Reader Magnets: Why You Need One [5 Examples Included]

Reader Magnets: Why You Need One [5 Examples Included]

A reader magnet is a crucial opt-in for potential readers, subscribers, and anyone else who fits your target audience. In fact, a reader-magnet is so critical, authors often hire graphic designers to help with in-depth design. 

While a simple button can work if you don’t have the capacity to hire a graphic designer at this time, bear in mind that the content you offer is key.

In this article, we use the terms reader magnet and lead magnet interchangeably. In internet language, the two are the same. Before we jump into the specifics, below is a brief overview of what we discuss:

Remember, your core goal as a writer is to write. However, to gain readers and build a following, a reader magnet is crucial. So, what is a reader magnet?

#1 – What Is It? 

A reader magnet is a particular piece of content you offer your readers in exchange for them doing something for you: Usually signing up for your mailing list. A reader magnet is important to draw in readers and keep readers. 

Imagine you are a reader scrolling through an author’s website on your phone. You get a call from a friend, answer it, and forget all about the author you just looked up. 

Now, imagine you are a reader scrolling an author’s website on your phone. This time, a reader magnet appears offering you a free Ebook in exchange for your email. You type in your email and click the button to get the freebie. Now, you get that same call from a friend. You talk to your friend, and at the end of the day, hours later, you come back to your email. You’re clearing out your email messages and find your free reader magnet from that author. 

See the difference? A reader magnet helps make sure you remain top of mind for your readers. Not only this, but it helps as you give something to your readers. This builds reader loyalty. 

#2 – How Does It Work?

In basic terms, if your reader gives you their email address, you email them something in exchange. Often this will be a PDF, a free Ebook, a quiz, a recorded tutorial, or something similar. 

Think of it as a way to draw in your reader and give them something tangible to help them on their journey. With this in mind, it’s important to realize how crucial it is to know your target audience. 

If you are a fantasy writer but you give away a free video tutorial on how to build a capsule wardrobe, you’re unlikely to build that mailing list. Instead, get to know your target audience:

  • Take polls on Instagram or Twitter
  • Look through writers’ feeds 
  • Articulate your audience’s pain point/felt need
  • Ask questions 

It’s critical to then articulate what you can offer:

  • A written guide on _____
  • A video tutorial that helps _____
  • A PDF booklet they can use to _____

What do you offer that’s unique and will benefit your audience?

#3 – Why Do You Need One?

You need a reader magnet in order to build a relationship between you and your readers. In a world with so much access to smartphones, the Internet, and a never-ending stream of ads and new social posts, it’s vital to connect intentionally with readers. 

In order to stand out from the crowd, you need a reader magnet. Of course, if you’re already an established author and have a platform, this may not seem as crucial. However, a reader magnet allows you 1) the privilege of investing in your readers through offering something you know they need and 2) forming an ongoing relationship with them through your mailing list. 

A reader magnet (or lead magnet) guides readers into your world and allows you to keep them updated on what you can offer them:

Having a reader magnet is one of the first steps to leading readers from an outside perspective of you to an internal relationship. The stronger your reader magnet is the better you are able to build your mailing list. 

The larger your mailing list, the more free book marketing you have. And the more you market, the more positive impact you can make on readers. 

#4 – Evaluation / Audit Of Existing Ones 

So, what does a great reader magnet look like? First, let’s look at a couple of traditionally published New York Times Bestselling Authors. Then, we’ll look at a couple of powerhouse niche authors who happen to be self-published and do this better than the traditionally published folks.

Stephen King reader magnet

New York Times Bestselling Author Stephen King already has a phenomenal readership. That said, he still offers a basic reader magnet. His lead magnet is upfront in what he offers: all the latest news and info. If you want to be in the know on Stephen King, simply sign up and receive all the news straight to your inbox. No web surfing is needed.

John Grisham reader magnet

John Grisham is another NYT Bestselling Author with a great readership who also offers a simple reader magnet. 

Notice the clarity with which his reader magnet is written: Privacy policy, terms of use. But also notice the voice of his offer: “Breaking news, exclusive content and thrilling offers.” For an author who writes in the thriller and crime fiction genre, he maintains his brand well — even in his reader magnet. 

While he could offer a specific gift to his readers, his name is likely enough by itself. 

victoria aveyard reader magnet

Victoria Aveyard is a NYT Bestselling Author — and you guessed it, she offers a basic lead magnet.

While it could be helpful to offer a more specified lead magnet, Aveyard does offer updates. However, reader incentive is important if they are not as aware of you, the author. 

Since Aveyard writes Young Adult Fantasy, she might find she builds her mailing list more quickly by offering a more specified reader magnet such as:

  • A map of her story world 
  • A short story from a loved character’s point of view
  • A PDF family tree poster 

Now, let’s shift to looking at a couple of powerhouse niche authors in the self-publishing space. Let’s see how their reader magnets compare.

joanna penn reader magnet

Joanna Penn is an author who not only offers updates on her writing but offers a free Author Blueprint. This provides a high reader incentive and she likely sees a high optin rate because of this forethought. 

She knows her audience, what they need, and offers to help them meet their needs — for free. This is a great example of a reader magnet. 

Published 2.0 ReaderMagnet. SP

If you’ve been on our network of sites at any point, you’ve likely seen a reader magnet like this. Chandler Bolt, our founder, has given away 10s of thousands of copies of his book (ebook, paperback, and audiobook). He’s built a 7-figure business off this book.

If you want to know how to self-publish your book, this is the very best free resource to get there.

In fact, you can opt-in now for the free audiobook and see how he set up the delivery and follow-up sequence. Here’s the form to opt-in:

Claim your free audiobook AND eBook copy!

PUBLISHED. The Proven Path from Blank Page To Published Author

Published. is not just another boring “how to” book on how to write and publish your first book. Published. is a SHORTCUT to self-publishing. Grab your free download today.

Next Step: Create Your Reader Magnet 

As you consider creating your own reader magnet, note what you like about the above examples. Also, note areas you might do differently. 

If you need to hire a graphic designer to create your reader magnet opt-in, please do so. While we’re all told not to judge a book by its cover, a professional-looking lead magnet can go a long way in encouraging readers to sign up — especially, when it’s on brand with your cover.

Before hiring a designer, take the time necessary to:

  1. Research your audience.
  2. Identify what your audience needs.
  3. Determine what you can offer to meet those needs. 
  4. Create your reader magnet content in a Google doc. 
  5. Find and hire a graphic designer to take your Google doc content and make it beautiful.

Once you’ve done so, and you have the final design of your reader magnet back from your graphic designer, it’s time to take the next set of steps.

Now, you’ll need to decide if you can do the backend work yourself or if you need to contract out a basic web developer / funnel builder. Here is what you (or that contracted person) will need to do:

  1. Put the reader magnet on your website in the proper locations
  2. Hook the reader magnet to your email list, so the new person opting-in is added to your email list
  3. Connect new subscribers to an email delivery sequence to deliver the free reader magnet
  4. Set up a follow-up email sequence of 2-5 emails after the delivery to indoctrinate and educate your new subscribers

If the last 10 steps I mentioned feel over your head, or if you struggle to understand the tech to get it all done, Self-Publishing School can help. In some of our programs, we take care of the reader magnets for you. Just click here to schedule a call and talk to one of our Publishing Strategists.

After your reader magnet is live, promote it as you see fit. Depending on what you offer, consider letting your social media followers know. Enjoy building your mailing list and giving back to the readers who make your dream possible. 

And let us know what you use as your reader magnet — we’d love to hear what you decide! 

Claim your free audiobook AND eBook copy!

PUBLISHED. The Proven Path from Blank Page To Published Author

Published. is not just another boring “how to” book on how to write and publish your first book. Published. is a SHORTCUT to self-publishing. Grab your free download today.

SPS 170: Growing Your Corporate Speaking & Consulting Business Using A Book with Brenda Bence

Brenda Bence is an Executive Leadership Coach, Motivational Keynote Speaker, Personal Branding Expert, and Former Fortune 100 Executive. She’s a Certified Global Leadership Coach and is ranked in the top 10 coaches in the world by Thinkers50. She is the author of 11 books, including her new book, The Forgotten Choice: Shift Your Inner Mindset, Shape Your Outer World. Something different from many of us at Self Publishing School is that Brenda has sold over 100,000 books offline. She shares her strategy for doing that in this episode and has many more impressive insights. 

It didn’t take long for Brenda to realize that it’s beneficial for speakers to be published. She decided to go the self-publishing route, because it’s so much faster. Her strategy was to apply the mega-brand concept to people and personal branding. This idea helped her become the known speaker and branding expert she is today. While promoting her book, Brenda had a massive book launch event that sold 300 copies on the spot.

She also shares innovative strategies for speakers to sell their books at speaking events. She even has a method to personalize the signed copies for each event and get the book endorsed by the CEO. We also talk about leveraging your newsletter, finding your target audience, and the right way to tell people what you do. We also talk about tips for getting into corporate coaching. Brenda has many great insights for anyone interested in branding and connecting to promote your book or business. 

Show Highlights

  • [01:41] Brenda decided to take the mega brand concept and apply it to people and personal branding. She created her own system based on how companies build mega brands.
  • [02:17] She decided to write her first book after speaking to a group of women at GM who gathered around afterwards to buy her nonexistent book. 
  • [03:13] She was also asked to join a program with five other speakers. The speaker who complimented her the most stole her material. She realized she needed to get this info in a book.
  • [04:32] The traditional publishing route wasn’t going to be fast enough. She met Dan Poynter who encouraged her to self-publish. 
  • [05:49] Her first copies sold after having a massive book launch. She sold about 300 books and that kicked everything off. 
  • [07:43] Part of her speaking contracts include the participants getting a signed copy of her book. She also puts little book plates inside with the date and logo.
  • [09:13] She also does eblasts. This is where she sends tips to her company emails. She has the client logo, topic, and month. These go out for six months. She then encourages them to sign up for her regular newsletter. 
  • [10:36] Don’t forget the importance of having a physical book on the bookshelf.
  • [11:48] Tip: CEOs love to write forwards for books. Print books specifically for that audience. A book is your best business card.
  • [13:44] Leverage your newsletter to stay in touch.
  • [16:26] Tell everybody what you do. I help leaders build inspiring brands and I do it through speaking, coaching, and books.
  • [18:23] Find your target audience and let them know you’re looking for testimonials and give them examples. Send them a free book and say thanks for the endorsement. 
  • [21:15] Find where your audience is. Think about airport bookstores. A CEO could read your book and hire you.
  • [23:56] Targeting or the four Ps person, pain, promise, and price.
  • [25:52] Brenda had been an executive and she received training and contacted corporate people she knew. Get creative when finding those first clients.
  • [28:28] Sign up for book rewards. You make money from everything else. 
  • [30:23] There’s a reason the word author is inside authority. When you’re an author, you’re an authority. A book can start you on a new journey and take you places that you’ve never dreamed of.

Links and Resources

SPS 169: How To Make Your Next Book More Successful Than All Of Your Previous Books with Tony & Alisa DiLorenzo

Tony & Alisa DiLorenzo are best-selling authors with multiple books between both of them. Some titles include 7 Days of Sex Challenge: How to Rock Your Sex Life and Your Marriage, The Trust Factor: How To Rebuild Trust In Your Marriage, and Connect Like You Did When You First Met: 101 Proven Questions For Couples. They were already having success with their books and business, yet they decided to join Self Publishing School to make their newest book their best ever. Their new book is The 6 Pillars of Intimacy: The Secret to an Extraordinary Marriage, a book about restoring the “like new” connection in your marriage. 

We dive into many interesting topics about their latest book and process. We talk about how SPS helped them provide structure and save time. It was also great to have a coach to answer questions. They feel this is their best book, yet they got it out faster than their previous works. We talk about the co-authoring process and how SPS helped alleviate some of the tension that can go along with that by creating a strategy. We dive into frameworks, and Alisa shares how the 6 Pillar framework came about. We also talk about testing, lead magnets, and reviews. 

I also share tips and pointers about the one-year launch and how to keep talking about your book. Alisa and Tony are also the owners of One Extraordinary Marriage, where they offer marriage insights, strategies, and coaching. They also host the One Extraordinary Marriage Show. They even have a monthly magazine called The Position Post. Alisa and Tony are terrific guests and share many fun insights on how books can be used to improve your business and how it’s never too late to get help and improve your publishing skills. 

Show Highlights

  • [02:00] Why books as part of their business? They are in the marriage niche, and married people love books. 
  • [02:46] They decided to become part of Self Publishing School, because after having five books under their belts, they wanted their next one to be the best! They wanted the coaching to help them along the way.
  • [05:55] How they created a framework for their book. They asked what the language and challenges their coaching clients have had. If you already know the language, you can write the book. What do you teach over and over again?
  • [09:20] After speaking at a marriage event, Alisa had put together six parts of her talk and that ended up being the six pillars. They wrote a quick PDF and had thousands and thousands of downloads. 
  • [12:07] Co-author tips include knowing where you are leading the reader as you are writing. They had tension in the past writing together. The SPS process helped alleviate that tension. Instead of going back and forth Alisa wrote the pillar sections and Tony wrote his thoughts on each one.
  • [16:25] Communication and having a strategy is key when you have two authors. 
  • [17:45] The launch: SPS prelaunch with 100 people on a list for reviews and ratings. The full launch included launching to their audience and book promos. Having a strategy helped this launch go so smoothly. Have a launch strategy!
  • [20:42] They use Amazon ads and have done well continuing on. 
  • [21:45] They also have small group studies for churches who buy bundles.
  • [22:53] Leaning into book clubs could also be a smart strategy.
  • [23:36] They got around 175 reviews in 6 months. Keep asking for those reviews.
  • [25:31] Audiobooks and working with Findaway Voices has been huge for them. 
  • [27:43] Using short links for reviews and audiobooks works well.
  • [29:46] Having a personal coach with accountability and resources was extremely helpful. It’s nice not to feel overwhelmed and have to figure everything out on your own. 
  • [32:00] If you’re considering whether to get help with your book, their advice is to do it! Don’t waste time stumbling around without help.
  • [34:15] The book has a quiz lead magnet. You can learn more about this technique on page 190 of Published
  • [35:39] The one year launch. Keep talking about the book and keep marketing! 

Links and Resources

What Is Literary Nonfiction (Guide for Writers)

What Is Literary Nonfiction (Guide for Writers)

If you’re a nonfiction writer, chances are you’re interested in literary nonfiction. Whether you’ve written nonfiction for your entire writing career, or you’re just starting out, literary nonfiction can help take your writing to the next level. 

Literary nonfiction employs creative techniques that will likely hook your readers quickly. While the term itself may seem a bit overwhelming and ambiguous, we will break it down so you have a better understanding of exactly what it is and why to use it.

In this guide to literary nonfiction we discuss: 

Feel free to grab a piece of paper or open the notes on your phone so you can directly apply the lessons from this article to your specific writing. 

Now if you’re ready, let’s jump in!

What is literary nonfiction?

Literary nonfiction is simply a synonym for creative nonfiction. If you know what the term creative nonfiction is, then you know what the term literary nonfiction is. 

According to Senjuti Patra on the Book Riot, literary nonfiction is, “An umbrella term that includes all writing that is based in reality and has been written with specific attention to the craft of writing, using literary techniques to talk about subjects that are not made up.”

Writers are often taught to employ the creative writing techniques they learn to their nonfiction. Just as fiction must have great characters, a compelling plot, and a worthy villain, nonfiction must be just as compelling. 

A great way to ensure this happens is by writing in a way that uses creative techniques. For instance, if you are writing your memoir, consider you yourself as the protagonist. The plot is the story of your life. 

Employing creative writing techniques to your nonfiction writing will help engage readers and keep them turning pages. 

Literary nonfiction is simply a way to present nonfiction in a creative, engaging way. Regardless of genre, there is a crossover in writing techniques between both fiction and nonfiction. 

(Note: Academic writing is one of the main exceptions to this.)

There is an important topic to discuss before jumping into writing literary nonfiction: Employing creative writing techniques to nonfiction must not negate the truth of your writing. When plotting a fictional book, there is an understanding between you, the writer, and your readers that not everything in your book will be fact. That is the fun of fiction writing. You get to create whatever you want and you get to determine the rules of your storyworld. 

However, when you apply fiction writing techniques to nonfiction, this mutual understanding does not apply. In nonfiction, there is a mutual understanding between you and your readers that what you write is fact. While you can employ fiction techniques to your writing ( tips for creating a standout protagonist, story structure, or using the five senses to draw your reader into the moment) what you write must be truthful.

The difference between creative fiction writing and literary nonfiction writing is that fiction does not need to be all fact, while literary nonfiction must.

If you want to maintain your credibility as a writer and honor your readers’ investment in your story, your literary nonfiction must hold up to factual scrutiny.

This leads into the question…

What are examples of literary nonfiction?

One example of literary nonfiction is a personal essay. An essay is nonfiction, but writing it from your point of view allows you to use creative writing techniques. However, just as there are types of fiction, there are types of literary nonfiction. Other examples include lyrical memoir, narrative journalism, and narrative history.

An example of lyrical memoir is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. In a review, James Baldwin says, “…Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.” Lyrical memoir crafts prose much like poetry, while still employing nonfiction to communicate a larger theme. For more info on memoirs, check out this article.

An example of narrative journalism is Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer and The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, by David Grann. Both stories cover factual events as a journalist would, but add in narrative that creates a more engaging read.

An example of narrative history is 12 Years a Slave: A Slave Narrative, by Solomon Northup. Northup’s memoir provides a detailed account of his experience being born free in New York, kidnapped in 1841, and rescued from a cotton plantation in 1853. Goodreads says, “He provided details of slave markets in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, as well as describing at length cotton and sugar cultivation on major plantations in Louisiana.” This book is a prime example of narrative history. 

Is literary nonfiction informational?

At its core, literary nonfiction is informational as its present facts in a way that draws readers in. Some may argue that literary nonfiction has even more power to present information because of the engaging way in which it is portrayed. 

If we consider the three methods of persuasion, ethos, pathos, and logos, nonfiction often focuses on ethos and logos, while literally nonfiction employs pathos.  

Rather than simply stating facts, literary nonfiction presents facts in a way that focuses on the true emotion of the moment. 

When presenting information, at times, credibility and logic can hold more sway, but sometimes reaching for the heart is the most effective way to communicate a theme. iterary nonfiction uses pathos to do so.

How is literary nonfiction different from fiction?

Literary nonfiction differs from fiction in that it is by nature, fact.

For example, let’s consider the Great Depression. Kristin Hannah’s, The Four Winds, is the fictional account of her protagonist, set during the Dust Bowl. It follows her protagonist’s journey and includes facts from this time period.

However, while her protagonist’s journey reflect the facts of the time period, the story is simply that, a story.  The reader opens the first page with the understanding that there will be plot points and situations presented that are not at all factual. While the author likely did quite a bit of research to make sure her book accurately reflected the time period, the characters read about were not real people.

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan, is, as it’s subtitle states, a true story. The people written about in this story truly lived during the Dust Bowl. The Worst Hard Time shares their real stories and is understood to be fact. 

The difference between The Four Winds and The Worst Hard Time is that The Four Winds is the fictional account of a created character. The Worst Hard Time is the factual, true, researched story of real people. 

How to start writing literary nonfiction

If you want to start writing literary nonfiction, it is crucial to start learning creative writing techniques.

Because there are a variety of techniques you can learn, it may feel overwhelming when you begin your journey. Rather than plunge you into the deep end, below is a list of techniques to focus on as you begin. This is not an exhaustive list, but it can help get you started in your pursuit of literary nonfiction.

First, show, don’t tell: Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, it is important to show your reader what you are presenting rather than simply tell facts. Of course, some nonfiction demands telling, but overall, regardless of genre, it is beneficial to show.

There is a difference between showing versus telling.

Telling would look like this, “The Dust Bowl was an extremely difficult time. People had to breathe through wet clothes when storms came, and some people developed serious side effects.”

Showing would look like this, “He dampened a cloth with their scarce supply of water and quickly wrapped it around his nose and mouth. The storm would worsen before it got better. Huddled beneath the table, silt falling around him, he thought of his dad at the hospital. Hopefully he will make it.” 

Next, the five senses: Employing the five senses can drastically change the power of your story. Think of it as describing a scene versus sensing a scene. 

Describing: Fall came cold that year. She had to wear layers to combat the wind and rain. 

Sensing: She was glad she’d put on an extra sweater, but wind still found its way between the buttons. The dampness of walking through too many puddles made her shiver. That second pair of socks wasn’t helping as much as she’d hoped.

Next up is research: No matter what you write, research is important. For literary nonfiction, research is absolutely crucial. When you write fiction, it’s important to get small details correct. If you’re writing fantasy, you may want to look up ancient cultural norms or maps of previous civilizations to add the ring of truth to your writing. When it comes to writing literary nonfiction, research is arguably twice as important. Not only do you need to get the literary techniques correct, but that ring of truth must be there. Take the time you need, and make sure you layer in your research rather than simply dumping it all at the beginning. An information dump will bore your reader.

Story structure: Story structure for literary nonfiction is just as important as it is for fiction. As you write your story, consider how you can use story structure to emphasize the importance of your facts. If we stick with our example of the Dust Bowl, structuring your story chronologically to follow a person’s life may hold more weight when you get to their struggles (not bringing in a crop, losing their farm, going west, whatever it is for your nonfiction story). The reader feels they have essentially grown up with the protagonist. 

On the other hand, you could structure your story using literary techniques that do not follow chronological order. Maybe you’re writing an as-told-to story and want to start in present day, then jump back to childhood. Whatever you choose, do what is best for the story. 

Parting Advice…

As you begin writing literary nonfiction, don’t get too overwhelmed with the process. Keep careful notes so that as you review and edit, you can fact check as necessary. You may also want to consider hiring a beta reader who is educated on the specific time period you are writing about. They may be able to catch inconsistencies you might miss.

Whatever type of literary nonfiction you choose to write, combine truth with literary techniques and take it one word, one sentence, and one page at a time.

Writing is accomplished with persistence. Do your research, learn the techniques, and enjoy the process!