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

Posted on Sep 25, 2022

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.

Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Self-Publishing School may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.
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Sarah Rexford

Sarah Rexford is a Content Specialist and writer. She helps companies around the nation connect with their audiences through branding and copywriting. A communicator at heart, Sarah speaks on personal branding, mentors creatives, and through her website (itssarahrexford.com), shares behind-the-scenes tips on the publishing industry, including interviews with successful creatives. Sarah is represented by the C.Y.L.E Young Agency.

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