Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Developing An Email List


Today is June's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why makes me an insecure writer this month?

Fretting over my email list--or more specifically--the fact that I don't have one yet.

As authors, you've probably all heard that we need to gather an email list. A list of readers who have voluntarily subscribed to receive our newsletters. A list of readers eager to hear about our books. Of course, some of this information can be delivered via social media, but an email list belongs to you, and you only. It can't be taken away from you the same way your social media followers can. Just ask Facebook.

My problem is how to get people to sign up for my list. I've yet to publish a book, so I have no readers who might be interested in subscribing. There are ways of gathering subscribers before your debut book comes out, but those usually depend on having a reader magnet--a freebie that you give readers in order to entice them to join your list. Unfortunately, I don't have one.

I'm currently working on a reader magnet, a short story that details the adventures of one of my characters that occur before the events in the book. Unfortunately, this story only makes sense if read after finishing the book, so while this "magnet" may be a great way to attract new subscribers who've enjoyed my book, it's not a particularly good incentive for those who haven't.

The standard advice would be to write a short story in the same world that doesn't require having read the book, but that won't work in my case. Learning about the world and how the magic system works is such a big part of the actual book. I'd either have to ruin it by explaining everything in the prequel, or let the reader be confused for much of the story. 

I suppose I could write a standalone short story that has nothing to do with my debut book or its world, but I'm not sure what that would be or how well that would be received.

Any suggestions from you guys?

June 1 question - When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? 

I'm a slow writer and really like to think about a story for a long while before beginning to write, so by the time I'm ready to type, I'm already so invested in the story, I'll keep writing until I reach "The End." Period. I may hit some rough patches, but I will doggedly keep plugging away until it's done.

P.S. A few of you expressed disappointment last month when I didn't reveal the cover for my debut urban fantasy, so here it is. If I do manage to put together an email list before the book is published, I may still do a cover reveal for my subscribers, so if I do, pretend you haven't seen this yet. :)

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 



  1. I love your cover. You have a whole group of us in the IWSG that would sign up for your newsletter. Maybe time the request for a month you're a co-host to get the maximum number of sign ups. Also, once you get a following on a social media, you could host a giveaway for people who sign up for the newsletter. Offering additional content about your book could help too. Good luck with it.

  2. Gorgeous cover!

    I'm in the same boat. I have some subscribers, but I need more. I am currently writing a reader magnet (novelette). Once I have that written, I'll join Bookfunnel and integrate it with my mailing list. It will offer new subscribers a chance to download the freebie. I'll also offer it to existing subscribers. I'll also run my street team/ARC review group through it. Bookfunnel watermarks the ARCs with the reviewer's email so, if they share it, it can be traced back to them.

    I'm currently using Booksprout to get reviews, but it's kind of expensive IMHO. I'll probably give my reviewers there a chance to be added to my ARC team on Book funnel when I get that set up. Little by little, I'm breathing life back into my dormant author biz.

  3. Love the cover! I've found inertia tends to strike when something is overly complicated. I'd just throw up an email subscribe button and, when you have enough folks to send something out, send a newsletter.

  4. That cover is perfect! I love it!

    I don't have an email list, and I haven't really thought much about getting one in a while. But you raise a good point about having something that social media companies can't take away from you. Given some of the news lately about Facebook and Twitter, that seems like a greater concern than it used to be.

  5. Awesome cover! Love the colors.

    I'd sign up for your email list, even before you release something. I have no tips for email lists, though. I once tried to make a newsletter. I didn't even send one.

    I'll be sure to ooh and ahh if you send out your cover to a mailing distribution list. :)

  6. Wonderful cover!

    A free story is a good offer. It doesn't have to link to your book though.

  7. Confession, I don't have an email list either. I can't believe for one second that anyone would be interested in receiving a newsletter from me. I don't know anything. My life is great but boring. So, I understand, Ken. When you figure it out, please let me know.

  8. I don't have an email list either though I've been told I should. Great cover! Let me know if you do a blog tour. I'm here.

  9. I love the cover. Just love it.

    Other ideas for a magnet is delete scenes, character interviews, author secrets/easter eggs about the story. Many suggest the same to be included within the newsletter itself.

    Make sure to reach out when your ready for the cover reveal, and blog tour. I'll sign up in a heartbeat.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  10. That is a fabulous cover, Ken! I don't have an email list and may never. And I usually don't subscribe to them. I'm overwhelmed with email. They metastasize in the dark when I'm sleeping. I don't want to sound discouraging. I'm just being honest about me.

  11. excellent cover! congrats!
    but promotion? i wish there was a formula for it. i’m a math person and i love a good process, but this publishing/promoting business is so random!
    bestseller = 10% writing + 20% promoting + 70% LUCK!
    or something like that
    good to hear from you!
    Tara Tyler Talks

  12. Gorgeous cover! I'm worried about sending a newsletter, too -- I haven't started one, and feel like I should. But all my time this week is taken up with rereading the Harry Potter series alongside my daughter :-)