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.


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