You’ve probably joined your fair share of author mailing lists. Maybe you wanted to see what other authors were sending, or you’re a big fan, or you fell for a reader magnet.
A reader magnet is content that an author offers to readers for free in exchange for joining their mailing list or following on social media. It’s a win-win situation, and the author is actually providing value to the reader for the contact information.
But how do you create a good one, how do you use it, and what does it really even entail?
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 all of your communication.
Announcements are fun, and engagement is fun, but a robust newsletter will allow you to communicate directly and regularly with your reader. As more books are published, a newsletter is no longer an option; it becomes a mandatory part of your author brand.
So how do you build this newsletter mailing list? With a reader magnet.
Let’s dig into some of the characteristics of a reader magnet that will really pique their interest:
● It should matter to the reader. 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 and, in turn, won’t help you.
● 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 different ideas over time. 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.
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: Remember that piece you were devastated to cut from your book? Can it stand alone and entice potential and existing readers alike?
● 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.
● Worksheets or checklists: Create a helpful worksheet or checklist 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 related to your book. If you write a mystery novel, create a scavenger hunt or puzzle for readers to 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 resources to further their education!
● Prizes and gift cards: These always make for a fun reader magnet, no matter the amount you offer. Try 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.
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 and get the magnet, right?
First, 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 even sprinkle your enticing offer throughout the book.
On your website, your newsletter sign-up should be mentioned prominently. The main feature should be what you’re selling, then your mailing list. 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.
Finally, don’t forget about social media! Be sure to blast out your new reader magnet across Instagram, TikTok, Goodreads, and the like. Whatever size following you have, you want to get their emails because your newsletter is an even more intimate communication.
Reader Magnet Wrap-Up
Whether you’re starting to build your mailing list or have been sending newsletter to thousands of people every month for years, a reader magnet is a great way to capture fresh readers and welcome them to your community. A reader magnet could be what finally entices a potential reader who’s been watching from afar.
The key is to provide value. Create something you’re excited to share and promote and something that aligns with the interests of your target reader audience.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon visibility campaigns as well offering national media pitching, online book marketing, author events, and other strategies designed to build the author/book visibility.
She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors, and From Book to Bestseller. She also hosts the top ranking podcast Book Marketing Tips and Author Success.
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.