‘Bribe’ idea’s that can be used to build an email list

blog-hop-150x150During week two of the Book Marketing Challenge I have researched and come up with some ‘incentives’ that I can offer my readers to get them to join (and then enjoy) being a part of my email list.  I will list these here for anyone who is in need of ideas to kickstart their own email list.

Legitimate Email lists are a vital marketing tool in today’s world.  They allow permission for you to directly contact your readers while increasing the effectiveness of your message.  Every author (or anyone wanting to gain a following) should be working on building their email list, but how exactly do you go about doing that?

An important part of this is to include a link to your email sign up form or website at the back of your books.  Readers who have just finished a book are more likely to sign up to hear about new releases.  Also, place a link to your email sign up page in your twitter profile and FB pages – and anywhere else where you have a ‘presence’.

Exclusive or Advance information

Obviously I want to promote any new releases or events as much as possible, and where better to start than with a group of people specifically interested in what I’m up to?  I let readers know that by providing their email address they’re signing up to a service that’ll remind them about a product they enjoy.

If you want to go one step further then consider a policy of providing your email list with that information first. Let your fans know that before it goes on Facebook or is mentioned on Twitter, you’ll personally contact them with key updates. They’ll be the first to know when your new book is coming out, the first to have access to the synopsis and cover designs, and if there’s a book trailer coming out then they get the link before anyone else.  The further in advance you can offer information, the more desirable subscribing to your email list becomes.

Free content

Everybody loves something for nothing, and as a writer nothing advertises your work better than a sample.  You can offer a preview of your novel to subscribers, with the dual benefits of building your email list and getting them hooked on the story.  You could also offer short stories, poems or articles to email subscribers. This takes a little extra work, but it does allow you to use that ultimate buzz word: ‘free’.  This exclusive content is exciting for readers at the same time as its advertising your work as an author.


Competitions allow you to attract a lot of subscribers.  An offer of one (or a few) of your books with the only condition of entry being an email subscription, and you can attract hundreds of people.  While you do need to offer something in exchange for reader’s email addresses people are generally quite free with them, so offering a reward as tangible as free stuff will really bring in the big numbers.

The size of your contest is up to you so you can get creative.  This can be such things as book giveaways, a chance to name a character, name a place in a fantasy world, or even a chance to have the winner themselves featured as a supporting character in an upcoming book.


This is where email subscribers pose questions to authors either about their work or for advice on writing.  From the question list you can then choose three questions a week (or however many you may want) and provide your readers with the benefit of your wisdom. This won’t just invite people to join your email list but will foster close links between you and your readers.  Any reader who gets their question chosen will be thrilled, and budding writers who come to you for advice will be grateful for your time and insight.


Offer a weekly or monthly round-up of content you have enjoyed, whether it be books, movies, television, theatre, video games or some other art form (at the moment I’m doing book reviews).  Your email subscribers will appreciate this as there are few people whose taste readers trust more than an author whose work they enjoy. This is a way that will make you friends among fans and other authors (if you recommend them).

NB: However you advertise, collect and use your email list, remember that the platform is a privilege.  Be glad of the opportunity to address your readers directly and let it show.  If subscribers feel like you’re genuinely talking to them, and not just advertising your latest novel, they’ll appreciate it and won’t unsubscribe from the service.


Oh – don’t forget to sign up for my Newsletter here to get access to extra goodies, giveaways and contests!

34 thoughts on “‘Bribe’ idea’s that can be used to build an email list”

    1. How are you going in your list building? I was trying to come up with ways in making my list ‘fun’ and interesting. If you have any ideas that you think might be interesting, please share with me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess, after all the ideas you’ve just given, it’s tough to come up with something else 😉 Thank you for the advice! I promise to share if I come up with something new 😉


      2. Your list is awesome. One feature I’m adding to my newsletter is a drawing for a copy of any one of my books to celebrate the eBook release of “Keep It Simple: Permission to Illuminate Your Life Easily, Effortlessly, & Joyfully”. I plan to do a giveaway like this for each new release. My readers enter by replying to me which book it is they would like to win. Then I choose a winner using a random number generator.

        My list has been growing nicely!


      3. That sounds like a good idea. I have been trying to hold a giveaway every couple of months, I also ask the winners if they liked the book to either tweet/FB about it or place a review of it on either Amazon or Goodreads.


  1. Great ideas! And yes, this is a key to marketing yourself for the long term. I’m creating “subsets” of content from my books to offer as “ethical bribes” for signing up on my mailing list. I’m putting together “email courses” that I can send out to those who sign-up using an autoresponder. I have so many great ideas — and thanks to D’vorah, I have so much more confidence that I know how to make them happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love your ideas. If you have a specific group you are targeting, search to see if there is a group already on facebook. I have found several groups that exist for my target genre. There are also a lot of groups on goodreads that may help you reach more of your target audience. My big question is timing. I don’t want to start too early, then have things drag on for months before release.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t found the directions yet to set up a free giveaway on Goodreads like yours! Congratulations! Your suggestions are wonderful. I am currently delivering a newsletter from my fantasy land of Fiori to appease the kids reading book 1 while they’re waiting for book 2. Elle’s mother in my book is always baking something in the kitchen, so I’ve been preparing little cookbooks for the adults that I try to time with holidays, etc.


    1. I love the idea of a cookbook – or even sending recipes out with your newsletters maybe, of things that children can make with their parents 🙂


  4. You’ve given some really good tips/reminders here Hayley. Thank-you. This is not my genre, but I have to say I love your website, your writing and I even peeked at your Bio. Loved that too! Great sense of humour! I’m sure you will do well with your book sales.


    1. Thank you. I am going to change my Bio again. It needs to be updated and I think a little more serious than it is. Now that it is summer, Chocolate Taste tester might now be ice cream taste supervisor 🙂


  5. What a brilliant way to encourage new subscribers, by letting them know that they’ll receive “hot off the press” news and updates, before the general public does. Brilliant!


  6. Just a quick note about Facebook. Apparently the new update will allow them to record the sounds around you while you use Facebook. This frightens me, so if it is true I will get off Facebook ASAP. http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/blog/?p=22420 (for more info)

    Love you blog post! It is clear and concise, and I’m saving it for future reference. The moment I offered a free colouring book to my customers the email signup doubled. I love ethical bribes. I’ve just been giving stuff away for free. Now, no one gets gifts until they sign up! 😀

    I’m planing to publish my fantasy novel as a chapter series on Kindle. Offer the first chapter for free, then when the second chapter is published, raise the price of the first to $0.99, and so on until the first book is complete. Then I’ll publish the whole book and sell it for less than the price of individual chapters combined.

    I also plan to create a review crew. People who are on that list will have a chance to get my book for free before it is available to the public for reviews. The catch is that if they are selected and do not write a review within a specified time frame, they are kicked off the crew–three warnings and they are out!

    That way, I will weed out people who are only interested in getting free stuff and do not really care about my work.

    Let’s stay in touch. 🙂


    1. Mili, as usual i love your idea of review crew! That’s ingenious!
      As for facebook, it looks like this will only concern the mobile app, but not the website, however, one can never be too careful… Thanks for the info 😉


  7. Great post! Insightful ideas presented in a concise manner. I hope to add some of them to my blog in the near future. I’ll be following your blog right here at WordPress. I wish you all the best.


  8. What has help me– in fact was an eureka moment– was to think of my “subscribers” as my community, my family. This automatically makes it a more intimate affair!!


  9. Hi HM. My main “first thing” is to work on increasing my email list. I’ve had it for some years but had few ideas on “freebies”. Thanks for your clever suggestions. I’ve bookmarked this page to return to. I’d love to keep in touch. If you have a facebook page, please visit me at http://www.facebook.com/shirley.m.corder. Leave me a message so I can return the favour. Have a great weekend.


  10. Hi H.M. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I have to admit Ethical bribes was my least favorite marketing strategy. I know I need to change my perspective. I think it is just fear of rejection or something. Not sure. Baby steps. I’m still building my author platform. I hope we can continue to share ideas on FB. I think I could really learn a lot from you. Here’s the link to my FBP


  11. Funny thing has happened with my email list. People are still accepting my newsletter but not opening it in the numbers they used to. Some have been subscribers since 2008. Each time, I make sure to emphasize that they can unsubscribe at any time if the information is no longer a fit for them, what do you do when this happens ? I’m stumped.


    1. What can happen is that subscribers may not be seeing your newsletter. Email service providers are getting tough on what they consider ‘spam’ email and if an email comes in with what looks to be a ‘spammy’ subject line, it gets placed into the users spam or junk email folders. Maybe you should experiment with different subject lines with various email providers (such as gmail, yahoo, hotmail and other popular services) to see what gets moved into spam folders and what gets through. Mailchimp (the email list server I use) does give good information on what works and what doesn’t as well as what subjects line key words get a better open rate. http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/how-do-i-know-if-im-writing-a-good-subject-line



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