Beginner’s Guide to creating a FREE Email List For Authors

creating a free email list for authors | author mailing list | email marketing for authors

Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Free Email List For Authors

What is an Email List for Authors?

You know email, right? You know lists, yes? Well an email list for authors, in its most basic terms, is a list of email addresses and possibly names of people that have given you permission to send them updates and information about you and your products. Email marketing, if you want a name for it.

For an author, an email list is crucial if you want to sell your work. Your email list is an opportunity to talk about your books, upcoming projects, interviews and appearances, in fact, anything that you think your potential audience may be interested in. So if you’ve ever wondered how to make that happen, read on to discover how to create an email list for authors for FREE!

Do I Need an Email List?

There are several key factors that make email the king when it comes to selling your books:

Email is personal – You will be able to talk to potential readers directly, with your email dropping in their inbox every time you send an update. It’s a casual form of communication, allowing your personality to shine through.

Email is targeted – People that get on your email list will have had to take the time to write their own email address and name. They must be interested in what you do / offer to have taken this time, so you already know they are interested in what you are selling. You can send them highly relevant content, leading to better interaction and click rates (how many times someone clicks a link), which is what you want.

Email is one-to-one – When you send an email to someone, it will drop into their personal inbox. It’s not a public posting, where everyone can see it (like a blog). It gives that person the ability to get in touch with you directly, in confidence, which is a key factor in building trust with a reader.

Social Media Vs Email

Time for some hard facts. Many people choose to do their book promotion via the various social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) and there is no reason not to do this. But is it as effective as email?

I feel a post coming up in the future around email vs social media for marketing, but for now, I’ll save you another 2000 words and just give you this image instead, from optinmonster:

creating a free email list for authors

So the answer, in terms of is social media as effective at selling / engagement as email, is a resounding NO.

To put this in perspective, based on figures provided by Socila@Ogilvy, Facebook’s reach is down to 6%, and Twitter’s is worse at just 2%, which means that if you have 2000 followers on each of Facebook, Twitter and email, the following amounts of people would SEE (not interact with) your message:

  • Email – 440
  • Facebook 120
  • Twitter 40

I do love my stats, but I won’t bore you with them here, other than to put a real world spin on those numbers. Here are the numbers from 2 of my recent email newsletters:

creating a free email list for authors
creating a free email list for authors

You can see how much higher my open rate and click rate is than the average. Get yourself an email list if you haven’t already!

How Do I Set Up An Email List?

The process is straightforward. You first need to find a provider, of which there are many. Each has its strengths, and for the purposes of what I am trying to achieve, I will only be looking at FREE email list providers. As a relatively new author, keeping costs down were important for me in the early days, so if you’re in that position, read on.

ProviderEmail/monthNo. of Subscribers
wix shoutouts95005000
Benchmark Email140002000

As you can see, there are a number of providers that offer a FREE option, which can be expanded at any point (with associated costs), plus your website provider may have an email list option as part of your plan (like Wix).

A word of caution here: don’t get blinded by the numbers. I would suggest looking at what each of these (or any other) providers has to offer. For example, Mailchimp offers FREE marketing automation. If you are thinking of running courses, this is a must. I would also look at the costs once you move beyond their free offer, as you could find yourself with a lot more subscribers in the future, requiring a move to the paid services.

Most of the services offer a similar functionality (broadly speaking):

  • Create a list
  • Create signup forms to capture people’s email addresses (if needed)
  • Create plain or themed newsletters
  • Record stats of list(s) – open rate, click rate etc.
mail chimp email list

I’ve used Mailchimp for a while, so let’s dive into the features there:

Once you’re all signed up, jump straight over to the ‘Audience’ tab. Once in here, you will see a drop down list. In here you will see ‘view audiences’. Select this, and you will have the option to create a new audience (new list). This will present you with a number of standard options:

  • List name – something your subscribers will recognise.
  • Default from email / name – when subscribers receive your updates, they will come from this email address and name, and that’s where any replies will go.

It looks like this:

creating a free email list for authors

After this, you will see a couple of important check boxes that you should pay attention to. They relate GDPR opt-ins. GDPR is a data protection regulation that relates to users from within the EU (European Union). If you are likely to sign up people from within the EU, GDPR will apply to you. Don’t get me started on what will happen when the UK leaves the EU (if it does). I need to do some more reading on that topic to better understand it.

creating a free email list for authors

I covered GDPR consent in depth in THIS POST. Get the low-down there if you want to know more about your responsibilities AND HERE for how it relates to privacy.

That will take you to your audience page, as you can see below. When you start to add names and email addresses to that list, you will see them appear here.

creating a free email list for authors

Next time, I’ll look at putting names on that mailing list, and if there’e time, how to send your first (and subsequent) newsletters.

If you think I’ve not given you clear enough instructions about setting up your free email list, you can find a more complete guide here: The Beginner’s Guide to using Mailchimp

author mailing list

My Question to you: Do you have an email list? Who do you use? If you don’t have one, do you think you need one?

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