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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

Author Resources/Tips/Tools Series: Mailing Lists

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

So How Do I Build a Mailing List?

Another great question! So, there are plenty of websites that will help you with building up a reader email list, so you have a base to send a newsletter to. One of those is Story Origin, another is Book Funnel. I will talk about Story Origin today because that is the one that I use.

Story Origin is a great site with tons of author friendly features. It was built from the ground up for authors like us. Not only will it help you collect those ultra-important reader emails, but it also allows authors to join group promotions, create their own promotions, track their word count for their work in progress, and plan out their email campaigns.

They make it super-simple to use by adding step-by-step tutorials on how to use each feature. It will take a little time to set up and to get used to each function, but it will be worth it, after all, this is for your book. A huge time investment already, so now you need to invest some time in promoting it.

In order to collect those reader emails, you will need to connect an email service like MailChimp to the Story Origin site. MailChimp will collect the emails from readers as they click on your book that is listed in a featured promotion. Readers automatically give their consent for this when they click on your book, and they are free to unsubscribe at any time. This step might sound difficult, but it is very simple to do and there is a tutorial on how to do it. It took maybe five minutes to set up.

Once your email service is connected, your next step is to add your books to your profile, set up your reader magnet (free sample) and your universal book link (where it’s being sold). Reader magnets were discussed in prior posts, so feel free to refer back to prior post. Your universal book link is just as simple as pulling up your book on Amazon, copying the web address of it from the header bar and pasting it into the box on Story Origin.

So, I made a reader magnet and my Universal Book Link. Now what?

Now, you join a promotion! All of this seems like a lot, but each step only takes a few minutes. Just click on “Join Promotion” on the menu bar and start searching the list of open and upcoming promotions that other authors have already set up. Find one that your story fits with and click “Apply”. Follow the few steps and within a day or two, you will receive an email that says you were accepted. Make sure to check if the promotion is for a reader magnet or a sale, you will need to add the correct item to each promotion.

Once you are accepted into a promotion, the work is almost done. Every author in that promotion will then send out their newsletter, add the promotion cover image to it, along with the Story Origin promotion link for readers to click on. Each time a reader clicks into the promotion and decides to click on your book, you get their email address. Your final step is to send your own newsletter out, add the promotion information and send it out to your brand-new mailing list.

But I only have a few contacts. Can I still join a promotion or send out a newsletter?

Yes! Add your family and friends at first with their permission and don’t forget, we all started somewhere. Every author on Story Origin understands what it is like to be new. Don’t be afraid to apply to a promotion, even with 5 or 10 emails on your list at first. It will build up in a few weeks. I gained about 10 emails per newsletter when I first joined.

So, how do I actually send out this newsletter you keep talking about?

Right-o! How do you send it out?! So, I use MailChimp, so that is what you will learn here. Of course, step one is to log in to your shiny new MailChimp account. Which you should now have, after connecting it to your Story Origin or Book Funnel account. For your first ever newsletter, you will click on the pencil icon on the left menu bar that says “Create.” This will walk you through creating your logo, if you wish and then creating your newsletter.

Click Create-Then Email-then Regular-then give it a name (My First Newsletter!)

I try to stick with the same name each week, so I use Uncomfortably Dark and the date. Then it will walk you through the email sections including your recipient list, which should be your reader email list from Story Origin, then “From” which will be your information, then your “Subject” for the week. Keep the subject short and simple, but catchy!

Once you reach the “Content” section, you will click on design, which will open the full email up for you to begin writing the actual email content. It will bring you to a template page with many sample designs. If you are using the free version of MailChimp, you can use only a couple of the templates. Again, keep it simple here. I use the first basic one, 1 column. Click on your template and it will open a new page.

Once on the email page, you will be able to create and add your logo and type your content into the body of the email. When you are ready to add promotions, you will click on a new box, typically the image and text box, and drag it over to add that section to your email. Upload your promotion image by choosing upload. And then click the chain link icon to add the promotion link. Repeat adding sections and promotions or author swaps until your newsletter is completed.

Finally, make sure to spell check your email. Each section has its own spell check tool. Once each section looks the way that you want it to, then you can click “Save and Close.” The next part will allow you to send a test email, make sure to do this step. Send a test to yourself and make sure it looks exactly like you want. If it doesn’t, now is your chance to go back and make any corrections before you send it to the entire list. Once you hit send to all, it’s out there. The final step is to copy the newsletter URL and add it to your campaign planner in Story Origin. This way, the other authors in your promotion can see that you also sent your newsletter out as requested.

Yes, you will need to have Story Origin open while you are doing this, so you can access the promotion cover image and promotion link to insert into your newsletter.

It sounds like a lot, but it is NOT. There are very simple and very visual directions for each step of this process, both within Story Origin and Mail Chimp. Also, this first time is the most time-consuming. Sending your newsletters after this first one will be much easier and much faster to do.


Want more?

Check out the below helpful guide from Story Origin below:

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