Building an audience is hard, but it is even harder without a reader magnet.
A reader magnet is a free, irresistible offer that you make to potential readers in exchange for their email address. It could be a short story, a sample chapter of your book, a guide to a topic related to your book, or any other resource that your target audience would find valuable.
The key is to make it relevant and appealing to your ideal reader.
Why do reader magnets work so well? Because they give readers a taste of your writing and style, while also building a relationship with them. By offering something of value for free, you demonstrate that you care about your readers and are willing to provide them with a positive experience.
In turn, they are more likely to become fans and supporters of your work.
But how do you make a reader magnet? And what about marketing it to gain more subscribers? Isn’t that just a lot more work?
- What a reader magnet is and why it’s important
- The different types of reader magnets
- How to create a reader magnet
- How to market a reader magnet
Table of contents
- What Is a Reader Magnet?
- Why Are Reader Magnets Important?
- Types of Reader Magnets
- How to Create a Reader Magnet
- How To Market Your Reader Magnet
- Examples of Reader Magnets
- Final Thoughts: Get Started on that Reader Magnet
What Is a Reader Magnet?
A reader magnet is any item that you give away for free in exchange for email addresses.
It could be a short story, a full book, a printable guide, an audio/video resource, or anything else that your target audience would find valuable. The idea is to offer something of value to potential readers in exchange for their contact information, allowing you to build a relationship with them and keep them informed about your work.
For fiction authors, reader magnets can be a great way to attract readers by giving them a taste of your world and characters.
The closer the reader magnet is to your book, the better it will convert.
For example, if you write fantasy novels, you could offer a short story set in the same world, featuring some of the same characters. This gives readers a taste of your writing style and a glimpse into your fictional world, which can be very enticing.
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For nonfiction authors, reader magnets can be used to provide value to potential readers.
The more value you provide, the more likely people are to convert.
For example, if you write about personal finance, you could offer a personal finance budget, or a checklist to get out of debt. By providing value and demonstrating your expertise, you can build trust with potential readers and encourage them to take the next step by signing up for your email list or purchasing your book.
Why Are Reader Magnets Important?
As an author, it can be a challenge to attract readers and build a following for your work. With so many books and websites competing for attention, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.
That's why reader magnets are so important.
Without a reader magnet, there's no motivation for someone to join your mailing list. By offering something for free, you provide an incentive for potential readers to sign up and connect with you. This allows you to build a relationship with them and keep them informed about your work.
We say this a lot at Kindlepreneur, but email is still the single most effective marketing method available to authors.
By building a list of email subscribers, you have a direct line of communication with your readers, allowing you to promote your work, share news and updates, and connect with them on a personal level.
But reader magnets do more than just build your email list. They also help to build a relationship between you and your readers. By offering something of value for free, you demonstrate that you care about your readers and are willing to provide them with a positive experience.
This helps to build trust and establishes you as an expert in your field, making it more likely that people will want to read your work.
Types of Reader Magnets
There are literally dozens of ideas that you can play around with for reader magnets. And you can absolutely brainstorm some others that have never been done before.
The point is to provide something of value that people will want to exchange their email address for.
For this section, I’ve divided up some of the most common ideas into two categories: fiction and nonfiction, though there is some overlap between them.
Reader Magnets for Fiction
- Short story or novella: A short story or novella is a stand-alone piece of fiction that is related to your book and its characters, and is the most common reader magnet for good reason. By offering a short story or novella as a reader magnet, you give readers a taste of your writing style and a chance to get to know your characters better. This is a great way to attract fans of your book and build your email list.
- Full novel: A full novel is a complete piece of fiction, perhaps a series starter, that serves as a great jumping off point for your books. By offering a full novel as a reader magnet, you give readers a chance to dive into your world and get fully immersed in your story. This is one of the best ways to provide maximum value.
- Deleted scenes, alternate viewpoints: Deleted scenes and alternate viewpoints give readers a glimpse into what could have been and provide additional insight into your characters and world. By offering these as a reader magnet, you give readers a chance to explore your work in a new way and gain a deeper understanding of your characters and world.
- Sample chapter or excerpt: While it may seem tempting to offer a sample chapter or excerpt as a reader magnet, this type of reader magnet is not recommended. This is because a sample chapter or excerpt is readily available online, and provides no ADDITIONAL value, making it less likely to convert readers into email subscribers. However, if you have nothing else, it can be enough to start with. But use it only temporarily until you have something more concrete.
- Behind-the-scenes content or commentary: Behind-the-scenes content and commentary provide readers with a look at your writing process, your research, and the inspiration behind your book. By offering this type of content as a reader magnet, you give readers a deeper understanding of your process and help them connect with you on a personal level.
- Interview or Q&A session: An interview or Q&A session provides readers with the opportunity to ask you questions about your book, your writing process, and your inspirations. By offering this type of content as a reader magnet, you give readers a chance to get to know you better and build a deeper connection with you.
Reader Magnets for Nonfiction
- Checklist: A checklist is a concise, easy-to-use guide that helps readers keep track of important information related to your book's topic. By offering a checklist as a reader magnet, you provide readers with a valuable resource that they can use to apply your ideas and techniques to their own lives.
- Workbook: A workbook is a more in-depth guide that provides readers with a structured way to work through the concepts and ideas presented in your book. A workbook is one of the most valuable tools that readers can use to deepen their understanding of your book's content and apply your ideas to their own lives.
- Cheat sheet: A cheat sheet is a quick reference guide that provides readers with a summary of key concepts and ideas from your book. By offering a cheat sheet as a reader magnet, you provide readers with a convenient resource that they can refer to as they work through your book's content.
- Full book: A full book is one of the most valuable offerings you can have. By offering a full book as a reader magnet, you give readers a chance to dive into your work and get a full understanding of your ideas and techniques. I really only recommend this if you are trying to sell a higher-ticket product, such as an online course or a software.
- Video webinar: A video webinar is a live or recorded video presentation that provides readers with additional information and insights related to your book. It’s also a great way for you to connect with your readers by proving that you are, in fact, a real person.
- Free consultation: A free consultation is a one-on-one meeting or call with you, the author. By offering a free consultation as a reader magnet, you provide readers with the opportunity to receive personalized advice and guidance related to your book's topic.
- Newsletter or blog post series: A newsletter or blog post series is a series of regular emails or posts that provide readers with additional information and insights related to your book's topic. It’s a great way to repackage content into a helpful series that is specifically designed for your readers.
- Discounts: Discounts provide readers with a financial incentive to purchase your book or other products related to your book's topic. Discounts provides readers with a tangible benefit that they can use to purchase your work and support your efforts.
- Access to a private Facebook group or community: Access to a private Facebook group or community provides readers with a supportive community of like-minded individuals who are interested in your book's topic. It’s a valuable resource that readers can use to connect with others, share ideas, and receive support as they work through your book's content.
Make sure the content you're offering is genuinely helpful and not just fluff. If you provide your readers with content that is genuinely useful and relevant to your book's topic, they will be more likely to sign up for your email list and become fans of your work.
So, make sure that your nonfiction reader magnet is a high-quality resource that your readers will appreciate and find valuable.
How to Create a Reader Magnet
So now that we know what a good reader magnet looks like, it's time to talk about how to create a reader magnet in the first place.
In this section, I will walk you through the entire process, and in the next section we’ll discuss marketing.
Step 1: Know Your Audience Ahead of Time
Before you even start, you need to know who your audience is. Your reader magnet must correlate to your books, they must share the same audience.
Ideally, your reader magnet should tie-in directly to your book. You should be able to promote it within the book.
So if you are writing a fantasy book, and your reader magnet is related to another series of thrillers that you've written, spoiler alert, it won't work.
Your reader magnet should be the same genre, and ideally the same world and characters as your main book.
Step 2: Write It
The next step is to actually write your reader magnet. Yes, this should be an original work that you specifically sit down to write.
Personally, I like to write the reader magnet right after I have finished my first book in a series.
However, you can even write the reader magnet first, and put it out there collecting subscribers while you write your first book.
Step 3: Get a Good Cover
A lot of authors don't pay for quality covers for the reader magnet, mostly because they are giving it away for free, and so paying a lot for a cover seems like a loss.
However, your reader magnet is a reflection of you as an author. It should be of the exact same quality as any other book you produce.
Additionally, a stellar cover is going to convert so much better than an unprofessional one.
That is why I recommend having a professional do your cover for you.
Step 4: Get a Great Title and Description
Like your cover, your book title and description should also be high quality. They should match the genre you are in, and they should entice people to subscribe to your newsletter.
See our recommendations on how to title a book, and how to write a great book description for tips on how to do this.
Step 5: Make it High Quality
As with the book cover, title, and description, the book's content should also be of the highest quality possible.
While many authors don't do this for expense reasons, you might want to consider having someone professionally edit your reader magnet. Make sure the editor knows that the purpose of the story is to attract people to your email list, because that may affect how you structure your scenes.
At the very least, you should have it proofread, and use a tool like ProWritingAid to check for errors, overused words, and more.
Step 6: Make It Exclusive
I've known some authors that attempted to put their reader magnet on Amazon for $0.99 as a way of producing additional income.
This approach sounds reasonable, especially if you put in a lot of money for the book cover.
However, in my experience, and from what I have learned from other authors who have done this, this usually results in a huge loss in subscribers.
After all, if a subscriber can get the short story for a dollar, why would they also choose to join your reader list?
Your reader magnet should be something that is always exclusive to your newsletter.
Step 7: Use StoryOrigin or Book Funnel to Distribute
StoryOrigin and Book Funnel are two great companies that will help you distribute your book.
The way these companies work as they create a landing page for your reader magnet, someone can enter their email address, and then these services deliver the book to your reader.
This is great, because the technicalities of sending your ebook to a reader's device can sometimes be complicated. StoryOrigin or Book Funnel take care of all of those technicalities.
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How To Market Your Reader Magnet
As nice as it would be to be able to write the reader magnet, put it up, and wait for the subscribers to come in, it's never that simple.
Unfortunately, you do have to do a certain amount of marketing in order to “convert” a potential reader into a subscriber.
The following are several tips that I use in promoting my reader magnet.
Tip #1: Create a Landing Page
My first step is to create a landing page for my reader magnet. This is a single webpage that is specifically geared to sell your reader magnet and collect emails.
It can be as simple as a picture of your book, a brief description of what it is, and a field where readers can input their email address.
If you are web savvy, you can create one of these on your own website, or you can use the landing pages automatically generated by StoryOrigin or Book Funnel.
Tip #2: Use Website Pop-Ups or Slide-Ins
On your website, I like to put pop-ups and slide-ins that appear as someone is perusing your content.
If you don't get a lot of traffic to your website, or you have very little content, then this is unnecessary. However, it can be a highly effective tool for gaining subscribers.
In fact, I would argue that the entire purpose of your website should be built around promoting this reader magnet.
At Kindlepreneur, we use Optinmonster as a service for creating these pop-ups and slide-ins. You will see them frequently throughout the site, promoting our different reader magnets.
Tip #3: Promote in Website Content
If you are writing website content, a common content marketing strategy, then you should embed ads or mentions of your reader magnet wherever possible.
Additionally, if you use some other kind of content marketing such as podcasting or YouTube videos, you should promote your reader magnet in those venues as well.
Tip #4: Promote in the Back Matter of Your Book
The back matter of your book is perhaps the most important place where you should promote your reader magnet.
Anyone who reads your book to the end is likely someone you want to have on your email list. If you put your reader magnet at the back of your book, you are giving those readers an opportunity to engage with you.
The people that come from this back matter promotion are likely to be your most engaged, most loyal followers.
Tip #5: Use Newsletter Swaps
Newsletter swaps allow you to promote somebody else's product in exchange for you promoting theirs.
Note: a newsletter swap is NOT exchanging email addresses with another author. This is illegal, as you must have the consent of the reader to gain their email address.
With a newsletter swap, you agree with another author to promote their book, and they can promote your reader magnet.
This is one of the most effective ways to get fresh eyeballs on your reader magnet, and gain a following.
Just make sure that the authors you are cross promoting with are authors in your same genre, or you might be attracting the wrong type of reader to your email list.
Tip #6: Podcast Interviews
This is an especially effective tactic for nonfiction authors, but it can work for fiction authors as well.
Do some research and find podcasts that are in the same niche or genre as your book, and ask for an interview. You might not get a lot of affirmative responses, but keep trying and be polite. Show an interest in the podcast.
Once you have a podcast interview booked, this can serve as a way to promote you and your brand. Most podcast hosts will allow you to promote your websites, social media, etc. Make sure to ask ahead of time if it is okay to promote your reader magnet.
You might even consider creating a special reader magnet just for the audience of that podcast.
Tip #7: Try Book Promotions
Tools like StoryOrigin and Book Funnel offer book promotions where authors get together and provide a huge giveaway around a certain genre or topic.
These promotions can be highly effective in gathering new subscribers to your reader magnet.
I try to engage with one of these at least quarterly, because it works.
Examples of Reader Magnets
But don’t just take my word for it, here are examples of authors doing great things with their reader magnets.
Fiction Reader Magnets
On Chris Fox’s website, you’ll find several reader magnets promoted like you see above. These are usually short story prequels that tie into each of his series.
Likewise, yours truly has a reader magnet that I promote on my personal website: MythBank.com.
As you can see, these landing pages are simple, but involve a professionally produced cover, an attractive mockup, and a brief “Call to Action” or CTA, inviting people to sign up for the newsletter.
Nonfiction Reader Magnets
Nonfiction reader magnets can be more diverse, but here are some great examples:
Joanna Penn is a legend in the writer community, and she does her reader magnet marketing well. In this case, she is providing a blueprint for authors, which is a great resource.
Here at Kindlepreneur, we actually have several reader magnets, and the above is an example of one of our most popular.
(In fact, if you click on the image above, or at this link, you can join our email list right now!)
Final Thoughts: Get Started on that Reader Magnet
Now that you have a decent idea of what your reader magnet entails, it’s time to get to work!
If you haven’t already written your reader magnet, start there. Next, get a professional cover and editing, and start sharing it with the world.
As your author business grows, you can develop more reader magnets, and your subscribers will continue to grow and grow until it snowballs into a successful author career.
We wish you the best of luck!