What is a Viral Newsletter Builder
and how does it work?

Our viral newsletter builders are wildly successful.

But If you've never participated in one before, they can be a little confusing. 
Here's how and why they work so well!


Can you just give me a brief overview?

  • We get a group of authors together, and each pays the buy-in fee
  • The buy-in fee buys some awesome prizes and pays for a bunch of ads
  • We hold a giveaway. Contestants have to agree to sign up for the newsletters of all participating authors in order to enter.
  • Contestants can earn extra entries by following the listed authors on social media.
  • We run the giveaway for nine days. One lucky winner wins the entire prize pack.
  • At the end of the giveaway, we select a winner, contact him or her, and ship out prizes.
  • Once the winner has been contacted and confirmed, we distribute thousands of e-mails via CSV file to participating authors.

It starts with a lead magnet

The traditional way to collect subscribers online is via a lead magnet. In short, you either give something away for free or you offer people a chance to win something. In order to get the free item, or enter the contest, they have to subscribe to your newsletter. For example, many authors will give away the first book in their series - or one of their multiple series - in the hopes that readers will like it and continue to read the rest of the series. Or an author will give away a small number of signed books in a contest.

Either way, new prospects are required to subscribe to your newsletter in order to get the free book or enter the contest. Even though you might lose money initially, in the long run you make money because now you can keep marketing directly to these readers (hence the term direct marketing). These people have already chosen to interact with you and expressed interest in your product, so they're far more likely than a random stranger to buy your stuff.

Who are you, again? And why should anybody care?

If you're an established author who gets a lot of public attention, this can work really well. But if you're a new author, this method has a huge drawback. It's difficult to get people to even look at your lead magnet! A big name author can give away a book for free and people are excited - look, I can get this bestselling book! But you and me? Who are we? The harsh reality is that nobody knows who we are, and nobody cares.

You can solve this problem by throwing enough money at it. Design some good ads, run them on the right sites, and pay a ton of money. Eventually you'll get enough prospects on your newsletter to start selling books on your own, build a name, and someday people will care.

What if you had something people do care about?

Sure, your book is unique. But it's not totally unique. There are other books and media out there similar to it - same genre, similar characters or themes, and so forth. So what if we find something similar that already has a huge fan base, and give away a prize related to that? Our listbuilders target popular fandoms with huge followings - like Twilight, Supernatural, or Firefly - and offer awesome prize packs designed to be immediately appealing to those fans. They'll really want those prizes, so they'll be happy to enter!

We select fandoms based on author feedback - what properties out there have fans that would have significant crossover with your books? Our shared goal as authors is to find fans who might be interested in the stuff we write. For instance, I write supernatural thrillers. So fans of Supernatural or The Dresden Files are a perfect fit. Many of them are already looking for more books like the ones they love. We just need to let them know we exist!

Don't we still have to advertise it?

But still, nobody will ever even see the lead magnet if we don't spread the word. So we pay for advertising - primarily on social media - with very focused targeting. That's why we charge the authors a fee to join these builders. It covers the prizes (of course), and also covers the advertising that we do. And by banding a group of authors together, we all save a ton of money!

Why target TV shows and Movies if we're selling books?

In order to make these listbuilders cost effective, there's a delicate balance to strike. We have to find an audience big enough to make the ads inexpensive. But we also need an audience that will actually cross over and buy our books. Ideally, we'd find an audience for a huge, major property book or author with a massive following. But that doesn't always fit well with our authors' target markets. It's easier to find large audiences with TV and Movie properties because the unfortunate reality is that more people watch video these days than read - a lot more.

But we do want readers and book buyers. So we use other targeting options to focus our ads. We look for people who are fans of our target property, but who ALSO own e-readers, read books, love Amazon Kindles, etc.

What about GDPR?

GDPR is here, it's real, and it's kind of a pain for those of us trying to market in the digital age. But we have to deal with it. This style listbuilder requires GDPR compliance on both sides - ours AND yours. On our side, we deal with it in the following ways:

  • All of our giveaways moving forward are open to US residents only. Technically, EU residents shouldn't even be entering now.
  • Our giveaway pages note in bold text that ALL entrants are signing up for the newsletters of ALL listed authors. Everyone is notified of what they're doing, and it's not hidden.
  • Our giveaway pages require all entrants to acknowledge that they're signing up for the newsletters of ALL listed authors.
  • Dot Circle
    We log the timestamp and IP address of every entrant and provide that in the final data, so that you have a record of how, when, and where they agreed to join your newsletter

This covers us from a GDPR standpoint. We're US based, so if we're not dealing with EU residents on our list, we don't need any further compliance - and EU residents are barred from entering. They're breaking the rules if they enter, not us.

But you need to make sure that you are compliant, too. You can handle this in one of two ways:

  • Once you receive the list, filter all of the IP addresses by geolocation and require all EU residents to confirm their subscription.
  • Take the brute force method and require everybody to confirm their subscription.

Some of our participating authors do it one way, some do the other. We don't provide geolocation filtering, but there are several services that do, at varying cost.

What are these "social builder" add-ons?

In order to enter the giveaway, contestants are required to subscribe to everyone's newsletter. But they can earn extra entries by also following the listed authors on social media. We allow every participating author to list one social media account for free. And for a nominal extra fee, authors can add extra social media accounts. Typically, authors find that about 5-10% of the subscribers also end up following them on social media, but this varies from builder to builder and author to author.

OK, but are these e-mails any good or are they just junk?

Total honesty: we will absolutely get you thousands of new e-mails. That will absolutely not translate into thousands of new customers. That's just not how direct e-mail marketing works. The exact percentages will vary from author to author, and are heavily dependent on how good you are at managing your newsletter. But our authors typically report results comparable to the following:

  • 20-30% of the subscribers are just in it for the free prizes, and they'll unsubscribe within a few days of getting your first introductory newsletter.
  • 20-30% of the subscribers will never open a single e-mail. They either gave us a fake e-mail, had a typo, or their spam filter is filtering out everything we send.
  • Dot Circle
    20-40% of the subscribers will stick around for a good while and open a lot of your e-mails. How long and how many is up to you!

These numbers are pretty typical for any kind of list building, other than the purely organic kind. We've found that they've held up pretty well across multiple listbuilders with multiple fandoms. We - and many of our participating authors - have found that this is still one of the most cost effective ways to build your newsletter, even when you account for these numbers.

Is this for me?

I can't answer that for you. There are many ways to build your newsletter. When I started participating in this style of builder, I quickly found that they were far and away the most cost effective marketing I was doing, period. I started running them because I couldn't find builders for all of the fandoms that I needed, or find enough to participate in.

But some authors don't like this style of newsletter building, for various reasons. And marketing is as much an art as a science. What works well for me may not work at all for you - and vice versa. So if this isn't the right approach for you, then I've got no hard feelings. I genuinely wish you the best of luck following your own path and hope it works out fantastically! All I can say is that it works well for me and for a bunch of other authors I've worked with.


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