How to Use Email as an Unpublished Author
Updated: May 17
I should send emails but I’m not published yet.
No one wants to hear from me because I’m not published.
If I don’t have a book out, what should I email people?
Any of these sound familiar?
I used to say the exact same thing when I started out but after working with my own branding coach I realized it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s never to early to start thinking about your marketing as an unpublished author. And email marketing is a great tool for new writers like you because it helps you grow a tribe of fans that are ready to buy your book when it does come out. You don’t want to wait until it’s time to launch your book to start doing that. Book launches are stressful all by themselves and you don’t want the added stress of trying to build up an audience for that book at the same time. And honestly, it's easier to connect with people when you don't have anything to sell. You don’t have the pressure of getting people to buy your books, making it easier to connect with people. If you can start thinking about marketing and start doing marketing tasks like email, it really helps you get ahead of the game.
Before we get into the specifics of what you can do with email let me take a second to help you wrap your head around email.
A lot of people think email is dead – that nobody wants to read emails and everyone’s inboxes are full stuff they don’t read. Many writers think that social media is the only way to grow that audience. But I beg to differ. Social media can be a great way to grow that audience but remember that the platform controls who gets to see what you post. You can’t guarantee that everyone who follows you will see what you post on Instagram or Facebook. It’s all dictated by the backend algorithms we mere mortals don’t understand. So even though social media and posting content on there is great, it has its limitations when it comes to connecting with your future reader.
Email, on the other hand, totally cuts out that middleman. You can send a message, piece of content, or a video directly to your subscriber. Not only do you have that direct line, but you know that subscriber actually wants to hear from you. Because they took the time out to sign up and give you their email address you can be confident that they're here and they're ready to read what you send them. You just have to make sure that what you're emailing them connects, engages, entertains, and/or informs gives that subscriber in the way they expected you to when they signed up.
How can unpublished authors like you use email?
Well first, you should think of it as a way to connect with your future readers. That's one of the beautiful things t email can do. You can have that personal conversation with them without social media algorithms getting in the way. And since you don’t have anything to sell you can really focus on those subscribers and connect with them in a genuine way.
What do you write in these emails?
Think of your email as a letter to a personal friend. What would you talk about? What books would you geek out about? What movies are you both excited to see? What do you both find inspiring? When you know who your ideal reader is, you’ll be able to come up with answers to these questions and so much more because you’ll know what you both share in common. And if you want to make these emails a regular thing (which is a really good idea!) then sending out an author newsletter is the best place to start. Sending out an email newsletter regularly will help you grow that tribe of readers you’ll need when you finally publish your book.
I go into a lot more depth on five great topics you can write about in my free newsletter guide. As you go through the guide, keep in mind that no matter what you decide to share in this emails, make sure that you share your personal story in a way that connects to what you do, it backs up your brand and that it will be of interest to your ideal reader.
How do you get people to sign up for your newsletter?
One of the best ways to start getting people onto your list is to give them something in exchange for their email address. That could be a chapter or an excerpt from your unpublished novel. It also could be a complete short story or novella that is somehow tied to your work in progress. You don’t have to spend a ton of time or a ton of money putting one together. You can create a short story from a scene you had to cut out while editing. You can pull your favorite side character and create a story around them.
Once you have that idea, you can set aside time to write it and get a second set of eyes to go through it for you. If you can afford a custom cover that’s awesome but if not, they are tons of great pre-made covers out there for as little as $50. Once you have your free short story or novella all ready to go, sign up with a service like Bookfunnel where you can participate in book promo giveaways. I’ve used that service for almost two years now and does a great job in getting my free novella in front of new readers.
So now that you have an idea of how you can use email as an unpublished author, what’s your first step going to be?