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

creatively-corporate-newsletterIt’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, 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 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!

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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The Chic Boutique on Baker Street by Rachel Dove

Today is very exciting, as we introduce our first ever author interview, and I am so pleased that our author is the lovely Rachel Dove, who is currently on a blog tour for her new novel, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, published by Mills&Boon. I was very lucky to be sent a copy recently, which was thoroughly enjoyable. Our review can be seen below.


Welcome, Rachel. Perhaps you could start by telling us a little about yourself?
I am 34, have lived in Wakefield all my life (so far) and am married to a wonderful man called Peter. We have two boys together, and a cat and a dog. I would have more animals, my plan is to have a mini farm one day! I am a home body, and love nothing better than chilling out with my family, or binge watching the crime channel while the kids are at school. I wasn’t always like this, I used to be a lot crazier! I have worked in lots of different sectors, from school governor to nightclub manager!

When did you realise you loved writing, and what was your journey like in becoming a published author?
At school I think. I was like Matilda, head stuck in a book, always have been and I always remember writing lots of stories too. I have lots of files stuffed full of work at home, and I often sift through them for inspiration.

I did a Writers Bureau course, which was invaluable, and studied the markets, read A LOT, looked at blogs, and generally just studied for the job I wanted, which was of course, to be a writer. I have self published things, and am part of a fantastic group called Inkslingers, who together have released a number of anthologies and raised over £2,000 for charity. I love them all to bits.

I have entered competitions since I was young, it’s always good to enter things, to practice submitting, and any feedback you can get is brilliant. I never got anywhere though, so when I heard I was in the final 10 of the Flirty Fiction competition, I couldn’t believe it. I still never thought I would win though, I even checked that they had the right winner!

How did it feel when you first held a copy of The Chic Boutique in Baker Street in your hands?
Indescribable joy and disbelief. I have been writing forever, and this was something I always strove for, but never believed would happen. I spent the day stroking it, and I cannot wait to see it on actual shelves in shops, next to authors I have known and respected for years. It’s amazing.

In The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, Amanda leaves her life in London for a new life and venture in the Yorkshire countryside. Apart from being an author, have you ever dreamt of doing anything else?
I always wanted to teach, and when I was at primary school, I wrote an essay, which I still have, saying that I wanted to be an author and a teacher. I qualified to teach adult education last year, specialising in family learning, so when I won the competition, it was like my life goals had been achieved, and that was thrilling and scary, as I always think you need a goal to drive you. I taught for two wonderful years, and have now taken a year off to write full time and be home for the boys more, so we shall see what next year brings. To be honest, I quite fancy the idea of travelling some with the children, enjoying them being young. Who knows what will happen when they are older? I get bored easily if I am not kept busy, so I am sure some plans will form. For now, I am very happy as I am, after working so hard for so long.

Where do you find your inspiration when writing?
Everywhere. I like to study people, and I read a lot of magazines and newspapers, where just a line can give you an idea for a story. I always carry a notebook with me, just in case. I think that the place settings are just as important, so having a good strong location in mind helps. An excuse for some more travelling in my future too!

Do you have a writing routine?
I have a daily minimum of 500 words, which is quite low, but I often do more. I try to write when the children are at school and the house is quiet, but often when the house sleeps works better. I am a bit of a night owl, so tapping away in bed on the laptop is often the norm.

What can we expect next from you? Is there anything in the pipeline?
I am currently writing a book which is very different from Chic Boutique, and I have plans for more tales from Westfield too. I have lots of characters that want to say hello! All I can say for now is…watch this space!


51AWPvSAqAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Review for The Chic Boutique on Baker Street by Rachel Dove – 4.5*

The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is a real feel-good rural romp! An ideal summer read and full of strong characters with plenty of personality. Rachel Dove has an exceptional talent with humanising her characters and it creates a great connection for the reader.

When we first meet our heroine, Amanda, she is a high-flying Lawyer working in London, attempting to conceal her love of craft and craving a simpler life. When she discovers her boyfriend is having a fling with his secretary, she finally gets the push she needs to create a life for herself. Taking a leap of faith, Amanda purchases a small shop and flat in the quiet Yorkshire village of Westfield. Changing her entire life overnight is a huge upheaval and when her instant impression of her new neighbours is not how she imagined, Amanda begins to wonder if she has made the right choice. The arrogant stranger from next door and local vet, Ben, seems intent on making sure she doesn’t ruin the sleepy village life and Amanda battles between their physical attraction and his obvious disdain for ‘city girls’.

Pretty soon Amanda has made friends with a group of fellow crafting ladies, but these busy-bodies have made it perfectly clear that they intend to play matchmaker for her and Ben. Amanda, however has plans of her own, and fully intends to play them at their own game, quickly noting the chemistry between the head of the busy-bodies, Agatha, and her life-long friend, Taylor.

As Amanda and Ben are forced to spend more and more time together, they realise that first impressions may not mean everything after all, but as they each battle their insecurities, the author ensures that she keeps you guessing until the very end!

Full of country charm and now much loved character’s, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is well worthy of 4.5 stars and I am thoroughly looking forward to the next offering from Rachel Dove.

Creating Simple Visual Content for Your Author Platform

You may have noticed recently how more and more visual content such as images, photos and videos appear on social media. This is because visual content on social media and platform networks tends to gain a lot more attention than those that contain text alone. Social media experts say that it gives your interaction a significant boost and also strengthens your brand.

Authors can use this as a fantastic tool to further interact with readers and others in the industry. According to B2B Infographics, photos are liked twice as often as text updates, and videos are shared twelve times more than links and text posts combined! Those statistics are incredible, and something I will certainly be taking note of myself.

Below are some simple ways to create unique visual media that you can share across your author platform, including social media, blogs, websites and more.

Account Imagery
Imagery has nearly always been used strongly across social media. Profile photos and header banners are great ways to make an instant impression. I’ve always preferred photos of yourself as a profile shot. It means that visitors can put a ‘face to the name’,and conveys legitimacy. Below are some fun examples of how some authors have created a branded and fun header – just remember to leave space for the profile photo to overlap so that nothing is hidden when it’s in place. Contact me if you would like your own header image designed, or you can do it yourself fairly easily.

I have written a couple of articles specifically on video media for authors, which you can view here and here, and there are many more options to choose from. Showing your personality on camera can further that connection with your fans, and many authors are trying their hand at vlogging (video blogging), whether its with instructional content on being a writer, conveying your expertise on a topic, or general material.
Carol Wyer is currently running a very entertaining ‘Grumpies On Board Travel Show’ which follows her and her ‘Grumpy’ husband (Carol’s words, not mine!) through various adventures after the success of her books. You can view Carol’s channel on YouTube here.
Other authors use video as an interview platform, for book reviews, book trailers or as a writing journal. If you are a little camera shy, there are options to create something visually appealing that doesn’t necessarily need you in shot.
The important thing to remember is to display videos across your entire platform to gain maximum exposure. They are extremely easy to share via social media and blogs. The average internet user also spends 88% longer on a website with video, so embedding a selection of your videos and having a link to your YouTube channel prominently displayed is superb for keeping visitors engaged.

I recently wrote a blog post on the various social media account options and which authors should be using them. If as an author you use the image based social media networks, such as Instagram, Snapchat or Pinterest, you may be used to sharing photos, however for those authors who aren’t sure on what images they could possibly share, here is a list of options you may not have thought of:

  • Inspirational photos – Out and about for research? Share photos of locations, people (with their permission) or anything else that may have given you that fantastic idea for your next book! Lovely author, Ellie Holmes has a section on her website devoted to photos that have inspired her. Jane Odiwe, who is a fantastic author and artist displays the paintings she has produced whilst inspired for her novels.
  • Your favourite books – Have you seen a book that you love? Share a photo or picture of its cover, or include a photo when you link to a review.
  • Your writing space – Readers are naturally intrigued by authors and sharing a photo of the space you use to write can prove a real interest to your fans. Get creative and decorate your space per season and share over and over again.


Beth Hersant’s book travelling the world!


  • Your Readers – Readers often send in unusual shots of themselves reading your book. A client of mine, Beth Hersant has a fantastic list on her website, with her readers from all over the world!
  • Local Bookshops – If you have a local independent bookshop, why not share photos of their amazing displays. It can further your relationship with them and also help promote independents within the industry. If your book is stocked there, even better!
  • susan
    Author, Susan Gandar

    Author Events – If you attend an event such as a writing conference or are running your own event such as a book signing, ensure you get some photos. These can instigate links between like-minded authors and any readers oe locals who may be interested in attending future events.

Just Add Text
Another suggestion is to take images and add text to them. If there is something you want to get noticed, adding the text to an image can be a better way to gain that attention. It is easy enough to add words to images with Microsoft Paint, or with free sites like PicMonkey and Picfont.
They can be used to convey your brand, a new release, a book excerpt, title a blog, or even a general quote that you want to share. Some examples of this image style is below.

What could be better than an image to gain attention? An animated image! GIFs are a huge trend at the moment, and easy to get hold of on websites such as Giphy. Authors can use them to display how they are feeling at any one moment. Use them alongside some promotion or general posts for maximum exposure. It is also a great way to have some fun and enter some humour into your platform.



It can take a little more thought and time, especially for authors, who naturally write through life.The key with visual media is if you can show it instead or typing it, then you may end up gaining more attention. All that effort will be worthwhile in the end.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch on I always love to hear your thoughts and ideas, so please comment if you have had any experiences you would like to share.

5* Book Review – Sisi: Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki

51SzhfuaisL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_Sisi: Empress on Her Own is a fictional work by talented author, Allison Pataki, however it is clear that the historical research undertaken by the author has been both extensive and passionate. That passion for both history and her characters is clear in her writing and both Sisi and her smaller characters are concise and incredibly visual.

I was unaware before I began writing this review that there was a prequel to this book, called The Accidental Empress, so it is clear that this is a very successful stand alone book, although I will definitely be getting my hands on the first in the series soon!

Pataki’s second book, Sisi: Empress on Her Own follows the Empress of Austria-Hungary’s adult life. This isn’t a simple story however. This is a book of an extraordinary life and contains all the joys, pains, life, death and emotions that we all experience through decades of genuine living. Sisi endures heartache, love and loss, and with Allison Pataki’s  extraordinary writing, the reader is drawn into the drama with ease.

I have enjoyed many books on historical women and their lives, and I love how strong and independent Sisi is portrayed during a time where women were not encouraged to tend to their own happiness. Sisi’s need to find a place to call home, her travels and her struggles to bond with the children she rarely gets to see really pulls on the heartstrings. Throughout the book, Sisi reaches barrier after barrier that historical society dictated, but she deals with these issues in her own, almost rebellious manner. Pataki, however cleverly enables the reader to delve into Sisi’s private thoughts and the concerns she secretly holds close to her chest, further encouraging that vital link between character and reader.

When we meet Sisi, she is finding royal life increasingly difficult with a young infant daughter, Valerie, that she is determined to raise outside of court. During Sisi’s travels we meet a collection of bold characters and visit an amazing array of places. Left behind at court are Sisi’s older children and her rigid husband, Franz, who encompass their own problems whilst meandering their way through royal life. This book offers a fascinating insight into a life that many would perhaps wrongly envy.

Do not expect a flouncy, romantic historical novel with this. It is an accurate account of how difficult a life in this type of situation may have been. Beautifully written and a thoroughly fascinating insight into history and a woman whose strong will and refusal to live a life unworthy of herself is the real heart of this story.

Which Social Media Channels Should An Author Use?

As an author in today’s marketplace, you will often hear the success stories of book sales after strong social media campaigns, but it can be hard to know where to start and whether the input will be worthwhile. There are many elements that contribute to a successful social media campaign and continual promotion of your work, but one aspect that many don’t consider is which social media channels to choose.

The truth is that picking the most obvious or as many as possible will not always work to your advantage. Your choice should depend on your goals and your audience, not on your personal preference for a particular network. And you certainly don’t need to be on every channel, just the right ones. If your goal is to build a fan base and create sales rather than casual interaction with some of your readers, you will definitely want to check that you have considered the following.

Your Audience
To start you will need to gather information on who your target market is. Some simple elements to consider are gender, age and location. Once you have this information, you can begin to use this to find the best social media channels to fit your audience demographic. People are naturally curious about authors, as though they are a mystical beings, and so it is now very popular for readers to search and connect online.

Network Styles
Each network has a very different behavioural basis. The basis of the network and the demographic of people who use it dictates how it is used and who it is suited to. To give you an idea, a rough guide is detailed below.

  • Facebook
    Facebook is used by an astonishing 71% of online adults, mainly to share snippets of their lives with family and friends. There is however a strong recommendation and ‘sharability’ factor that authors and millions of businesses take advantage of.  Facebook has the best demographic spread of any network online, attracting both younger and more mature users.
  • Twitter
    Twitter is a real-time network, with a limited space for posting. This is ideal for those who have less time and want to share and read short, sharp pieces of information. 26% of the adult population hold an account, being favoured by youth and those you frequent the internet more regularly.
  • Google+
    Google+ offers a lot of the same features as facebook but at the moment remains less popular. Having said this, many authors find it useful and there is an argument that marketing on a network with less competition is of more use. Google+ also encourages users to connect over common interests, rather than just being friends and family, which narrows down your search for potential readers and those in the industry. It’s about meeting new people who love the same things you do. It has a high male demographic, with those over 40 being the fastest number of growing users .
  • Youtube
    Video media has taken a huge boost in popularity among authors in the last couple of years. Youtube therefore offers authors a great way to display various videos online to a vast audience. It is hugely popular for ‘how-to’ videos, and therefore highly ideal for non-fiction authors as well as those looking to distribute book trailers, interviews and advice pieces. It’s less of a place to connect, but with video being such a useful tool in marketing, it’s well worth considering. To read more information on video media for authors click here.
  • Instagram
    Instagram is a picture/photo based network, with real-time engagement, much like Twitter. It tends to attract a much younger audience, but is being picked up by more and more businesses who use it as a marketing catalogue or diary. Authors can post photos of their readers with their books across the globe, inspirational places or objects as well as events and book signings.
  • Linkedin
    Linkedin has often had the reputation as a simple network to upload your CV and achievements, but more recently it enabled a newsboard type feature. It’s ideal for non-fiction writers who want to connect with others in a particular field and further their expertise and reputation. As a fiction author you may be interested in being booked for speaking engagements, and this is also a great place to connect with those in the publishing industry. Linkedin is popular with a more mature demographic.
  • Pinterest
    Pinterest is similar to Instagram, as an image based network. It does however allow visitors to see ‘moodboards’ of your photos, allowing you to keep more of your content visible for longer.  It’s mostly popular with women over the age of 25 but that gender gap is getting smaller. Pinterest is working hard to better its commerce side of the business and is looking to soon allow users to link to purchase things within their photo collections.
  • Snapchat
    Snapchat is an instant photo based network which allows users to snap a photo and share, however the image only stays visible for a short amount of time. It is highly popular among a very young demographic so may be ideal for authors of YA fiction. It is the new kid on the block as far as social media is concerned, but became very popular very quickly.

Social Media Strategies

Now that you have a good idea of who your target audience is, and which social media channels they are likely to use, you can begin to put together a social media strategy. Start by selecting the best channels suited to your readership and yourself. There is little point opening every account possible if you have little time to update them and market successfully. You will gain a much better response if you concentrate on the few, rather than neglect the many.

You will also want to consider the times to post on social media. If you are attempting to attract a global fan-base, you will need to post in real-time for those who are overseas to gain the best possible chance of them viewing your material. If you are looking to attract an adult market, consider posting early morning and evening during commuter times as well as in the evenings for those who work. It is often a case of trial and error, but many of these platforms now offer a free analytics feature to show you how many impressions your posts have made and so you can very quickly grasp the best time to be online.

If you have any questions about social media, social media campaigns or training please do get in touch via

5* Book Review – The Girl in the Ice

girlintheiceWOW! This is one hungry page turner! Immensely well written by Robert Bryndza. The plot is extraordinarily planned out and when I say that it will keep you guessing until the very end, I absolutely mean it. Bryndza consistently feeds his reader small snippets of information, pulling them one way before turning them right back around and throwing them in another direction. The twists and turns of this book are so well thought out that you will think you’ve solved the puzzle at least a dozen times before the author proves you wrong!

Spoiler Alert!

Erika has been on leave from her job as a DCI since the death of her husband, who was killed on duty. Whilst she still blames herself for this tragic incident, Erika returns to work in London when a mysterious case opens up of a murdered young woman. Thought of as reckless in her investigation, and abrupt in dealing with a family of potential suspects, Erika is bound to follow protocol instead of her instinct.She battles with colleagues and her own conscience before uncovering what turns out to be a hugely intriguing trail of a serial killer. She wants desperately to solve these murders, but is she subconsciously trying to prove to herself that she is capable of doing this job and shake of the responsibility she feels for her husbands death. When she is taken off the case, Erika cannot help but continue to investigate on her own, but is she simply putting herself in harms way?

Robert Bryndza has written a spectacular book here. With a believable but exciting storyline and characters, it is a fantastic read, with tension building until the very last pages. The ending is full of surprises. You will not be disappointed. This has everything that a crime fiction / thriller bookworm could want. I am looking forward to book two!


5* Book Review – Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

51r4V8jqv8L._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_‘Dear Thing’ by Julie Cohen is an exceptionally well written masterpiece. It’s the sort of story that unremittingly tugs at your emotions. It also offers an amazing insight into the world of infertility and the subsequent heartaches that go hand in hand with the decisions that must be made and those that are made for you.

‘Dear Thing’ follows the journey of a young couple, Ben and Clare, who have been trying to conceive through IVF treatment for many years. If that wasn’t a struggle enough, their hopes are snatched away again when Clare suffers a miscarriage. Having had her fill of treatment and dreams shattered, Clare makes a decision that rocks her marriage.

Deciding to give up on treatment, Clare expects Ben to be supportive, however his heartbreak is clear and instead of accepting defeat, he looks for answers elsewhere. When Ben’s best friend, Romily offers to be a surrogate, no one would expect the journey that lay ahead of them.

Romily has loved Ben since university. When he met and married Claire, she tortured herself by believing she could remain friends and secretly love him from afar. When she drunkenly offers to carry his baby, she wouldn’t expect that months into her pregnancy these feelings would surface. Writing a diary of her feelings in the form of letters to their unborn child, Romily spills her emotions onto the blank pages, writing to the baby she knows that she can never keep.

When Clare finds the diary, all hell breaks loose and Ben must decide which of his mixed feelings between his wife and the woman carrying his child are his future.

The story will keep you in a trance until the very last page, wondering if everyone’s happy endings will come to fruition…