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The good, better, best of building an email list

There are many ways to promote a book.  Authors can do endless marketing for their works, but there are also things that you’d be better off by totally ignoring them.  One of the most common questions we get from the floor is what type of marketing works best for authors?

You might have heard your fellow best-selling authors talk about book marketing and what strategies and type of campaigns proved successful to them.

So, we asked authors (and their marketing teams!) with over 50,000 units sold in under one year from the day of their marketing launch.  While there is no single answer, building email lists emerge at the forefront of their marketing campaigns. Yes, that’s right!— building an email list— but, don’t get it wrong— it is not the generic type.

While many authors and their marketing teams talk about building an email list as essential in their marketing success, only a few offer an explanation of what a mailing list is and how to build it.

If you ever wondered whether you should spend more of your time and budget on email marketing, then this article is for you.

Let’s cut to the chase and dive right in.


Is Email Marketing Effective? 

Toby Neal, USA TODAY bestselling author of thrillers and romance with over 30 titles, said, “ I would say and many others have said, your strongest marketing tool is your email list. I’ve been working hard to build a large, strong, robust, and responsive list. 

Toby Neal The BookWalker


When confronted with the prospect of building an email list, most authors would either zone out or zen out, and you can clearly hear these words, I don’t know how to do it,’ ‘It’s expensive,” I am not that techy,’ and ‘I just want to write.’

Surely, there are marketing strategies you can do away with, but building an email list is not an option; it proves to be indispensable.

If you’re not trying to build a list of reader emails, in reality, your marketing strategy is getting expensive, and it is costing you more than it needs to be.

Here’s why, and the data.  Don’t be surprised to find that email produces better results than social media in the areas of engagements, click-throughs, and conversion.

  • The average email open rate is between 12-25%
  • The average click-through rate is roughly 2.5%
  • The average click-to-open rate is between 20-30% 

That said, on Facebook, you can expect a paltry click-through rate of 0.07-09%! Why? The algorithmic changes in Facebook seriously limit the organic reach of posts, as Chad White from Litmus explained.

  Author Mailing List. Is it important


This post is not about social media versus email marketing— they are like apples and oranges—they are very different in execution and serve different purposes. This post is about knowing what tools to use— when and how—it’s like knowing when to use a parasol and when to don your hat, gloves and jacket.  Email marketing, Social Media Marketing, and print advertising are your tools but don’t mistake tools as a strategy.

When we ask authors how they would sell or promote their books or ask them about marketing strategies, we hear these often in our webinars; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, NYT, Magazines.  These are marketing tools.  Don’t mistake tools as a strategy.


Think of it this way.  Imagine that you’ve put in a lot of effort marketing your book through social media; what happens after you stop your budget spending?  What did you get? What’s the ROI?  What happens to the likes, loves, and shares?  Yes, you are right, minimal.  And then this, what happens if these channels change their Terms of Service? Remember when Facebook had a massive clampdown on visibility?  What happens to your followers?

To grow your book’s readership and reach, you must identify which tool outperforms the other and is worth more of your time and resources.  This is where building an email list performs better than social media. And this is why successful authors from the indie space and even traditionally published authors continue to invest time and resources building their reader mailing list.

 While building a reader mailing list is a big thing for traditional publishers, it is quite the opposite in the indie space; building a reader mailing list is often neglected and overlooked. 

We understand that building a reader list requires time, patience, and technical prowess; but author should never dismiss building a mailing list.  If you want to sell more books, share your ideas or reach your intended readers effectively and positively affect someone’s life with your works, you need to have a reader mailing list.

When someone subscribes to your list, they are saying,  ‘ Yes, tell me more about your books, ‘ Yes, I want to know more about you, and ‘ Yes, I am interested in what you write.

Your email list, when built properly, is a collection of readers who have the potential to become super fans and through your emails, you can help them make that transformation.


“If there’s one thing all professional platform-builders agree on, it’s the importance of building your list,” advised Michael S. Hyatt, Wall Street Journal Bestseller, CEO, and founder of Michael Hyatt & Company.


Here are the steps involved in getting started with your mailing list.
You should be building three things today and should continue to focus on reaching your readers and growing your fan base.

  • A well-designed landing page/website with your own hosting. ( You can’t underestimate the importance of a well-designed, optimized landing page. There are free sites/versions, but we don’t know if it is worth your writing time going through all the hassles of creating your website; it is not even optimized. )
  •  An opt-in mailing list. ( Again, there are free versions; Mailerlite and MailChimp offer free accounts  )
  •  Tons of ideas for publishing blog posts that offer fun and ideas. ( Now, this is the easy part for you! )

We can hear someone screaming, I don’t have the time! I just want to write! Say no more.  We are here to help you grow your audience and reach more readers.  If you are the DIY type and looking for more tips on how to grow your mailing list, please subscribe to TIPS & MORE newsletter. 

How can you help me? What does a media manager do?

Street Team_The BookWalker

Our media manager will help you build and grow your reader mailing lists to sell more copies. Typically, a media manager will help you with:

  • Email Integration: This is the part where your media manager is most creative finding your readers and make them want to give you their email address.  Here’s a genius and a strategy. Tip: Care for your readers. This is an example of when social media is used to build your email list. Tip#1 Do a giveaway. Run a campaign on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; just pick one, but instead of hoping and waiting for their likes and shares, ask them to comment or review. And genius part? Winners will be announced only in your email newsletter—readers need to sign up—and if they are interested, they can join your mailing list.
  • Mailing List Management: Make sure emails are targeting the right audience by segmenting your mailing list to increase conversion.
  • Content Management: Knowing when to engage your readers and how often. What readers want to hear from you.

Perhaps, you’re still wondering why go through all the hassles?
It is about your readers. Imagine a reader looking for a book like yours, never engaging, never finding, never buying.  Would you just let them wander out and wonder why?  If you were that reader, how would you feel if an author greeted you and took the time to engage and find out more about you? That is what building a reader mailing list is about— to find, to engage and re-engage your readers.

Yesterday was all about distributors. Today is about the readers. You can get closer and personal to your readers and would-be-fan with email marketing ( again, not the generic type of email marketing.)  Don’t miss the opportunity!  Please subscribe to TIPS & MORE newsletter for more marketing tips! Or email us at


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