Email Marketing for Authors: Nurturing your Email List


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.

May 2, 2022

It’s time to talk to that email list.

This week, we continue our series on email marketing. If you’ve created a lead magnet and have begun to collect email addresses from fans and followers, congratulations! Now what? It’s a serious question. Once you’ve begun to collect email addresses, you must communicate with your list. I have some good reasons why you should and some guidelines on how. Let’s take a look to see which apply to your circumstances and which you might need to consider later.

Why nurture your list?

This happens to everyone. You get an email with a subject line so interest, you have to click on it.  AND you cannot remember who this person is who’s sent you this email, let alone why you’re on their list. That typically happens for one of two reasons – 1. They’ve failed to identify themselves to help you make the connection to this list you obviously, intentionally signed up for. 2. It’s been so long since their last email, you’ve forgotten who they are. At this point, you can either click around to try and figure out who they are and why they’re emailing you or you can unsubscribe because you don’t have time for this. Most often, the latter is the case. The path of least resistance leads to unsubs or unsubscribes.

A list gone cold.

Is this you? Maybe you had a list you used regularly some time ago. You’re thinking about your upcoming launch, and you want to revisit this list and get help from them during your launch. Don’t give it a second thought. Do it. You can always warm up a cold list. Send that first message, a shot across the bow, if you will and be honest. This email doesn’t have to contain anything more than a message to apologize for your absence, an update on what you’ve been up to, and an open-ended question asking your subscriber what they’ve been up to. A “hey it’s me and I know it’s been a long time” message will go a long way to warm up a cold email list. In fact, it’s very likely a personal message like that will get personal responses from some of your followers. Take note of those people. That’s the start of another, segmented list – Superfans. These are people you can call upon later for promotions, referrals, reviews, and to participate in your launch team. They like you.

Sure, you’re going to lose some subscribers who, as I explained in that first example, haven’t heard from you in a while and can’t remember why they wanted to keep in touch with you in the first place. That’s okay.

A word of caution about unsubscribes.

The world of marketing is not a personal one. I hope you’ve already learned; this is business. Unsubscribes shouldn’t upset you or make you mad. The truth is the subscribers you’ve lost are people whose needs or interests have changed. They’re not interested in your work anymore. That’s alright, you want an engaged, interested audience. You want to cultivate a fan base, a super fan base in fact. You want to have a list of people who are crazy about you and your work. People who will tell people how awesome your books are and want to share your emails.

I’m ready, but still not sure what to say.

If list building is new to you, you’re in a great place to begin a weekly newsletter. You’ve finally begun to build a list, but you’re not sure what to do with it. I suggest, you keep it simple. First, decide on the frequency of your emails. Create a schedule that works for you. No less than biweekly, no more than twice a week. If you’re blogging consistently on your website… and I know you are because we’ve talked about the importance of that blog… you have built-in content to share with your email list. Sharing a short, personal message with the preview to your weekly blog with links is the perfect excuse to reach out to your email list every time you publish a new blog. In fact, that might be how you found this blog – through my weekly newsletter.

If you’re not blogging, what else can you talk about in your biweekly or weekly email? You could use your email like a blog by sharing your thoughts in a short, personal message. This is an okay fix short-term, but the truth is, you want to drive traffic to your website so why not take that personal note and turn it into a weekly blog. You could provide updates on events, meetings, interviews, podcasts, appearances, etc. you’ve attended or plan to attend. Content will obviously vary based on your genre and if you’ve written fiction or non-fiction.

Don’t get overwhelmed.

If you began collecting email addresses last week, you don’t have to begin an email marketing program next week. Continue your list building efforts while you plan how to communicate with your new subscribers. Create an email marketing habit that works for you. I say, no less than biweekly because weekly is really optimal. If all you can do is monthly for right now, then set up a monthly schedule. Once you create that habit you can build on it to create a biweekly, and hopefully, weekly schedule.

There are lots of ways you can fill the space of an email throughout the year by creating a single message for an email.  You can send holiday messages – New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. You can fill in with holidays of interest to your audience/industry. If Amazon puts your book on sale, send a message to your followers. If you’ve got an upcoming promotion, send a message to your followers. You get the idea. Keep it simple. You probably have more to communicate with your followers than you realize. Just, start.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to post them below. If you’re feeling stuck and would like some help with your author marketing, set up a free, 30-minute Unstuck consultation with me. I’ll do my best to help and let you know if I think I have a program that might be of help to you.



  1. Heidi

    This advice is so spot on, Lynn! List building is a long game investment.

  2. Nyle Kardatzke

    I have begun editing my email list. Email has become like billboards along highways. Thanks for helping!


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