Emailing Leanpub Readers

by Peter Armstrong

published Jul 29, 2015

A few months ago we removed the “Email Your Readers” feature, which let Leanpub authors email their readers separately from the emails they can send when publishing a new version of a book. We built the separate “Email Your Readers” feature in the first place because we know how important email can be for marketing to people who have already shown interest in you and what you’re doing. However, we realized the feature had a structural problem, and in this post we want to explain why we removed it, and why we’ve built a better way to contact your readers by email for marketing purposes.

(tl;dr version: The old feature was opt-out and our new MailChimp integration is opt-in.)

We took a look at all the “Email Your Readers” emails that had been sent in the previous year or so. It turned out most of these emails actually contained information about updates to the book, which really should have been sent using the book updates email feature, since it automatically includes links to the new version and was built for that specific purpose.

The rest of the emails to readers were mostly marketing messages about new books being released by the author or for other products from the author. The majority of these were well-received by readers.

However, a significant minority were seen as spammy and resulted in both angry emails from Leanpub readers and in emails from Leanpub being flagged as spam. The former is bad enough, but the latter is a huge problem for us, as it’s important that Leanpub is able to get emails into your readers’ inboxes to let them know when you’ve updated your books.

We understand the huge value of marketing through email lists, and we believe authors who are serious about promoting their own books should have their own mailing lists. We’re not trying to get between authors and their readers. We just want your marketing mailing list to be opt-in, unlike the book update list, which is basically the only thing we think should be opt-out, since people who buy Leanpub books are assumed to be buying them in part because they can be updated. (To be clear, we never give actual email addresses to authors unless readers have opted in; our email feature hides reader email addresses from authors.)

So, given the importance of marketing email lists and the importance of only using opt-out emails for book updates, what’s the better feature?


To turn on our MailChimp integration, click on “Mailing Lists => Reader List Settings” in the author app sidebar for your book. There will be a blue “Authorize MailChimp” button, which will allow you to connect your MailChimp account to Leanpub. (Of course, you’ll have to sign up for MailChimp first if you don’t have an account.)

Once this is set up, any new readers of your book will be given the option to sign up for your mailing list. You can also import the readers who have already opted in by using “Mailing Lists => Collected Emails”.

In the future we plan to add a lot more community stuff in Leanpub itself, enabling authors to offer coupons for new books to readers of their other books and facilitate discovery of related books, etc. Basically, we want to help authors to promote their books in a way that doesn’t seem like spam from the author or from Leanpub. This will only really work once we have an improved mobile app, better web experience, etc. But the point is that you don’t need to wait until future features are built–you can use our MailChimp integration today.


Peter, Scott & Len

– Posted by Peter Armstrong

Originally published at

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