In the end, it was so simple.
It turns out that all you need to set up an email list is the help of an incredibly generous stranger, complemented by tech support that actually supports.
Marylee MacDonald, whom I’d occasionally encountered on Twitter, but whom I didn’t know beyond her name, had emailed me a few weeks back to offer some assistance. Seriously—out a clear sky, she just showed up and offered help. (And Marylee isn’t even the only one—authors Una Tiers, Sarah Her, and Wendy J. Menara have also stepped up to offer insights and assistance. The writing community is amazing!)
I emailed Marylee to bemoan my email conundrum. This wonderful person responded with a video she’d created to walk me through creating an email signup with double opt-in and an incentive. (See how I’ve learned all these words? Aren’t you impressed?) I ran the video on my Surface while setting up the email signup on my desktop, and it was all done in minutes. Really. It takes longer to boil water and cook pasta. Marylee MacDonald is the Official Queen of Email Lists. All hail!
Unfortunately, Marylee’s video assumed I could use a plugin on my WordPress site to connect the site to ConvertKit, the email system. Using the plugin would have required me to upgrade to a wildly expensive plan. I asked the WordPress tech people for suggestions, but to no avail. (In all fairness, what I was asking them to do was to tell me how I could avoid paying them more money, so it was probably a bit naïve to expect much.)
But as it turned out, all was not lost. I went back to ConvertKit and said, “Do you have any ideas?” The first one they sent me didn’t work, but then, they came with another that was so elegant in its simplicity that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself: set up the page on the website, and embed the link to take the signer-up to a separate page where they could enter their email address and click to trigger the email to let them confirm their subscription.
After hours and hours of stress and struggle, the entire setup took less than half an hour.
The best part is that it works.
So if you want to go to the page to sign up—
“Not so fast,” you say. “Why should I sign up? What’s in it for me?”
My email subscribers will be the first to know about any of my publishing news. For example, right now I’m still waiting to find out the precise date my debut novel, State v. Claus, will be released. If you subscribe to my email newsletter, you’ll be the first (well, first after me) to know exactly when my book will be available!
PLUS, when you confirm your subscription, you’ll get a free story. It’ll be my way of saying “thanks for signing up!”
“Wait—is this going to be one of those deals where you’re sending out emails three times a day and clogging up my email box?”
Nope. I promise only to send you a newsletter when I actually have something to tell you.
Nothing else. It really is that easy!
“Okay,” you say. “Let’s assume I want to sign up for your email newsletter. Where would I go to see all this brilliant technology in action?”
You can either look up in the menu bar at the top of this page and click on “SIGN UP FOR MY EMAIL NEWSLETTER!” or you can click this link.
Good job, Jo. You’re so close to the BIG day!
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Yay, PJB! I’m happy to share what I’ve learned, and glad to see how elegant the email signup looks on your page! There’s a saying in Spanish for this: “Poco a poco, se va lejos.” Little by little, one goes far. (I don’t know why, but it sounds more elegant in Spanish.)
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I couldn’t have done it without you! Thanks so much, Marylee!