Authors: Why and How to Build an Email List

In a recent post, we discussed the importance of focusing on what you want–not on what you don’t want. I also suggested considering three questions whenever you’re thinking about your book and its message. They are as follows:

1. Who is your market?
2. What forms of media do they consume?
3. What do you like to do?

In this note, I’m expanding on question #2 because in order to find out what forms of media your target market consumes, you have to do some research. The best place to start with process is with your own networks and community. These people have already picked you. They already know you, so who better to ask?

You can ask on social media, of course, but even better than that is to ask your email list. Now, if you don’t have much of an email list yet, or you do have one but you know it could be much more robust than it is, then this post is for you. If you don’t have much of a community yet, then it’s time to build it.

Here’s why:

  1. If you build an audience, you can continue to market to them. You don’t have to keep finding a new audience every time you create a book or product. With an email list, those who know you and love you can keep following you and learn about all your new offerings, new ideas and insights, whatever it is you want to share with them.
  2. You OWN the list and no one can take it away from you. Unlike social media accounts and other people’s websites where your content resides, you own your list. Facebook and Twitter can get mad at you (and you don’t always know why) and cancel your accounts. With an email list you will always have a way to be in touch with your tribe. Without that list, you can lose a lot of followers, which would be a very painful situation.
  3. It’s cheap. Need I say more here? It may cost you a small amount to distribute your newsletter to your list, but it’s very little considering the enormous power behind it.
  4. You can test ideas with your community taking them to the world at large. Gone are the days of fully creating something, launching, and then hoping and praying that people love it. You can test and tweak along the way before a full launch. What a wonderful world this is!
  5. Publishers, agents, and many media outlets will ask you the size of your list. They want to know you have a community and therefore visibility and potential sales. If not, they will go onto someone who does. And, between you and me, there simply is no reason anymore not to be doing this. It’s time. It’s time. It’s time.
  6. Inform your readers and fans of big news! It might be a book launch, a big interview you’re going to be doing, a new product or you’re launching a Facebook group. Whatever it is, you can tell your people directly. We really live in an amazing world.

Those are just some of the major reasons why having an email list is so critical these days. Now, if you don’t have that yet, or if your list is very small, it’s time to focus on building it.

One note: When I say your email list, I’m not talking about your list of family and friends in your digital address book. I know they love you and appreciate everything you do, but we’re really talking about people who have opted in on your website or have given you permission to add their email address to your list. These are people who have said, “Yes, I am interested in you. Send me updates.”

Here are some tips for growing your email list:

  1. First, you need a good email marketing service. There are many out there, including Constant Contact and MailChimp. They’re affordable and easy to get started. You don’t want to use your own email provider, such as Outlook or Apple Mail because you want to send to multiple people. Using your BCC box will often get filtered as Spam and worst case scenario, it will put your email address in jeopardy.
  2. Create an Opt In box on your website. Check out what your niche mates are doing. What kind of opt in boxes are they using? Are they effective? Do they make you want to sign up? You want to make sure it’s very clear they people can sign up for whatever it is you have to offer.
  3. Offer something cool for free. It might be a chapter from your book, or a series of videos you’ve created. It might be a white paper…Whatever it is, it should be something really compelling for your market. It should be something they would really want to have.
  4. Start emailing your list something new once a week. Set an editorial calendar that is doable and then be sure and do it. Commit to it. You can become more ambitious later if you want to, but overcommitting to several times a week can turn it into a chore and something you might not be consistent about. Consistency is everything, so start small. Once a week is a great start.
  5. What should you send? You could begin by sharing a little about yourself and why you’re doing what you’re doing. You also want to remember that it is for your tribe, those who have opted in to learn more about you, so be sure and send information that is helpful to them.
  6. Ask readers to share. If you do a good job of adding value, people will want to share your stuff. But it doesn’t hurt to ask them once in a while to tell their friends.

Bottom Line: Email lists are powerful. Building your own community is necessary. Don’t worry if you feel like you’ve fallen behind. It doesn’t matter. It’s time to begin right where you are today. And let me know how you’re doing, OK?

If you would like to be a part of my Savvy Sunday community, I’d be delighted to have you join us. I regularly share information on how to publicize and market your book to media in this day and age. And, I take questions, so it’s an opportunity to get that burning question answered. You can join us here.

To your success!

Joanne