What is an Email List and Why You Want One

In the Age of the Internet, just about everyone has an email address at which they can be reached. Knowing the email addresses of those people interested in your writing would go a long way in helping you sell more books, as you could inform them when new titles are coming out, when you have events, when your books are on sale, and more.

An email list quite literally is a collection of emails of those people who are interested in your writing. Though an email list can be done by hand, you’ll probably use email marketing software or an online service to help you build your list, create your promotional messages, and then email those messages to people on the list.

The challenge is to find those people interested in your writing and then for them to willingly give up their email address to you. Never build a list in which you use the address of every person you’ve emailed during the past year or that you’ve purchased from a third party. In the first case, your second-cousin Sara and car mechanic named Jim probably aren’t interested in your book beyond polite conversation. In the latter case, many of those addresses really aren’t from people who know anything about you as an author or even like to read books in your genre. That doesn’t help you sell books and means your promotion often will be sent to a spam folder.

Instead, you want people to sign up for your email list. They should know that by giving you their email address they’re agreeing to receive regular updates about your writing. These are the readers who are most likely to buy your books – your ideal audience

So how do you find these people? There are plenty of ways:

  • Collect emails at your in-person events
  • Add a sign-up button to your social media sites
  • Include a pop-up offer on your homepage
  • Place an opt-in form in your website’s navigation or footer
  • Build an opt-in landing page at your website

There are other methods as well that work well for some businesses but not so much for authors. For example, a bookstore might have the option to enter your email when a person pays via credit card. Since your books are sold online through Amazon and other distributors, that wouldn’t really work for you.

Usually to get people to give you their email, you need to offer them something in exchange. For retail stores, that’s easy – a discount on their next purchase. For authors, it might be a free pdf of a book. Often the promise of email updates about your next book is sufficient though.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.