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Author’s guide to grow your mailing list from zero

    Author's guide to mailing list growth

    If you are an author self-publishing on Amazon KDP who are looking to grow your mailing list, this short guide will show you several ways to do that in an easy-to-understand manner.

    As Amazon KDP and many self publishing platforms have explicitly discouraged certain practices, this guide takes that into consideration and labels each mailing list growth method below with different risk levels, based on how close it is to violating the policies of aforementioned platforms.

    Is mailing list important?

    The main reason why author should have a mailing list is because it gives you direct access to communicate with your audience

    • Announcement and early promotion of new ebook
    • Collect feedback for your ebooks, whether it is the content, pricing, messaging etc.
    • Collect reviews, and address any unsatisfied reviews
    • Promotion of your other projects that are within the same topic

    How to grow your mailing list from zero?

    The mailing list growth tactics below are based on experience of other Amazon KDP authors we have spoken to – both in the fiction and non-fiction space.

    Some of these methods might work better for authors with a customer base, while others would work across the board even for new authors. Regardless, if you are starting from zero, you should note that growing your mailing list takes time, thus it pays to be patient and consistent.

    Things that you need

    To grow your mailing list in an effective and professional manner, you would need to grab hold to a few tools:

    It is not easy to step out of your comfort zone, but bear in mind, all these effort would eventually roll into becoming your online portfolio.

    Warning:
    Amazon’s policy prohibited insertion of any link in your ebook content. While we are not seeing strict enforcement of this policy now, you should proceed
    at your own risk (of being banned / removed from platform).

    If your ebook has consistent sales, this could be the most straight forward method to start building your mailing list.

    To get started, you have to have your own website hosted on your domain name. Once you got that figured out, you can follow the steps below:

    1. Create a subscription page in your website.
    2. Embed the mailing list subscription form within the page.
      • The mailing list subscription form should be kept as simple as possible (no more than 2 fields); and paired with call-to-action statement and strong social proof.
    3. Publish the subscription page – with a short URL if possible.
    4. Insert the subscription page URL into your ebook.

    Recommended place to insert your website URL:

    • The introduction section of yourself, the author.
    • The end of the ebook, with a thank you note.

    You should avoid inserting direct link to your mailing list subscription form of your email software. This is to ensure you have a link that will continue to function in future, even if you change email service provider.

    Method 2 – Encourage readers to email you (Low risk) for extra value

    This is a method we learned from Greg Lim, a non-fiction author who teaches programming through his writing.

    In the context of Greg, each of his books is written based on a single programming project. Each chapter features a programming practice with corresponding sample code. This means readers have to follow through to ensure they got the full sample code.

    At the end of his book, Greg would offer to share the full sample code with the readers – if they can just email him. Most readers would end up emailing him, where he should further ask for consent to be added to his mailing list.

    This works in most cases, as readers won’t mind being notified of new updates by their favourite author.

    This is by far our favourite method, as it gives an opportunity to build a very personal relationship with your readers – while growing your mailing list.

    Even if you are not writing programming or non-fiction book; this method could still work if you can figure out what value-added offer you can give to your readers. Here are some ideas:

    • Behind-the-scene notes (especially for fiction)
    • Template
    • Checklist
    • Roadmap

    Method 3 – Mailing list swap (Low risk)

    A mailing list swap is where you offer to share ebooks from other authors to your own mailing list; in exchange of having those same authors sharing your ebook with their mailing list.

    To pull a mailing list swap, you must first have your own mailing list – regardless of how small or big it is. It also helps that you are already sending regular email updates to your email subscribers to recommend similar products within the same niche.

    Here is how you can pull a mailing list swap:

    1. Define conditions around the kinda of products / services you would like to share with your own mailing list.
      Example of conditions:
      • Product genre
      • Product format (Eg. online courses, ebook)
      • Product pricing
      • Product availability (Eg. must be available on Amazon)
    2. List the benefits for other authors when you share their products/services with your subscribers, and the benefits when they share yours.
      Examples of benefit:
      • You have a big mailing list.
      • Your subscribers are proven to be highly engaging.
      • Your products / services are proven to be of high quality.
      • You can offer a discount.
    3. Define your mailing list swap conditions. Example:
      • The other authors must share your product/services with their mailing list (as opposed to posting in website, social media etc).
      • You have the final say on what gets included in your mailing list.
    4. Create a page on your website to list out these details, together with a form for other authors to submit their products/services for your consideration.
      The form should include
      • The submitting authors’ name
      • Contact details
      • Link to their products/services
      • How they wish to share your product/services with their own audience (Mailing list, blog post, social media etc)
    5. Share this offer either proactively or passively with other authors.
      • Proactive sharing: Frequent posting in your social accounts, related Facebook group, or even email out reach.
      • Passive sharing: Include the link in your own website and social profile.

    Here is a mailing list swap example page we found from a fellow fiction writer:

    Mailing list swap submission form examples for authors

    Conclusion

    Building your own mailing list allows author to have direct access to your own audience, this creates powerful leverage for your author journey – especially if you are self publishing the books.

    By crafting out a little extra value for your readers and other authors, it is possible to grow your own mailing list to a sizeable following, even if you are just starting from zero now.