Book Marketing: How to Use MailChimp and Bookfunnel to Grow Your Author Mailing List

Headshot of Aimee Coveney

Aimee Coveney, author design consultant

It’s received wisdom in the world of self-publishing that authors should strive to develop email lists of readers interested in their writing. Author design consultant and ALLi partner member Aimee Coveney describes the mechanics of a simple, affordable way to do so: setting up free ebook giveaways to attract signings, using a winning combination of MailChimp and Bookfunnel.

While you may not have the intention of sending newsletters on a weekly or even monthly basis, when you have a new book available, what easier way is there to share the news with your existing audience? It’s therefore well worth going to the trouble of attracting new subscribers to your mailing list.

Yet with many people tiring of overflowing inboxes, it’s becoming more difficult to tempt readers to sign up to author newsletters. Promising free books or sample chapters on sign-up, via your website or social media, is by far the best and cheapest option to get them to subscribe.

Whilst researching options for a recent website design client, I soon became aware of why so many authors rarely get off the starting blocks with this style of promotion: it can appear a very daunting process, with so many options for both newsletters and file hosting.

Simple Solution: #1 MailChimp

Mailchimp is a good way to send e-mail newsletters

Mailchimp, which seems to be amongst the most popular newsletter providers, offers an excellent and easy-to-use system. It allows you to create sign-up forms in several different formats, including some which embed easily within your website or blog. It also provides a simple link for use on social media etc. All you need to do is sign up for the free account, create your mailing list(s) and customise your settings. Mailchimp is very user-friendly and is a fairly step-by-step process.

What’s not so easy is using MailChimp to send an automated message with your book’s file, especially if you want to offer the reader a choice of ebook format. Sending new subscribers a generalised format, such as PDF, has limited value, as it makes reading the file more difficult. Every reader has their own preferred reading device or app, and it is helpful and courteous to offer your free book in their favoured format.

Simple Solution #2: Bookfunnel

bookfunnel logoBy using a second service, Bookfunnel, in combination with MailChimp, you can offer electronic books in several different formats.

Bookfunnel is a great concept.  For as little as $20 a year, you can upload and share up to 500 copies of your books per month – ideal for those starting out or even longer term. The website is also easy to use, allowing you to simply upload the file copies of your books in several different formats. Bookfunnel then generates the books as downloadable files, providing readers with the format options they need via a simple link. This link can then be placed in the ‘thank you’ message of your newsletter sign up, providing your readers with the book instantly in their preferred format, without the need for expensive software.

You’re able to use Bookfunnel in combination with the free Mailchimp account, so it’s ideal for authors who simply want to test the waters.

As your mailing list builds, you have the option to upgrade, but you will probably will find the free version adequate to start with. And if you reach the point of demand outstripping the limits of the free version, your book sales will by then most likely cover the cost of the upgrade – problem solved!

How to use @Mailchimp and #Bookfunnel to build your #author mailing list - by @authordesigner Click To Tweet

OVER TO YOU Do you have any tips to add to Aimee’s instructions? Do you have an alternative solution to share? We’d love to know!


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16 Responses to Book Marketing: How to Use MailChimp and Bookfunnel to Grow Your Author Mailing List

  1. athruking September 7, 2018 at 8:56 am #

    Book funnel is awesome. It makes very pretty pages, gives book in any format and you can give the option of sign up to mailing list. They also do free promos you can enter, i went in “girls kick arse” and my book has got me 87 sign ups so far, in a week!. That’s option to sign up. I pays an extra $50 so they add the emails to mailchimp straight away, so they get the welcome email fast.

    loving the funnel: here is what a page looks like:

  2. Robert Kroese May 3, 2016 at 1:29 am #

    Is BookFunnel easier to use than Dropbox? I just upload my ebook files (in mobi, epub and pdf format) to Dropbox and send a link to the folder in my welcome email.

    • Ed James June 5, 2016 at 9:17 pm #

      Absolutely is. I was using Dropbox and got no end of “how do I get this on my kindle?” emails. Bookfunnel is worth the $20 for me.

  3. Joe Kowalski April 14, 2016 at 10:44 am #

    Aimee this is really cool! I am of course I am exploring a different aspect of the whole strategy for self-publishing marketing like:

    They also have a facebook site:

    Now, what I want to bring to your attention is the possibilities that such platforms provide for new authors through LEGAL EBOOK SHARING.

    I am very much convinced that the way to propagate a new title is providing first version eprints (prior to official emarketing launches of ebook title online) is the way yo go.

    I very much feel that communitites like SHELFmybooks – especially in Canada – are pioneering this approach; discovery of content via social networking.

    Please appreciate your comments on this ‘spin’!


    • Aimee April 16, 2016 at 9:37 pm #

      I will certainly investigate that Joe! It certainly sounds promising. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Jane Davis April 11, 2016 at 6:57 am #

    I use a free download from Delightful Downloads on my WordPress site. Combined with Mailchimp, this does allow to to offer a free ebook in different formats.

    • Aimee April 11, 2016 at 9:28 am #

      Thank you for sharing, Jane, does this include the capability of only offering the download to those who sign up for your newsletter?

  5. JJ Toner April 10, 2016 at 10:32 pm #

    Hi Aimee. I was planning to set this up using Smashwords and their coupon system instead of bookfunnel. Are there are significant differences between bookfunnel and Smashwords?

    • Aimee April 11, 2016 at 9:29 am #

      I believe that on Smashwords, you can price your ebook as free and, but it’s displayed on the public site? On Bookfunnel, the reader requires a link, hence they need to sign up to the newsletter first. I may be wrong as I’m not totally familiar with Smashwords, but that’s my understanding. I hope this helps!

      • JJ Toner April 11, 2016 at 9:44 am #

        Hi Aimee. Yes, you can price your book at zero on Smashwords, but that’s not what I am planning to do. I have the price set at 99c (it’s a short story). Smashwords have a coupon system. I can use this to allow subscribers to download the format of their choice from Smashwords for free. The only real problem with doing it this way (I think) is that there’s nothing to prevent subscribers from sharing the coupon code with their friends.

  6. Karl Drinkwater April 10, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    That’s a good combination of tools, thanks Aimee. I like Mailchimp in general, though it irritates me that they require a real address that appears with every message you send out. Many indie authors work from home and understandably don’t want to include their home addresses. The usual solutions are to use a paid service (many suggest a PO Box, but it is possible to get someone’s real address from a PO Box address, so if the intention is anonymity, PO Boxes fail). I wonder if any big mailing list tools don’t have that requirement (e.g. ones based in non-US locations)? Anyway, thanks again.

    • Aimee April 11, 2016 at 9:23 am #

      I believe it’s a legal requirement to display the address now, so all mailing list software will probably require you to list your address unfortunately I’ve seen some authors however place a ‘message’ in these fields instead of an address though. For instance they put ‘Thank you for signing up’ in Address Line 1 and so on, then they just have ‘UK’ at the end. That could be a way around it…


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