143: 143 – How to Build Your Email List for a Book Launch

So far in this series, I’ve shared a simple book launch formula, how to get other people to share your work, how to utilize paid promotions, and in this post, I’m tackling how to grow your email list. This WILL have applications outside of book launching!

If you’re new around here, you may have missed that I’m a little nerdy about email lists. I’ve got under 10,000 people on my combined three lists (for fiction, nonfiction, and my lifestyle blog). Not huge! But size is NOT the only thing that matters when it comes to your list. The goal should be a group of active, interested, and perhaps even RABID fans.

First of all, let’s talk about a few email basics. When I say “email list,” what I mean is the group of people who have actively signed up to receive emails that you send through an email service provider like ConvertKit, MailerLite, Mailchimp, Mad Mimi, or any other trusted provider. I do NOT mean you sending emails to all your contacts in gmail.


Growing an email list really breaks down into two main pieces:

  1. Content Strategy
  2. Traffic Strategy

Without great content, no one will want to sign up for your list. Without traffic, no one will know about your great content. These go hand-in-hand. There are also tools and ways to optimize your website for email growth, but I’ll tackle that in another post.


Note for People Who Hate Email: 

It’s all about your MINDSET. If you’re frustrated about email or not really “into” it, you need to reframe the conversation. Consider email your direct connection with your superfans! It’s not a chore and it’s not THAT complicated. You CAN do it and I hope that if you think of it as connecting with your fans.

If you are JUST getting started, check out my FREE EMAIL COURSE!


I’m all about the two parts in this post. There are two parts to your email content strategy that you need to consider. The first is the kind of content that you are creating openly on the internet, whether on a social media platform like Instagram, a blog, a YouTube channel, or even in books you sell on Amazon. The second part of your content strategy is what you’ll send people through your email.


To get subscribers, you need to have fabulous content that they can interact with BEFORE they sign up. If you have great blog posts, they may be motivated to sign up to get more. If you have Instagram posts that they just love, they might want to go deeper and get updates via email. You must have some great public-facing content that they can engage with before you ask them to sign up.

You also need to have a compelling reason that people want to sign up. No one wants to “sign up for my newsletter.” Nope. You need to clearly and specifically let people know WHY they should sign up for your email list. That looks like creating an email content strategy.

It doesn’t have to be complicated! For my fiction list, I tell people that they’ll hear about new books first and get my Weekly Clean Reads email with great book deals. For Create If Writing, you’ll get the weekly Quick Fix where I share news, tools, and resources for your authentic-platform building.

Do you see how both of those are clear and specific? They may not speak to EVERYONE, but I don’t want everyone on my list. I want superfans!

A freebie (aka: lead magnet or reader magnet) is another type of content that may get people to sign up. This usually looks like a free book, checklist, form, resource, guide, etc that people will get for signing up for your email list. Freebies can still work really well, but they also need to be specific and targeted to the right people.

If you are trying to figure out how to grow your content or develop a content strategy, I’d recommend Meera Kothand’s book the One Hour Content Plan. It’s focused toward blogging, but will be helpful in thinking about a framework for content strategy.


A lot of people stop after working on content. They think the issue is really all about creating a great freebie and having a nice website, perhaps with a snazzy opt-in form or pop-up. Those things are great! But if you have no traffic coming your way, then you won’t have any people who see your content to sign up.

Ways to get traffic to your website:

  • SEO – Search engine optimization as with Google
  • Social Media – Sharing on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest (which is more like search engine traffic)
  • Use email – but this is a chicken and egg problem- you can email people when you have a new blog post, but this doesn’t help if you don’t an email list
  • Guest posting – not all created equal (check out my post over at Jane Friedman)

Ways to get traffic to your email list directly:

You can use a variety of ways to build traffic to your website or even just a landing page for your freebie. A combination is often best, but you could have several different kinds of


Are you feeling a little better about email? Just a LITTLE? I hope you are!! Remember: you need to think about the kind of content you’re going to provide and then get that content in front of people. 

Yeah…it’s a little more complicated in practice. But break it down into those two pieces to start. You can do it! 


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