Tips for Growing Your E-Newsletter List

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

One of the best ways to reach your true readers and fans is through your newsletter. Only those who want to hear from you will sign up for a newsletter, so these people are the most invested in your writing and are most likely to purchase a new book when one comes out. Here are a few ways you can grow your newsletter list. I’d also love to hear what you have done in the past to build up your lists.

1) Whenever you speak or make a public appearance, pass along a clipboard with a sign-up sheet on it. Be sure to specify that the sign up sheet is for your newsletter and state that you will not use the information for anything other than your newsletter list. All you need to ask for is name and email address, but sometimes having a home state or zip code is nice so that you can tailor your email communications to specific areas. Like if you are speaking in Texas, you can send a note to your Texas readers.

2) Have a sign-up button on the home page of your website. Make it easy to find and easy to do. Do not add unnecessary steps or ask for too much information. Keep it simple. If you ask for home state or zip code, be sure this information isn’t required to complete a sign up, only requested. Email address and first name is pretty standard for what should be required. Your newsletter service will generally verify the email address for you and make sure the person with that email address really does want to sign up for your list.

3) Include a share button on your newsletter that allows fans to forward your message to friends or to share it on social media.

4) Do not email a newsletter too often or too infrequently. Once a month is plenty and don’t wait more than 3 months between newsletters. Setting a newsletter schedule is a good idea.

5) Be sure your newsletter has good content that offers something to your readers. You don’t want to lose followers after you get them to sign up. Be yourself, but in a professional way!

6) Include a link to sign up for your newsletter as part of your email signature. If you have an auto-response that goes to any fans who send fan-mail, include a link in the auto-reply.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to build your list? Please share them with us!

45 Responses

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  1. Great tips, Rachel.
    * Two more:
    1) offer a gift for signing up, perhaps a novella or devotional
    2) hold contests with attractive prizes; book collections, or a gift card
    * Many thanks for prayers yesterday. Things got very bad very fast; still are.

  2. Rachel, these are great tips. As someone who is pre-pubbed, I’ve been told to begin a newsletter. I want to, but I am not sure what to write about. 🙂 And, as a pre-pubbed writer, I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on how frequently they send out newsletters.
    *As Andrew mentioned, I’ve heard it’s good to offer something/a gift in exchange for their email. I’ve been thinking about making a mini-book of sorts from some of my blog posts. I’ve also seen authors who offer a chance to win chocolate or a book to their subscribers in each newsletter. Most of the time, the reader emails the author to let them know they’re interested in the drawing. I find that fun because I have the chance to interact a bit with the author, and I have a chance to win something.
    *I’d love to hear what others are doing that they find effective.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      I do know a lot of authors start building lists before any books come out. Maybe some of them will come on and offer us an idea of what content they send out in their newsletters?

      • Dianne says:

        I have 6 book but 2 self published and the other 4 by a small publisher are now out of print. However I still send a newsletter once a month. I never know what to write but I’m always surprised how much I come up with. I try to always include something practical and helpful for my readers, like an opportunity to write I’ve heard of. Then there’s my own news: What I’m working on in articles, books, or film. Or something exciting that happened, like the devotional contest I won this month. Add a link to my monthly blog post with a sentence about what it’s about. See? Too much to say!

    • Mary Kay Moody says:

      I’m with you, Jeanne. And it’s likely not “what to write about” that keeps us from moving ahead, but what to write about NOW, before we have any “news?” And how to slant everything. That’s some of what I wonder about.

      • Dianne says:

        For those not yet published like Mary Kay and Jeanne, in a newsletter I’d like to hear about your process. What are you doing this week or month on your book? What’s fun? What’s hard. What’s discouraging or encouraging? Why do you keep going? What are your hopes and dreams? Your struggles? If you take me on the journey with you of creating your book, I’m going to be so connected to you and your book that I’ll feel like I can’t wait to get my hands on it when it’s out!

    • This was my question, too, so thanks for asking and thanks to those who answered.

  3. Michelle Ule says:

    I just signed up for Mobitini which allows people at my talks to sign up via their cell phones. 1/3 of the audience did so the first time I used it.

    • Whoa, that’s cool. Thanks for sharing, Michelle.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      Never heard of this before! Thanks for sharing!

    • Mary Kay Moody says:

      What a great response & a great tip for us, Michelle. I’m guessing the user also accesses and does things via cell phone. Do you know if it works with a computer?

      • Michelle Ule says:

        I don’t think so, Mary Kay, other than you can link it on your website or wherever.

        I have a link on the first page of my website where people can sign up straight from there–the information is automatically downloaded via the plugin to Mailchimp.

        The Mobitini app also downloads into a list on Mailchimp so is very handy. There’s a slight cost–maybe 20 cents for the transaction to my cell phone. But it’s so worth it not having to collect written emails–and having to correctly decipher them and then input them– that I consider the price negligible.

    • Michelle, that sounds like a great idea. So many people use their phones for so much, I think they prefer using their cell.

  4. Great subject, Rachel. Thank you for sharing your tips. I’ve been working on building my newsletter list over the past year. I have links in the back of my self published books, links and promotions on my website and social media, and at the end of blog posts that promote the free story I offer. I have also had success with promotions like Booksweeps and Celebrate Lit tours.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      Great additions! Putting the link in the back of a book could be really great! If someone loves the book, then he/she can go sign up.

  5. Ada Brownell says:

    How can I find these buttons and the link for my newsletter and email signature?

  6. You just reminded me … I need to send a newsletter! The goal is 4 times a year, as that is what I would like as a newsletter recipient. Just enough to know about new releases and maybe appearances. Do other people really want newsletters more often? Why? I’m curious.

    • Rachel Kent says:

      I think it depends on who you are. If you are speaking all over the place and have a lot of news to offer, you can send newsletters more often.

  7. Pat Iacuzzi says:

    So practical!–a big thank you, Rachel. Am keeping this list as I “open shop”.
    I’ve also been covering you in a blanket of prayer, Andrew. With your permission I’d like to send your name to our prayer ministry at church. But most important: the Lord is continually at your side.

  8. I have LOTS of people’s e-mail addresses and wonder if there’s a way to ask them to sign up for a newsletter without being blocked for spam. Any suggestions?And, if they do want to sign up, how can I prove that they did?

    • Rachel Kent says:

      I don’t think you can do anything with them unless they sign up themselves, unfortunately. Maybe someone with more experience with this could weigh in?

    • Dianne says:

      Why don’t you send them a personal email asking if they would like your newsletter? If they say yes, you can either have the link in your email or enter their address yourself in your signup form. If you have your settings set to double opt in, they would receive a confirmation email with a link to click. That’s your proof they signed up. You could mention to expect that confirmation email in your personal note to them.

  9. Mary Kay Moody says:

    Thanks for these ideas, Rachel. A timely post as, like Jeanne, it’s a task I’m tip-toeing toward.

  10. Let’s assume that you write a blog post once a month with helpful, encouraging content. When someone signs up for updates via your site, do you add them to a list that only sends out your monthly(ish) newsletter, or do you add them to a list that sends new blog content via RSS?

    • Dianne Butts says:

      Hi Emily. I have a sign-up form for both of those on my blog. There’s a Feedblitz sign-up form if they want to get my monthly (yeah -ish) posts. Then I also have a Mailchimp sign-up form if they want to get my monthly-ish newsletter. Those are two different things (although I put a link to my monthly blog post in my newsletter). So THEY decide what they’re going to get by which sign-up form they sign up on. I don’t do anything to sign them up — it’s all them. I can tell you many people get confused on the difference between the two (understandably. Even though I explain.). Try to make it clear in the header of your sign-up forms.

  11. Thanks for all the tips Rachel. I always appreciate helpful information from others that provides me direction. I’m a WIP myself! 🙂