Summer Reading for Your Fans, List-Building for You

Independently Wealthy? Exploring the Alchemy of Self-Publishing

by Megan Haskell

In the modern era of internet marketing, building a mailing list is the single most important avenue to creating a sustainable business. It doesn’t matter if you’re an author or an online clothing retailer, the list is everything. I talked about the basics of building a mailing list in my February post, How to Woo Your Readers and Build an Author Platform. Today, I’m going to go into the specifics on a couple of tools I use to reach out to my readers, to bring them onto my list and to keep them engaged.

BookFunnel and Instafreebie are two websites offering easy ways to bring readers onto your mailing list. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, and I use both on a regular basis.

BookFunnel: Best for ARCs & Reader Rewards

BookFunnel began as a site where you could upload multiple formats of your book – Kindle, ePub, pdf – then let your readers download those books for free. They take care of all the customer service, with explicit instructions and troubleshooting to make sure your readers are able to access the files and get them loaded onto the device of their choice. You just have to send them the link. It’s great for review copies, beta readers, editors, and even prize links for giveaways.

If you’re worried about security and piracy, don’t be. You can choose to limit the number of copies that can be downloaded, and there’s even a way to keep track of who downloaded specific copies.

BookFunnel recently began offering direct giveaways, where they will allow readers to download your book in exchange for an email address and list sign-up, but at the time of this writing, their network is not as strong as Instafreebie.

Instafreebie: Best for Finding and Hooking New Readers

Like BookFunnel, Instafreebie is an easy way to distribute free books. However, their strength is in their direct connection to newsletter providers and their network of giveaways.

With Instafreebie, you can require the reader to provide their email address before they’re allowed to download your book. Then, Instafreebie automatically collects those emails and — for many newsletter service providers, including MailChimp — will send them directly to your list. No middle-man required. They also actively promote author giveaways, especially when multiple authors are involved in a large cross-promotion.

Instafreebie also offers private links to share with reviewers and team members, but they don’t have the watermarking feature to trace the downloads.

A Win-Win

Both of these companies are easy ways to grow your audience through samples of your work. I tend to use BookFunnel to send review copies to advanced readers and selected reviewers, while Instafreebie is a relatively cheap way to bring new readers onto my list by giving away a free short story. Both are worth exploring for your own book business.

So what are you waiting for? Give your audience something fun to read this summer, and build your list at the same time!



Megan Haskell, Author

Legend has it, I was born with a book in my hands. Thirty-ish years later, I’m a stay-at-home-mom who prefers a good story over doing the dishes. Only now, I’m building my own fantasy worlds! I’m the author of the Amazon best selling series,The Sanyare Chronicles, and Program Director of O.C. Writers. You can find me on my website at, Facebook, and Twitter.


*O.C. Writers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. By clicking on the book links anywhere on this site, we earn a small commission from your purchase.

2 thoughts on “Summer Reading for Your Fans, List-Building for You

  1. These sound like great and accessible tools for writers, but are there any numbers to attached to these? Any statistical success fellow writers have been able to gain by using these websites? Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!

    1. There are no industry-wide statistics available that I’m aware of, I think mainly because it depends so much on the author and the effort put into it. But anecdotally, I’ve done pretty well.

      I’ve put what I would consider a moderate amount of effort into building my list through Instafreebie. I’ve joined a handful of author cross-promotions and multi-author giveaways, plus a few paid email blasts with ad networks. Since joining Instafreebie in January, I’ve had 2,643 new subscribers pick up the short story and join my newsletter. Of that, about 5% unsubscribe within a week, after receiving one of my automated 3 email welcome series. But it took me two years to build 1/10th of the list organically.

      I don’t use Bookfunnel for list building…not yet, anyway…so I can’t address how well their public giveaways work. Instead, they’re an inexpensive tool for easily sharing my book with reviewers and early readers in any format. Are there other ways to get the ebook into people’s hands? Absolutely, but this is the easiest, most efficient method I’ve found so far.

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