For Fiction Writers: How to Start Your Email List

I’ve been talking to a lot of you about book promotion lately, and I’m hearing that most of you know you could be be a lot more successful if you had a newsletter for your fans…

…but you’re not doing it.

Because you’re afraid:

  • it’ll take too much time
  • it means learning a bunch of complicated technical stuff
  • it’ll be expensive
  • you don’t think anyone will sign up

I understand. I procrastinated on creating my own email lists for months. For exactly the same reasons.

But once I was finally forced to do it…I realized that none of my fears were accurate.

So I’ve recorded a short video for you, where I show you how to create an email list in 15 minutes.

I could’ve done it in about 5 minutes, but I slowed down to be sure I was explaining everything completely.

In this video I show you:

  1. How to create a campaign (i.e. tell your service that you want to create a list for a particular purpose)
  2. How to create a signup form that asks people for their name and email address
  3. How to put that signup form on your blog or website
  4. How to set up a welcome message that each new person receives when they sign up
  5. How to send a newsletter to your list

I used Get Response, which I’ve been using for 9 months and have no complaints–their interface is simple and clear. It’s as easy to mail 400 people from my Get Response account as it is to email a friend in gmail.

I’m not recommending them and I’m not an affiliate, I’m just letting you know that’s what I use. I spent $15 a month for their cheapest plan, and I have no problem covering that from the royalties I make each month from my kindle sales.

Other writers tell me that they love MailChimp and aWeber. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, pick the cheapest one. Or ask a friend and go with whatever they’re using. The difference between the autoresponder services is not big enough to be worth stressing over if all you’re doing is emailing your readers once a month.

That brings me to the fear that it’ll take you too much time to publish a newsletter.

You want to keep your newsletter simple. Remember who you’re emailing–people who’ve already bought and read one of your books. They liked that book enough to sign up for your list. In other words, they’re already fans.

You don’t have to sell them anything.

All you have to do is keep them up-to-date. Once a month, let them know:

  • what you’re working on right now
  • what you’ve published since your last newsletter
  • if you’re giving away a freebie or running a contest or have a book deal for them

That’s it.

You can do more if you want. You can send them recipes. Or pictures of your cat. Or explain why you believe Pluto should be a planet no matter what astronomers say.

But you don’t have to. All you have to do is give them a short, sweet update. Once a month.

That’s twelve emails a year, and two-thirds of those emails will be blurbs for your latest release and your upcoming release. Which you have to write anyway.

Now, let’s talk about the fear that no one will sign up.

The standard advice is to write a short story related to your paid books, and give it away for free to people who sign up for your mailing list. That’s great advice.

But you don’t have to wait until you’ve got that story written to start your mailing list.

I just started publishing books in a new genre under a new pen name. I don’t have a story to give away yet. But I created a list on Get Response and then put the link to the signup page in both of the books that I released this month.

In the first three weeks my books were available on Amazon, 8 people signed up to be notified when the next in the series releases.

If you’ve got one book on Amazon–or you’ve got one that you’re preparing to publish right now–take 15 minutes and set up your email list. A year from now, when you get your royalty statements from Amazon, you’ll be so glad you did!