Author’s Guide to Email Marketing plus 3 Best Practices

Author's Guide to Email Marketing plus 3 Best PracticesThere’s a piece of advice that authors everywhere are receiving that you can’t ignore: start your email marketing list and grow it.

As you can tell from the abundance of blog posts on this topic, I’m not the only one who agrees with this advice.

Moreover, email is the fastest, cheapest, most powerful way to engage with your readers at scale. No other service (not even social media) is as personal as email, and if done right, you’ll sell way more books through email than you could any other way. Tom Morkes

As effective as social media is for engaging with your readers – not to mention discoverability – there’s nothing that quite compares to a robust email marketing list.

There’s nothing that quite compares to a robust email list Click To Tweet

Right about now you probably think that it’s an excellent piece of advice but just how can you accomplish this goal? That’s exactly what this post is about so lean back, take a sip of your coffee, tea, or tequila (or bourbon or wine), and keep reading.

Start with MailChimp


I use MailChimp. I researched a variety of email marketing applications five years ago and settled on this one. Some people like Constant Contact (I don’t) and others swear by Aweber (never tried it), and some are now using a new program called Convert Kit.

I’m sticking with MailChimp. (Notice that I’m not using an affiliate link for MailChimp.)

Once you sign up, you’ll need to start a list. Don’t worry that you don’t have any names to add to the list; that will happen with time. The first task is to create a list name. Click the parallel lines to open a menu and click lists.


Next click Create List, complete the details, and Save.


Once you create a list, click signup forms and then click Select next to general forms. Now you’ll work on writing a series of sign-up and confirmation forms for your list. Keep your branding in mind when creating the forms.

For example, what are your brand colors? What does your website banner look like? In my case, I use my Social Media Just for Writers logo.


As the drop-down menu changes, you’ll be able to work on different forms in the series of emails your subscribers will receive.


Email Marketing Signup Tips

Now that you have your forms set up, you need to move to your website and insert a widget that encourages signups. (You may need your webmaster to create the widget for you.)

The best way to encourage signups is by offering something for free. Your reader will receive the freebie once he or she turns over an email address. It’s what Joel Friedlander calls the ethical bribe.

What can you give away for free? Here are some ideas:

  1. A checklist.
  2. The first chapter of your new book.
  3. The first book in a popular series.
  4. A short story.
  5. A cheat sheet.

What you give away is as important as how you phrase your signup widget. Here’s mine:

6-compressorNotice that I never use the word subscribe. Instead, I promote the benefit of the freebie and then use the words Get It Now! Avoid using the words email list or subscribe when creating your signup widget.

I also offer a free email course on social media. Here’s the sign-up form:


Again, I stress the benefits and never mention the word subscribe, which tends to turn people off.

Use clear calls to action in your email newsletters Click To Tweet

Email Marketing Best Practices

The folks at Hubspot, an internet software and marketing company, recommend these three parameters before venturing into email marketing.

  1. Create and use a simple template. You want to focus on your content, not the form.
  2. Keep your template within 600 pixels. This way your recipients, if they use Outlook, can see your content in the vertical preview pane.
  3. Don’t neglect to follow CAN-SPAM rules. All of your marketing emails, including your series of gratitude emails, must contain the word “unsubscribe.” In addition to providing an unsubscribe option in every email, you must also include your company name and address.

Here are some more tips I recommend:

  1. Write compelling email subject lines. What would entice you to open an email? Try to replicate that.
  2. Use actionable language in the present tense.
  3. Personalize your introduction.
  4. Edit your content carefully. People don’t like to read long emails so make your content concise, meaningful, and useful.
  5. Use clear calls to action, and just use one per newsletter.
Write compelling email subject linesClick To Tweet

Do you need help getting started with your email marketing program? Send me an email and let’s see if I can help you get started.

Authors: Not Sure What to Tweet? Try These 44 Tweets Today by Frances Caballo, AuthorThe author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at, blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks, and blogger at Bowker’s Self-Published Author. She’s written several social media books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads and Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

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  1. Super helpful tips, Frances, especially the one about avoiding terms like ‘subscribe.’ I use Mail Chimp and am always looking for ways to boost readers. I encourage readers to share by forwarding my newsletter to interested friends. I also established an email address under my own domain name as some service providers (like gmail) are requring that for messages coming from email lists. Thanks!

    • Cat: Yes, you’re right. It’s best to use an email address with your website’s domain than a Gmail or Yahoo email account. Good for you for getting that right. I should have mentioned that in my post but I forgot so thanks for bringing it up in the comments here.

  2. Hi Frances,
    Thank you very much for your interesting article. Short question. You showed in your article two sign-up forms. Is it possible to create for one list in mailchimp more than one signup form? If not, do you have a tip how to proceed when I need more than one sign-up form for one list?
    best regards

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