Email list building for authors

Derek Murphy
6 min readNov 8, 2020

How to build your email list with optin bribes and viral giveaways

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

This is the preface to my revised book marketing guide, you can find the whole series on Medium or download the free PDF.

Over the past few years, I’ve built multiple lists of email subscribers to over 100K — and then parsed them down to find my true fans. I think email list building is probably the most important thing you can do to build up for a successful book launch, but it won’t work for most people… so in this brief article I’ll share some tips and then some extra resources you can use to build your list.

Here’s a basic FAQ to common email list questions.

  1. How to organize/analyze/clean up your list?
  2. Any advice on researching email addresses for Influencers?
  3. How to start building your subscriber list before you publish your first book.
  4. How to engage your subscribers.
  5. Getting higher open rates and avoiding spam complaints.
  6. How to engage people who are just not opening the emails.
  7. How to sell your backlist.
  8. Which email newsletter provider will give them the most bang for their buck.
  9. How to keep costs down.
  10. How to weed out freebie seekers from potential buyer
  11. How often should you email / blog?

Building your email list with an opt-in offer

Internet marketers have a saying, “The money is in the list.” But the list only works if you find people who are interested in your writing. They give you permission to contact them in exchange for something you’re offering on your site.

Make sure you actually have their permission. If they sign up for a free book or a giveaway, that doesn’t mean they also want to hear from you, or be put on your newsletter. Having a default optin box on your website with “subscribe for updates!” or “sign up to get my weekly newsletter” won’t work well, because you have to assume that almost everyone on your website is either already fan, looking for you or your books by name… or else total strangers who landed accidentally.



Derek Murphy

I rent castles and chase kittens into dark alleys. PhD in in esoteric literature, creativity alchemist for authors, finish your best work @