Grow Your Email List (and Your Influence)

by Stephanie BwaBwa
published in Community

I’m sure you’ve heard this saying at least once, “the money is in the list.” Writer, the experts are right. Your email list will always convert more when it’s time to sell books then social media or any other medium.

If no one’s said it to you before, building an email list is vital to your author business. Your email list is digital real estate. You own your list and can’t have it taken from you, unlike your social media followers.

Sure, it can be great to have 10K+ followers on your Instagram account. But if something happens and you get kicked off the platform, or worse, you get hacked and suddenly lose access, guess what…that’s it for you. If you lose access to your account, you lose access to your followers.

This means you lose access to your shmoney! Don’t let anybody’s social platform interfere with you getting your bag. 

You don’t own your followers because you don’t own the social platform. While it’s great to have a ton of followers and influence, you need to make sure you get all of those individuals on your email list.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a few ways to get started.

1. Make your email list an exchange of value.

While I don’t advocate for giving anything away for free, I do in fact believe in an exchange of value. What’s the difference? 

The former is the act of you working hard and giving away the precious commodity of your time away, without any respect for the value it withholds. The latter is a reflection of your understanding that you’re not simply giving something away, but you’re providing gratuitous value in return for something just as precious: someone’s email address.

This exchange can include a variety of things. You can offer a sample of your novel. You can offer an entire novel. Or perhaps a novella or short story. You can offer a pronunciation guide. Or a map of the world. Deleted scenes. Bonus content. A discount on a bundle of books.

Anything you value can be offered in this exchange for an email address. Your reader will be more than happy to join your community when incentivized with digital chocolate in the form of something exclusive no one else but your tribe gets.

2. Host a book giveaway for your email list.

Nothing makes readers happier than getting books for free. And while a book giveaway can be done through an endless amount of ways, one that works well for authors is social media giveaways done by partnering with influencers.

For example: You could partner with one (or several) influencers in the Bookstagram community to set up a giveaway of your novel. Doing this allots for several benefits: you would now be able to get visibility through their platforms; you would see a huge spike in followers on your account; and you would get a flood of subscribers on your email list.

Each influencer has their own rules, boundaries, and advice you should take notes from, but it’s most often for the best benefit of the author. I highly recommend a social media book giveaway to see a boost in newsletter subscribers.

3. Partner up for a book box giveaway.

Much like a book giveaway, you can partner with social media influencers to do a book box giveaway. 

If you don’t know what a book box is, they’re book subscription companies. These companies ship out a book each month to their subscribers. These are usually highly popular books that are globally beloved and distributed. The boxes often contain goods like bookmarks, book sleeves, character art, candles, mugs, tshirts, and other fun swag as well.

You could partner with an influencer to have them promote your valued offer for an exchange of their email address while gifting one lucky winner a book subscription, whether for one month or several.

Note: Do your research before you choose this option. I’ve done this kind of giveaway and while it’s an awesome treat for the readers, the process can be a pain depending on where the reader lives. You’ll want to check with the book box company first to see when their next shipment is going out and how long the box will take to arrive to readers, especially if they’re international. Count the cost, the time, and determine if this route is a fiscally responsible one for you at this time.

4. Newsletter swaps with authors in your genre

Newsletter swaps are mostly common amongst self-published authors. This strategy is quite the effective one. Not only does it allow you to make new friends, it also gives you access to the platforms of authors who write in the same genre as you.

This is almost a slam dunk for your books. If an author is promoting your book to their email list, by default the assumption is that they trust your book is good and know their audience will read it. It also compels their audience. Readers will instinctively believe your book is similar to that of the author promoting it. This means there’s a high chance they’ll like your book and inevitably opt in to have it for themselves. 

Note: This means the book you’d be offering for the newsletter swap would be one you’re offering for free. Not selling.

Newsletter swaps are one of the best ways to perform an exchange of value while using a trusted platform to increase your subscribers and readership. Authors swap with authors they trust. Not to mention, if you swap with an author once, you can swap with them again.

Building an email list is as easy as it is difficult. And getting readers on your list is only the first part of the process. You also have to keep your readers engaged with your emails so they stay primed for when you publish your next release. It requires an investment of time and effort on your part, but trust me, this kind of work is worth it.

Tell us in the comments: do you have an email list? What do you do to keep it active?

Stephanie BwaBwa is a Jesus-centered Fantasy Fabricator. She’s a YA Fantasy Author, Entrepreneur, creator of the fantasy universe Elledelle, and Co-Host of the Indie Author Lifestyle Show, who’s enjoying building a legacy through the lens of story. You can usually catch her going for a walk through a park, or simply binging Disney+ with too many snacks. Get in contact with Stephanie directly at:

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