To be honest, your reader magnet can be anything, as long as it provides value to readers. So, while the magnet itself may be free, it should be of high quality. When I started with my first magnet in 2018, I thought a free book cover and homemade landing pages would do the trick.
While I sold a few-hundred copies between August 2018 and July 2019 and garnered about 320 people on my mailing list, it was a far cry from anything that would say “success.”
Fast forward to August 2019 where I did some revamping. Between August 30th and September 20th alone, I sold about 800 copies of Northern Knights, with each book linked to my landing page at Lord of Columbia where my reader magnet, The Skyehawk Chronicles, resides.
From September 30th to October 30th, I’m hoping to double that into about 1,600 copies of Northern Knights.
What I’ve found over the course of August 2018 to July 2019 is the that usually around 30% of all readers will subscribe to your email list and download a reader magnet.
And that’s with a compromised landing page.
While that number seems small, let’s assume for a second that I hit 1,600 in October, along with the 800+ readers downloading Northern Knights in September. Out of 2,400 readers, at least 700 will likely subscribe.
With a high-quality product and landing page reflecting my own brand.
So that’s 700 new readers I can expose Episodes II and III of the Lord of Columbia Series to, and other works that reflect the same theme as Northern Knights, like my upcoming miniseries’ featuring a variety of main characters.
Naturally with more sales and more books, you will rise through the rankings on Amazon and its primary competitor sites. So, the more readers you reach, the higher your rankings. The more books you write, especially if in the same series, the higher your rankings.
While Amazon and other sites favor new titles, they also favor backlists and if an author is selling well, they will end up going out of their way to promote the other titles.
Because it’s far more likely a proven author will sell more than a new, unproven author, regardless of how old a book or even a backlist is. This is because Amazon’s and the other sites’ ultimate goal is to turn in a profit. Prove to Amazon you’ll make it money and it’ll make you money.
There are so many indie authors out there who despise Amazon because of the notion that they favor their own imprints and the major publishing houses.
But they’ll also favor indies if they make the online store money.
Now, your other sites like iBooks, Kobo, and Nook tend to favor indies more upfront than Amazon, probably as a way to attract people to publish open instead of enrolling in KDP Select which again, doesn’t make much of a dent these days and I’ve seen much greater results publishing wide.
Does Amazon favor works in KDP Select?
Of course, but again, they also favor works that sell.
Bottom line: Make Amazon money and they’ll make you money. In fact as an indie, you can make 70% in royalties, so it’s not like you’re working for a fraction of the royalty whilst making another platform rich. The already rich platform is going to make you more money.
But, you need to know what to do.
So, what should your reader magnet look like to encourage readers to sign up for your email list?
Let’s find out.
Free Shouldn’t Mean Low Quality
I get it.
Name me one free commodity you’ve received that actually looks as good as a paid service.
You can count on one hand how many free products are worth anything real.
Well, this shouldn’t go for your reader magnets or even a perma-free series starter, which I have both, where my magnet is within the front and back matter of my magnet.
First off, why set a book perma-free?
Because you will see at least 10x as many downloads on a free book than one priced at 99 cents, especially if you’re a newer author with a tiny backlist who is planning on writing a large selection of books.
Freebies find new readers and trust me, if they love your work, they’ll buy your backlist if the quality remains the same.
And at that point, it should.
The same goes for your magnet book, which was a horrendous mistake I made last year.
Just take a look at my original covers for my (five) magnet books.
They might work, they’re adequate, but really, they’re just lower quality than this:
Now, I compiled all five works into one and created the story-in-cycle ‘The Skyehawk Chronicles.’
The cover is far more attractive. It pops, it draws the readers’ eyes to the center, and the overall darkness has a story to tell.
One hundred times better than my other book covers.
Now, a couple weeks ago I increased the quality even more when I invested in Authorcats, a theme that provides built-in landing pages where you have slots to insert your own works to replace the fillers the template comes with.
Again, an increase in quality. Refer to a previous article on what I was doing before in which I thought I had a decent landing page connected to my site via Prolific Works. While I love Prolific Works and have both The Skyehawk Chronicles and my perma-free Northern Knights on the site, I’ve since made those pages exclusive only to Prolific Works readers.
As you can see in the previous article, the quality of these free works has since skyrocketed ever since I made the change. The colors match up well. The landing pages are my own brand. The colors reflect the brand.
Which raises the legitimacy of your indie author business.
Now, some might find that I’m insane for forking up $497 for a WordPress theme when there are thousands of free ones out there but like I said, free usually isn’t high quality—unless we’re trying to pique readers’ interests and motivate them to purchase our newer titles.
So a $497 annual fee is nothing, nor is $49/month or $359/year to purchase Wealthy Affiliate.
It’s just like any business, where an owner will lose more than they make in those first two to three years, but in time, profits roll in.
The same goes here. Many of these are upfront or annual costs, but they will raise the legitimacy of your business, make your business more visible on the search engines like Google and Bing, and will in time, drive more traffic to your websites.
Which is what we need to stay afloat and trust me, it’s far cheaper than owning a brick and mortar business.
I’ll fork out $900/year in annual costs, $20 a month for a paid membership on Prolific Works so I can link my email list to the site, and pay $80-$120 per book cover if it means five or even six-figures long-term.
So, when you build your reader magnet, think long-term and fork out the upfront costs.
What Should Your Magnet Include?
Your magnet can be anything, really, but if we’re in the business of writing and selling our works, we should make it a book or at least some kind of story.
It could be a prequel, which is what mine is. While my magnet is a story-in-cycle, a novel works, or a novella. Heck, even a novelette or a collection of short stories involving the main characters, if it’s relevant to the series or standalones you write.
Note that you can gain as much exposure with standalone novels if you do them right. For instance, if you place each standalone in the same universe and in the same genre, or even do crossovers, say place a main character from another standalone in that featuring another main character shows a link. While they’re not true standalones, something like the Marvel Comic movies provide good examples of how you can place characters in the same universe.
What I’m getting to here is that even with standalones, a reader magnet featuring the same universe, even if there’s a different main character and plotline, will work. Again, it doesn’t have to be a full novel. It can be as short as a novelette (8,000-17,000 words) or even a few short stories.
The bottom line is that it must provide quality to the reader to encourage them to purchase more titles. A series has a clear advantage over standalones, especially if read in order, but the standalones will do well if you follow the formula listed above.
Bottom Line: Your magnet needs to tie in with your series or standalone universe.
Where to Place Your Reader Magnet?
Some authors will publish them just like they would any other book and set them at a price, say, $2.99 for novels, $1.99 for novellas, and perhaps 99 cents for novelettes. They do this because if there’s ever a reader who for one reason or another just won’t give away an email address, they can still turn a small profit if that reader wishes to purchase the work.
But, they can just get the work for free if they give up their email address. So, you can sell it just like you would any book but for readers who love free stuff, especially rare high-quality ones that we hand out, not only will they give you their email but now you can sell your entire backlist and any future work. If the reader loves the series, they’re a lifetime buyer.
So, my plan is to write ten more books in Lord of Columbia, with Northern Knights priced as Free, Swords of Destiny priced at $2.99, and every other subsequent work priced at $4.99. When it’s all said and done, I can perhaps earn $57.88 per reader. That’s $40.50 per reader.
And that’s the power of both Free and the magnet book.
Because imagine if you used strategies to drive endless traffic to your site and garnered 10,000 email addresses a year?
Say you paid for solid book promotion and garnered 10,000 readers per year.
And say you rose in the rankings to where you garnered 10,000 readers per year due to organic growth.
You got 30,000 readers and if only ¼ of them purchase your other paid works, even if you have two more paid works as I do at the time, that earns me a full-time income at $40,000/year.
And that’s only three paid works!
So, imagine what thirteen in one series will do.
Again, this isn’t something that happens overnight and must be treated like a full-time job on top of your current full-time job if you have one.
These days, I’m lucky because I’ve gotten to the point to where I only need to work three days a week at a real job, or between 32-36 hours a week.
Expose Your Reader Magnet
So, let’s talk about finding readers who will download your Reader Magnet.
Paid promotion is your best bet and yes, it does cost money. However, if you’re on a budget, I’ve used the following promo tools, all of which cost less than $25 per promotion, and have seen good results, and this was before I had my Authorcats-themed site up and running:
1. Book Doggy: 400 downloads in one day. About 100 downloads in subsequent days. I also saw purchases for my paid works as well. $18.
2. BKnights: 120 downloads in one day. BKnights is an even better option if you have a larger backlist. $12.
3. Book Runes: 75 downloads in one day. $25.
4. Read Free.Ly: 51 downloads in one day. $13.
5. Just Kindle Books: 101 downloads in one day. I also used this service back in December 2018 and garnered 75 downloads in one day when I only had Northern Knights out. $18.
So, while these numbers are by no means miracle workers, they still provided me respectable numbers that gave me the fast track to a good start.
If you have some money to buy some premium promotion, you can use the following sites:
1. Books Butterfly: Cheapest promo is about $80, and they give you a guaranteed number of downloads. If you fail to reach that number, they’ll give you store credit to use toward another promotion. So, if they guarantee 1,200 downloads and you only hit 600 on a $100 promotion, they’ll give you $50 in credit IF you let them know about it.
2. FreeBooksy: Prices vary, but are usually between $40 and $120. This is one of the gold standards and readers with larger backlists will typically see over 1,000 downloads. They do put your book through an editorial review, so make sure your work is as typo-free as possible.
3. Robin Reads: Another one that will give you four-figures on promo day. Again, the prices vary per genre. They do have specific requirements, so make sure you have a professionally designed cover and that your book is error-free.
4. Ereader News Today: Yet another four-figures on promo day. They do have guidelines, so read them first, but they’re similar to Robin Reads. Also, make sure your book is free of controversial topics. They list the topics on the site, so if you believe your book fits into one of those topics, don’t take it personally if they reject you. They do have a reader base expecting certain works.
5. BookBub: The Platinum Standard. They only take in about 10% of all submissions and their prices are the highest in the business. However, with an email list consisting of seven-figures, they’re a go-to for many and if they accept your work, prepare to see a few-thousand downloads. Don’t flip if they reject you, because your work can be perfect and might still warrant a rejection. They usually play to the tastes of their email list.
The five services listed above are perfect for exposing both a perma-free work and your reader magnet. Again, you can garner four-figures in downloads and if you gain, say, 1,000 new eyes on your work and 30% of them sign up for your email list and download your magnet, that’s 300 new readers. Imagine if you did this type of promo monthly.
For more information to the above promos, click here.
That’s potentially 3,600 new subscribers at roughly a $1,500 investment, and these are conservative estimates for the subscribers and higher estimates for the investment.
You can also get into giveaways and other avenues as well, like merchandising on Nook, Kobo, and iBooks, but paid promotion is one of the more straightforward ways to exposing your magnet to new readers.
Of course, hosting your own blog helps, too, especially if you post three to four times a week and unlock the power of SEO optimization. This is the cheapest way to generate traffic, but also the most time-consuming.
Remember, the more you invest in reputable sources, the faster you’ll find new readers.
Finally, how do you take readers to your landing pages on your site to get them to purchase your work?
You have to build an ad, like the one pictured below. This ad is in every single digital copy of Northern Knights in both the front and the back. The first thing a reader should see is this ad. So, even if a reader is taken by your book cover and description, the next thing they’ll do is click the Look Inside Feature. Bam, the ad should be right in that Look Inside.
Your ad should be linked to the landing page, so when the reader clicks, they’ll be funneled to your landing page where they can then enter their email, which will lead them to a Success page. Mine’s an upsell, which instead of just downloading Northern Knights, Swords of Destiny, and Missing in Columbia separately at $7.98, they can buy all three at $5.99, so the second someone joins my subscription list, they can find this little discount.
So, first off you want the magnet to be for free but also of high quality. A lot of authors might offer something for free and they may be using a free cover creator which might be serviceable, but it doesn’t set them apart from other authors. Professionally made covers do, as do books that are professionally edited. If you can’t afford a professional editor, don’t worry, as there are tons of courses offered online that will teach you the editing craft.
Second, your magnet should be a book if you’re an author, but it can be any kind of book. It can be another novel, a story-in-cycle like I have, a novella, a novelette, or a collection of short stories. The choice is yours.
Third, the magnet can be set for a price just like any other book or placed in front and in the back matter of your book in a large ad so readers can click through to your landing page to download the magnet. In other words, make this ease of access.
Fourth, you can use both paid ways like paid promotion and cost-effective methods like a self-hosted blog to drive traffic to your magnet. A combination works best, but the paid way is always better and faster. Not to mention when you generate enough readers, the paid method ends up paying for itself.
So, that’s everything you need to know about reader magnets. I know this article was a long one and I hope I didn’t bore you with this valuable information but if you made it through to the end, now it’s your turn to turn your magnet into subscribers and your subscribers into lifelong fans.