Updated: 1/3/2021

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 social media algorithm changes, as more people and corporations build websites and blogs, it makes for more competition online. So what do we do?

Lots of authors are building their 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, some authors 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 email lists. You know, in case they get the shovel from their publisher. That way, readers can follow them and not the publishing company.

The cool thing about email lists is that they’re not at the mercy of an algorithm. Some bestselling authors 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.

Email Newsletter Services

There are many places to choose from, and most of them are free, up to a certain point, after that, you must pay a monthly fee.  

  • MailChimp (Free up to 2,000 subscribers)
  • MailerLite (Free up to 1,000)
  • AWeber (Free up to 500)
  • Constant Contact ($20-$45 per month)

Keep in mind most of these sites have rules you must adhere to or risk losing service which brings me to my next point…

Learning The Law

Before you go out and start blasting readers with emails, remember there are laws you must obey. The most important law being the CAN-SPAM Act, which is a law regarding unsolicited marketing emails. In the U.S., The Federal Trade Commission or FTC has a guide on their website which you can read here.  It’s something you should become familiar with if you don’t want to be fined big bucks for sending unwanted emails.   

In Europe, they have a similar set of regulations called the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, which you also need to be aware of if you are sending emails to readers in Europe. You can read about that on the official website here.  

I urge you to sit down and read through the legal material carefully before you begin any email campaign. 

Marketing Your Email Newsletter

You will have to market your newsletter as you do pretty much everything else. If your goal is to build a massive email list, then you’re going to have to make readers want to sign up. There are several tried and true ways to go about that and below I list just a few.  

Free Ebooks

Hands down, many authors swear by this technique, after all, who doesn’t like a free book? Here’s how it works, an author offers a free book, readers opt-in, 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 work to freebie snatchers.

Social Media

It’s my opinion that you should use social media to promote your email list, not the other way around. If you have any social media accounts, then you must promote your email list to your readers there. Also, don’t’ forget your bio, you can add your signup link there as well. 

Blog or Podcast

The most obvious place to put your opt-in link is on your blog or website via a pop-up. This way when someone visits your site, they are immediately greeted with an offer to sign up for your email list.  

If you have a podcast you might want to mention your list and where to sign up. Just like when you have advertisers on your shows, you need to advertise your products as well.  

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


If you have a few bucks lying around 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.

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.

I’m sure you’ve gotten the point by now, that 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 and advertising extinctions without breaking a sweat. There’s nothing worse than being dependent on something or someone that cares nothing for your success, that includes your publisher or whatever social media platform everyone is using this month.

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