Freddie_winkThis week, I was at last able to write a provisional publication timetable for my debut novel ‘From Here to Nashville.’ After speaking to my editor for a progress report, I now know that I will be spending November editing my book for the last time (yay!) and then it will go off to the proofreader on the 8th December, coming back just in time for Christmas! I decided this week that I will try and aim to publish the ebook and the paperback at the same time, having worked out, with some help from members of the Alliance of Independent Authors, that I can format my ebook myself using Scrivener which will save a lot of time. I have also decided after some research that I’m going to go with Amazon’s CreateSpace for the paperback version. Once these decisions were made, I was in a position to write the timetable. There will be an incredible amount to do before my publication date in the new year but now I have it all laid out, it seems more manageable.

One of the jobs I have had in mind to do for a while is to set up an email list for a newsletter. Between Twitter, Facebook and my website, I currently have around 1200 people following me and I wanted to set up a way for people to subscribe before the numbers get any bigger. I know not everyone will sign up to receive the newsletter but I want the option to be there before I go ahead and publish. As always, I had done some research and come to the conclusion that MailChimp would be good for me to use. If you have a site, you can just use a contact form for people to sign up but this will only collect the data from people who sign up via your WordPress site and that’s all it does. MailChimp allows you to have more than one sign up button – for example, I’ve set them up on this site and also on my Facebook Author page. If you have already got a list of people signed up but you want to move over to MailChimp, you can import your list as well which I’m sure is a great plus. As well as seeing who your subscribers are, MailChimp also allows you to design smart looking emails to send out to your subscribers and to automate your email ‘campaigns.’ So far, I have only set up the subscriber button but I hope that in time, I will make good use of these other facilities and be able to keep my subscribers right up-to-date with my latest news.

The steps for setting up your MailChimp subscriber button then are as follows:

  • Once you have created an account with them, you will find yourself on a dashboard. If, like me, you don’t already have a list of subscribers, you click on ‘Create a List’ and fill out the information required which is quite straightforward. If you already have a list of subscribers, you will need to create your list first by importing them to MailChimp. For this, click on ‘Create a List’ and follow the instructions. I haven’t had to do this so can’t offer any advice but there does seem to be a lot of information out there. Just make sure you’re looking at the advice for a site and not
  • If you don’t have a list or once you’ve imported it, you need to ‘Start Building your Audience’ which will give you the option to select ‘Sign Up Forms.’
  • Here you will see the option to learn more about adding a sign up form to your Facebook page. I followed these instructions exactly as written and did that with no trouble at all.
  • I found setting up the sign up form on this site a bit more tricky though. It looks like you should select ‘Form Integrations’ to do this but having tried this and failed to make it work, I had a look at another WordPress site for some help and chose the ‘General Forms’ option instead.
  • When you have done this, choose ‘Build It’ and create your sign up form. I kept mine very simple, as you’ll see if you click on it on my site here. You can customise yours as much as you want to of course. There are other options to ‘Design It’ and ‘Translate It’ but these aren’t essential. I didn’t use these, although I may do later.
  • Then you need to copy the ‘Sign Up Form url’ from just above your form on this same page.
  • Come back to your WordPress site and go to ‘Widgets.’ Drag a new text box over to the sidebar, positioning it where you want the newsletter sign up option to be on your pages. Note that this will put the option on to every page. In time, you may want to put the sign up option on to one page only but if you’re trying to bring it to the attention of visitors to your site, it’s a good idea to start like this.
  • Type in a title for your sign up button. Mine is ‘Sign up here to receive my newsletter!’ Then you need to paste your url into the main box below the title as follows: url in here”>put in your title from your form here
  • This is what mine looks like: <a href=””>Newsletter from Author, Julie Stock<a />

I really hope this works for you first time round. I had to have a few goes at it before I got it right. I know absolutely nothing about html code though and usually have to ask my husband for help but this time, I’m proud to say I did it all on my own! I reckon if I can do it, so can you 😉 Let me know how you get on, especially if it works! Thanks for reading, as always and if you’d like to sign up to receive my newsletter, that would be fab!