A Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Free Email List For Authors #3

A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Free Email List For Authors

How to Attract People to Your Email List #1

This is part 3 of my series on email lists for authors. You can check out part 1 HERE and part 2 HERE.

Part 1 covered getting your list set up and part 2 was about how to add people to your list. This part and next weeks part, arguably, are the most important, in that I want to look at some of the ways you can persuade people to add themselves to your list when they don’t even know you!

You Don’t Know Me, But Please Join My List

A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Free Email List For Authors | How to Attract People to Your Email List

Last time I spoke about the two ways to add people to your list: manually, or by a sign up form (plus a secret 3rd method). One is more straightforward than the other, and that’s where I’ll start.

Manually Adding People

This is as simple as it sounds. You say to someone “Can I add you to my email list, please?” They say “Yes.” And you get their email address and add it to your list by the power of your fingers and a keyboard.

Okay, so perhaps it’s a bit more involved than that. First of all, I want to mention one very important aspect of this method: Ensure the person has given permission to add their name, and they know what they are adding it to. It’s rude, bad manners, and, oh yes, illegal to just add people to your list.

A good starting point with list building, especially for beginners (which is what we are) is to ask your friends and family. Firstly, it’s going to be easier to get their permission, and secondly, they’re more likely to give it. You could send them each a short email:

Hi, Daphne. I’m setting up an email list to help with marketing my books. I’m going to put a newsletter together and I’m looking for the first few names to put on it, and guess what? Your name was at the top of my list! Would it be okay to add you to this list to receive my monthly newsletter?

Your friend doesn’t have to be called Daphne, and you could just as easily have this conversation in person, but the bottom line is the same: if Daphne says yes, add her email address to your list and clap yourself on the back, as you have just added your very first email subscriber!

Once you have tried all of your friends/family, you can move on to others that you don’t (yet) know. Now, I don’t mean stopping people in the street and asking them to join your list, as that would just be creepy. If you have cause to talk to people about your work, you could ask those people. For example, at a book fair, a presentation, a book signing.

If you’ve got the gift of the gab and are confident talking to strangers, this could be quite productive, as you will have the chance to convince people why it would be good for them to be on your list. If you’re a bit more introverted, you could (and should) try

Mail List Builder Websites

This is the sneaky 3rd way that I mentioned that I didn’t include in the TWO ways, but it is one of the easier ways to build your list, and that is to get involved in list-building events. There are a couple of obvious ones I will mention:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pw_fail_logo.png
  • Prolific Works (formerly Instafreebie) – Prolific Works offers regular multi-author giveaways that you can join. In the spirit of keeping things free, there is a 30 day free trial to start you off. I already wrote a lengthy post on how to use Prolific Works (Instafreebie) to grow your list (I grew my list from under 50 to over 1000 in that free 30 day period).
  • Authorsxp – Similar to Prolific Works, Authorsxp offers ebook giveaways that readers join at the cost of an email address. They get the chance to win ebooks, and all participating authors get the email addresses that enter* (See GDPR below)

Facebook Group Giveaways

Similar to mail list builders, there are many groups on facebook that organise group giveaways, often genre-specific. You offer your book to the give-away in return for email addresses* Just do a bit of searching on Facebook to find one for you.

Adding People Via an Online Sign Up Form

This is the crux of what we’ve talked about so far in this series. Having a sign up form on your website will allow you to collect email addresses from potential list members.

But, if you leave a form on your website, you might get one or two people to sign up. Maybe. In my experience, you need to offer some form of incentive to your visitors to sign up and doing this all online gives you so many more options.


A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Free Email List For Authors | How to Attract People to Your Email List

What form that incentive takes, is up to you. Take a look at some of the bloggers and authors around the web to see what they offer. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential subscriber. What would it take for you to give up your email address? Here are a few examples of FREE incentives:

  • A short story
  • A prequel to your book
  • The first book in a series
  • Added value – A favourite of mine. (See below for more info)
  • A help book that is actionable and focused on a topic that may be so complex the average blogger isn’t tackling it. A great example of this would be Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks
  • An email course (e.g. a series on marketing, interviews with various authors)
  • Checklists or cheat sheets such as WordTracker’s Technical checklist
  • A webinar series. Using automation (WordPress offers this for free) to deliver a series that offers readers the ability to sit back and relax while you do the hard work. What topic? Try Quora to find ideas of what people are looking for.

For a much larger selection of ideas for signup freebies, check out this article on lead magnets from ninehacks.com 33 Irresistible Lead Magnet Ideas To Grow Your Email List Fast

To Be Continued…

To save this post running too long, I’ve split it into two parts. The next part of ‘How to attract people to your email list’ will appear next week, and will cover the following:

  • Added value
  • Smartbribe (briefly)
  • Guest posting
  • Content upgrades


I had to mention it again. This will affect your signup form in the way that I mention HERE, seeking consent from people for you to send them your newsletter. People need to know what they are giving their details for, which is why just offering a book for an email is not acceptable. People need to know that by signing up, they will receive their free book AND a regular newsletter and perhaps even how often.

Sites like Prolific Works now give readers the option to opt in or out of your newsletter, which means they can still get your book, but you won’t necessarily get their email address, making list growing using this method just that bit more difficult (but still worth it).

Shameless Plug

If you want to check out my freebie offer, click the big red button on here somewhere that says ‘Send me my story’, or have a look at my website.

My question to you: Have you had any luck manually adding people to your list? Do you have any secrets to share?

3 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Free Email List For Authors #3

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s