Email Marketing for Authors: List Building


Written by LynnA

Selling books is like solving a puzzle. I love puzzles. There is something so satisfying in taking what looks like ill-fitted pieces that make little or no sense separately, and putting them together to create something amazing. It is problem solving at it's core. I take that same approach in helping authors sell more books. Give me your broken pieces and let me help you sell more copies of your masterpiece.

April 26, 2022

List Building for Visibility

Every author wants to increase visibility of their platform and work. How you do that can vary, depending on the author’s goal, genre, platform, and audience. Today, it’s common for authors to rely heavily on social media to increase visibility. And it’s true, social media is still important when it comes to maintaining contact with your readers, improving your overall SEO (search engine optimization) and increasing visibility, but it just doesn’t work like it used to.

The frustration with social media is palpable these days. Algorithms and posting guidelines seem to change every week. Long form posts, short form posts, hashtags, photos, videos… Nothing seems to stick anymore. At this point, it feels like we’re in full pay-to-play mode on most platforms and who has that kind of budget to compete with other authors? Not many. That’s okay. While social media is still an important factor in maintaining your SEO, it’s not wise to rely on it solely to gain visibility. Any platform could shut down for the day, the way Facebook and Instagram did last fall. It could lose popularity and go away the same way Google+ and MySpace did. Or you could get cancelled and kicked off a platform all together. You have no control over how your social media channels manage your presence. It’s important to understand that social media is, to a certain extent, user driven. Therefore, as the users’ habits and needs change, it is constantly in flux, and you are not in control.

What can you control?

There are two assets in your platform that you can own and control – your website and your email list. We’ve talked about your website in earlier blogs you can check out here. Today, I want to begin a short series on email marketing. Let’s start with list building.

List building

The idea behind list building, is that you’re asking someone for something personal (name and email address) so you must provide something of such high value that they will 1. Believe that you are providing something they value. And 2. See you as trustworthy and be comfortable enough to provide this personal information in exchange for that freebie.  This is how they “opt-in” to your email list.

The privacy and spam laws that we love when it comes to protecting our own inbox are the same that protect your target audience. Email opt-ins are legal consent that someone is giving you permission to email them.

List-building today requires relationships and lead magnets. You have to build a relationship with potential consumers and provide something (your lead magnet) of great value to them in exchange for their name and email address. As an author, your lead magnet or reader magnet should be directly tied to your book(s). An author’s lead magnet could be a free chapter, excerpt from your book, character profiles, etc.

Why Email Marketing

Cancel culture has taught us that if a sitting U.S. President, politicians, and celebrities can be cancelled on social media, anyone can. If that’s not enough, what happens if a platform crashes, like Facebook did earlier this year or if a social media platform falls out of favor like MySpace and forums from the past? What will remain the same, is that your website and your email list are still all yours.

Getting started

If you’re not already list building, it’s never too late to get started. This process is going to be a free to paid endeavor that will require paid services as you build your list. The good news is, by the time you get to the point where you’ll have to pay for your list (over 1K subscribers), you’ll be earning income from book sales to cover your costs.

Email privacy and spam laws prevent you from sending mass emails from your regular email account. You’ll need to sign up for a paid to free email service like MailChimp or my new favorite scalable tool – MailerLite. These services provide opt-in tools you can use on social media and your website, with automation that sends an email with the downloadable lead magnet (free chapter PDF) to new subscribers.

Once you sign up, you’ll need to confirm your website and create a download PDF. Remember, it should be valuable enough for a potential reader to want to give you their email address in exchange for this freebie. Then just follow instructions to create an opt-in form on your website with an email automation sequence that delivers the download automatically, every time someone opts-in from your website from.

Once you have this simple automation set up, you can share the link to your opt-in form on your website, social media, and as a link in paid ads. It doesn’t stop there. Once you create a list, you’ll have to use it. We’ll talk more about email marketing, next week.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Feeling stuck or need more help? Set up a free, un-stuck consultation with me via phone or Zoom.


The MailerLite link above is an affiliate link. This means that I earn a small percentage of the sale of products purchased through that link. This has no affect on your price.


  1. Wanda Luthman

    Hi Lynn,
    I use Mailchimp and have a small list but the issue is Mailchimp sends a Spam Notice at the top of my emails that I send out because I have Mailchimp tied to my gmail account. Is there a free or at least inexpensive workaround for this?
    Thank you!

    • LynnA

      Hi Wanda,
      I didn’t even know this was possible to do! I looked it up and there it is. That’s a pretty cool option.
      Since I’m not a MailChimp or Gmail expert, have you checked with support on either platform? They can typically provide you with best-practice on avoiding that spam label. I would check with both support teams to see what they suggest.


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