How to set up an email list

Setting up an official email list is an important way – probably THE most important way – to connect directly with readers. Note that using an email list is not the same thing as sending out a mass email. (Mass emails don’t allow your recipients to “opt out” of getting your messages, which technically makes them spam, and bona fide authors don’t do spam. Plus an official email list is prettier and easier to manage.)

The fastest way to set up an email list is to use TinyLetter, which is free, simple, and takes about five minutes to get going. That being said, if you have more time and want something with more features, a lot of Pronoun authors use Mailchimp or Aweber.

Once you’ve set up an account, you can paste in your foundational list of email addresses and send your first message.


How to create a foundational list of email addresses

Take five minutes to brainstorm a list of people who care about you – start with your family, friends, mentors, and fellow writers. Now, next to each person’s name, add their email address.

Congratulations! You’re looking at the foundation of your email list, which is what you’ll use to send out author newsletters. This list is the cornerstone of your author platform, and it will grow organically as you continue to market your book and engage with other writers and readers.

Try to think of at least twenty (or fifty?) names, but don’t worry if you get stuck at five. The goal is simply to identify an early audience of potential readers, a.k.a. people who will be happy to hear from you.

Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to send your first email.


Sending your first email

It can be tempting to overthink the first-ever message you send out to your email list, and to spend a really long time analyzing every sentence.

That is a totally normal reaction, but it is absolutely not necessary. We recommend keeping your introductory author email short and sweet. Maybe something like this:

[subject:] Hello from your local aspiring author


As you may or may not know, I’m busy writing a book, and I’ve been thinking about who might want to cheer me on, eventually read my book, or just generally know what I’m up to.

I think you might be one of those people, so I’ve included you as a recipient of this, my first official author newsletter. If I’m wrong, and you’d rather not receive occasional updates from me, please feel free to unsubscribe and know that I will not take it personally.

That being said, thank you for reading this, and I’d love the chance to stay in touch!

Your Name

Of course, you should customize as you see fit. Since you’re building an author platform based on authenticity, you get the freedom of simply being yourself.

As you begin engaging more with your audience, you will have plenty of opportunities to share interesting info (who you are, what you’re learning, helpful suggestions, etc.). Your first message is a great way to make an initial connection and tell your readers what to expect.


Announcing your book

As soon as your book is live on all retailers, email your list announcing the release, telling them what your book is about, and letting them know where to find it. Here is a template you can modify:

[subject:] It’s here!


I am so proud to finally announce that my book YOUR BOOK’S TITLE has been published. So much effort went into writing it and I hope you’ll be able to check it out.

You can find the book here:
Amazon: [Insert your Amazon URL]
iBooks: [Insert your iBooks URL]
Barnes & Noble: [Insert your B&N URL]
Google Play: [Insert your Google Play URL]
Kobo: [Insert your Kobo URL]

YOUR BOOK’S TITLE is about [insert a 1-2 sentence description].

Thank you for following and supporting me on this journey!

Your Name

p.s. It’s tough for new books to get discovered, and reviews make a huge difference. If you like my book, I’d really appreciate a review on Amazon. And you can always email me with feedback.


Asking for reviews

One to three weeks after you’ve announced your book, follow up with an email asking for reviews. Keep the ask soft and sincere, along these lines:

[subject:] The #1 way to help my book succeed


And thank you to everyone who has encouraged and supported me during the launch of YOUR BOOK’S TITLE.

For those of you who read it, tell me what you think!

If there was something in particular that you loved, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or another retailer. Buying the book and leaving a review are the two most effective ways to help authors gain more visibility in a very competitive book market.

Thank you again and happy reading!

Your Name

p.s. I understand that not everyone can purchase this book, but if you’d still like to leave a review, I’d be happy to send you a digital review copy.

(Add that postscript if you’re willing to give up some sales for reviews; it’s a short-term sacrifice that can have long-term benefits!)