Tuesday, September 29, 2020

How to Get Readers Onto Your Mailing List... And Keep Them!

By Dave Chesson, @DaveChesson

Part of The Indie Authors Series 

JH: A mailing list helps authors connect to their readers, and keeps them updated on their books. Dave Chesson shares how to encourage readers to sign up for your list. 

Dave Chesson is the founder of Kindlepreneur.com and creator of Publisher Rocket, a software that helps authors market their books more effectively.

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Take it away Dave…

Connecting with your readers is an important part of being an author, whether you’re independently published or traditionally published. Why? Because staying in touch with past readers gives you the chance to tell them about future books! 

One of the simplest and most effective ways to do this is through email. So today, we’ll talk about how you can get your readers onto your mailing list, and why that’s important to do. 

Why Should You Have a Mailing List?

Your mailing list is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have as an author. Chances are, the people who join your mailing list are readers who love your books and want to hear more about you and them. 

That means, every time you launch a book, you’ll email them and send a load of traffic and sales to your book on the first day it’s out there. This lifts your book’s bestseller rank and tells Amazon (and other retailers) that people like your book and are interested in reading it.

Not only is it a big sales boost, but it’s just good business practice to capture leads (the email addresses and names of your customers) so that you can keep in touch and interact with them. Plus, readers love to hear from their favorite author, which makes the process fun. 

Which Mailing List Provider is the Best?

Starting your mailing list can be intimidating. There are so many different providers to choose from with different costs and features. That’s why I’ve created a review of some of the best email marketing services on the market--you can check it out here.

I would suggest you check out the free accounts of the email marketing services before you make a financial commitment. In the beginning, you probably won’t have a huge list of readers, and most services offer a free account that includes up to 1000 subscribers.

My personal favorite email marketing service for new authors is Mailerlite. They have an amazing free account with loads of functionality, and you can check them out here. I’ve even created a free course for getting your Mailerlite account set up, if you’re just starting out.

Once you’ve got that set up, let’s get into what you can do to get readers onto your mailing and keep them there. 

Step 1: Write a Reader Magnet

The best way to entice readers to join your list is by writing a ‘reader magnet.’ This is a short story that you create, usually that falls into a current series you write in, that you give away to your readers for free. They sign up for your list in order to get this reader magnet.

Here are a few ideas for what you can create for your reader magnet:
  • A prequel to your book
  • A character’s diary
  • A short how-to guide (for nonfiction authors)
  • A write up on the background of your character
  • Outlining notes from when you created your story
  • An extended epilogue for the book they just read
  • Deleted scenes from your story

The ideas are limitless, but you want to provide something of value, while not committing too many resources to it. Note, this must be a great piece of writing, edited and formatted nicely, but it can be short.

Once you’ve written your reader magnet, gotten a cover for it (doesn’t have to be expensive), edited and formatted it, you’re ready to deliver it to your readers. 

Step 2: Deliver Your Reader Magnet

First, you want to tell your readers about your free book! You can do this by leaving a note in the front of your published book directing them to look out for a special offer at the back of the book. Then, you’ll place an offer in the backmatter along the lines of:
Want to read more about Character A? Sign up for my mailing list below and get the FREE prequel to Book Name!

Sign Up Here.
You’ll then link out to your sign up list. You’ll get that link when you create a form using your email marketing service. 

  There are a few ways you can then deliver your reader magnet to your readers. Once they click the sign up link and join your list, you’ll want to email them the freebie you’ve promised them. Doing this manually would be crazy difficult. That’s what automation sequences are for. 

Basically, you’ll create an email campaign, or automation sequence, using your mailing list provider, and when people join the list, they’ll automatically receive an email from you that includes instructions on how to get their free book.

Those instructions will look something like this:
Thanks for signing up to my mailing list! You can get your free content by clicking the link below.

Click here!

You can expect to hear from me ‘this much’ and you’re receiving this email because you opted in to getting emails from the back of one of my books!

Happy reading!
Author name
You can then use BookFunnel to create the link to a page where they can download the book hassle-free. BookFunnel is an awesome service that allows you to create landing pages for downloading books--you simply upload your cover, mobi, epub, or pdf files to the site, and they do the rest for you. They also provide your readers with instructions on how to download the book. BookFunnel is a paid service, but they’re well worth the $10 per month.

They also help you by connecting you to other authors running promotions that are free to join for the most part. 

Another cool option is StoryOrigin, which is a service that’s currently free to use. It helps you deliver reader magnets with similar download pages as BookFunnel, and even allows you to perform mailing list swaps with other authors--don’t worry too much about that now, though.

It’s a little more difficult to navigate than BookFunnel, but it’s still a great option for authors to use, especially if they’re on a budget. Check out StoryOrigin here! 

 Step 3: Engage Your Readers

Once you’ve delivered your reader magnet, it’s time to start engaging your readers with email content. It’s important not to overwhelm them with emails every day, but you also shouldn’t only email once every six months. You need to strike the right balance for contacting them. I’d suggest once a week as a good mark to hit.

A few things to bear in mind when contacting your readers:
  • Introduce yourself. Tell your readers who you are, why they’re on your list, and what they can expect from being on your list. It’s just polite and will set the tone for your future conversations with them.
  • Ask questions. It’s not just about you--getting to know your readers is a huge part of having them on your mailing list. A simple idea? If you’re a sci-fi author, ask your readers to tell you their favorite sci-fi books.
  • Be yourself. Don’t feel obligated to be what someone else expects you to be. Share as much as you feel comfortable sharing with your readers, and stay genuine. People can sense when others are fake.
  • Answer any emails you get. It’s important to engage with the people on your mailing list, so when you do receive emails from them, be sure to reply. (The exception being if the email is intrusive or makes you uncomfortable in any way).
  • Tell them when you have a new book out! This is super important, but remember to mail your readers when you have a new release in the works. You can even email them sneak peeks of your story and reveal the cover as well, all to set up for your launch! Don’t feel like you’re ‘selling’ too much, here. These are people who have opted in to finding out more about your stories!
  • Give them surprise freebies. But remember, you don’t want to only give them free content. You want people on your list who enjoy your books and want to actually purchase the paid content you create. A surprise freebie once in a while is a great idea, though!

Tammi Labrecque has a fantastic series of books, Newsletter Ninja, that will walk you through all the minutiae of mailing your readers. 

Bonus Step: Tell Them About Your Successes

A great way to make mailing list providers feel important is to include them in your successes. If your romantic mystery book hits a number on the bestseller list, or you had a really good launch, thank them for that. Make sure they know that they’re an important part of your journey as an author. Of course, don’t brag about stuff, but approach this from the angle of gratefulness. People love to feel like they’ve helped someone else — which they have if they’re buying your books and interacting with you. 

Final Thoughts

With a mailing list, you’ll have access to your superfans, and be able to share your successes and new releases with them. It’s a powerful marketing tool and a great way to get to know your target market, as well. Now that you’ve got the steps for getting readers onto your mailing list, you’re all set for your future marketing efforts.



  1. Wow, this is exactly what I need right now! Thank you.