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3 easy ways to subscribe to your favorite authors online

If you're looking to stay up-to-date with your favorite journalists and authors, here are a few tips to make that happen.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Min Shin
Woman sitting on couch looking at laptop
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

At least once a week, I get emails from readers asking how they can more easily follow my musings. 

Sadly, not all websites are created equal, which means it's not always that easy to follow or subscribe to a particular writer. 

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However, even if a website doesn't offer an RSS-type or mailing list-type subscription feature, there are ways to keep abreast of what your favorite writers are doing.

Why subscribe?

First, let's answer this simple question. The main reason to subscribe to your favorite authors is to ensure you don't miss a word they've penned. In this world of constant content, sites tend to publish more and more, which means your favorite author's posts could get lost in the shuffle. By subscribing to a particular author, you guarantee that you won't miss out when their work is buried by the deluge of articles.

Another reason to subscribe to your favorite authors is that you can receive all of their updates in a single location. Instead of having to visit all of those websites, you can (in some cases) use a single app to view them all.

Also: The best e-readers aren't all Kindle

Now that you've been reminded as to the why, let's talk about the how.

RSS

This is the most reliable means to subscribe to an author. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and works with a reader app to collect all of your RSS feeds into one place. There are two things you must know about using RSS. First, you must install one of the many available apps capable of viewing RSS. Here's a shortlist of apps to choose from (some of which are free and some have an associated cost):

You will also find that some email clients (such as Claws Mail and Thunderbird) have built-in RSS support.

Also: How to create message filters on Thunderbird to keep your inbox organized

One thing to keep in mind is that a website must support RSS and not all do. To find out, search for your favorite author on the site you read and look for the RSS icon. If the icon is there, click it to reveal that author's RSS feed. You can then add the URL for that feed to your reader and be updated daily on their musings.

The official RSS icon.

If you see this icon, the site supports RSS.

Image: Jack Wallen

If you find no RSS support on that site, I would suggest you reach out to the company and suggest they add the feature.

Google is your friend

If those sites do not support RSS, there's another alternative that can actually serve as a sort of catch-all. Let's say your favorite writer works for multiple sites and even their own site. Now, let's say either only one or two of those sites offer RSS, but the others do not. What do you do?

You use Google -- not the way that you're thinking. 

You don't have to google your favorite author every day. Instead, what you do is create a Google Alert. These alerts will automatically generate emails for you (sent to your Gmail inbox) based on the terms you add to the alert. 

Also: How to change your Gmail inbox layout (and why you might want to)

So, you can create a Google Alert for the name of your favorite author and every morning you'll be treated to an email that collects everything published by them on the previous day. I use this feature quite a bit and have found it to be incredibly reliable.

You create a Google Alert by pointing your web browser to the Google Alerts page. At the top of that page, type the name of your favorite author and click Show options. In the resulting drop-down, configure the alert to suit your needs (frequency, sources, language, region, how many results, and a deliver-to email address), and click Create Alert.

Once you've created the alert, you can expect results to start showing up the next morning in your Gmail inbox.

Mailing Lists

Finally, there are always mailing lists. Not every writer uses mailing lists, but many do. I've had a mailing list for my fiction career for years and have only recently started a Linux mailing list, called The Linux Way

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If your favorite author has their own mailing list, I highly recommend subscribing to it because you'll not only catch everything they've possibly written, but you might also gain some more insights into the person behind the keyboard.

Chances are, to find out if your favorite writer has a mailing list, you'll need to visit their own website. If they don't have a website, google their name+mailing list and see if they're running one on the likes of Mailchimp or Beehiiv.

And that, my dear friends, is how you can subscribe to your favorite writers and never miss a beat.

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