How Do You Build A Mailing List, Fast? #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Something I’ve always struggled with is growing my mailing list. After getting it to a level I was tremendously proud of, it languished there for a long time, neither growing nor shrinking. As I inch ever closer to the release of Pariah’s Lament, marketing has consumed my focus. All the signs point to the mailing list for unlocking success, so I’ve been researching like crazy ways of growing my list. And I think I’ve found a quick, free and easy solution. Below, I’ll tell all, and I’ll show you how you can do it too, and hopefully answer the question for you: how do you build a mailing list, fast?

Why Do You Need a Mailing List?

Statistically, the mailing list is the superior means of selling books in comparison to every other platform. Those who join your mailing list have volunteered their personal information (their email address) to connect and follow you. They want to hear from you. They want to buy your books (though there are a few steps to come before simply thrusting your book into their face).

So when it comes to launching your book, your mailing list of engaged and loyal followers will be excited to buy your book, shooting you up the charts and planting a nice big grin on your pretty face. That’s what we all want at the end of the day, isn’t it?

How Do You Build A Mailing List Quick?

In my quest for expansion, I stumbled across Nick Stephenson. I could relate to Nick’s story a lot. He’d written all his books, self-published them on Amazon but wasn’t really getting the results he hoped for. Years went by and nothing changed, until he decided to dive into the world of marketing. He learned whatever he could from all different types of industries and applied them to the world of book marketing.

Nick Stephenson focused his efforts on building his mailing list. By using the techniques he’d learned, and after a lot of trial and error, he managed to grow his mailing list to 15,000 subscribers in just six months.

How Did He Do It?

Nick adopted a method called ‘book funnelling’. That is, making one of your books free to download on Amazon, either permanently or for a limited time. At the front and back of those books he places an advert for another free book if that person heads over to his website and joins his mailing list, or ‘book club’ as he prefers to call it—it definitely sounds better than ‘mailing list’.

You can find out how Nick sets up his books by heading over to his website, I highly recommend joining his mailing list. It includes a free course on his book funnel approach, plus lots of other great tips to grow your mailing list.

One of those tips we’ll discuss now.

A Quick, Guaranteed Way To Grow Your Mailing List

I was completely surprised by how easy it was to do this. I still can’t quite believe it to be honest.

It’s all about giveaways. Yes, giveaways. Giving away free books, anything free (that people want of course). To enter, all a person has to do is join your mailing list.

This sounds ridiculously easy, doesn’t it? It pretty much is. I’m not trying to con you. My most recent giveaway saw me attract 457 subscribers. Here’s the proof.

My ‘Bundle of Writing Gifts’ consisted of paperbacks of my two books, Flying on the Ground and A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook, Stephen King and Margaret Atwood’s books on writing, a free tshirt featuring the cover of Flying on the Ground, and some bookmarks. Stuff I had on my bookshelves already (new copies). All it will cost me is postage and packaging, a few quid at most. Not bad for nearly 500 email subscribers.

Now some of those people do unsubscribe. They may only be interested in the prize and don’t care for your scribblings. Out of that 457, however, I think fewer than 30 have unsubscribed, which is a good retention rate if you ask me. I’ll talk a bit more about how to do this. But for now, let’s talk about how you set up this giveway.

Picking The Right Giveaway Prize

It goes without saying that you need to give away things that people want. Now I know not many people would be just interested in winning free copies of my books. But by bundling them up with two books from well-known writers like King and Atwood, the prize becomes a little more interesting. I included the t-shirt and bookmarks to give it that little bit extra, and if there’s anything you could include to do that too, by all means go for it.

So some key questions to ask yourself:

  1. Who’s my target audience?
  2. Will they want this prize?
  3. What can I do to make this stand out from the crowd?

So to give you some more ideas, you could try:

  • If you’re a romance writer, you could put together a fine bunch of romance books, plus your own of course, as well as some nice chocolates and maybe even a little bottle of bubbly.
  • A Kindle pre-loaded with copies of all your books.

It’s all about trying to get into the mind of your audience.

How Do You Set Up A Giveaway?

As you no doubt noticed from that image above, I used a website to host my giveaway. That particular website is called Woorise. There are plenty of other giveaway hosting sites too, like Rafflecopter (who I have a personal feud with) and loads of others. My advice to you—try and go it alone first. All of the websites I came across charge you, or give you limited free options. Woorise, for example, only lets you have up to 500 entrants per giveaway and you can only host a giveaway every few weeks. Not very swift.

Let me jump ahead a few steps to explain why you should try and host a giveaway without using these sites.

These websites do nothing but host your giveaway. They don’t promote them. That you have to do yourself. To promote them, all you do is fill out a form on giveaway directory websites and include the link to the giveaway form page (such as Woorise). This form page is literally just a landing page with a signup form.

So the idea clicked. If it’s just a landing page, why don’t I just make my own free one on Mailchimp and link it to my mailing list so people are automatically added (often a premimum feature on a lot of giveway hosting sites). Plus, I won’t have a limit on how many people can enter and I don’t have to pay any fees for simply letting me build a landing page on their website.

I’m currently running a giveaway using my Mailchimp landing page idea and it’s working a treat. I’m a few hours in and I’ve already clocked over 40 subscribers. So here’s how you can do it too:

  1. If you’re using Mailchimp already, great. If not, I recommend giving it a go. You can create a free account and build a list up to 2,000 subscribers. Beyond that, you have to pay. If you use another website to create landing pages, by all means use that. There are loads on the web. I’m most familiar with Mailchimp so for ease I’ll discuss that, but regardless, the principles remain the same.
  2. On Mailchimp, head over to Create. Select Landing Page. Next, give it a name, link it to your chosen audience and click create.
  3. Once you’ve completed the other details, head over to the design section. Here’s what I’d recommend: i) an attractive background image of your giveaway prizes or a bright, yet inoffensive solid background colour; ii) clear, easy to read text. A nice big title advertising the competition, and a clear, succinct description of the prizes; iii) if you’re including your own books in the prize, I’d add a couple of short reviews of your books that you’re offering (if you have some). This helps defeat any cynicism in the mind of the potential entrant. Here’s the layout I used for my Bundle of Bookish Joy giveaway:
How do you build a mailing list?

Nice and simple, easy to read. And it worked. I couldn’t believe how many people entered.

4. The form you use is all-important. The way I believe I’ve been able to retain so many email subscribers is because I asked a targeted question when people entered. Specifically, I asked them what they were interested in, and gave them options: i) my fiction; ii) free books; iii) writing-related content. Using this information, I can add tags to each subscriber so that they receive content that they are more likely to be interested in, and therefore engage with. Hopefully, it’ll make them less likely to unsubscribe.

Let’s look at how I reached all those entrants.


Are you finding this post useful? If so, why not join my Community of Writers? As well as tonnes more content like this, you’ll also receive in your welcome pack my latest book on writing, Thoughts On Writing, currently in the top 20 on the Amazon bestseller list in the Publishing & Books category. Plus, you’ll get some useful tools, like lists of publishers and a list of over 100 book reviewers. To enter, simply complete the form below.

Success! You’re on the list.


How Do You Promote A Giveaway?

I mentioned giveaway page directories before. There exists on the web scores of these websites. They each have loyal and dedicated followings of bargain hunters who are on the lookout for some cool free stuff. Including yours!

I have to admit, I never knew these websites existed. Some of the stuff you can win is incredible. You have to do different tasks for different giveaways, but for our purposes we’re just focusing on obtaining an email address.

A lot of these directory websites don’t charge you to list your giveaway. Others may ask for $20+, some just a few dollars. It’s up to you how much you want to invest. To get that result above, I stuck to the free ones and chose to pay for just one, which cost $6 (and that didn’t produce any results, as you’ll see below). Not a bad return at all.

The forms on these websites are straightforward. Some of them ask you for an image. I tend to take a screenshot of my landing page sign up form, cut out the crap around the outside, and upload that.

Below, you can find a list of sites you can list your giveaway on.

Websites You Can List Your Giveaway On

  1. (paid)
  2. (free)
  3. (free)
  4. (free)
  5. (paid – cheap)
  6. (free)
  7. (free)
  8. (free)
  9. (paid)
  10. (free)
  11. (free)
  12. (paid)
  13. (free)
  14. (paid)
  15. (paid)
  16. Sweeties Secret Sweeps (free)
  17. Infinite Sweeps (free)

There are many more websites. A quick Google search will give you a few more lists. You can also try searching for giveaway groups on Facebook, Reddit and other social media platforms to share your giveaway on.

But using some of these sites alone, I reached a lot of people, and with the method used above, I managed to get a 25% conversion rate, which I’ve very happy with (that is the number of people who clicked the giveaway URL and then entered the competition). Take a look for yourself.

How do you build a mailing list?

And as a little bonus, here’s the list of top referrers:

How do you build a mailing list?

The top three referrers all allow for free listings, so there you have it.

The only downside to using your own landing page, like through Mailchimp, is that you can’t track data like this list of referrers above. However, you can experiment with sites like Woorise to see which sites to focus your efforts on. You’ve got a bit of an insight here to get you on your way, at least.

Thank you for reading this guide which set out to answer the question, ‘how do you build a mailing list, fast?’ I hope you’ve learned something new and that you benefit from the same great results I have so far. It’s all trial and error, so don’t get disheartened or frustrated when things don’t work out right away. Keep tweaking and putting the work in and good things will come.

Thanks for reading.

About the author

Richie Billing writes fantasy fiction, historical fiction and stories of a darker nature. His short fiction has been published by, amongst others, Kzine, TANSTAAFL Press, Bewildering Stories, Liquid Imagination, The Magazine of History & Fiction, Aether and Ichor, and Far Horizons. His debut novel, Pariah's Lament, will be published by Fiction Vortex in Summer 2020. He co-hosts the podcast The Fantasy Writers’ Toolshed, a venture inspired by the requests of readers of his critically-acclaimed book, A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook. Most nights you can find him up into the wee hours scribbling away or watching the NBA. Find out more at


  1. Great info! I will definitely checking out Woorise. I currently write reader magnets and advertise them on FB. I netted over 1,000 new subscribers that way. Of course, quite a few unsubscribe again, but that’s okay. It’s part of the business.

    1. I’m delighted you found it useful! Woorise is ok. I’d give it a go for a first time giveaway so you can track the performance of your referrers but I wouldn’t pay for it. A free landing page is all you need!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Sweet post. I recently got into Mailchimp and managed a measly 6 subs (hey, it’s better than nothing) offering free poetry and short stories. It appears to be steadily growing. I also started a Teespring store with merchandise to promote my work and inspire people, with a discount promo code that subs can use. Twitter and Instagram and supposed to be the best for business advertising.

    How did you give away books from King and Atwood? Did you own the books? I’m confused.

    Keep posting these, you’re helping a lot of people. Cheers.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Mailchimp is a great resource, though it does take a little while to get used to all its features. There are so many! 6 subs is good! Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’d play around with giveaways. You can reach whole new audiences by having to do very little work.

      I already had spare copies of those two books so they were a fine choice to give away. I think it’s all about offering things people either want to read or will find useful, so that’s the formula I’m applying to my prizes moving forward.

      I’ll certainly be doing more posts on marketing. Experimenting with Amazon SEO at the moment so that could feature next!

  3. Thanks Richard. All these info tips are really helpful especially for someone like me who only joined FB a few years ago. So all social media is still a magic box to me. I love writing my scifi and horror thriller hut am clueless on the marketing, email list etc side of things. Just giving away free books has not worked, so looking forward to trying new ideas.
    Thanks again

    1. Thanks for stopping by Robert! Marketing always had a question mark hovering over it for me too. I think it comes down to combining your free books with well known titles too. I’ve been designing prizes based on their appeal or their usefulness and it seems to be working well enough so far. I’d definitely give this a go and see how you get on. You can reach a whole new audience and it involves minimal work!

  4. This is great! I’m working on a project and will be doing a giveaway to promote it and this post is helpful. Thank you!

    1. You’re very welcome! I think the list of giveaway sites is a great resource. You can reach whole new audiences by having to do very little work. Good luck with the book!

    1. Thanks Raimey! Delighted you enjoyed it! I’ve found this the most effective and quickest way of growing a mailing list. Will keep on experimenting and share any further results I get!

    1. Thanks! I’m delighted you found it useful. I’d definitely recommend checking out Nick Stephenson’s free book called “Reader Magnets” (on Amazon). It’ll tell you what you need to do to get a book funnel set up and running. I’ve not had much response so far, but I’m getting lots of downloads so I’m hoping it’s more of a long-term method.

      1. I’ll have to check it out! If you’re a podcast person, you might be interested in the Novel Marketing Podcast, which does talk about some things like lead magnets. I think they have some episodes about mailing lists (I haven’t listened to those just yet).

  5. I’m slightly confused by the use of the word ‘giveaway’. It reads as if you’re actually holding a prize draw, but to entice the public in you’re giving away copies of your own books. Is that what you intended? I also don’t understand how you have copies of the books by Margaret Atwood and Stephen King’s books in sufficient numbers to bring the punters in – this also made me think you meant prize draw instead of giveaway.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re absolutely right about building a mailing list, and about using this method to do so, and I definitely think you’re onto something with the do-it-yourself idea (which I always think is best as you can tailor it to your needs, not generic ones. But I’m still confused as described above!


    1. No problem! I just use the term giveaway as it seems to be commonly used in the industry. It’s essentially a single prize draw for a bundle of writing related gifts. I had spare copies of King’s and Atwood’s books so thought they’d be suitable to use. And it worked! So in the future I’ll look to include other books from big names and bundle them up with my own. It just makes the prize more appealing.

      Hope that helps!

  6. Ah, that makes much more sense – I hadn’t heard the term in that context – obviously I have a misspent old age! But when people talk about giveaways on their Goodreads profile, I always think it means giving copies of your books away. That’s why I was confused. I was kind of thinking, oh, how on earth are you going to get enough copies…?

    But I do think it’s a great idea. So did you get an overall prize winner, then?

  7. Well, well done you! It’s an excellent idea, and as I have two new novels that I’m working on, I’ll probably give it a go nearer the publication time. I’ve already thought of something I have that I could give away as part of the prize. You’re very enterprising, Richie! <3

    1. Good idea. No reason why you can’t start building your list now to get a few engaged readers onboard so when it comes to launch day you have an audience waiting to buy!

  8. Thanks, though as of today I am on the penultimate chapter of the second book, so no time right now. But it would certainly be something I can do in the hiatus between this and the next draft. Speak soon!

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