How to use email marketing for your book

Guest blog post Author Nation
April 21, 2023
Book Award Pro

Authors tend to think of one book sale at a time, whether that’s through a bookstore, a speaking event, or any other means. But authors who want long-term success can lose out if they sell books rather than letting their book help them build relationships. For this reason, it's important to understand how to use email marketing for your book.

I’ve had authors tell me they hope people read their book and then get in touch. How many readers finish a book and get in touch with the author? Have you ever done that? That statistic is a single digit number.

If you want to benefit by building relationships with long-term clients, consider email marketing for your book. When you win a book award, you will have a long list of supporters to celebrate with you!

Although Author Nation offers a checklist of promotion ideas for nonfiction authors, here we are going to focus on building relationships through your email list as it is a powerful marketing tool for authors.

Why use email marketing for your book?

Here are three reasons every author should consider email marketing to promote their book and build lasting relationships:

  • You own the list. Unlike your social media following, no one can decide you can’t email your subscribers any more. Your Facebook can disappear in a blink.
  • You can offer more than just your book. You can offer other products and services and build a business around your book or build a book business with multiple books.
  • You can build long-lasting relationshipswith your ideal client, which will lead to opportunities for you over time rather than just selling one book.
  • BONUS REASON: You can cross promote with other authors, benefiting from their list as well. You need a list of your own to approach other authors with this opportunity.

What tools do I use?

The tools you use depend on your level of comfort with technology. Here are three examples of email marketing services; any of them make it easy to get started:

  • ConvertKit starts at a lower price but has limited features.
  • MailerLite also starts at a lower price but has limited features.

How do I get people to sign up?

There are a few things you can do to motivate readers to sign up for your mailing list. First off, you can offer them a reader magnet to entice them. Although the reader magnet is the initial enticement, readers hope the emails you send will satisfy something for them. Maybe they want you to entertain them, inspire them, or teach them something. Whatever their exact reasons, they are looking for you to enrich their lives.

What is a reader magnet?

Your reader magnet is a promise of something your readers want in return for their email address and their permission to receive emails from you.

Make your reader magnet impactful, whether that impact is to entertain, inspire, or inform. You could give an entire book away if that makes sense, but if you are counting on book sales, that won’t work. If you are counting on selling other related products and services, giving away your book might make sense. Figure out what works best for your situation. The ideas are endless and only limited by your imagination.

A note on giving your book away. Some authors recoil at the idea of giving away their book, or even a few chapters. They worked hard on the book and they should, rightfully, benefit. The question is, how do you want to benefit, by the sale of one book or the ability to build a relationship with your reader and ideal client?

Whatever you choose to create as a reader magnet, make it exclusive to signing up for your email list. Don’t give it away anywhere else.

Author Nation guest post - Reader magnet ideas

What do I do once they sign up?

Once someone signs up, send an automated sequence of emails to them, introducing yourself and letting them know what to expect. This is called a welcome sequence.

Your welcome sequence can be a few emails or several. What you say depends on the relationship you want to develop with them.

Avoid selling to them in the first email. If your welcome sequence is long enough, you can let them know about one offer by the end of the welcome sequence, but don’t start out with a sale. Build relationships, offer value, and get to know your audience.

The most important aspects of the welcome series are allowing subscribers to get to know you, learning about your work and how you can help them, and setting expectations for future emails.

Do I send newsletters?

Once the welcome sequence is complete, you can start sending regular newsletters. You can send a newsletter monthly, weekly, or on another schedule.

If you have special events or offers, send them in a separate email that is not a newsletter. As long as you are not spamming your subscribers with constant sales pitches, you can and should make offers now and then.

If you stray from your schedule, it’s okay. If the break was a long one, start with an introduction. Let them know why you have taken a break and reconnect with the reason that brought you together in the first place.

What do I put in newsletters?

It can feel challenging to come up with content, but once you get into a rhythm, you will find it easier.

A great way to come up with ideas for yourself is to follow other authors and see what they do. Remember, it doesn't have to be complicated, so keep it simple.

For example, James Clear, author of Atomic Habit, has an email he calls the 3-2-1 Newsletter. Once a week, he emails his list three short ideas from him, two quotes from others, and one question for his readers to ponder.

Here are 10 ideas for newsletter content to get you started:

  1. Talk about what you’re reading right now, what you’re learning, and what you can pass on to your readers.
  1. Talk about other books in the same genre that you love. People read multiple authors in the same genre, so you don’t need to worry about losing readers. NOTE: You could even do newsletter swaps with other authors, so you both get in front of new readers.
  1. Book awards and reviews for which you have applied or won. Book awards and reviews are exciting marketing content for newsletters and so much more. Here’s How to use book awards and reviews in your book marketing campaign.
  1. Podcasts on which you’ve appeared or articles written about you in the media.
  1. Behind the scenes in your writing life or at work.
  1. Resources that you have found helpful or that your readers have found helpful.
  1. Spotlight on a reader that got in touch with you, encouraging other readers to get in touch.
  1. Questions you have for your subscribers - ask them to respond. Email marketing can be a two-way conversation!
  1. Any part of your author journey, including struggles, successes, unboxing, cover ideas, etc.
  1. Talk about upcoming releases of new books you have written.

A note about getting personal: Your readers want to know more about you as a person, so get personal now and then. Send tidbits about you and your life so they can connect with you personally, not just through the content you write.


Email marketing for your book is one of your best marketing tools as an author running a business, even if that is solely a book business. Think of yourself as a creator and business person, rather than just a writer. This shift in perspective will help you earn the revenue to do what you love best: writing books and winning book awards!

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