3 Steps to Growing Your Email List: Step 2

Growing your email list part 2 v2

To grow your email list, you need three things:

  1. A way for people to sign up (last post)
  2. A reason for people to sign up (this post)
  3. A way to invite people to sign up (next post)

Second, a reason for people to sign up

Your signup rate will be significantly higher if you offer something of value as an incentive to do so, and the more attractive or valuable the incentive, the faster you’ll build your list.  Don’t skip the incentive part – there’s always something you can offer within your budget of time and money that will be better than nothing.

Incentives that are based on your writing or books are the best. Bear in mind that by the time a person gets to your signup form (or link), they’ve probably already prequalified themselves to some extent as likely readers. They’ve found you somehow (visited your site, read your email, found your Facebook page, followed a Tweeted link) and therefore are probably at least curious about you and/or your books. So the best “something of value” is something related to you (as an author) or one or more of your books. Random short story by someone else – not so much. Short story written by you and featuring your series character – fabulous.

Low-cost incentives

For your ongoing list-building efforts – your basic signup form and signup page – you want to give something to everyone who signs up, so keep the cost reasonable. Zero, say. Many authors have had success giving away pieces of their writing. One of the best is a short story that you still have the rights to. Or the opening chapter of your next book. If you are selling your own books, you could offer a lifetime discount to subscribers. This might sound a little extreme, but believe me this will pay for itself many, many times over. The discount is an excellent hook when you’re at the start of your list-building and every new subscriber is extra valuable). Some authors simply promote the value of the content of their newsletters (first notice of new releases, background on your characters, non-fiction relevant to your story world (think recipes, detective craft)). The latter is probably on the low-end of the value scale, but definitely much better than nothing especially if you have an example of a fun, entertaining newsletter you can show them. (You do have a newsletter, right? More on this in the next post.)

Higher cost incentives

Periodically (in the beginning, every 3-6 months thereafter), you should initiate a short, higher-intensity list-building campaign. Here it’s worth upping the value of the giveaway but limit the number available (again, to keep the total cost reasonable). Think contests and drawings. Here you might offer an autographed and inscribed print book “to five new subscribers drawn at random” or spend some money on book-themed coffee mugs. Note the “new subscribers” – be sure this is clear. This kind of campaign is a great way to get your social media fan groups to get on your mailing list as well. (Note that Facebook is finicky about how you do this: Google “Facebook Contests” to get help on how to set it up without alienating the Facebook gods.)

Incentive ideas

Here are just a few ideas for giveaways (in random order) – as you can see, some are appropriate for the ongoing list-building, others for drawings and contests:

  • Short story
  • Copy of one of your print books
  • Copy of one of your eBooks
  • Copy of limited edition of book or book package containing related stuff
  • Merchandise, either you or book related
  • Story world related non-fiction (recipes, famous curses, pictures of your world, how-to guides)
  • Favorite book list ,“if you like me you’ll like” book list, other lists
  • MP3 file of an interview or podcast starring you
  • Bundle blog posts into a mini-eBook
  • An excerpt from your next book
  • Character interview or diary entry or self-introduction (Hi, I’m…)
  • Chance to name a character
  • Chance to influence plot
  • Book research (turn an interesting result from your research into a 2-3 page essay with pictures) similar to (6) above


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