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.

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Get Some Horror Freebies

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My prequel chapter to The Fallowing is just one of the horror freebies in the Critters and Jitters promo. Click above to check it out, as well as 50 other free books and stories.

“Perhaps I’m going mad. All the sleeplessness and fear of what’s coming have gotten to me and I’m seeing monsters everywhere, even right next to me in a tent.

My mission was hopeless to begin with.

Night approaches, and I haven’t slept at all. And I’m freezing, lying here in my travel clothes. I need to get inside and produce some heat. The thought fills me with terror… the idea of going into one of those buildings with all those ghosts inside.

I am going mad. There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

Read the rest of Distorted Darkness here!

Distorted Darkness – a Fallowing prequel

BookBrush_ReaderMagnetThe prequel to The Fallowing series is available now! I’ve been keeping this one under my hat, so I’m excited to finally share it with everyone.

“There’s a haze over New York City as I approach it, making it difficult to pick out buildings. But I know it will be in ruins. People have idealizations of D.C. bouncing back, but no one has idealizations of New York. It’s a wasteland, and no one wants anything to do with it. No one visits and no one thinks of moving there. The bombs hit it hard, the radiation hit it harder, and the survivors basked in the hell that was the shelters – surrounded by thin air, decaying bodies, and hunger. The last two complemented each other. When the surface was traversable again, every New Yorker unfortunate enough to still have to traverse it fled the city and never looked back.

There’s no fence around the city, no signs save the ones on the highway stating how many miles to go. No caution tape. But there is a desolation to mark its boundaries. Houses slowly grow abandoned as I trudge into the area and the number of cars increase, halted in the jam that was the exodus, draped in a thousand layers of snowfall. I check a few for gasoline, digging tunnels through the snow to the tanks, but they’re all sucked dry, either by the owners as they fled or scavengers later on, after the radiation settled and the snow showed no sign of stopping.

It doesn’t matter; I’m not here to scavenge.”

Read the rest for FREE by clicking here.

No Use for Magic

This prompt (in brackets) is taken from Complete the Story by Piccadilly Inc., which I got from the Scribbler box.

[I asked her if she was joking. Her frown told me she wasn’t. “Every last penny, gone,” she said. “And that’s not the worst of it,” she continued, leaning across the table.] “We haven’t made a dollar in weeks.”

“That’s impossible,” I said. “Hasn’t anyone been in to buy a book?”

“Why would they?” She threw up her hands. “All of these books are digitized online.”

“Well, you can’t digitize the dead. Someone must have come in to commune with the spirits.”

“Everyone has therapists now. There’s no reason to ask the dead for advice.”

“The invisibility cloaks were always a big seller.”

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Immortal Soul

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Birthday post!

This prompt (in brackets) is taken from Complete the Story by Piccadilly Inc., which I got from the Scribbler box.

[The desert is an unforgiving place. This one is called Death Valley for a reason. Every living thing there has to fight for survival. And we would have to fight, too, or else] we would no longer be dead.

Many souls come to Death Valley, me and Ricky just two of them. We come here to escape the cycle of life. In forests, a soul can be trapped in the body of a wolf or deer or mouse. In cities, they can be trapped in the worst of all: a human. Anything newly born is looking for a soul to pluck out of the air to fill it.

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Finding Lucifer

This prompt (in brackets) is taken from Complete the Story by Piccadilly Inc., which I got from the Scribbler box.

[We took turns guarding the door, neither of us sleeping very much. Ricky looked nervous, and suddenly I felt bad about getting him involved. I shouldn’t have] insisted we draw the door to Hell in his house, but I didn’t expect it to not go away. I had drawn it in chalk and salt and blood, just as the book said to. And the door had materialized just as the book said it would. We had ventured through the door into the flames and found Lucifer, as I knew we would.

Okay, here I should explain. By Lucifer, I mean my cat Lucifer, who was only in Hell because he got hit by a car last week. And, well, all cats go to Hell of course.

As I regarded Ricky, all heightened nerves from the demons that occasionally scratched at the other side of the door, Lucifer lay on an armchair, licking a paw and looking for all the world as if he had never been in the bowels of Hell just a couple days ago. The bastard barely even greeted me when I picked him up out of the fires. Oh well, I love him anyway.

But that damned door didn’t vanish when we all came back through it, as the book said it was supposed to. And I think the demons are mad that they lost Lucifer. Lucifer my cat, I mean, not… Anyway, the door looks pretty strong, right?

The Story of My Editing

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I’ve talked about getting a good book cover. Now I’m going to talk about editing.

Here’s a fact you aren’t going to want to hear: you need an editor. A good cover will make readers give your book a second glance, but you need to keep those readers once they crack open your book. It doesn’t matter how good a writer you are, how proficient your grammar is, or how many times you’ve reread your work. You’re going to miss things. You’re going to not know about some tiny grammatical issue. You’re going to have a sentence that makes perfect sense to you, but won’t to your audience. These are things I suspected before I hired an editor, but the edits I received cemented that fact. The thing is, you don’t know what’s gone wrong in your book before you have an editor comment on it.

First thing you need to determine is what type of editing you need. My stories are already highly fleshed out, finished, and complete. I’m concerned about word usage and repetition, so I looked for someone who could do copy editing on my books. Here’s an edit-rich section from my first book for an example:

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If you have concerns about your story itself more than the grammar, you might need a developmental editor. Once you figure out what you’re looking for in an editor, it’s time to find one!

I wanted one with experience in the horror genre, and you’ll want one experienced in your genre. I posted for recommendations in a horror writers group on Facebook, and contacted several with requests for an edit sample, usually a page or two that the editor goes over and returns to you with comments. These help you pick someone who clicks with you and really gets what you’re looking for. One editor I contacted that came highly recommended refused to do a sample. I didn’t go with them.

Now you have an editor! They’ll cost a lot of money! Be prepared! As I’ve said, you’ve chosen an expensive hobby-turned-career. You’ll have to throw money down before the dollars flow back in.

My finely edited series The Fallowing is going up for pre-order, and will be available starting March 12th. Check out the first in the set here!

Dis-Spell

I really like this one. I would love to expand the idea if I have the time – just everyday dudes having to fight demons and the forces of evil.

This prompt (in brackets) is taken from Complete the Story by Piccadilly Inc., which I got from the Scribbler box.

[He sprinted away, not daring to look back, his footsteps echoing down the hallway like distant gunshots. He just had to get to the back stairway and up to his office on the second floor, where] the grimoire was tucked away on his bookshelf, between a textbook of symbols and copies of Religious Archaeology Monthly. The demons were hot on his heels, crude sickening creatures that were hunting down every man woman and child in the city. Maybe the dogs too, who knew. He certainly wouldn’t if he didn’t reach the grimoire.

He had obtained the book on a visit to Jordan, from an old bookseller. He had found the thing interesting, but of little practical use. Until now. He had read the Enochian script in it, and understood that it was a sort of spellbook for dispelling demons and other terrible monsters, and he had chuckled and placed it on his shelf.

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Covers: Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned

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Okay, I’ll admit it – I made a mistake on my covers. But I’m not so proud that I can’t admit it.

I thought it would be really cool to have the series listed as “The First, The Second,” and so on, rather than “Book One, Book Two,” and so on. It seemed to fit the series and it would make it stand out, right?

Wrong. Continue reading