list, you know, just in case there’s a social media apocalypse or you just don’t feel like blogging anymore.

Free eBooks

Hands down, many authors and online writers swear by this technique.  Here’s how it works, an author offers a free book, readers opt in, they get a coupon code or file to download and boom—new subscriber.  Don’t worry, if you have only one book out, you can always write a short prequel.  This way you don’t feel like you’re sacrificing your paid writing time creating freebies.

Tip:  It also wouldn’t hurt if you put a link to your opt in form in any existing ebooks you’ve already published.


Personally, I wouldn’t try advertising unless I had a few bucks laying around but if you have a nice freebie or contest to offer, then why not advertise?  Just beware that there are people on the hunt for freebies who may just sign up, collect their freebie then unsubscribe.  So be careful where you advertise.

Where to Put Your Links

I know that sounds kinda dirty but I’m being serious.  😛  Anyway, the most obvious place to put your opt in link is on your blog, or website and make sure it’s big and bold like the widget I created here on my author site:

Rachel Ruebens Opt in Form
My opt-in widget on my author site.

Another idea for the blogging author is to create generic template for your posts with a byline containing your link.  Don’t relegate yourself to the generic bio that WordPress or Blogger has for you, they don’t allow clickable links.

Use Social Media to Promote Your Email List, Not the Other Way Around!

While it’s still free to use, social media can be a good place to link to your list.  Instead of just putting your website or blog address, in the about section, why not put the link of your email list instead?  I did this on Twitter, Facebook, and even Wattpad.  And don’t forget to mention it occasionally in your updates and posts.

Blog Tours or Guest Posting

If you’re going to post on someone’s blog it would be wise to leave your form’s link in the bio.  If they don’t allow it, create a sales/landing page on your blog with your opt in form like I did here.

I’m sure you’ve gotten the point by now, authors really have to promote their email lists and not so much their social media accounts these days.  This way we can weather the storms of social media evolution and advertising extinctions without breaking sweat.  There’s nothing worse than being dependent on something or someone that cares nothing for your success.

In Closing…

After learning about the recent Facebook changes, I decided to delete the follow me widget on the sidebar of this blog because it’s pretty useless now.  I have no desire to spend money on Facebook ads nor do I want to jump through hoops to reach my followers.  Besides, social media never really helped me when it came to selling books.

So what about you, have you begun your list yet?  If not, what’s holding you back?