In my last blog post, To-Fu For Novelists, I talked about the importance of creating a Reader Magnet, a free piece of your writing that you can give away to your fans and potential fans.
You give it away free as an inducement to sign up for your e-mail newsletter. Then whenever you release a new book, you’ll run a great launch by notifying your e-mail subscribers.
That only makes sense if your e-mail list contains people who really love your fiction. If the subscribers to your e-mail list don’t care about your novels, that’s a problem. Your list costs you money. You can’t afford to have a large list with many thousands of non-fans.
This means that your Reader Magnet needs to align well with your novels. If somebody likes your novels, they should like your Reader Magnet. If they like your Reader Magnet, they should like your novels.
Getting the Word Out
You have three different groups of people that you want to give your Reader Magnet to:
- People who just finished reading one of your novels.
- People who come to your website.
- People in your Target Audience who never heard of you.
Group 1 is the warmest group. They know and love your work, and they are eager to read something else you’ve written. If you offer them your free Reader Magnet, they’ll sign up in droves.
Group 2 is not quite so warm. They know something about you, or they wouldn’t have come to your website. But they may not know much. If you offer them your Reader Magnet, some will take it and most won’t.
Group 3 is the coldest group. They don’t know anything about you, so you’re going to need to reach lots of them, and only a tiny fraction will sign up. But the good news is that you have hundreds of thousands or millions of people in this group.
Now let’s talk about how you reach each of these three groups with your Reader Magnet offer.
Reaching True Fans
It’s easy to promote your Reader Magnet to True Fans (people who just finished reading one of your books and loved it). Just put a note in the back of all your books offering your Reader Magnet as a free welcome gift to anyone who signs up for your e-mail newsletter. Include a link to a “landing page” on your website.
What’s a “landing page?” It’s a special page that does one thing only—it makes an offer for your Reader Magnet. Ideally, no page on the internet should link to this landing page. Then only readers of your books will know the link, and they’ll be the only ones who ever come to the landing page. That way, you can track how well it works.
Reaching Website Visitors
Every page of your website should have an e-mail signup form. There are multiple ways to do this. You can have an actual form visible on the page. For visitors using a desktop machine or laptop, you can display a popup form. For visitors using a phone or tablet, a ribbon form works better—it displays in a thin “ribbon” on the top of a page, and the user can either dismiss it or click it to display a full popup form.
You have a lot of options for signup forms. If you’re tech-savvy, you can create these signup forms yourself. If you’re not, then have your webmaster do it. But you should write the copy for the form yourself. Your webmaster may not be any good at writing marketing copy.
If you don’t know how to write the copy for the signup form, a good place to learn is Tammi Labrecque’s two books:
These two books are packed with much more info on newsletters and Reader Magnets than I can put into a blog post. They’re inexpensive and super valuable. I highly recommend them both.
If you’d like to see how I’ve set things up on my website with my own Reader Magnet, you can visit any page on my personal website that I use for promoting my novels. On my home page, I have an embedded signup form that promotes my Reader Magnet. All other pages of my site have popup forms (for desktop machines) or ribbon forms (for mobile and tablet devices). So you can easily find examples of how I do it.
I expect that only a small fraction of readers of this blog care about the kind of fiction I write. Please don’t sign up for my e-mail fiction newsletter unless you happen to be in my Target Audience.
Reaching People Who Never Heard of You
The great majority of your Target Audience has never heard of you. (By definition, a Target Audience is the set of all people who would love your novels, if only they knew you existed.)
How do you reach these people? You can’t expect them to wander onto your website by chance. If you’re going to find them, you have to get proactive.
You have several options:
- Occasionally promote your books on the “deal sites,” such as BookBub, E-Reader News Today, etc. The way these work is that you lower your price for a few days to free or to 99 cents and pay these deal sites to promote your deal to their subscribers. This can bring in dozens or hundreds of new readers. The ones who like your book will eventually sign up for your e-mail newsletter.
- Run paid ads on Facebook to promote your Reader Magnet. Facebook ads take time to learn how to run correctly, but if you do this well, you can reach thousands of people who never heard of you. A good ad will make an enticing offer for your Reader Magnet. Just remember that Facebook ads can be expensive. I’ve heard this works well, but I haven’t tried it myself. Yet.
- Use the social media platform of your choice and post offers there for your Reader Magnet. This can be extremely effective or extremely ineffective, depending on how well you use your social media platform. Nobody is good at all social media platforms. My advice is to choose one and learn it well and see how it works out for you. Social media is “free,” but it can cost you enormous amounts of time. So think carefully before you commit. But if you commit, then give it your best shot.
How Long Will This Take?
Putting together a good Reader Magnet and promoting it well will take you months. So why should you create a Reader Magnet, as opposed to doing nothing? Two reasons:
- A Reader Magnet is one of the very best ways to promote your books.
- “Doing nothing” will also take you months. Time keeps on ticking, whether you use it productively or not. Months and years and decades are going to pass you by, and you can’t stop them. You might as well spend your time on something that works. “Doing nothing” doesn’t work.
If you work hard, in three months, you could be done. It’ll pay off when you launch your next book.