Email List Building for Readership Building

Studies show that email promotion is the most effective return on invested time and money.

I’ve highlighted a few here. You can also search “Building your Email List” on Google or Bing and get some more ideas. In fact millions of ideas. The ones here were posted numerous times, so I figure these are tried and true.

Know this…

  • Your website is the first mining tool. Include that Anti-Spam blurb!!
  • Ask for your visitors’ email address by using a pop-up, opt-in, or other tool to ask viewers to sign-up for your newsletter/book updates/contests/etc. Be sure to tell them what you will use their personal information for: mainly to send them information about your books. That is promotional material. They should know that already, but you have to tell them anyway.
  • Make sure your readers see you as a real person, not an impersonal brand. You’ll do things for a real person, but not for something inanimate. In other words, people will share your stuff because they recognize you as a real person; they’ll buy from you because they trust you. People will bend over backwards to help you when you ask for help. Let them into your secret musings. Ask for ideas and when you get one, share it, praise the person, give everyone who shares a public thank you.
  • Create interesting content. (Content is king.) (Duh!)
  • Encourage your subscribers to share your emails (Share buttons on your email increase shares from 2% to 6% that is more than a 300% increase according to a GetResponse study.
  • Have a contest that, just like giveaways, generates excitement. But be careful with giveaways. Some people are takers and won’t give reviews or shares even though they win the giveaway. I call them Freebie Junkies.
  • Create targeted lists, Chris Fox says, so that your content can be more specific. This will encourage more shares by your readers.
  • Use your Facebook page to offer something that requires an email to receive the offer. Don’t forget the sign-up form there, too.
    Ask for as little information as possible. The least amount of time needed to fill out the form encourages more people to go to the trouble.
  • Make sure your email sign-up is strategically placed in numerous places on your website with every offer you have, beside every book, etc.
  • Network with like-genre authors for offers and shared posts or guest posting so that their subscribers have an opportunity to sign-up on your email list and vice versa.
  • Ask again and again and again for the email address. Make sure you have an opt-in on your website in numerous places. Buffer doubled their email list in 30 days by increasing the email opt-in up to 9 different places on their site.
  • Push for quality not Weed out the freebie junkies who don’t help you in social media and don’t purchase your books. I’m not talking lurkers. But after a while you can tell who is who. If you keep thinking these drainers will change, forget it. They won’t. It’s really tough weeding them out. Think about it, they are drainers, so why keep them around? All that to say this: Don’t fret over opt-outs! These are self-weeders. You don’t want someone who doesn’t want your newsletters!
  • Podcasts are great email collectors if you ask for emails before they hear the podcast.
  • Webinars are great email collectors. Offer a free one with great content and require email addresses to attend. Think about a subject you would like as a reader and start promoting it about three weeks in advance. Don’t worry about who shows up or not. You’ve got their email so you can reach them anyway—all kinds of things happen to keep someone from coming to a free webinar.
  • In social media, link to an old newsletter to show people what they’re missing by not getting your newsletter. (Make your newsletter professional.)
  • Testimonials beside your opt-in create trust and credibility.
  • Collect emails at book signings.
  • You can gather every email of every contact you have on LinkedIn – you can begin your email list with that. Make sure when you send them all an email, you tell them exactly why you are emailing them, and give them an opportunity to unsubscribe from your newsletter.
  • Not to harp too much on this, but you spend a lot of time on researching (at least I hope you do) so use it to best advantage. Quality content in your emails will help retain your current followers and will increase your email list rather than having tons of unsubscribes. Remember to make sure that your readers who are tuned to WIIFM station – that’s What’s In It For Me – get exactly what’s in it for them.


Give away something valuable in exchange for their email address on your website. It doesn’t have to be extremely valuable, but it does need to be something someone would want to read. Be aware there will be some freebie addicts who just want the free thing. But, email has proven over and over to be one of the best returns on investment of time and money when selling books. Some give-away ideas… Notice these use the thing you are most passionate about—writing!

  1. Write a short story that’s a prequel or uses the same characters in your book. Or gives a lot of backstory.
  2. Give away profiles of characters (one at a time). Make it look like a file that a private detective or the CIA would compile. Or make it look like a dating profile if your book is a romance.
  3. If you write non-fiction, write a parable or short story that illustrates what your non-fiction book is about, or get someone to write it for you.
  4. Offer resources for your non-fiction subject.
  5. If you’ve written a series, give away the first book to stimulate sales of the sequel. Never give away all of them.
  6. Offer your trilogy in a package deal at a discount price.
  7. You can also put the first chapter on your website with a link to purchase your book after they give you their email address.
  8. Give away the short story (or an article about your genre) and have a drawing for one or two free books.

Read books on book marketing, read Chris Fox’s book, 6-Figure Author, where you can find numerous great ideas. Don’t forget James Scott Bell’s book on marketing: Marketing for Writers Who Hate Marketing.

But be wary of the Freebie Junkies. You don’t need to allow them to keep winning your stuff without a return on investment.

You can comment here or join a more in depth conversation on the Author Resources Forum

Gina Burgess

{Managing Editor’s Note: We have been giving away some truly valuable information. The below info comes from my book Using the Ripple Effect to Promote Your Book. It’s free now. However, in the near future, these in depth kinds of training articles will only be accessible to Author Level members. On that note, we are changing our membership levels to Hobbyist and  Career.

While we deeply desire to help authors become more professional and more successful, we also need to put food on the table and pay our bills. I’m sorry if that hits too close to home, but it’s a fact of life for all of us. We are considering a lot of options, and one is to make these valuable articles that help you be more successful as a writer part of our benefit package for paying members.}

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