Grow Your Author Email List with These 7 Tech Essentials

You’ve heard over and over that selling books requires a robust author email list. These 7 tech essentials will help you create a website that compels your visitors to give you their email address. Before you start: Create a free giveaway or “lead magnet” to offer site visitors in exchange for signing up for your list. A… [Read More]

Grow your author email list with these 7 tech tools by Carla King for

You've heard over and over that selling books requires a robust author email list. These 7 tech essentials will help you create a website that compels your visitors to give you their email address. Before you start: Create a free giveaway or "lead magnet" to offer site visitors in exchange for signing up for your list. A good way to do this is to create what's called a freebie, a giveaway, an ethical bribe, or a funnel book.

I know this process may seem overwhelming, but make it easier on yourself and tackle one task every week or two. Make sure to follow the links to the training videos and other resources I've provided.

Get a Self-hosted WordPress Website

Build a solid foundation for your author platform with a self-hosted and not a free WordPress website. Your safest choice is a managed, hosted WordPress website by a trusted web hosting company. That way you own your website (it's not hosted on a free site that can get closed down at any time), it’s backed up daily, and offers 24/7 support.

My WordPress blogs and websites are hosted with GoDaddy, which is where I also buy my domain names. Click here for a $1/mo deal on a GoDaddy Managed Hosted WordPress Website that includes one domain name through my affiliation with them.

Additional Resources:

Add a Great Premium Theme

A premium theme provides features that give you a lot more flexibility and marketing power than a free theme. Reputable companies I like include Studio Press, Elegant Themes, and my new favorite, Thrive Themes.

Some themes charge a one-time fee with an annual membership for support and others are by subscription. Thrive Themes is $19.00/mo paid annually at this time, which is $228/annually. They're growing quickly and prices will go up, so the earlier you can lock in your annual fee the better. 

See the "Minus" theme by Thrive Themes and use the drop-down menu at the upper left side of the screen to see more themes to see what I'm talking about.

With a good website, you can convert visitors to fans, subscribers, customers, and clients. A premium theme with conversion-based tools can make this much, much easier.

Grow your author email list with these 7 tech tools by Carla King for

To get started you might try the Thrive Architect plugin, which adds visual click-to-add widgets to your site.

  • Click to Tweet
  • Credit Card
  • Disqus Comments
  • Facebook Comments
  • Lead Generation
  • Social Share
  • Testimonial
  • Video

Plug In Some Lead Pages Software

Lead pages are pages that do one thing: lead your readers into a sales funnel without distracting headers, footers, or menus. You can create lead pages for freebies, books, training, products, services, anything.

Lead pages are awkward and difficult to make with most themes which is why so many companies provide software solutions. LeadPages, UnBounce, Instapage, Clickfunnels, and other solutions cost from about $25 to $97 per month.

LeadPages is probably the most popular and on the low-end of the price scale at $25/mo and they also have a Facebook Ad Builder and A/B testing. There are a lot of free templates to choose from that you can easily customize.

Grow your author email list with these 7 tech tools by Carla King for

So I was super happy to discover Thrive Themes which are "conversion focused" WordPress themes and an all-in-one online business toolbox (with landing pages included in its subscription) which costs $19/mo for everything. With it, I was able to create a lead page in about an hour, which was mostly spent futzing around with finding the right graphics and images. (Get their free Beginner's Guide to Landing Pages.)

There's one more solution for landing pages, and that's your email marketing service.

Choose an Email Marketing Service

I use MailChimp to manage and build my author email list but you can choose from many companies that offer the same thing such as MailerLite, MailMunch, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, AWeber, and Sendy.

Many email marketing companies have started to provide landing pages for you, which makes sense because the whole reason for landing pages is to get people into your email list.

I experimented with the Mailchimp Landing Page capability to gather emails for people who are interested in joining a motorcycle tour to Cuba that I'm leading in 2019. It's not a book but it could be (after the trip). Here's what it looks like right now. Click to visit.

Consider a Countdown Timer

You may have noticed countdown timers are everywhere lately. They create a sense of urgency with a time-limited offer and have been shown to work really well. 

You can use free, freemium, or paid countdown timers for your scarcity marketing experiments with services like TickCounter, MotionMail, and Deadline Funnel, or you can use the Thrive Themes all-in-one site builder and conversion software which comes with a countdown timer built-in. (See a demo here.)

I am experimenting with a countdown timer at the bottom of one of my blog posts. It was super-easy to drag-and-drop the timer into the page. You can see it in action here in the bottom of my post on How to Use Amazon KDP Print plus IngramSpark for Print Distribution. (Click on the image below.)

Grow your author email list with these 7 tech tools by Carla King for

You just drag-and-drop the counter onto your page and customize the colors and time to count down.

Grow your author email list with these 7 tech tools by Carla King for

Be Unobtrusive with a Notification Bar

Have you even see those email opt-in bars at the top of a website? They're called notification bars or ribbons and studies show they work, especially when paired with a freebie.

There are free, freemium, and paid versions of opt-in ribbons that include HelloBar, WordPress Notification Bar, and Mail Optin Notification Bar, which also provides popups.

These are good tools but I use the Thrive Leads plugin which not only offers ribbons but pop-up signup forms and slide-in widgets with various triggers (immediate, 50% down the page, or on leave). (See a demo here.)

Here's what one of my ribbons looks like. I'm working now to incorporate the other features of the plugin.

Grow your author email list with these 7 tech tools by Carla King for

Don't Skip an SEO Plugin

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps you get your pages ranked higher on the search engines by allowing you to include specific metadata about you and your book. Yoast SEO is the number one SEO plugin for WordPress with over a million installations and a 4.9 rating from over 15,000 reviews. 

With its real-time content analysis, you can see right away if your blog post and page titles are on target, your image tags and titles, meta descriptions, and more. It’s kind of magic. There’s a free and premium version and it is an $89 one-time fee well-spent in my opinion.

What Will You Use to Build Your Author Email List?

I'd love to know what website tools you're using right now, whether you think they're working or not, your specific struggles, and opinions on any of the tools and services I've mentioned here. Let's start the conversation!

If you aren’t already a member of BookWorks, please visit check us out for more great content like this and join our community of indie authors, editors, coaches, designers, marketers, bloggers and other self-publishing pros.

8 thoughts on “Grow Your Author Email List with These 7 Tech Essentials”

  1. I’ve been really impressed at the range of features in MailChimp’s free package, but it’s great to know about other options. And thanks for the clear explanation of the benefits of a lead page.

  2. Profile photo of Carla King Carla King says:

    Thanks Pauline,

    Yes, there are so many options! ConvertKit is another one and it has a unique interface and triggering system that might interest you. But once you get used to one system it’s kind of tough to change-over, especially once you’ve got a big list with groups and segments.

    Lead pages! I know. It took me too long to start using them.

    Good luck with all that!

  3. Jan Tucker says:

    I use AWeber which I really like a lot. They continue to provide new capabilities all the time and their support is top notch (online, chat, video tutorials, phone, email, free live webinars and knowledge base). They’re super responsive. I had started with Constant Contact prior to that many years ago and at least at that time AWeber had much better templates.

    I use LeadPages for my landing pages and it connects easily with AWeber and WordPress. There’s a learning curve and if you don’t use it often you might have to relearn, but it’s very reliable and their support is also top notch.

    Carla, thanks for this article. You are always so up on all the different technology options and so many different aspects of publishing. You’re the go-to person IMHO. I just finished editing a book for a client. I also created her marketing plan, formatted it, uploaded the book to IngramSparks, and now I’m creating the ebook. I consulted your Consumer’s Guide multiple times for great advice that kept me from having to research further. You’ve saved me so much time because the publishing industry is all over the place!

    She also did an audiobook and I consulted your Guide to find the best service for her to use. Your help is vastly appreciated! I don’t know how you keep up with it all, updating the Guide every year, too!

  4. Profile photo of Carla King Carla King says:

    Thanks so very much, Jan, I have fun doing it! 🙂

  5. Dani says:

    Hey Carla,

    I would like to hear your reasoning why you choose separate landing page provider (for which you have to pay additionally) instead of going with landing page that is offered by ESPs like MailChimp/MailerLite or any other?
    If you using free plan – you will get landing page for free, if you are using paid plan – landing page will be already included in the price and you won’t have to pay additionally.

    I understand that services that specifically focus on making landings pages provide more customisation but is it really necessary for simple landing page?

    Thank you!

  6. Carla King says:

    Hi Dani,

    Thanks for the question. You’re right. If you have under 2000 subscribers on MailChimp you can use their landing page and that’s a good option when you’re starting out. They’re simple but effective.

    The goal is to get more than 2000 subscribers, of course. If you are an author and you’re not also running a business this may be good enough.

    If you’re running a business and you have more than 2000 subscribers coming from various directions (websites, landing pages, blog pages, forms), as I do, you’ll probably want to graduate to something more sophisticated. When I found Thrive Themes I was thrilled because it’s an intuitive WordPress web page builder as well as a provider of sophisticated landing pages and call to action features (and the other benefits I listed above). So I don’t pay for a landing page service; it comes with the premium theme membership.

    But if the landing pages that come with the Email Service Providers (ESPs) are good enough for you at this time or forever, that’s great! It’s fun to start out with those and I encourage everyone to use them to make special offers to existing and new readers.

    1. Dani says:

      Thank you for the answer, Carla. Seems that I misunderstood functionality of Thrive Themes, now I actually want to test it myself 🙂

      1. Profile photo of Carla King Carla King says:

        Awesome! I’d love to know how it goes. It’s been very easy for me and I hope the same is true for you. Please let me know!

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