Learn What a Fiction Lead Magnet is and How to Effectively Use One

Lead Magnet = Sample of Your WritingLead Magnet Defined

This article is being posted to easily answer the question I get all the time: What is a lead magnet?

Put simply, a lead magnet is like that free sample of sausage you get at the grocery store. Someone dutifully stands by the meat aisle with an electronic griddle, frying up tiny samples of the latest and greatest pork sausage…or hot dog…or pizza nibbles…or whatever. That sample gives potential customers the opportunity to see if they like what they're tasting…or in the case of authors and their lead magnets, what customers are reading. So in this context, a lead magnet is a sample of your writing so readers can decide if they'd like to read more of what you write.

Why is a Lead Magnet Necessary?

Although the above explanation seems obvious, I'll give you a little more information about how to use it effectively. And though the main purpose is to get readers to sample your writing in hopes they'll want more, you're losing out on a huge opportunity if you don't use that lead magnet to drive people to join your mailing list. So not only is your lead magnet a way to get people to sample your stories and characters, it's a great lure to get people to join your mailing list, which is where you'll have their undivided attention. Many of you who visit my blog already know I'm a HUGE proponent of building a mailing list. If you're in doubt about why you should build a list or what to do with one, be sure to read my Mailing List Series, where I give you a ton of ideas about how to create a Reader Club to increase engagement, build devoted fans, which all lead to selling more books.

Characteristics of Your Lead Magnet

Now that you know what they're for, which books are the best option for providing a lead magnet? EXPECTATIONS is the main thing you should keep in mind when crafting or picking your lead magnet. Remember, what they're reading is something they'll be expecting for all the other books you write. Here are some suggestions on what to keep in mind for your lead magnet:

  • A proper sampling of your writing style – As an example: I have a couple of erotic dark fantasy short stories that, though suspenseful and super hot, they're pretty dark in nature and they don't have happy endings. In fact, they're properly classified as “erotic horror”. Not only that, they're both written in first-person POV. I usually write in omniscient or third-person limited POV. If someone received one of these stories as a sampling of my work, they would be expecting that all my writing is dark, erotic, kinda scary and written in the first person. Imagine their surprise when they read my paranormal romance series that has happy endings, humor and written in third-person POV.
  • The setting should be in the worlds in which you write – Give your potential readers a REAL sample of the books you write. Right now, I have a novella from my Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles which serves as my lead magnet. This is a perfect example of my writing, the world in which I write, the genre in which I write (paranormal romance), and gives just enough information about this world to tease readers into wanting to read the rest of the books in my series. Many of the reviews on this lead magnet say, “This is a new author to me, but I can't wait to dive into the rest of the series.” SCORE! That's exactly what I designed this lead magnet to do! If you're a person who writes in several different genres OR you have many different series that all have different worlds, then you might want to consider creating a lead magnet for each series. In fact, you could create a single lead magnet that has a story set in each of those worlds. Now you only have one lead magnet to hand out for all your books! Some people call this a starter library.
  • The genre of your lead magnet should be the same as the books you're leading them to read – In the previous bullet point, I talked about the characteristics of my lead magnet. Such a lead magnet, however, would not work for another series I plan on writing in a completely different world and genre: Fantasy, another planet, no romance and much longer books. People who are already fans of my books will be ready to dive in, but what about those new fans who want nothing to do with vampires and romance but love the Tolkien-type adventures I'll be writing? My current lead magnet will not do at all! You can be sure I'll be writing a novella that takes place in my fantasy world and is a capsulized version of the stories I'll be including in the main series. When I create my other series, I'll be writing lead magnets for those, too, and will one day compile them into a single sampler for a reader to pick and choose which world they'd like to sample…with a little tease about the other worlds in which I write.

Do You Already Have a Lead Magnet?

The characteristics mentioned above should have already started your wheels turning to see if you already have a lead magnet you can give away. Here are many examples of what you could use for a lead magnet:

  1. First book in a series – I'm not a big proponent of giving away the farm, but many authors have had great success in using the first book in their series as free to get people to try out their books.
  2. Novella or Short Story from Series – I'm a much bigger fan of giving away smaller samples. A novella or short story written in the world of your characters and series is a great option.
  3. Stand-alone novel that might not be selling – Do you have a stand-alone novel that isn't selling? It might not be because it's not written well. The truth is, unless you're a very well-established author or have a lot of money for marketing, stand-alone novels don't sell very well. Most readers LOVE a series of books. However, a stand-alone novel would be a great option to get that book out there in front of people while still attracting leads to feed to the other books in your series. Don't let a non-selling book stop you from using it!

If you don't have a lead magnet already, I think you can tell from the information above that you have plenty of options in which to create one! Read my How to Quickly Build Your Mailing List article to see how you can use your lead magnet to grow your fan base while you sleep!

Do you have suggestions for a lead magnet? Have a great story to tell about how your lead magnet has worked to build you fan base? What about some tips and suggestions you could share with other authors about lead magnets and building a fan base? Please leave them in the comments below. And let me know if this and other artcles have helped! I love to hear from my visitors.

That's my two pence…

Arial talks about lead magnets

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