A reader magnet can pop up anywhere. We all get lots of offers to join mailing lists, right? Whether it’s a 10% off code or access to exclusive content, we’ve all been targeted, and if we’re being honest, most of us have taken advantage of an offer because of a reader magnet.
But more importantly, how does having a reader magnet benefit you as an author?
A reader magnet is a piece of content that an author offers for free to entice readers to join their email list or follow them on social media. The idea is to provide readers with something of value in exchange for their contact information and permission to communicate with them in the future.
So Why Does a Reader Magnet Matter?
We often rely on social media to help us build relationships with readers, and while that can happen, it’s not ideal for communication.
Announcements are fun, and engagement is fun, but a robust newsletter will allow you to communicate directly with your reader. As more books are published, a newsletter is no longer an option but it’s a mandatory part of your author brand.
And the idea is that you create a reader magnet that’s interesting to your readers.
Let’s dig into some of the characteristics of a reader magnet that will really pique their interest:
- It should matter to the reader: we’re going to discuss some content ideas in a minute, but the bottom line is that a good reader magnet is something your reader actually wants. Don’t use some throwaway idea because it’s easiest for you, because it absolutely won’t interest them.
- Be open to experimenting with various reader magnets: Not all of your reader magnet ideas will be a success right out of the gate. Plan to experiment with various ideas. I recommend giving a reader magnet 90 days to 6 months before swapping it out. And be mindful that this experimentation time is also based on how much effort you’re putting into pushing people to your website and encouraging sign-ups.
- Make it easy: The idea behind a reader magnet is to get an email so you can remarket to your reader or potential reader, so be mindful of the information you request. Name and email address are really all you need to start, because the more information you ask for, the higher probability of someone moving on.
Reader Magnet Ideas Your Followers Will Love
Some of these may seem exclusive to fiction but don’t let semantics limit your options, most of these options apply to all topics and genres with a little creativity.
- Short story: Offer a short story that is related to your book or series. Make sure it is engaging and stands alone, so readers who haven’t read your book can still enjoy it.
- Cutting room floor: What didn’t make it into your book? Could that be something fun that you could offer to readers? Again, it should stand alone if at all possible.
- Exclusive content: Offer exclusive content that’s not available anywhere else. This could include deleted scenes (the cutting room floor items mentioned above), character interviews, or world-building information.
- Sample chapters: Offer the first few chapters of your book as a free download. You could offer just enough to whet their appetite with a cliffhanger which could entice readers to buy the full book.
- Worksheets or checklists: Create a helpful worksheet or checklist that is related to your book’s theme. For example, if you write non-fiction, create a worksheet that helps readers apply your book’s principles to their lives. We did a book marketing planner and readers absolutely love this, it has been one of our best reader magnets to date!
- Audio version: Audio is so huge these days, why not create an audio version of your book’s first chapter or maybe a related short story? Many readers enjoy listening to books while they exercise, commute, or do chores.
- Discount code: Offer a discount code for your book or a related product. Make sure it’s only available to subscribers to encourage readers to join your email list.
- Interactive experience: Create an interactive experience that is related to your book. For example, if you write a mystery novel, create a scavenger hunt or puzzle that readers can solve. If you’ve written fantasy what about access to the “world” you created in your book? This doesn’t have to be elaborate, you could create images of the world your characters live in, or images of the characters themselves, readers even love maps and other things to help immerse them in the story. Or perhaps give subscribers access to exclusive pages with resources to further their education!
- Prizes and gift cards: These also make for a fun reader magnet. Offer a monthly drawing of a $5 gift card to Amazon, Etsy or Starbucks, whatever makes sense for your reader demographic. The idea is that they have to read the newsletter in order to know if they won. So each month you pull a name out of a virtual hat and that winner is announced in the newsletter. Give them a week or so to respond and if they don’t respond, the money goes back into the pot for next month. The reason you want to put a time limit on claiming a prize is so that you don’t get people emailing you six months from now, etc. It’s just too confusing to leave it open-ended.
Getting Sign-Ups for Your Reader Magnet
So now that you’ve created a reader magnet, you want people to sign up for your newsletter, right?
First up, make sure you have your reader magnet mentioned in the back of your book. If you’ve written a non-fiction book, you can probably sprinkle your enticing offer throughout the book.
On your website, your newsletter sign-up should be mentioned prominently.
Make sure your newsletter sign-up is above the fold, meaning: you don’t want to make readers scroll to find it. It should be clearly visible when they land on your home page.
Reader Magnet Wrap-Up
A good reader magnet can help you grow your mailing list and create a community that you can tap into any time you’d like.
Just remember, that the goal of a reader magnet is to provide value to your readers, so make sure whatever you offer is something they will genuinely enjoy and appreciate.
Resources and Free Downloads
Be sure to sign up for our newsletter on the right hand side of our blog homepage. If you haven’t opened a recent one your registration may have lapsed.