Skip to main content

The importance of having a mailing list – and how not to go about it

A piece of marketing advice for self-publishing authors I’ve come across often is that they – we – need a mailing list. The logic is simple. People who will subscribe to your mailing list are those who are willing to receive news about your work and – hopefully – buy your books too.

I’ve ignored the advice so far. Mostly, I admit, out of laziness. It has seemed like a lot of work in addition to everything else I’ve had to set up during the past year. But I have time for it now, and a need for it too. I have a new book coming up this autumn I’d like my existing readers to learn about as easily as possible. Of course, if I had set one up last year, I would have many more subscribers by now.

A couple of timely blog posts have reminded me of the necessity too. The Writer’s Guide to Building an Email List by Your Writer Platform summarises all the benefits a mailing list offers:
  • Blogs, websites and RSS readers can disappear. Once you have an email list, you can always stay connected with your audience and keep them informed of what you are doing.
  • The conversation via email is personal, direct and private. It provides an excellent medium for staying in touch with your readers. 
  • It’s cheap, cost effective and everyone online has an email address.
There’s a lot more important information on that post. Check it out.

Lindsay Buroker’s post Authors, Why You Should Start a Newsletter makes good points too:
  • Think of your newsletter subscribers as your inner circle. What cool things can you do to reward them for being fans? At the very least, you can let them be among the first to know when you have a new book coming out.
  • Sending newsletters out to your fans is also a way to keep your name in their minds, something that can be especially useful if you’re not the most prolific writer.
It’s a great post too. She also has a follow up post where she tells how to add a newsletter to your website.

So, excited and with a deadline, I decided to set up my own mailing list. I got inspired even, and wrote a short story to give to all who subscribe to my list. I think it’s a sweet little piece that readers of my Two-Natured London series would like, and my editor didn’t disagree. (I should probably mention that paranormal romances, even in short form, aren’t really his cup of tea.)

With the offering ready, all I needed was to select the service provider. I made a short work of it. MailChimp has been recommended a few times as both good and cheap service, so I decided to try it out.

Unfortunately, the experience hasn’t been entirely happy so far.

I’m not sure, if it was me or them, but after a day I didn’t have my mailing list ready. Ok, the first setback was definitely me. I typed my e-mail address wrong when I registered and didn’t get the confirmation e-mail. However, I have to add, too, that the confirmation page lacked the usual “didn’t get the e-mail, click here” link. Well, I figured that one out myself – after a while.

That was the easiest part. I’m not saying that MailChimp is difficult to use. The site looks nice, the service offers many options for making your newsletter look exactly like you want it to, and it comes with all sorts of forms that make it easy for people to both subscribe your newsletter and – should they so choose – unsubscribe too.

What it didn’t have, however, is an easy to follow path that would have guided me step by step through the process of setting a mailing list. I ended up spending a day tweaking forms and newsletters, with no idea what to do with any of them. If the site had guides, I didn’t find them. I’ve seldom felt so stupid, staring at the screen, unable to comprehend what I was supposed to do next, or how to make use of the stuff I had already done.

So, no mailing list for me yet.

I haven’t given up. I understand the reason for why I need a mailing list. And I’m fairly sure I can tackle MailChimp too – though if you have handy first-hand experiences to offer, please share them on comments. Anything to prevent me from tearing my hair out in frustration.

In the meanwhile, if you want to set up your own mailing list, check the posts I mention above. Don’t be discouraged by my experience. Maybe I just had a stupid day. And stay tuned: I will have the mailing list soon.


Popular posts from this blog

My #worldcon75 experience

Here’s the long overdue report from my day at the WorldCon 75, my first ever time attending. The event was held on August 9-13 in my home country, Finland, so it was a once in a life-time chance to experience it with a minimum trouble. I originally thought to attend the entire five days, but life intervened in the form of work, and so I could only attend on Saturday. I tried to make the most of it by planning a full day.

I arrived at the conference centre about fifteen minutes after the doors opened at nine in the morning, and the queue was already at least fifty metres long. It caused me a few palpitations until I figured it was the line for people who hadn’t purchased their day passes in advance. I had, so I just walked past, trying not to look gleeful. Half an hour later I felt bad for all those people when it was announced that the day was sold out, which left most of them outside. The queue for pre-purchased passes was three persons long, the shortest line for me the entire day. I…

Reading resolutions (and resolute reading)

It’s a new year and time for a new reading challenge. I’ve participated in the challenge on Goodreads for four years in a row now, and each year I’ve added to the number of books I’ve read. Last year I read sixty books, though I’d originally pledged to read fifty-five. To be on the safe side, I kept it to fifty-five this year too. I usually pick my reading based on how I feel, and it seems I’ve felt like reading quite a lot of urban fantasy and fantasy last year. You can check out here what I read last year.
This year, I decided to be more organised about my reading. So I made a list. I never make them, or if I do I don’t follow them, but a list of books to read has to be easy to stick to. Especially since I didn’t make any difficult promises, like reading classics in their original language.

My list has fifty-six books at the moment, so there’s some room for changes. And it seems I’ll be reading a lot of urban fantasy (27) and fantasy (22) this year too, and quite a lot of it from auth…

Temporality and passage of time in serial fiction

I’ve been binge watching Star Trek: Enterprise lately. I didn’t see it when it aired in 2001-2005, but thanks to the streaming services, I’ve been able to indulge. For those who aren’t familiar with the series, it’s set a hundred years before the adventures of the original series with Captain Kirk and his fellows, and follows the crew of the first starship Enterprise. I’ve always been a Star Trek fan and I’ve liked it in all its incarnations, but Enterprise might be my favourite. There are many reasons for my preference, but what sets it apart from other series is how it allows the passage of time to show.

Many episodic TV series, regardless of the genre, are curiously atemporal. Passage of time is only implied to, maybe with the compulsory Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day episodes, or if the series is set in the school world, with the start and end of the term; if it’s a long-running series, the students move from one grade to the next from season to season. Other than that, …