Newsletter swaps - a guide

post by author, Rhoda Baxter

Most authors have a newsletter which they use to communicate with their readers. Marketing best practice suggests this is one of the most effective ways to engage with readers. I am an author of smart romantic comedy and have been building my newsletter list for several years (do sign up here).

Newsletter swaps are a brilliant way of building your newsletter subscriber list and sharing your books with fans in your genre.

How newsletter swaps work

For starters, you do need your own newsletter so you have something to swap. But, don’t worry if you don’t have thousands and thousands of subscribers, this works with fewer too.

  • You need to find another author who writes in a similar genre to you (or has books on a similar theme to you).

  • You feature their reader magnet on your newsletter and they feature yours on theirs. Hopefully, people will click through and subscribe to your newsletter.

  • Alternatively, you can just feature each other’s books with a link to find out more (& hopefully buy your book).

This works because readers who sign up to author newsletters are happy to sign up to others, especially if they get a free book or novella in return. The key thing is that these are fans of similar books, so chances are they will read voraciously in that genre.

What you are NOT doing is sharing details of your email list subscribers with anyone. Don’t do that. That is BAD (and against GDPR rules).

What to send

Ask the person you’re swapping with what they want. Most people ask for a picture of the book cover and the relevant link. Sometimes they ask for a short summary or a strapline. 

Things to bear in mind

Which link should you send? 

 If you are trying to sell more books (eg, on a new release or a promotional offer), then link directly to the retailer site. I use a universal book link, which will redirect the user to their preferred store (Amazon, Apple, Kobo etc) in their preferred territory. You can add your affiliate link or Facebook pixel to the link, if you’re using those.

If you are trying to get more people to join your mailing list, then link to your mailing list sign up page. I tend to add people who signup from newsletter swaps to a separate sub list (or you could just tag them, depending on what your newsletter provider allows), just so that I can see how many came from there and what open rates/ unsubscribe rates are like.

 Swap with people in your genre - two reasons for this: (1) these people already read your genre, so they’re more likely to be interested in your book. (2) if they buy your book, you won’t mess up your also boughts (if, for example, you’re in a freebie giveaway group with a people who write in different genres, your also boughts are going to get really messed up).

Some people will sign up for anything to get a freebie. Your mailing list size dictates how much you have to pay your mailing list provider, so in your welcome sequence, have at least one reminder to unsubscribe if they don’t want to hear from you.

Unsubscribes happen. Don’t fret. Those people weren’t going to buy your book anyway.

Always double check that the link you send works! (Take it from someone who did three swaps before figuring out the reason no one was signing up - check your links!)

The one-to-one exposure swap is slow, but it’s by far the best way to grow your mailing list.

Where to find other authors willing to swap

First try your existing networks, particularly the ones to do with your genre. These people are your colleagues and should be a good fit audience wise. Find someone whose readership is similar to yours, then ask if they’ll swap. 

If you’re feeling brave, approach an author you admire and ask if they’ll swap. Don’t be offended if they say no.

Join some genre specific author groups that allow newsletter swaps. A search of Facebook should help you find some.

Use a site that specialises in this sort of networking:

Storyorigin - similar to Bookfunnel bundles and MyBookCave groups. This is a site that facilitates authors grouping together to share their books. You can arrange newsletter swaps with other authors in your genre. It’s still in beta, so it’s free.

My Book Cave - I like this site because I write romance. They make you grade your book according to how much profanity, violence and sexual content there is. This stops readers downloading books with content they won’t like (and stops them complaining about it afterwards). They do free newsletter magnet giveaway groups. They also run a newsletter (like Bookbub but much, much smaller) where you can advertise your book deals.

ProlificWorks (formerly Instafreebie) - You put  your book on there as a giveaway. It’s free to join and put books up, but if you want to collect email addresses, you have to upgrade to a higher tier. You can go up and down the subscription tiers as you need. They have a huge list of people who get their emails. If you get a group of ten people together and schedule a promotion where you all share the promo page, then Prolificworks will promote the page to their newsletter too. This is a good option if you’re giving away samples of a new book. If you’re using it to get newsletter subscribers, you can get a LOT of newsletter subscribers, really quickly, from this, but some (most) of them tend to be people who love a freebie. Also, if someone signs up to get a book (or books) from a group promo page, they end up on everyone’s newsletter. I’ve found this approach is too scattergun for me.

Affiliate link:

Non affiliate link:

Bookfunnel:  Bookfunnel’s main service is providing you with a way to easily deliver your book to readers. (Details below). They also have a feature called ‘bundles’. This is where a group of people get together and put all their giveaways on one page and promote the one page. These bundles are usually themed by genre, so your book will be getting in front of readers who follow other people who write in the same genre. Recently, they have added the ability to do similar things for books that are on sale. It costs $20 a year for the basic level and it’s a great way to deliver your newsletter sign up magnet. You upload your book in Mobi, Epub and (optionally) PDF format and they will help people side load it onto their device. You can put restrictions in place (eg - require them to have a password, or require them to put in their email address, limit the number of copies etc), but for these you need to be on the higher tier, which costs between $15 and $25 a month. The good thing is that you can move up and down the levels as you need. So, for example, if you’re promoting your newsletter sign up heavily for a month and want to capture the email addresses, just upgrade for the month and then go back down to basic level when you’re done.

I hope you found this post useful and it helps you build your newsletter list.


If you’re a romance/ women’s fiction author and want to swap, drop me a line rhodabaxter[at]gmail[dot]com