So you’ve taken the leap and built your very own snazzy author website. It’s very ‘Look out, world’ with a side of chic. You even have some reader traffic finding their way onto your home page. But now, how do you grab and keep their attention? By building up that newsletter subscriber list.
One of the best ways to do this is to come up with a catchy subscriber magnet for your readers – sometimes called a lead magnet or a reader magnet. This is a special offer that’s only given to people who sign up for your email newsletter. It makes your subscribers feel like they’re part of a secret, exclusive club. This way, you can build up a virtual community of people who love, and engage with, your work.
12 subscriber magnets to hook your readers
Here are some ideas for things you can offer readers who sign up for your author newsletter.
An exclusive short story
Since your readers are showing up because they already like your storytelling style, a new story is one of the most high-value bonuses you can offer. This works best if it’s connected to your other work in some way; for example, a story set in your novel’s world from the point of view of a secondary character, or a story about your main characters that takes place before or after the events of your book.
To get the most out of this subscriber magnet, make sure your readers can’t find it anywhere else on this green earth. It won’t ever be published in future editions, literary journals, or online. The only way for them to read it is to sign up for your author newsletter.
A special deleted scene
AKA, the director’s cut. This subscriber magnet works similarly to the short story in that it provides exclusive bonus content. But, what it also does is gives your readers a peek behind the ink-stained curtain. Why was this scene deleted? What was the creative process in removing it from the final draft?
With access to a deleted scene from your novel, you can give your readers some insight into how the final novel was put together, which is always fascinating to see.
Access to a secret club
If you’re social media savvy, you can set up a private fan group on a platform like Facebook or Discord. This is where your readers can gather to share ideas and geek out over how cool you are. You can use this group as a place to post updates about your work, engage with your audience, and even get input on what they might like to see next.
Think of this option as one big, virtual, booklover’s slumber party.
A monthly giveaway
Unless you’re a rich hotel heir who happens to write fantasy novels in your downtime, you probably can’t afford to send out merchandise to every single subscriber. But what you can do is enter them into a monthly or quarterly draw for a tangible prize, like a signed copy of your book or a collection of bookish swag.
It’s no secret that we all love free stuff, and the readers who receive a real gift in the post will be loyal to you for life. If you’re in luck, they might even post about it on social media and bring you more subscribers.
An mood-setting playlist
What did you listen to while you were getting in the mood to write this book? What kind of music do your characters enjoy? What would be on the soundtrack of your book’s film adaptation?
You can use apps like YouTube, Spotify, or Vimeo to create exclusive playlists right on your website. Then, you can send your subscribers a private link to help bring your writing to life in a new way.
A favourite recipe
Recipes are a great way to add a new dimension to the way readers experience your work. What sort of snacks keep your characters going on their adventures? What do they drink in their favourite local pub? Do they have a special meal that they share together, or a dessert that reminds them of their childhood home?
This is particularly effective if your fantasy book has food that only exists within your story world. For example, there are entire cookbooks devoted to the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings universes. You could also supply recipes that are important to you as the author, especially if they in some way informed your creative process.
Some gorgeous art
Are you handy with a pen or a paintbox? Consider offering exclusive sketches of your characters or settings. You can also use apps like Canva to create custom wallpapers and phone backgrounds for your readers, which gives the artwork a higher perceived value. Then, your readers can proudly show your story off to the world.
Tips from the trenches
Some of your readers might be aspiring writers themselves, and they’ll be fascinated by your path to publishing success. For them, your subscriber magnet might be some hard-earned advice on getting started as a writer, excavating new ideas, or fighting your way through the slush pile to publication.
A super secret BFFs video
If you enjoy being on camera, what about sharing a video that only your subscribers get to watch? You could film a short segment in which you talk about some element of research you underwent to create your story’s world, or answer questions you’ve received from readers in the past, or create a guided tour of some of the places that inspired you.
A geeky personality quiz
We all have a guilty soft spot for fun personality quizzes, and creating a personalised quiz as your subscriber magnet is a great way to engage new readers. This might be something like which character in your novel they most represent, or which one would be their ‘book boyfriend’ (or girlfriend!).
A useful survival guide
Do you characters fight their way past dangers unnumbered, answer mysterious riddles, or attain new knowledge that helps them make it out alive? Try putting together a list of tips for your reader to help them make it through your story from beginning to end.
ALL the maps!
Because everybody loves a good map. You can get these custom made for a fairly reasonable price on sites like Upwork and Fiverr. Make sure to send your email subscribers a high-resolution image so they can print it out and use it to adorn their wall.
Ready to get that fanbase rolling? Try one of these newsletter subscriber magnets and watch your audience grow.
Fija Callaghan is an author, poet, and unapologetic daydreamer. Her work has been shortlisted and longlisted for a number of short story prizes, and you can find her writing in publications like Gingerbread House, Crow & Cross Keys, Corvid Queen, and Mythic Magazine. When not writing or helping other writers get the best out of their work, she can be found haunting her local bookshops or watching the tide come in.
Do you write fantasy or science fiction?
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