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5 Creative ‘Reader Magnets’ To Help You Market Your Novel Online

All About Reader Magnets

Reader magnets take the ickiness out of selling. Most commonly, a reader magnet refers to …

  • A freebie on your website that people sign up with their email address to get
  • A ‘permafree’ (permanently free) book on sites like Amazon
  • Some posts on social media that encourage engagement with you, your writing, or products (like books)

Writers can get a bad name online, especially with what others call ‘book spam’. This usually involves authors dropping links endlessly on social media. When called out for it, they will shrug and say they have ‘no choice’ as they have ‘no budget’.

Except we DO have a choice! (Yes, even if we have zero budget)

There’s loads of readers out there who WANT to read our books … but how often have you bought something if someone gets in your face saying ‘BUY THIS NOW OR ELSE!!!’?? (Not many times, I’d wager). Instead, by using reader magnets we can literally pull interested people towards us.

By the way, reader magnets can work for screenwriters too …

Whilst the main focus of this particular article is for authors marketing their novels online, screenwriters can get in on the action too! Just about everything on this list can be used to market YOURSELF as a writer online.

By offering something free ‘upfront’ – or via useful or engaging content on social media – we can draw people into our sphere of influence. As you may have noticed, B2W has a suite of free products on this website. I’ve used them as a script editor to get clients, but also to showcase my own abilities as a writer too. There’s no reason you can’t do the same!

Here’s 5 of the most popular reader magnets I’ve seen working in the 2020s, either via my own experiences or the Bang2writers’. Ready? Let’s go …

1) Short Stories

Marketing bros say that short stories are still doing VERY well as reader magnets in the 2020s. I can confirm this is true from my own experiences as an author. (Even better, short stories can attract producers, filmmakers and agents too. This means they can work as a ‘magnet’ for savvy screenwriters building their email lists).

I published my own reader magnet, The Lynmouth Stories, to my website and to Amazon as a ‘permafree’ book back in late 2018. I’ve lost count of the number of readers who have told me they found my other books via that trio of short stories!

At about 7-8K total words, these short stories can be read in a lunch break. This is good news because the last thing you want to do is offer a freebie that’s too long.

Why? Because people will download it, put it in a graveyard folder on their Kindle, Google Drive or tablet … then promptly forget all about it!

However, if the freebie can be downloaded and read immediately, guess what happens … people do it! Brevity is better because you leave them wanting more, which in turn will push them towards checking out your sites and other books.

2) Concept Art & Mood Boards

Concept art initially started in the screenwriting world.  I went to a marketing webinar recently that said that concept art is becomingly increasingly popular with readers.

This makes sense, especially for authors who work in science fiction and fantasy. You could create storyworld art for your email list, or alternatively show what the characters may look like. (You could also show it on your website or to your email list as a screenwriter as well … why not!).

Now that webinar host advocated for AI for that concept art. I’m not a fan of that idea overall, but accept some authors may want to explore this option, especially if they don’t have a budget. (If you do have $$$£££, here’s some human artists via Fiverr.com).

If you’re not a fan of AI-generated art, then the Mood Board option may be of interest. Utilising stock photos to give the ‘mood’ of your storyworld and/or creating your own graphics via a site like Canva could be a good compromise here.

3) Deleted Scenes

Every writer will have drafted many times before they hit PUBLISH on Amazon Kindle, or send it to agents and/or publishers. In addition to these rewrites, whole sections of your book may end up removed altogether in the edits process. (We find the same in writing screenplays too!).

Yet these removed sections will have value to your potential followers or subscribers. Parcel them up as ‘deleted scenes’ for your email list, just like DVDs and VHS did and make them a reader magnet!

Those who have read your book already will be curious to check them out. In addition, new readers may read them, like them and buy your novel because of them. It’s a win-win!

4) Music Play Lists

More and more people are streaming their music in the 2020s. This means it’s possible to curate a front-facing playlist on your Spotify, Youtube Premium or other site that could be the ‘unofficial’ soundtrack of your book.

You could offer this playlist as a link in your email list, or the back of your novel to take them to another page online as an  ‘extra’. Since these sites encourage users to create playlists and collect followers, there’s no copyright concerns as long as you don’t use song lyrics IN your book.

Again, there’s no reason screenwriters can’t do this too!

5) Side Quests

This idea comes from the world of video games and RPGs (role play games, such as Dungeons and Dragons). A side quest or mission is a task in which a character essentially leaves the main plot and goes off to do another task to gain a reward.

Rewards may include gaining ‘loot’ such as in-game current, access to new or hidden levels, or an increase to characters’ skill levels. Typical side quests may be kill quests, gather quests, delivery/fetch quests and escort quests.

Quests in games can also be linked together. Basically, whatever works to advance the plot and provide the player with more background on the storyworld without advancing the main plot.

What a ‘side quest’ means then for YOUR characters and books can be anything you like. Perhaps you go off with a secondary character from the main plot for a short story, or perhaps just a collection of scenes. Again, screenwriters can do this too.

The beauty of this one is it’s totally up to you! All readers want is more background on your storyworld and situations your characters find themselves in.

BONUS!

Dream Casts

This is particularly good for social media. If you hate AI and/or don’t want to create your own graphics or artwork in more complicated apps like Canva, then dream casts of real-life actors can be a good option.

All you need to do is come up with the dream cast of your novel (or script!) … Then share photos of these actors and say why you think they’d do a great job of playing your character in a TV series or movie!

You could also send a little video or blog post of your dream cast to your email list. You can debate with your followers on your socials who else ‘should’ be in your dream cast, too.

As far as apps go, I utilise the Collage Maker app via the Android store to create social media-friendly posts. You can create collages, but also add text, new backgrounds and so on. It’s also super easy and intuitive to use, plus it’s only £6.99 a year.

Also, Don’t Forget BookTok!

Look, I get it – many of us are OLD now … The thought of lip-syncing, singing or dancing on TikTok makes us want to jump out a window. I was the same, believe me.

But the fact remains that TikTok is still one of the best ways to discover new books and writers to follow in the 2020s. The industry is always interested in what’s happening on TikTok, plus Waterstones – and many indie book stores now – have a ‘TikTok Made Me Buy It’ section!

Even better, you DON’T have to lip-sync, sing or dance on TikTok to get in front of new readers. Using anything in this list, you can create videos:

  • Reading an excerpt of your short story
  • Carousels of concept art or mood board pics
  • Use music and stock photos to tell a mini-story
  • Clip videos of your dream cast

In other words, you DON’T have to be in any of the videos if you don’t want … or use your own voice. MORE: How To Go Viral On TikTok (Without Singing Or Dancing!)

Last Points

Don’t drop Amazon links everywhere online and yell ‘buy my book!’ constantly. Instead, work on bringing potential readers INTO your sphere of influence using reader magnets. By gathering email addresses, LIKEs and double-taps, you create conversation and get people interested in your stories organically. See the difference?

Good Luck!

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4 thoughts on “5 Creative ‘Reader Magnets’ To Help You Market Your Novel Online”

  1. This looks great, and there’s a bunch of authors I’ve followed on social media I would LOVE to show this to! (Especially that guy who kept writing his posts about himself in the third person, Not quotes from satisfied readers, things HE was saying about HIMSELF!)
    Anyway, I wanted to ask about the permafree amazon books. I’ve had ten ebooks up on Amazon for ages, and I could certainly put one or two of them permafree without losing income, but I’ve never seen that option. A week of free promotion, yes, but not forever. Any hints?

    1. Hi Damian! You’re right, free is not an option on Amazon, as I’m sure you have seen on the KDP dashboard. However, you can force a book to free permanently with a rather long-winded workaround: upload your book to other sites like Kobo via Draft2Digital and then send Amazon a message via KDP asking them to price match.

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