How to Build An Email List For Your Books

ASP 10: How to Build a Book-Based Email List

Quote of the day

A small list that wants exactly what you’re offering is better than a bigger list that isn’t committed.

– Ramsay Leimenstoll

Why is it so important to develop an email list as an author?

As good as some platforms are, you can NEVER depend on them to always do right by you. A great example of this are the recent changes made to the Amazon platform. If you rely fully on a platform and expect it to never change, then you can expect to be disappointed—and to see your business suffer in the process.

On the other hand, you CAN rely on your list. It is the one group of people that you know you can always contact to sell your products to.

Having your own community protects you from being a one-trick pony on Amazon.

So how do you go about using that list?

Whenever you have a new book, you want to email the people on your list and tell them about it.

Our recent book, 10-Minute Digital Declutter: The Simple Habit to Eliminate Technology Overload, received 600+ sales from one email. That’s a pretty great return on investment!

You can also ask your list to give early reviews, and you can conduct surveys on what topics people are interested in, to help you stay on top of the market. Remember, email marketing should not always be about selling.

In A Thousand True Fans, Kevin Kelly writes that 1000 true fans is enough to run a solid business. At Live Bold and Bloom, that is exactly Barrie’s aim—to have 1000 true fans across a variety of different channels.

The most important thing to remember when emailing your list is that your primary goal should be to communicate what you’re there for and what you can offer.

What is the first step in building your email list?

The most important thing you can do when building an email list is to know your niche and your target audience. You don’t want to cut corners here, because the goal should be genuinely interested followers, not just a bunch of pretty numbers. So DON’T ever buy or rent an email list. Not only is this an invasion of people’s privacy, but it is also ineffective, since you end up cold calling a bunch of people who aren’t interested in what you are selling.

Steve’s first step in building an email list is to write a lead magnet, which is a free offer given in exchange for someone’s email address. In general, short lead magnets seem to work better.

Barrie finds that quizzes work well as lead magnets as well.

Initially, you will want to find one really good magnet for all your books. To do so, you can use free tools such as and But it is essential that you know your niche and target audience, so that you end up creating the right type of lead magnet.

Mark Dawson gives away the first four books in his series, and in doing so turns people into fans. This is a great way to get people engaged before you try to sell them something. And that’s the key—provide something of value to your market, something that is compelling enough to get people to join.

How should you promote your lead magnet?

There are a number of tools that you can use to promote your lead magnet, such as squeeze pages, popups, dropdowns, ads, social media, etc. You will also want to put the offer at the front and back of your book. Remember that some people will only view the first 10% of your book. If you can grab their attention while they are still reading, you have a better chance of converting them to your email list.

You can also promote your lead magnet at the end of a SlideShare, all over your blog, on your Facebook fan page (one of your FB tabs can be a squeeze page), and through Ad Rotator (a WordPress plug).

So what exactly is a squeeze page?

A squeeze page is a page that only contains your offer and the opt-in. It’s your most basic offer page, and because it is simple, it seems to convert better.

Speaking of conversion, people tend to hate popups, so a lot of marketers avoid them. But as annoying as they are, popups do seem to be effective at converting—and that is your ultimate goal.

Consider using OptinMonster and Leadpages to set up your squeeze page.

How do you choose an email service provider?

There are a number of different options for email providers, and each one has its pros and cons. Aweber is a robust email marketing tool that is worth looking into, and MailChimp has a free version (although the free version does not provide an autoresponder, which is a major bummer). Infusionsoft is an advanced tool and not recommended for new authors or marketers, but can be very effective if you have the skills and know-how to put it to use.

Bear in mind that paying for a premium email list-building service will be one of your biggest expenses, so you will want to decide early on how much you can budget for this process, and how hi-tech you want to go.

How do you set up your opt-in form and link to the provider?

This can seem like an intimidating process, but fortunately most services provide easy-to-follow tutorials and help sections. You typically just have to choose what fields you want people to fill in. And if you get stuck, you can just hire someone to do it for you. Try to find good providers.

People often talk about single vs. double opt-in. What does that mean? What’s better?

Single opt-in means that once someone enters their email, they are immediately on your list. On the other hand, with double opt-in your customers get a notification in their email after signing up, and then follow a link in the email to confirm that they want to join your list.

Some studies show that it’s easier to get a “dirty” list with single opt-in. In other words, you may build a list full of people who aren’t really interested in your product. With double opt-in, converts who may have been more interested in your free offer than knowing more about what you are selling will be weeded out, which makes your email list more effective.

Furthermore, the ICANN Spam Act makes it illegal to send spam. Kirk Leipsic (TN) had to pay $10,000 in fines for sending spam, and you definitely don’t want to repeat his experience. Double opt-in and permission-based marketing ensures that you are mailing people who actually want to be on your list.

How do you create a “thank you” page?

A thank you page should obviously express thanks, and also communicate what your list should expect from you. You could also give them instructions on what they should do next, or provide pictures of what they should see in their inboxes.

You could also create a second thank you page that is received after the double opt-in confirmation, where you can include more offers.


Email lists are essential to your success as a self-published author, and there is a lot to say about it. We’ll be looking at the topic more in the future.

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