17 Fresh Reader Magnet Ideas For Fiction Authors You Can Easily Adapt for Any Genre And Use Immediately!
By now – unless you’ve been living under a rock – you realize that one of the most important pillars of your successful author platform is…
YOUR MAILING LIST
That precious list of readers that buy your books, read your books, write awesome reviews, and are your biggest advocates and raving fans.
Ask any of the self-published authors that “made it” and they would all tell you the same thing: Put more effort into building your email list. Do it sooner.
Mark Dawson says:
“… I am able to launch books into the top #250 of Amazon without any promotion other than the use of my list…”Mark Dawson(Read the whole article at his blog)
Don’t worry, though. We all have to start from the same place: Zero subscribers.
And to go from zero to a thousand? You start at the beginning – with a compelling offer.
Your Reader Magnet.
(I think Nick Stephenson was the first to call it that way in his book “Reader Magnets”. Go get his book. It is good stuff you absolutely need to know.)
Reader magnets are nothing new in the marketing world. They are usually called lead magnets, bribes, free offers, welcome mats, trip wires, etc.
They come in numerous forms and shapes: free reports, video series, webinars, free 1-on-1 consultations, books, software, samples of products… Anything you can possibly imagine can be used as a lead magnet. As long as it has enough value.
And yet, when it comes to fiction, the majority of authors limit themselves to the usual “1-2 punch” magnet tactic: one book permafree with the offer of the second book for free in exchange for an email address.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is a really strong magnet tactic. You should absolutely use it if you can.
But what if you don’t have 2 books to give away? What if you’re just starting out and writing your first novel? What if you simply don’t want to give away your books for free? What then?
Here’s the good part:
In this short report you’ll find 17 “other” reader magnets ideas you can use. I found them around the web and compiled them together for reference. Some are lesser known and some are completely obscure. Each and every one can be easily adapted for any genre.
Use them, mix them together, rip them apart and reassemble them. Make them your own.
Remember, this is just a starting point for you to think “outside the box”. Nothing is off limits to delight your readers in a fresh and novel way.
(Oh, btw, you can download this entire 17 Fresh Reader Magnet Ideas For Fiction Authors Report as a convenient PDF to read anywhere and anytime you want!)
Reader Magnet Idea #1
Give away a book that’s in public domain – in your genre of choice
Think about it. There are MILLIONS of books in public domain and free for you to give away! (And even republish and sell if you so please.) There’s thousands of websites where you can browse and download from, too. The trick is to find a great novel, maybe a lesser known book, that will go well with the readers you want to attract.
Say you’re writing gothic fiction… vampire stories… stuff like that. Say you want to attract people that love reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
A quick search for public domain books under “gothic fiction” and this is what you find:
A story of a 19th century lesbian vampire called Carmilla – by Joseph Sheridan La Fanu. This novella was written way before Stoker even had a concept for Drakula. In fact, it’s been said that Carmilla was the inspiration for Stoker to write the famous book in the first place.
Now, that’s intriguing. Your readers would love to read that, don’t you think? You could even hire somebody on Fiverr to create a nice cover, add a couple of spicy illustrations to it, and republish it on Amazon for… dunno, $1.95!?
There’s a great resource of reader magnets hiding in public domain. You just need to spend some time looking around.
Here are some sites listing public domain books to get you started:
- Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org
- Digital public library of America: http://dp.la
- Open Library: https://openlibrary.org
- Feedbooks: http://www.feedbooks.com
- Manybooks: http://manybooks.net
Reader Magnet Idea #2
“Watch me as I do it”
Give your readers the chance to peek behind the curtains and see how you work, how you come up with ideas, the blocks and frustrations you face on a daily basis.
In exchange for their email address you allow them to come into your writing office, sit down with you, and watch you do the work. Virtually.
The idea is really simple. Record daily video updates about your writing sessions. Send them to your readers via email.
Some authors have done it with great success: Chris Fox with his latest 21 Day Novel Writing Challenge is one of them. (You can still watch his video series on Youtube.) Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant from Sterling & Stone did it for their Fiction Unboxed challenge.
Why this works?
Because we all looooooove watching other people doing things. There’s something fascinating about it. I guess it’s because of the way we naturally tend to learn new stuff: by watching other people do it. It is enjoyable. It is entertaining.
Your readers will start looking at you as their friend, somebody they can relate to.
Hidden bonus: This works extremely well if you haven’t finished ANY of your novels yet and would like some kick in the butt to finally do it. Nothing works better as an accountability device than some peer pressure and the risk of public humiliation. 😉
You keep writing every day and record your progress for your readers. (Or – if daily updates sound like a lot of hard work you can easily adapt it for a weekly schedule.)
And you know what? Once your book is out your readers will absolutely HAVE to buy it.
Why? Because they’ve been watching you write it and talk about it for so long. Day after day. Do you think they would skip the opportunity to finally have the satisfaction to read it?! No way! By now, they feel they are part of it. They’ve invested their time in it. It is theirs!
Reader Magnet Idea #3
Offer chapter upgrades
Here’s the idea: At the end of a chapter – or section of the book – place a link where your readers can download extra stuff related to that chapter.
What could you offer as a chapter upgrade?
Maybe the same scene written in another point of view, as a different character. Or maybe… What character Y is doing while all this is happening. Maybe alternate endings, backstories of places and locations… Think “director’s cut”.
For this to work you need to actually have at least one book out. And you probably do not want to overdo it. But it can be a total subscription booster.
Kevin Kruse talks about it here: http://authorjourneyto100k.com/chapter-upgrades-the-highest-converting-reader-magnet-in-history/
Reader Magnet Idea #4
Quizzes & tests based on the characters from your books
(Or characters from popular books in your genre.)
Let me explain.
We all love taking tests and quizzes to discover our personality traits. What breed of dog suits you best. What Game of Thrones character are you. How Well Do You Know Swedish Ice Cream Flavors. Which beauty product you should buy your mom. You get the idea…
Come up with some funny and tongue-in-cheek questions and answers. Use a free tool such as Survey Monkey or Google forms to build your quiz. Create a blog post about it and ask readers to give it a go. For fun.
When it’s time for them to read the results, you ask them for their email so you can send it to them. Simple. Works great every time.
Short insight into human psychology: Because you have already invested your time into answering these questions, you are now really really really ready to get the reward – to read the results. Your brain demands it. It needs to know.
Marketers are using this since forever. Conversion rates can get as high as 70% when there’s a quiz or test involved. And visitors stay on the site much longer. In fact, it is not uncommon to have completion rates as high as 90%!
Bonus tip: Place a “share this quiz” button at the bottom of your post. You never know. Your quiz might be the new viral share on the social media the next day!
Norma Hinkens has a great example of such a quiz: http://normahinkens.com/whos-dystopian-fashion-twin/
She gives you results right away, but you can easily see how this can be a great boost for email subscriptions.
Reader Magnet Idea #5
This works really well if you are doing any character casting based on celebrities.
Collect those files, add few notes about their habits, mannerisms, personality traits and group them into a pdf.
Variation to this: a list of celebrities you think could play your characters in an eventual movie.
People love celebrities.
Reader Magnet Idea #6
The secret life of Character X
Think classified reports, things Character X does that are outside the scope of the novel. Gossip, scandals, secret love affairs, arrests reports,… All the things National Enquirer would gladly publish if your character was a real life celebrity.
You can go crazy here. All those loads and loads of notes about Character X that will never make it into your novel? Here’s your chance to get it out and into the hands of your readers.
Mark Dawson is known for doing this. ( Or he used to do it.) He would offer classified MI5 reports about one of his main characters.
Reader Magnet Idea #7
Virtual “hangout” with your readers
In exchange for an email, offer your readers a special webinar where they get to ask you questions about your books, characters, or anything else they’d like to know. A sort of Q&A.
You give them a chance to meet the real you and interact with you live.
Set a date and time for your webinar, create a landing page, add a call to action… And start collecting those emails.
If you find it to be a success you can repeat the webinar again or give away the free recordings.
Reader Magnet Idea #8
Exclusive access to a private Facebook group
This is great if you have some traction with your books already but your email list is rather small and you want to give it a nice boost.
What can be the purpose of such an exclusive group? Members could get early releases of your books with a discount, free bonuses… Basically, every other Reader Magnet listed in here could be a special bonus for members of the group.
Reader Magnet Idea #9
A promise of the next book free
In exchange for their email address they get to receive your next book for free.
Clean and simple.
Reader Magnet Idea #10
Activities related to your stories
This can be: recipes, crafts, puzzles related to your books. They could be seasonal and themed. It can be a booklet with all the things to do, eat, see and drink.
A whodunnit mystery puzzle while walking around the narrow alleys of the City of London. A treasure hunt. A pub-crawl in Town X. Places to eat in City X and pretend to be Character Z. Recipes of favourite cocktails of Mr Y… You get the idea.
Great example of this exact thing: https://www.booklaunch.io/joannaslan/happyhomicidesholiday
Reader Magnet Idea #11
A contest with a prize
The prize can be a book or anything else you can think of that is related to your stories.
A coffee mug with a tag line from your book. Maybe a wall calendar with pictures from the scenes of your novel. A T-Shirt with your book cover. You could even commission a short graphic novel with some exclusive scenes. A collector’s item.
Yes, you spend some money up front to actually buy the prizes and dispatch them to the winners, but hey… It’s all investment to nurture and grow your raving fans.
Reader Magnet Idea #12
Vignettes of your villains
Really simple. It can be anything you want: A secret life of Villain X. A diary from Villain Y’s childhood. (With some pretty twisted shit happening to him or a view inside his twisted mind.) A collection of shorts just about the villains. Be creative.
Reader Magnet Idea #13
Exclusive interviews with your characters
Here’s the basic idea: You pretend to be either your character or the interviewer and act out the parts. Involve your friends to help you out. Be funny and silly. Dress up as your characters. Play around. It is show time!
(Video works best, but you can opt for audio if you’re video shy.)
Reader Magnet Idea #14
Character X daily updates
Sort of a diary. Delivered via email.
Block out 10 minutes every day, become your character, and write a short diary entry as them. Send that as an email to your readers.
The beauty of this is that it gives you a perfectly valid “Reason Why” to stay in contact with your subscribers. They expect to hear from you.
You know that question that’s on your mind all the time? The one that goes “what to write in the emails to my readers?” That’s one of the answers right here. Tell them about your day. As your character.
Reader Magnet Idea #15
Your first story ever
The one that nobody knows about. The one that sucks so bad you cringe every time you think of it.
Warning: This is only for the bravest among you.
Requirement: You absolutely MUST have quality stuff out there that readers love. It will not work without it. (And you could lose a lot of potential future readers.)
But you know what? People love learning where “successful” people are coming from. They get to see that you are just like them. They “connect” with you more because you share with them a weakness. You make yourself vulnerable.
Reader Magnet Idea #16
Serialized fiction delivered exclusively via email
A serialized story that your readers get only if they subscribe to your list. Preferably on a daily basis. Or at least on a weekly schedule.
The basic idea: You send short episodes in each email. With a juicy cliffhanger.
These episodes don’t have to be long. In fact, they mustn’t be long. Each episode is 300 to 500 words max. Something you can crank out in no more than 30 minutes.
You don’t even have to plan it all out in advance. You can come up with material for the episodes as you go. Think soap operas or sitcoms. They can go on forever and ever and ever.
Each new subscriber starts at the beginning, with episode 1. You create an email automation and add new episodes to it constantly. It grows over time. Eventually you could even release a collection of “Best Of” and sell it for real money.
You can add extra stuff – promotions, latest news, etc – in a short P.S. at the end of each episode when you need to.
(By the way, did you know that P.S.-es are the most read part of an email or letter? Something to keep in mind.)
Reader Magnet Idea #17
The Garage Sale
Well, technically it’s not a sale because you give it away for free… Although, long term, it certainly CAN turn into more sales for you.
Here’s the gist of it…
Collect your “trash”: characters that never made it into the story, chapters that were edited out. Scenes, locations, endings that you changed for the final version. Anything. Package it all up and offer it to your readers in exchange for an email address.
One caveat. You need to have a book out there that people like. Inside your best selling books place a link to a landing page where you give all the rejected goodies away for free.
As they say… One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
I hope this collection of examples gives you some fodder to chew on. And sparks other ideas you can turn into attractive magnets.
But remember: A magnet is just the start of your funnel. Once you get your readers into your world you need to nurture them.
You can’t turn a casual reader into a raving fan overnight. It takes time and work. And some strategy, too.
Send them relevant emails. Be entertaining. And when you have something to sell don’t be shy. Ask them. If you do your part right, your readers will gladly buy.
One final note:
Include the link to your free reader magnets at the front (and back) of every book you sell. Make it prominent. Double check that it is visible on Amazon’s Free Preview. Include it in your book descriptions. Place it inside your forum signature, your email signature, Twitter profile, Facebook profile… Make sure it is everywhere!
P.S. Download this entire 17 Fresh Reader Magnet Ideas For Fiction Authors Report as a convenient PDF to read anywhere and anytime you want!