A self-published author’s guide to starting an email newsletter

The biggest challenge a new self-published author has is attracting readers. Having an email newsletter is one of the most popular ways for writers to start building an audience for their books.

You must do the following tasks to start a newsletter:

  • Choose a mailing list provider for your newsletter.
  • Provide a goodie.
  • Add a signup form.
  • Start writing newsletters.

Picking a mailing list provider

To send out an email newsletter, you must use a mailing list provider that can send mass emails. Your Internet provider won’t let you send emails to dozens of people.

Fortunately there are many mailing list providers you can use to send your newsletter. The following list of mailing list providers have a free plan:

The free plans limit the number of subscribers, usually in the range of 100 to 2,500.

Since the providers I listed provide free plans, you can try them all and see which one works best. If you are looking for a recommendation, I can recommend Beehiiv and MailerLite.

Beehiiv’s biggest strength is its text editor. Many services require you to drag and drop a paragraph at a time to write an email. If you are going to write a lot of text in an email newsletter, you should check out Beehiiv. Beehiiv also lets you have up to 2,500 subscribers on the free plan.

MailerLite’s free plan is one of the few that allows you to create an automated sequence when someone signs up for your mailing list. It also has a nice WordPress plugin to add a signup form to your website. MailerLite’s free plan lets you have up to a thousand subscribers.

Provide a goodie

A goodie is a free item you give to people to subscribe to your newsletter. People are giving you their email address when they subscribe. You need to give them something in return.

If you write fiction, you can provide a short story as a goodie. If you write nonfiction that helps solve a problem for readers, you can provide a short ebook that solves a common problem your potential readers have. I give subscribers a free ebook and exclusive articles for subscribing to my newsletter.

What if you don’t have anything ready for a goodie? Don’t worry about it for now. You can still set up your mailing list and add a goodie later. But don’t expect many people to subscribe to your newsletter until you add a goodie.

Add a signup form

A signup form is how people subscribe to your newsletter. No signup form, no subscribers.

Every mailing list provider has a form builder for you to create a signup form.

Some providers give you an option of creating a pop-up form or an embedded form. A pop-up form pops up over your site while an embedded form is part of your website. People can’t avoid a pop-up form, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. I recommend an embedded form to avoid annoying people.

When you finish creating your signup form, add it to your website. If you don’t currently have a website, many of the mailing list providers I listed earlier allow you to create websites.

Start Writing Newsletters

You eventually have to write a newsletter and send it to people. Most mailing list providers use the term campaign. You create a campaign to send your newsletter.

When you create a campaign, you will be asked to name the campaign, provide a subject for the email, provide a name and email for the sender, and the recipients. The recipients defaults to all your subscribers.

After providing the preliminary information, you write the newsletter. When you finish the newsletter, you can preview it and send a test email to yourself to make sure everything looks right. If everything looks good, you can schedule the email to go out to your subscribers.

What to write about?

I can’t tell you specifically what to write about in your newsletter, but I can give you a guideline. Focus on your subscribers, not you. Put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes. Ask yourself if what you are writing provides value to your subscribers. Remember that entertainment is a value.

If you are close to finishing a book, you can give your newsletter subscribers a sneak peek of the book.

Questions

If you have any questions about setting up a mailing list, use the contact page to email me your questions.

Why is my Amazon book at other bookstores?

If you use Amazon to publish your book, you may discover your book listed at other bookstores like Barnes & Noble. Why is your book listed at other stores when you listed it only on Amazon?

The most likely reason is your print book is in Amazon’s Expanded Distribution program.

Amazon’s Expanded Distribution program makes your print book available for other bookstores and libraries to order.

If you don’t want your book to be part of Amazon’s Expanded Distribution program, take the following steps to opt out of Expanded Distribution:

  1. Sign in to your KDP account.
  2. Click the button with three dots in the Paperback Actions section of your book listing in your account’s bookshelf.
  3. Choose Edit Paperback Rights & Pricing.
  4. Deselect the Expanded Distribution checkbox in the Pricing, royalty, and distribution section.

Do you have other self-publishing questions?

I may have answered your questions in one of my other articles.

If you have a question that isn’t answered in one of my articles, you can go to the Contact page to email me your question.

Which self publishing platforms should you use for your book?

If you are new to self publishing, you will see there are a lot of self publishing platforms. Which one/ones should you choose to publish your book?

Selling at Bookstores

I recommend the following platforms to publish your book and sell it at online and physical bookstores:

Using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) gives you the most from each sale on Amazon.

Ingram Spark is the distributor most bookstores and libraries use to order books.

Draft2Digital lets you sell your books at the following stores with one account:

  • Apple Books
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo (including Kobo Plus)
  • Smashwords Store
  • Tolino
  • OverDrive
  • Bibliotheca
  • Scribd
  • Baker & Taylor
  • Hoopla
  • Vivlio
  • BorrowBox
  • Odilo

Selling from Your Website

If you have an author website and plan to sell your books from the site, I recommend the following platforms:

  • Payhip for selling ebooks.
  • Gumroad for selling ebooks without having to create a Stripe or Paypal account.
  • Ingram Spark for selling print books.
  • Lulu for selling print books.

Create a store on Payhip, Gumroad, Ingram Spark, or Lulu and link to the store from your site.

Payhip and Gumroad give you more from each sale than Amazon, assuming you sell your ebooks for at least $5(US). Amazon takes at least 30 percent from each ebook you sell. Payhip takes 5 percent plus the credit card transaction fee. Gumroad takes 10 percent plus the credit card transaction fee.

Payhip gives you more from each book sale than Gumroad. But you must create a Stripe account or Paypal account to sell books on Payhip. Gumroad does not require a Stripe account or a Paypal account.

Lulu is a print-on-demand service. When someone orders a book, Lulu prints it and ships it so you don’t have to worry about warehousing and shipping print books.

Do you have other self-publishing questions?

I may have answered your questions in one of my other articles.

If you have a question that isn’t answered in one of my articles, you can go to the Contact page to email me your question.

If I publish a book with Amazon KDP, can I sell the book at other places?

A common question I see from authors starting with self-publishing is the following:

If I publish my book with KDP, can I sell it at other places?

The answer is Yes. You can sell your book at other places.

If you want to sell your ebook at other places, avoid Amazon’s KDP Select program because KDP Select forbids you from selling your ebook at other places. Read the following article for more information about KDP Select:

Amazon KDP vs. KDP Select

Do you have other self-publishing questions?

I may have answered your questions in one of my other articles.

If you have a question that isn’t answered in one of my articles, you can go to the Contact page to email me your question.

Amazon KDP vs. KDP Select

Amazon provides two programs for writers to publish and sell their books on Amazon: KDP and KDP Select. KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing. What are the differences between KDP and KDP Select? Which program should you use?

KDP

KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is a program that lets writers publish and sell print and electronic versions of their books on Amazon. If you plan to sell your book on Amazon, you should use KDP to make the most money on each book sale on Amazon.

Can you sell your book at other stores if you use KDP? Yes, you can.

KDP Select

The KDP Select program applies only to ebooks. If you put your book on KDP Select, the book becomes part of Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited is the ebook equivalent of Netflix. People pay a monthly subscription that lets them read any ebook that is part of KDP Select.

The upside of being part of KDP Select is more people have a chance of reading your book. Kindle Unlimited customers can read your book and don’t have to decide whether or not to buy your book. You get royalties based on the number of Kindle Unlimited subscribers that read your book.

The downside of KDP Select is you can’t sell your ebook at places other than Amazon. You can sell print versions of your book at other stores.

In summary when you enroll in KDP Select, the following happens:

  • Your ebook becomes part of Kindle Unlimited.
  • Amazon is the only place you can sell your ebook.
  • You can sell print versions of your book at other places.

Should You Choose KDP or KDP Select?

Do you want to sell your ebooks at places besides Amazon?

If the answer is Yes, choose KDP because KDP Select forbids selling ebooks at other stores.

If the answer is No, choose KDP Select. You can make extra money when Kindle Unlimited subscribers read your book.

Do you have other self-publishing questions?

I may have answered your questions in one of my other articles.

If you have a question that isn’t answered in one of my articles, you can go to the Contact page to email me your question.