Building an Email Subscriber List
By Kevin Horn
As an author, one of the most important things you can do is to build a tribe of loyal readers for your work. The best way to do this is to start collecting the names and email addresses of those who read your work. Your readers will always want more connection with you as an author. Starting your own author’s newsletter is a wonderful way to build a tribe of people who want to join you on your creative journey.
When you do the work of starting a newsletter, it will keep your readers engaged and ensure that you stay top of mind in a world of distraction. Many publishers are expecting authors to build their own platform with thousands of faithful followers. If you start early in your author’s journey, it doesn’t take long to get a few thousand people to give you their email address. Authors who waited to start their newsletter and collecting email addresses list this as one of the mistakes they regret the most.
The good news for you is that you will be able to start building your author platform the right way from the start. Here are the steps you can take to start building your tribe of loyal readers to lead and feed.
Step 1. Purchase a domain name.
You need a domain name to host your email opt-in form for your newsletter. I recommend NameCheap.com since they have such good prices. I also recommend that you purchase a domain with your name or some derivation of it. Example: JohnSmith.com, JohnSmithAuthor.com
Step 2. Create a simple WordPress blog.
You need a place to host your author blog and email optin form. You will need a website hosting provider such as HostGator or BlueHost. Install WordPress on your domain and create a blog. Create an about page and a contact form so that readers can email you and ask questions.
Step 3. Create the Newsletter Page that will host your Email Optin Form.
This web page is known as a squeeze page and will be the intake form for your reader’s information. They will subscribe to your author newsletter on this page, so make it look attractive with informative text and a good picture of you.
Step 4. Create the Thank You web page for your website.
This page will be displayed after they enter their name and email address and click subscribe. Write some content to welcome them and thank them for subscribing to your author newsletter.
Step 5. Sign up for an Email Autoresponder provider such as MailChimp or ConvertKit.
I recommend Mailchimp when you are starting out because you can choose a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers. ConvertKit is another great option for your email autoresponder. They have a free option as well. ConvertKit is the email provider that I use for my blogs.
Step 6. Create an Email List within your Email Provider.
This is your main subscriber list so give it a descriptive name such as “Subscriber List” that denotes it as everyone on your list. There will be times later that you will create a separate subscriber list for a special occasion or a separate genre of work. You may create a subscriber list for your fiction work and then another subscriber list for your non-fiction. There is also a feature of email marketing called segmentation. This allows you to tag your subscribers with tags according to behavior or interest.
Step 7. Create an Email Optin Form to collect Name and Email Address.
The email providers provide templates and many other fields for various contact information such as address, telephone number, and state. Step 8. Create the Welcome Email for your Email Subscribers. This email will welcome your readers to your author newsletter. It is extremely important to be clear with your content, and to set expectations with your newsletter readers. The welcome email can set the tone and get your readers excited to see your email in their inbox.
Step 9. Install the Email Option form on your WordPress website.
The great thing about WordPress is that there are so many free plugins that allow you to integrate your email optin form with your website.
Step 10. Write a couple of emails for your Autoresponder Series.
This sequence of emails will be automatically delivered to your subscriber list in a predetermined interval of time such as every other day or every week. The email providers will allow you to determine the sequence and timing of your autoresponder series.
Step 11. Create a Lead Magnet for your Newsletter.
A lead magnet is a free gift that is delivered digitally to your newsletter subscribers. This entices your readers to sign up for your newsletter and allows you to start the author to reader relationship with the giving of a gift. As an author, you may want to include a chapter of your work or an insider’s look at your writing process. You could include a checklist, an audio message, or a short video. Be creative and wow your readers with a reward for subscribing to your author newsletter. Your lead magnet can set yourself apart in a world of noise. Be generous.
Step 12. Write a Weekly Email for your Subscribers.
The most important thing with an author newsletter is to remain consistent with the cadence of your broadcasts. If you chose a biweekly email, then stick to it. Weekly will keep your readers very connected to you and is the best option. Do what is right for you. Keep your readers abreast of your creative process and your author’s journey. Share your struggles and your pain. Show them the good and the bad. Talk about your industry and the genre of your work. Talk about current events and how they are shaping your ideals and work. Keep your newsletter relevant by staying up to date. Inspire your readers with your creative process. Open up the secrets of how a book is written. They will love it. Let them know if you travel to new places for inspiration. Several of my author friends take trips to England, Ireland, and Canada for research purposes. Take your readers along via your email newsletter. They will love hearing the stories of your travels and the gold you discover in your research for your book.
Step 13. Talk about your Next Book.
Tell your readers what is coming next in your creative pipeline. Survey your readers and ask them what they think and what they like. Ask them for their opinion. If you are conflicted over how your story should go, then ask your audience. This will give you such an opportunity to make your work so much better than it could be without the input of your readers.
Step 14. Share your Platform by talking about other Writers.
The best way to build a platform is to remember that a rising tide lifts all ships. See yourself as a collaborator instead of a competitor of other authors. Share the great work of others in your genre and give up and coming authors an introduction to your subscribers. They will appreciate your work of curation in your industry. You should tend your garden and curate the art around you. This will demonstrate your worth as a leader of your tribe. Take great care of your readers and they will take great care of you. They will be so hungry to purchase your next book. An email newsletter is the tool to make these things happen. Build your tribe and lead them.
If you have any questions or need help with any of this, please email me and I will do my best to help you. Kevin@MarketingPlanLive.com