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How to set up a mailing list for your web fiction or serial:

How to build a mailing list form for your web fiction:

In this article I will show you the steps that you need to take to get your Mailing list up and running for your Web Fiction so that you can retain your readers and turn them into fans. I will be using MailChimp in this tutorial, but there are other fine services like ConverterKit (which was built by and for authors) as well. Make sure that when you sign up for a service that you use their free service first (MailChimp is free for up to 2000 subscribers). Building a mailing list can take time, so no use in paying for one until you need to.

Let’s get your mailing list started!

Once you are signed up navigate to the “Lists” section of your dashboard, this should be in the upper left hand corner of the page. Once there hit the “Create List” button in the upper right hand corner. This will bring up a prompt asking you specifics, but this early in you should not have to worry about them. Hit the “Create List” button once more.

You will be brought to a form for the specific name and features of the list. You can name the list anything you want, but keep in mind that subscribers can see this, so name it something appropriate. Next fill out the Default From Email Address (this will be your own email, or a specific one you have created for the list) and the Default From Name field. Under the Form Settings check the boxes under Double Opt-In and Enable GDPR fields. The first is a good practice to have to keep your list hygienic, as it forces the hand of a human on the other side to make sure that they want to subscribe (and are therefore more likely to open your emails), and the other is a requirement for EU law (a good place to learn more on that can be found here).

Personally I like to check the one-by-one box for Notifications when I am first building a list, but once the list has momentum I turn them off.

Once you are done hit Save!

Now let’s build a form!

You will be brought to a new page (shown above). Hit the create a signup form link. This next part will come down to preference. A lot of blogging sites like to “greet” you with their mailing list opt-ins via popup, but I have always found this to be intrusive, and I am not sure if this is aligned with web fiction. After building a nice and beautiful splash page, with an awesome hook to get readers started on my first chapter, the last thing I want to do is scare them off with a pop-up. In this tutorial we will be using the Embedded Forms, and we will be placing this on the splash page, and at the end of each chapter.

Note: if you are on Wattpad or Royal Road Legends you will not be able to embed a form. Instead, use the Form Builder option and copy the link that it provides you to give to your readers. When they click on it they will be brought to a form hosted by MailChimp.

This next bit also comes down to preference. When building your form for your pages you will be met with a choice to create a “classic”, “super slim”, “horizontal”, “naked”, or “advanced” form. I like to go with the “horizontal” form as it is aesthetically pleasing and it limits the amount of information that the subscriber has to fill. This is good because more fields can create more resistance in the reader to fill it out.

You should now have something that looks like this:

Copy and paste the code in the box provided. This is the code that you will paste into the body of your chapters. Now navigate to your splash page, or chapter post. If you are using WordPress hit the Text tab in your post editor (this will be on the upper right hand corner). This will let you see and code in HTML. Now simply paste the code at the end of the post and viola! You have an opt-in!

Some tips to entice readers to subscribe.

Your readers are more likely to subscribe if you offer them something in return. No one wants to join a mailing list for the sake of joining one, so offer them something that only you can give them. This can be a full book that you have written (best) or a related short story. You can offer in-world maps, or even a soundtrack for your story. Whatever you offer, make sure that it is awesome, you want your readers to have something that they can get excited about. Once you have this “carrot” to dangle, you can set up MailChimp (or whoever) to auto send their gift on sign-up. Indie authors have been using this strategy for years, but as a web fiction author you have some flexibility in your platform. You can not just offer great “carrots” like a free eBook, you can also offer time sensitive material as well. If your chapter ends in a cliffhanger, you can offer your readers an immediate resolve by sending them the next (and unpublished) chapter to them if they sign up. This is best done at the end of an arc, as opposed to every chapter.

Finally, when building a mailing list you have to be tenacious. Be consistent in how you communicate in your newsletters and be consistent in how often you send them. Remember: this is a direct line to your readers. Use it well to turn them into fans and they will repay you back in kind.

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How to set up a mailing list for your web fiction or serial:


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