Have You Got a Mailing List? by Wendy H. Jones




I'm going to go off piste somewhat here and say, when I add 'by Wendy H. Jones' at the end of my blog title, it always feels somewhat strange. This one  sounds a bit like I'm asking if you've got my email list. However, I trust you are all highly intelligent and get my gist.

I'm going to ask the question again. Have you got a mailing list? If not, why not? Now, there could be an argument that I'm being somewhat bossy here, yet I'm not. My questions are concern not control. Concern for you and your business as an author. Mailing lists are your number one, in fact the only, way for you to communicate directly with your readers. You control your mailing list no matter what else is going on - as social media increasingly throttles the reach of each post, you still have your mailing list. Paid advertising sites may come and go - you still have your mailing list. Cities may crumble... Okay, maybe I'm going a bit too far now but, seriously, you ignore mailing lists at your peril. 

So, for those of you who don't have a mailing list, here are some steps you can take and tips for running them.
  1. Choose a Mail provider. The three most commonly used are in my image - mailerlite, AWeber and mailchimp. Which one you choose is up to you. They allow you to start off free and don't charge you until you have more than 1000 subscribers. You will also get greater functionality with the paid plans.
  2. In order to entice people to join your list, give them a free gift. This is called a lead magnet. You should make it clear that they are signing up to a mailing list in order to comply with GDPR. I give away a free DI Shona McKenzie book for my fiction list. For my writing and marketing list, it's a writing, marketing and motivation toolkit. 
  3. Your lead magnet may either be hosted in the mail service's servers or you can link to somewhere such as dropbox. 
  4. Set up a signup form on your website or even just s simple landing page from the mail provider. The important fact is, it must be double opt in to comply with GDPR. This means once a reader signs up to your newsletter, they are sent an email which basically says click here to confirm you want to sign up to this mailing list.  
  5. Set up a series of onboarding emails. This basically means a sequence of emails that are sent out automatically for the first few weeks they have signed up. Let them know in the first email how often they should expect to receive a newsletter. The next few can introduce your books. 
  6. Your newsletter should provide value, not just buy my book. If it's for fiction you can chat about
    1. what you are doing as a writer
    2. Your writing process
    3. What you are working on at the moment
    4. The setting for your book
    5. Research you are doing
    6. Your characters
    7. Local customs 
    8. Historical facts and situations, and many other topics. These are just ideas off the top of my head. 
  7. If it's non-fiction then a series of articles which link to the non-fiction you write. As my non-fiction is about writing and marketing that leaves it wide open to a whole world of possibilities. 
  8. Send them regularly. If you say you are going to deliver every two weeks, then deliver every two weeks. If you leave too long a gap, your readers may forget about you and unsubscribe. 
If you already have a mailing list, congratulations, that's fabulous. What are you doing to grow your list? I can hear you groaning from here but groan not. It may be a matter of reminding people using social media that your free offer is available and how they can grab it. Don't do this too often or you might annoy the pants off everyone. You can also use paid advertising to share your list with a wider variety of possible readers. It's a way of investing in your business. Or, you may find that word of mouth works equally as well. I know people who do giveaways to get people to sign up for their list. Whilst this can work well, many authors find that people sign up for the possible giveaway and then immediately unsubscribe. This does not do much for the health of your list, so a tough decision to make.

I hope by now you are thinking of starting, or at least growing, your list. It is not as difficult as you think and it can reap many benefits. It is one marketing technique that I would highly recommend. 

If you would like to sign up to my writing and marketing list for your free toolkit and more articles such as this, you can do so here 

And, just to show you what your mailing list can also be used for, I had a brand new book come out yesterday and I was able to let my readers know about it via my mailing list. 


One thing to remember is that you should have fun with your mailing list. Chat to your readers as though you were chatting to them in real life and make your emails interesting and enjoyable. That way, you can turn readers into rabid fans. 

Now over to you; what are your tips for effective mailing lists. 

About the Author

Wendy H Jones is the Amazon Number 1 best-selling author of the award winning DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. Her Young Adult Mystery, The Dagger’s Curse was a finalist in the Woman Alive Readers Choice Award. She is also The President of the Scottish Association of Writers, the Secretary of the Association of Authors in Scotland, an international public speaker, and runs conferences and workshops on writing, motivation and marketing. Wendy is the founder of Crime at the Castle, Scotland’s newest Crime Festival. She is the editor of a Lent Book, published by the Association of Christian Writers and also the editor of the Christmas Anthology from the same publisher. Her first children's book, Bertie the Buffalo, was released in December 2018. Motivation Matters: Revolutionise Your Writing One Creative Step at a Time, was released in May 2019. The Power of Why: Why 23 Women Took the Leap to Start Their Own Business was released on 29th June, 2020. Marketing Matters: Sell More Books was realised on 31st July 2020.

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Comments

  1. Super helpful as always, Wendy. Yes, I must get a mailing list! I must.

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    1. It’s one of those things that gets put off and then you regret not doing it earlier. Mailing lists really are a must.

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  2. Thank you for this. I have one with mailchimp, plus a sign up form on my website and facebook page and also offer a free ebook but find it very difficult to get new subscribers. The ideal way is to ask people at fairs and author talks to sign up but the pandemic has stopped personal appearances. My other concern is that mass mail-out newsletters may well end up in spam folders which is just as bad as social media shrinking your reach. I have signed up to several author newsletters myself, but, as with blog posts, the title needs to be strong and arresting to persuade recipients to open and read it.

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    1. I agree that emails ending up in spam can be an issue. If you verify your account and website, that should help improve the situation. You raise a valid point though. You’re right about the title.

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  3. Wendy, what exactly does 'verify' mean here, in relation to one's account and website? It worries me, as well as Sheila, about writing an e-news (I've had a list for while, though less active than it should be) since opening rate is only about 50% at most. Mine is with Mailchimp, which claims that it over-rides spam with its system... (I've had it there since about 2013, or about then - the year or year after ALLi began.)

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Clare, good question. This means adding a small piece of code to your site in order that your mailing list and your website are recognised by most mail providers. Mailchimp will have advice on how to do this, however, Mailchimp are quite good interns of recognition.

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