Do I Really Need a Reader Magnet?

Of course you do! So let’s talk about reader magnets today!

A reader magnet is a piece of writing – either a whole book or a short story – that you offer for free on a site such as BookFunnel or StoryOrigin or any other number of sites. In return for this free story, your audience hands over their email address in signing up for your newsletter.

I see a lot of people asking whether it’s worth it to give away something you worked on for free, and it might seem to go against everything you’ve been told (“Don’t give away your first book for free!”). But it’s a fantastic investment.

It’s best if you can write a reader magnet relating to your book that you’re putting up for sale. You can write a prequel, or write from the point of view of a character that isn’t the book’s main character. For my reader magnet, I did both – it’s the story of Sam (The Fallowing’s secondary character) before he meets Faye (the main character). I wrote this short story so that the reader can jump into it whether they’ve read book one or haven’t read any of my books yet at all. It explores the world I’ve created, and lets the reader view that world through a set of eyes that they won’t see through in the actual series, without giving anything away.

If you don’t have a story to tell that’s related to the book you have for sale, then you can come up with anything – but make sure it’s in the same genre! You’re doing this magnet to attract readers that will buy your book. You don’t want to hand out a paranormal romance reader magnet and then expect the same readers to buy your splatterpunk horror novel.

So what does your reader magnet do? It gets you the email addresses of readers in your genre. Now you can send them a newsletter, telling them all about your book! That’s what a reader magnet is: an investment. Even though you’re giving it away for free, you’re getting an audience that will be interested in buying your book. A lot of new authors put up their first book for free, to attract readers. However, a lot of people will download that free book to their Kindle or Nook and never open it – and even if they do open it, the author never got any way to contact them to tell them about future books. It’s not a reliable way to gain a readership. If, however, you offer your reader magnet to newsletter subscribers, you now have an audience. You have readers you can tell about your first release, and every release to come, and they’re readers in your genre.

Next time I’ll be talking about where those email addresses come from, in the form of promos. In the meantime, do you have a reader magnet yet? How did you decide what to put in it?

Check out my own reader magnet – Distorted Darkness – in the Critters and Jitters promo, along with over 50 other freebies!

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