A Beginners Guide to Email Lists for Authors | Thriving Scribes

What thing is, hands down, one of THE most important actions you can take to ensure the long-term growth of your author career?

Can you guess by the title of this blog post? That's right... it's email marketing!

When it comes to reader outreach and my author platform, email marketing takes number one priority for me.

Even over social media, you ask? Absolutely!

Why have an email list as an author?

Readers want to buy from other people - not just some faceless name on the internet.

People crave relatability and relationships. That's why no matter how important blogging, social media, and other forms of publicity are for getting your books in front of the right people, as long as you are doing it the *right* way - your email list is the only thing that will allow you to directly and personally communicate with your readers on an ongoing basis.

Here are a few more reasons why I swear by email marketing for fiction authors...

  • When you email your list, you are talking directly to people who are interested in you and your work - they signed up to be a subscriber, after all!
  • Followers on social media are not a 'warm audience' - they are 'cold leads'. This means you haven't fully developed the know, like, and trust factor with them. As such, your conversion rate from social media will be quite low compared to those on your list.
  • There are no "algorithms" when it comes to email marketing. Your list will receive every email you send.
  • Unlike social media profiles, you 100% own your email list. And if someone decides to shut down (anyone remember Myspace?), you still have contact with your readers!
  • Not everyone is active on social media, but almost everyone has an email address.
  • Email provides a direct, no distractions, 1:1 path of communication between you and your readers.
  • Email marketing allows you to nurture your readers, set up a sales funnel, and therefore automate your book marketing.

So many authors put off email marketing because...

...I'm already so busy, I don't know how I'll add one more thing to my plate!

... email marketing doesn't work, it's a complete waste of time.

... I'm just not a salesy person and don't want to come off too strong via email.

... I'd have no idea what to even say in my newsletters.

... how do you even get people to sign up for such a thing?

... email marketing is scary!

And, all of that is just completely not true!

In all of my business journey (authorship and otherwise), email marketing has been one of the most rewarding aspects in marketing and relationship building - seriously!

So, how do you get started?

If you've been itching to make a jump into the world of email marketing, here are some things you need to consider beforehand...

Who are you talking to?
The very first step in planning out your email marketing tactics - an really, any marketing in general - should be figuring out WHO you are talking to. Why? Because figuring out who your ideal reader is allows you to speak directly to that person's needs. One of my favorite sayings is - "If you are trying to sell to everybody, you are selling to nobody."

What is your goal?
The next step would be to figure out what you'll be saying in your emails. What are your goals for your newsletter? Is it to build a community? Share more personal insights? Educate? Lead to book sales?

Once you have your overall goal pinpointed, you can begin crafting your welcome sequence (a single or collection of emails that onboards a new subscriber - like a first impression) and then from there, you can begin building a email funnel that will help you achieve your goal. Basically, the question to ask yourself here is - what journey do I want to take my ideal reader on with my emails?

When should you send emails?
Now you'll want to decide on a frequency. Will you email your list weekly? Fortnightly? Monthly? Only when you have a book launch or a sale running?

Having a pre-determined plan is helpful not just for you as the creator but also for your subscribers so that they can know what they should be expecting from you.

Set up your email list

So at this point, you've got all the necessary information. You know who you are talking to, what journey you'll be taking them on, and how often you'll be emailing them - it's time to get set up! But how do you actually begin setting up a newsletter system? Don't let the tech part of it scare you away. It's not as complicated as it seems, I promise.

Here are 5 simple steps to get you started:

1) Decide on an email host. There are a ton to choose from and they can run pretty pricey depending on the particular service. My favorite is Mailerlite. They are the service I use myself and recommend to all of my clients.

A few reasons I love and recommend MailerLite

  • Their Free Forever Plan is completely FREE until you reach 1,000 subscribers
  • Extremely affordable afterward (plus you can save 30% extra if you pay annually)
  • Almost all features are already included in the forever free plan, including beautiful landing page templates and automation
  • Incredibly intuitive drag-and-drop interface
  • The possibility to filter your subscribers by groups, fields, segments, signup date, signup source, timezone, campaigns, automation workflows, and time inactive
  • Mobile friendly forms and newsletters
  • A cool photo editor and unlimited image hosting
  • Easy to understand reports
  • Killer 24/7 customer support

2020 Update: I just recently migrated over ActiveCampaign in order to more efficiently handle all of my business email accounts now that my business has grown but I still absolutely recommend Mailerlite for fiction authors who are just started out as it's the best service for author's needs.

2) Set up your account and go through the authentication process. (Some email hosts require this, others don't.)

3) Create your sign up form and add it to your website. Mailerlite makes this process super easy with their drag-and-drop form editor.

4) Write your welcome email (or welcome sequence) for new subscribers.

5) Begin collecting emails through your form and send your newsletters on the schedule you previously determined!

A Beginners Guide to Email Lists for Authors | Thriving Scribes
A Beginners Guide to Email Lists for Authors | Thriving Scribes

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