If you’re an author of any kind, I’m sure you’ve heard it at least 100 times: Your money is in your list. Or at least something similar. It is true, though, that once you’ve got the books written and your career is building steam, you need to find a way to keep building that steam. An email list puts you right into peoples’ inboxes where you can build rapport and eventually sell them your next book.
But, to do that you need people’s emails. You’ll find people can be a bit protective of those and for good reason. Your email address in the wrong hands can lead to emails that just won’t quit. Nobody wants to be bombarded with constant pestering, even about books they’re interested in. That’s why you need to give them a reason to sign up that is too good to pass on. You need a reader magnet.
Here are 29 reader magnet ideas you can use to entice your fans to become official subscribers.
If you’re a non-fiction author then a workbook is an excellent option to add a companion to your book and as a reader magnet. This workbook doesn’t need to be massive. It could be a 10-page PDF. It should still follow the topics of the books you write about, preferably your most popular book.
Creating a cheatsheet for your book is an excellent and fairly simple reader magnet you can put together by hiring a designer or using Canva. Cheatsheets can be utilized by both nonfiction and fiction writers.
For fiction writers, cheatsheets can be used to outline confusing lineage in fantasy novels or to give a cheatsheet to a series of books all set in the same universe.
For nonfiction writers, cheatsheets can summarize information. Think of formulas or statistics that are related to your book. It could even be a list of vocab that you can easily DIY.
3. Guide Related to Book
Creating a brief, to-the-point how-to guide can be an excellent companion to your nonfiction book. For example, this could be a How to Make a Content Strategy Resume if you’re writing a book for aspiring content strategists. Alternatively, it could be a How to Create an Itinerary if you’re writing a travel book. How-to guides don’t have to exactly cover the same content as your book but should cover information that will interest your existing readers.
A novella is a classic reader magnet. It doesn’t require putting together an entire book but it shows off your storytelling abilities. However, this will be a larger time commitment to create a truly, completely, wonderful novella. Naturally, this may be a reader magnet you are working on with one of these other options as stand-ins for now.
Novellas as reader magnets can be set in the same world as your novels or could follow side characters. You want to make sure your writing style is similar to your back catalog of books and you should make sure you stick to the same genre and tropes you usually write within.
5. Case Studies
Case studies as reader magnets are an excellent option for nonfiction authors, especially in the business area. If you want to show off your business prowess and you have books on marketing, try putting out a case study as a reader magnet. For example, a case study could showcase how you used content marketing to increase your client’s revenue by 200%.
Case studies won’t work for all nonfiction authors, unfortunately. Take a look at the topics you cover and at competing authors for case study ideas.
6. Companion Videos
Writing companion videos that expand upon topics covered in your book can be an excellent way option for reader magnets as this will draw in those who are already thoroughly intrigued by your content. This can work for both fiction and nonfiction writers. If you’re a fiction writer you can explain more of the magic system (without spoilers of course) or explain how the society is set up. Nonfiction writers can expand further on their topic of choice.
7. Sewing Pattern
If your characters have especially interesting outfits or costumes they wear throughout the novels then you can highlight these by having a sewing pattern made and distributing it as a reader magnet. This could even convince fans to cosplay as your characters which could, in turn, result in more readers. Pretty clever, right?
Also, the obvious here is if you happen to write nonfiction sewing books then this is a very option reader magnet option for you.
8. Closed Facebook Group
Closed Facebook groups give your readers a place to collect and discuss the books you’ve written. This is a great option for someone who has already developed a strong online community. You can offer VIP access to the closed Facebook group to email subscribers only.
9. Pre-Filled Spreadsheets or Documents
If you’re a nonfiction writer, offering pre-filled documents or spreadsheets can give your readers a valuable asset they can use. Examples of this are a business plan people can fill in or a spreadsheet that helps to budget with automated calculations.
If you can offer additional information, a short and free course is an excellent reader magnet. Many would be willing to exchange their email address if they’re guaranteed to learn more information. You just want to be sure you’re actually providing value in the course. I’ve signed up for email lists only to realize the ‘course’ is a two-page PDF covering information included in a blog on their site. I immediately unsubscribed and stopped seeing those authors the same way I had before.
11. Email Series
Similar to a course, an email series can provide your subscribers with value and they come primed, expecting to receive emails from you. You can have this be a 7-day email series with new emails each day before they are moved to your regular list or it can be spread out over a few weeks.
12. Book Changes Behind-the-Scenes Peek
If you had name changes, magic systems, or other important information that you tweaked, this can be used to leverage interested users into becoming subscribers. Put together a nicely designed PDF that covers the changes you made and why. Those who love your series and books are more likely to sign up than those who are only moderately interested.
This helps to add an extra layer of proofing to your list, encouraging only those genuinely interested in your books to sign up. You’ll find as your list grows it costs more for you to maintain it due to increasing monthly subscription fees. You only want people who are going to buy your future books to be subscribed.
13. Letters or Text Conversations Between Characters
If you want off-page, canon conversations between your characters you can offer these as exclusive content for readers who sign up for your email newsletter. This could work for characters who go through a period of being separated or if cellphones are present in your world.
14. Excerpts from Books Within Your World
If you’ve created a fantastical worth (or even a contemporary one!) you can write excerpts from texts within your worlds. Examples of this might be a history book on a local town you’ve created that speaks about the major families, magical systems, or magical creatures. It would be the equivalent of Rowling writing quidditch and magical beast textbooks but making them ebooks or smaller excerpts that readers can download after signing up for your email list.
15. Writing Process Information
Readers love behind-the-scenes information on how their favorite books are created. You can give your readers a behind-the-scenes look so your writing process. This could be a scan of a hand-edited manuscript page from an earlier draft or an explanation of the process from idea to publication for your top-selling book.
If you have a series set in a fantasy world or a shared world contemporary series, a professionally illustrated map can be a good way to lure in new email subscribers. You may already have your map displayed within your novel, however, offering a printer-friendly option can help readers who want to easily reference as they read along. Some especially committed fans might even like a printable map that is pretty enough to display on their shelf or hung near their bookshelf.
17. Short Story Set in Same World
Writing a short story set in the same world as your bestselling book or series is another way to entice new readers to sign up for your mailing list. A short story is also much less of a time commitment to write than a full book or novella. These can be anywhere from a few thousand words to 15,000 words.
18. Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Content
Whether presented as video or text-based content, behind-the-scenes peeks at your current writing are an excellent way to bring new readers to your list. However, this may have to be updated more frequently than other reader magnet options. One way to achieve this is to create a password-protected page on your site where you upload vlogs or blogs regularly chronicling your writing adventures and giving readers the first peek at your upcoming work.
19. Alternate Cover Designs
Everyone loves a good cover design and sometimes we end up stuck between a few. If you have the rights to your alternate cover designs or mockups of potential options, these can be cool to put together into a sort of ‘timeline’ and given to email subscribers as a reader magnet. It can show the process of how your book moved from the first cover design to the final look.
20. Character Profiles
Character profiles can pin down all the details from eye color to favorite color. You can even include a model or celebrity as a cast for how you imagine your characters to look. Readers tend to be curious about how we view our characters and some may want to see how closely what they imagined matches the author’s vision. You can even commission an artist to create character art for each of your main characters and include them in these character profiles.
21. Alternative POV Content
Perhaps you have an especially exciting or intense scene in your book that your readers just love. Nows your chance to capitalize on that by rewriting the scene in an alternative POV and making it a reader magnet.
22. Art Based on Your Characters
As mentioned previously, having art commissioned of your characters, settings, or favorite scenes can be an excellent reader magnet. Fans can use these as phone wallpapers and desktop backgrounds. Plus, everyone loves to admire some pretty fan art and fans can then see exactly how you envisioned the world and characters you’ve created.
If cooking is an important part of your characters’ world or if a particular dish is mentioned and hold importance, providing a recipe is a clever way to entice readers to hand over their email address.
24. Extended Addition or Cut Scenes
If you have scenes you still love but had to cut, offering them as exclusive content to email subscribers is an excellent way to still have them shared with readers. You can also provide extended addition scenes to delve deeper into things that happened in the book that had to be cut short. These will likely be fluffier scenes that weren’t as integral to the plot but they will be enticing, especially if they feature couples from the book that people love to ship.
25. Side Stories
Similar to short stories, side stories are short stories that may explore side plots in your existing book-length works. Perhaps you didn’t show a ball from one couple’s point of view or maybe you eluded to a dangerous event your characters encountered in the past. Your readers will be curious and willing to trade their email address for a side story covering those types of topics.
26. Backstory or Prequel Content
Giving prequel content is another enticing reader magnet. This can also give readers more backstory to your characters. If it’s long enough you can even turn this into a novella or novelette that is available for purchase. This way those who don’t want to give their email can still purchase the content. However, it’s more likely to offer their email over to receive content for free than to purchase it themselves.
27. Quizzes Based on Your Book’s Characters
Creating quizzes based on your book’s characters can be a fun reader magnet. You’ll want to have a fairly successful series with characters who are recognizable and distinct. You can even set it up to have other books from your back catalog recommended to readers based on what character they get.
28. Alternate Ending
Providing an alternate ending is an interesting take on reader magnets and will draw in those who are already genuinely interested in your existing books. People will sign up for your email newsletter who have at least read a book from your rather than sign up for a free complete book (see #29).
29. A Complete Book
If you have a large enough back catalog, you can offer a complete book as a reader magnet. I only recommend this for those who already have five or more additional books available for purchase. If you only have two books available then offering an entire book for free cuts heavily into your profits.