Reader Magnet Ideas & Tips to Grow Your Fanbase 

Denis
April 11, 2023

Why should you learn more about reader magnets?

The self-publishing realm is a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog environment where it’s all about survival-of-the-smartest. As an indie author, you need to harness all the marketing tools at your disposal and constantly improve your knowledge to find ways to grow and retain your reader base. Reader magnets are one of these tools that authors can use to help improve their probability of survival.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of quality reader magnets and how you can use them to your advantage to build your fanbase and improve sales.

Please note that we are only focusing on reader magnets for fiction authors. Sorry non-fiction authors…

reader magnet example

Check out our article of best author websites including reader magnets. 

What is a reader magnet?

A reader magnet is a free gift that authors offer readers in exchange for their email addresses. These gifts usually take the form of an e-book, a short story, a chapter of a forthcoming book, a bonus scene, or any other digital content such as character art, maps, etc. The purpose of the reader magnet is to attract new readers and build your subscriber list.

Essentially, a reader magnet is a tool that allows authors to grow an email list that lets themcommunicate directly with their readers, build relationships, and promote books. When readers opt-in to receive the free incentive, they are giving the author permission to send them emails about books, promotions, and other news.

Reader magnets also serve as a marketing tool. The free incentive can be promoted on the author’s website, social media channels, and other online platforms to attract new readers. New readers then have the opportunity to experience the author’s writing style, genre, and storytelling style.

What is an example of a reader magnet?

  • Short stories

A short story is an effective reader magnet because it provides a taste of the author's writing style and storytelling. It can also be a way to introduce the reader to the author's characters and world-building skills. We do recommend that you put effort into the presentation of these short stories.

If you want, send a short story to your potential new fan, and make sure that it’s properly edited, formatted, and has an appealing cover. You wouldn’t necessarily need to have the same quality cover as you have on your books, but make sure that it’s still attractive and resonates with your genre and brand.

Make your writing in your reader magnet pop by learning more about descriptive writing and how to write a descriptive paragraph by reading our popular article on the topic. 


  • Bonus scenes 

Editors are key to creating excellent written works of art. But, sometimes, editors will rip an author’s heart out by removing an entire chapter from a manuscript to improve the pace, reader engagement, etc. You don’t have to kill your darling completely, as you’d still be able to use it as a bonus scene.

A bonus scene is a scene that did not make it into the author's book but provides additional insight into the characters or plot. This type of reader magnet is great for fans who want to dive deeper into the story and characters.


  • First chapters

Offering the first few chapters of an upcoming book is a great way to generate excitement and anticipation for the release. This type of reader magnet is also useful for authors who want to gauge reader interest in a new series or genre.

Later in this article, we will discuss the two options of front and back loading of reader magnets and the pros and cons of each.


  • Digital art: 

This reader magnet is very handy for authors within the fantasy or science fiction genres, especially now with the emergence of AI art. These reader magnets could be printable posters or footage of the world, characters, and creatures from the books.

Midjourney is an example of an artificial intelligence program that generates images from natural language descriptions called "prompts". Authors can create super realistic images from their books for free within seconds. You could also use these images and edit them in Canva to create beautiful covers for other types of magnets mentioned above.

reader magnet example: digital art

What makes a good reader magnet?

As an author, you want to avoid disappointing your reader. Just imagine the reader just finished reading your book and is drenched in euphoria and eager to see what else you have to offer. They go to your website, subscribe, and then receive a mediocre reader magnet with no front cover, poor formatting, editing mistakes, and the story seems watered down.

That is a perfect example of how to dump a bucket of ice water on a hot lead. Here are some key elements of a good fiction reader magnet to keep in mind:

  • Provides value 

Your fiction reader magnet should provide something of value to your reader and preferably something is connected to previous or upcoming works. Your fiction reader magnet should introduce readers to your characters and the world you've created. This will help them become invested in your stories and want to read more.

  • Showcases your writing 

Your fiction reader magnet should showcase your writing style and give readers a taste of what they can expect from your books. So, make sure it is very well-edited and error-free.

  • Has a compelling hook 

Your fiction reader magnet should have a compelling hook that draws readers in and makes them want to read more. For instance, consider starting with an exciting scene that will leave readers wanting more.

  • Is easy to consume 

Your fiction reader magnet should be easy to access and consume. Make sure it is available in a format that is easy to download and read, such as a PDF or better yet, offer it in the readers preferred format by sending them different files to choose from.

  • Has a professional design 

Your fiction reader magnet should have a beautiful design that will help make it more attractive and memorable to readers, just like your book cover should. It should encourage readers to engage with your brand and continue to follow your work. Miblart is renowned for creating excellent designs that would fit your budget. 

Check out the design of the Weekend Publisher Magnet

How long should a reader magnet be?

The length of a reader magnet can vary depending on the author's goals and the type of content they're offering. In short, a reader magnet should be long enough to provide value to the reader and give them a taste of your writing style, but not so long that it becomes a burden for them to read.

That is why most fiction reader magnets are between 5,000 to 20,000 words, although you might find some authors handing out novellas or novellas out for free too. But remember that one of the main goals of a reader magnet is to help readers get a taste of your writing style and genre without having to commit to a full-length novel.

(Learn more about how many pages a novel, novella, novelette, etc should contain by reading our previously published article.)  

Weekend Publisher Insider Tip: Front Loading vs Backloading a Reader Magnet

We tend to be impressed (maybe somewhat jealous too) when we hear that a new author has an email list of 2000 or 3000 fans. What you need to remember is that sometimes, numbers don’t reveal value.

To explain that, let’s consider two ways of accumulating, and let’s call them front loading and back loading.


Front loading a reader magnet:

You can grow your email list by following many of the methods shown in the image below, but all of these occur before someone buys a book. Let’s say you advertised on social media and through influencers and built your email list that way. The problem here is that although you can grow your list faster, the leads (people who signed up) could be of lower quality. This means that they might be less committed readers.

A vast majority of these people could be people who just wanted free stories and have no intention of buying a full-length novel.


Backloading a reader magnet:

Putting a link in the back of your book to divert readers who finished your website to subscribe to your mailing list might be a slower way to build your list, but these leads are of higher quality. They are essentially already fans, seeing that they finished your book and came back searching for more.

Check out our coaching page to gain access to more marketing tips.

How do I promote my reader magnet?

There are plenty of ways to promote and hand out reader magnets, and some authors tend to become very creative and resourceful in the process. The table below is a summary of the most common ways to promote your reader magnet.

reader magnet strategies

Reader Magnet Strategies

Reader Magnet Conclusion:

Reader magnets are valuable tools that fiction authors can use to build their email lists, communicate with readers, and promote their books. A quality reader magnet should contain the following essential elements:

  • Value to the subscribers
  • Showcase the author's writing
  • Have a compelling hook
  • Be easy to consume
  • Have a professional design

By implementing these tips, authors can create reader magnets that will attract and retain the intended target audience. Don't forget to promote your reader magnet on your website, social media channels, and other online platforms to expand your reach. 

Don't let the cut-throat world of self-publishing hold you back – take control of book marketing and your writing career and start building your fanbase today.

Contact us to learn more about our marketing coaching sessions.

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About the author 

Denis

Passionate about helping self-published author sell more books using proven and effective methods.

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