Turning readers into subscribers could seem a bit easier for nonfiction authors, which we talked about in last week’s episode. The author could create a free course or other complementary freebie to go along with the book. But it doesn’t have to be difficult for a fiction writer to offer great incentives for their readers to join their mailing list.
Many writers may think of writing a short story to offer to those who sign up for their email lists, but what the two authors in today’s episode have found worked better for them was incorporating the characters the readers already know and love into their book magnet.
The Kobayashi Maru Tactic
I call it the Kobayashi Maru Tactic — based on the ship that was part of a seemingly-impossible test for Captain Kirk in “Star Trek.” It was never shown, only mentioned. It was planted in viewers’ minds and when the movie finally came out, the Kobayashi Maru was revealed.
Relating that to your reader magnet, within your story, you can plant the seeds of an incident, a person, or a place that is never fully revealed, only alluded to. The reader still gets a full story without knowing about this detail, but it creates curiosity. Once the reader reaches the end of the book, those who connected with the characters and the story might want more, which is where the book magnet comes into play.
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You can offer a short story that reveals the origins of that missing detail as an incentive to sign up for your mailing list.
That’s what W.H. Lock did with one of his characters. Whenever that character would meet someone, they would say something along the lines of, “I thought you died in Cleveland,” but the characters would never elaborate on that story. It wasn’t until the end when Lock offered a short story about what happened in Cleveland in exchange for the reader signing up for his mailing list.
Jim Heskett took a different but similar approach. He had two books in a series and realized his second book would have been better as the first in the series. Instead of trying to turn the original first book into something confusing, such as Book 0, he offered that book exclusively to those who signed up for his email list. He even sometimes offers a hard copy of it to his truly devoted fans.
Bio of the Author in the Case Study:
W.H. Lock was born in Chicago. He spent his childhood in rural Illinois, running in the endless cornfields. Just before he made it into puberty, his mother moved his sister and himself to Minneapolis. He spent his formative angsty teen years in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
From there he joined the Army. He was a driver of an M1-A1 tank. Yeah, it was cool. He ran over trees!! Shortly after leaving the service, he met a nice young woman and we moved to Texas. They've been together ever since. They have two boys with hair like sunshine, eyes that match the sky, and love nothing more than adventure. He’s worked in comic book shops, big box retail stores, major telecoms, boutique advertising companies, and as a freelance copywriter.
Oh, and he’s allergic to cats, dogs, birds, molds, grasses, and just about 87% of the planet.
Jim Heskett was born in the wilds of Oklahoma, raised by a pack of wolves with a station wagon and a membership card to the local public swimming pool. Just like the man in the John Denver song, he moved to Colorado in the summer of his 27th year and never looked back.
He fell in love with writing at the age of fourteen with a copy of Stephen King's The Shining. Poetry became his first outlet for teen angst, then later some screenplays, and eventually, short fiction and long fiction as a hybrid author. In between, he worked a few careers that never successfully tickled his creative toes, and hasn't ever forgotten about Stephen King. You can find him huddled over a laptop at an undisclosed location in Colorado, dreaming up ways to kill beloved characters.
Details and FREE, exclusive books at www.jimheskett.com
He writes award-winning mystery-thrillers and post-apocalyptic thrillers, seasoned with a dash of snark.
Resources Referred to in this Episode:
- W.H. Lock’s Amazon Author Page
- Saint Heist: An Urban Fantasy Heist novel by W.H. Lock
- Jim Heskett’s Amazon Author Page
- Nailgun Messiah: A Thriller by Jim Heskett
- Jim’s Fiction website where you can find his free book offers
- The Juggling Author — Jim’s Non-fiction website to help authors find time and write more
- The Book Marketing Show Best Ways to Turn Readers into Subscribers with Steve Scott