List Building 101: Lead Magnets


Written by LynnA

Selling books is like solving a puzzle. I love puzzles. There is something so satisfying in taking what looks like ill-fitted pieces that make little or no sense separately, and putting them together to create something amazing. It is problem solving at it's core. I take that same approach in helping authors sell more books. Give me your broken pieces and let me help you sell more copies of your masterpiece.

January 5, 2023

Email marketing still reigns

It seems like everyone is talking about list building these days. And for good reason: email marketing is still the most effective way to reach readers and grow your platform. Your book, email list, and website are truly the only assets you own. Still, if email marketing is new for you, it can be confusing.

There is more than one way to build a list. You might go to events, hold contests, or do ads. But the one method you can use year-round, is hosting a lead or reader magnet on your website. It should be something so valuable, so irresistible that your reader won’t think twice before providing their name and email address to grab that freebie from you. 

Let’s take a look at the different types of lead magnets you can use and how you can create them. The possibilities are endless. Let’s get started! 

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet or what is sometimes referred to as a reader magnet in our industry,  is a free giveaway that you use to attract subscribers to your email list. Lead magnets can come in many forms, including:

  • PDF
  • Video
  • Audio recording
  • Ebook
  • Whitepaper
  • Micro course

As an author, there are three main purposes for using a lead magnet: build your email list, build your social media following, and sell more books. 

Why you need one

Lead magnets are a great way to build your list, get new readers to discover you and buy your books. If we learned anything over the last few years in social media – anyone can get canceled. Your email list is one of the most important assets in your author marketing toolbox. 

  • Building your list: You can’t grow an audience without a solid email list! Lead magnets are one of the best ways to create an engaged audience.
  • Getting new readers: The marketing rule of reciprocity means you give something in exchange for something. In this case, it’s your freebie for an email address. When you offer something in exchange for someone’s email address, they’ll want to know why they should give it up in exchange for the lead magnet. This means that even if only a small percentage of people sign up right away, this is likely just because they haven’t had time to get to know you and your work; once they do decide that yes—they do want—then chances are good that all those other people will too!

Examples of lead magnets

  • A free chapter
  • An e-book or whitepaper
  • A list associated with your book
  • Content you omitted from your book
  • A dictionary of terms from your book
  • Inside information related to your book
  • Any additional information you published in your book you can package as a guide

How to create a well-designed lead magnet

In order to create a lead magnet, I suggest you start with a template in Canva. Be sure to use your branding, including:

  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Logos (or headshot) and imagery consistent with your website and social media profiles. Coordinate this with the rest of your marketing strategy so that everything looks cohesive. 
  • Finally, use the same wording (and tone) as you would for other content pieces like blog posts or ads (which we’ll talk about next).

What to actually put in your lead magnet

Value. Put yourself in the place of your reader. Are you providing something valuable enough to have them like you, trust you, and want to give you their email address? Don’t share content filled with errors or typos. You want them to know how much value it can bring them, and what makes it so special for them in particular—this is especially true because you’re giving something away for free!

Next, make sure the lead magnet  is in demand by readers. There are trends for things like this. For instance, a free chapter was always a quick win for potential readers. No more. Fiction readers, especially for a lead into a book series, demand a free first book. Non-fiction readers want social proof that you’re the real deal. Provide something that demonstrates your value as an expert in your field. 

Finally, don’t give away something just to give it away. If it holds no value to a potential reader, your opt-in numbers will reflect that. 

A well-designed lead magnet will grow your list

The best lead magnets are the ones that are free, valuable, and relevant to your audience.

  • Free: If you give away your best content, you’ll build trust and credibility with new subscribers. This will make them want to buy your book. 
  • Valuable: Lead magnets should be something of real value. Non-fiction authors can use this opportunity to show off a little. Demonstrate expertise. Fiction authors can show off too, by providing a hook to a book; something tantalizing that will make them want to read more!
  • Relevant: If the free chapter is the same chapter they can read in your Amazon preview, what’s the point of providing an email address? Non-fiction authors should think about solving a need that’s specific to your target audience as an introduction to what’s inside your book.

Next steps

Hopefully, this post has given you some ideas on how to create an effective lead magnet. If you’d like to take a deeper dive into email and content marketing, my Content Marketing 101 Masterclass might be for you. It’s a mini coaching program designed around the technique I successfully use to grow the platforms of my done-for-you-coaching clients. You can learn more about it here.

As always, if you’re feeling stuck or want to talk more about coaching, courses, or done-for-you marketing services, schedule a free 30-minute consultation here.


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