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“Lead magnet” is a marketing term for the gift you give readers as an incentive to add themselves to your email list.
Think of it as an ethical bribe.
This isn’t optional. To get people to sign up to receive occasional author updates or a regular newsletter, you need to offer them a free, downloadable gift. It has to be something your readers, fans, or audience need or want.
My primary lead magnet is a one-page PDF file with my “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources.” Authors receive it when they complete the form on the right side of this screen or on a page I’ve created specifically for that purpose — a “landing page.”
The big question for you is: What should I offer as my incentive?
Not an easy question for novelists
More often than not, if they’re using any kind of lead magnet, fiction writers are using a novella or short story.
But is that your only option?
Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking.
Fiction lead magnet idea #1: How to do something
Bear with me on this. It’s possible.
When I read Jane Green’s Saving Grace, which made frequent references to food that sounded delicious, I wanted the recipes. I wanted them so badly that I searched for them online. Unfortunately, she didn’t provide them.
If Green had offered a collection of recipes featured in that book as a lead magnet for her list, I would have “opted in” — marketing-speak for “added myself to her list” — without thinking twice.
The author of The Language of Flowers could create a one-page illustrated guide to flowers as symbols (daisy is innocence, calla lily is passion, aster is wisdom, etc.).
And how about a tongue-in-cheek sheet of instructions for “how to be a crazy rich Asian” to go along with the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy?
It’s not that hard after all, right?
Fiction lead magnet idea #2: A cheat sheet
Imagine a lead magnet for How to Make an American Quilt that offers the best quilting tips from top quilters — even though it isn’t a nonfiction how-to quilting book.
If you’ve read Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, you can appreciate how a map of the Vatican or a guide to Bernini’s art might have enhanced your story enjoyment. You’d add yourself to his mailing list to get that, right?
If you write fantasy novels with many characters with unusual names, consider creating a one-page PDF character guide with names and descriptions. It will be a Godsend to fans who read in many small units of time rather than in long sittings.
Fiction lead magnet #3: Your book’s first chapter
This is the go-to option for most novelists. It’s what most recommend doing not because it’s the only idea they can think of, but because it’s the easiest to offer and implement.
Just save your first chapter as a PDF file and set it up in your system for downloading.
It’s a smart option because it lets readers sample your storytelling and writing skills. (Because of that, if you’re not a good writer, this could work against you.)
Because it will help readers who aren’t yet familiar with you take your book for a test drive, it’s a solid option for first-time novelists.
If you’re a seasoned writer with an established fan base, though, start getting creative with options one and two. You’ll have more fun with it, and so will your readers.
Creating your lead magnet
You can create an attractive, effective lead magnet with low-cost resources. I’ve used each of the following:
On the Fiverr site, search for “lead magnet design.”
When you find one or two that you like, attach one to your order as an example of what you’re looking for.
Your other option is to scroll through the design samples offered by Fiverr designers to find something that resonates with you and your book’s personality.
In general, I find that I get the best results on Fiverr when I can give the designer an example of the type of look I’d like to have.
Designrr is my new favorite toy. I paid $27 for this web-based software that lets me take content I’ve already created on my blog, in a Word file, on Facebook, or on a web page — and turn it into a range of end products.
When I wanted to create a special free gift for a conference I spoke at recently, I used Designrr to turn a blog post into a short report. The nerd in me enjoyed exploring the templates and imagining the many design options for the audience handout.
You’ll get a PDF as well as a URL that houses the PDF. Give that URL to people who add themselves to your list.
While Canva is free, if you aren’t familiar with it already, it will be your most time-intensive option as you review templates and learn how to customize or replace elements.
Start by typing “lead magnet” into the search box to get a nice selection of options and templates. Or, if you know what you want — say, an e-book — simply type that term into the search box.
Alternatively, on the home page, select “browse all” in small type in the upper right, just under the large search box. Scroll down to see all options. Best bets are documents, education, marketing, and events categories. Click around each collection to find something that speaks to you.
“A4 document” in the “documents” collection and “announcement” in the “events” collection offer appropriate templates and inspiration.
Need a lead magnet idea for your book? Join the Build Book Buzz book marketing group on Facebook and start a discussion. Tell us you’re looking for help with a lead magnet idea, provide your book title, and give us a short book description. Let’s rally the troops to help you if you need it!
What are you using as an incentive to get people on your list? Tell us in a comment.
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