Offering a lead magnet in return for a subscriber’s email address and permission to drop into their inbox on a regular basis has become a well-used tool for many businesses. It can work just as well for authors too.

Personally, I’m a lead magnet convert. I offer them both as a copywriter and an author. Done right, a lead magnet can provide so much value to both author and reader. Done badly, it attracts the wrong type of subscriber who takes the freebie and never opens your emails again.

Let’s look at what you could offer as an author lead magnet:

  • a workbook that lays out tasks from your non-fiction book
  • the first few chapters of your book
  • a poem
  • a short story set in the same world as your novel
  • character sketches

And that’s only a small number of the lead magnets you could offer.

An author lead magnet isn’t just one side of a transaction though; it can be a gift in so many  ways.

Attracts your best fit reader

You should already have an idea of who the best fit reader is for your books. It might be a reader in their thirties or forties who likes historical fiction or a freelancer interested in better organising their business vision. That’s who you want to sign-up to your mailing list. Create your lead magnet with that best fit reader in mind. For instance, that reader who loves historical fiction might appreciate a short story starring a side character from your historical novel that is set in the same time period.

The gift? Building a mailing list of the right kind of reader who will buy your books, boost your readership, leave book reviews, and hopefully shout about your wonderful book online too.

Provides value to your reader

This might seem an obvious one. Of course you’re providing value to your reader; they’re getting something for free. Increasingly though, people are wary of handing over their email addresses. Why?

  • They don’t want an overflowing inbox.
  • They’re worried about whether you’ll sell on their email address to someone else.
  • They want something worthwhile in return and know from past experience that not every lead magnet is of value to them.

This is why your lead magnet must be designed with your best fit reader in mind and sufficiently transparent that they know what they’ll get in return.

The gift? If your lead magnet is designed for your best fit reader and truly provides value, your reputation with your reader (and other readers they may tell) receives a boost.

Builds familiarity

Whatever you offer as your author lead magnet, it should reflect what a reader would find in your books:

  • the same writing voice
  • the same theory or premise that underlies your non-fiction book
  • the same genre, setting, or historical period

Your lead magnet should provide a delicious taster of what to expect if they buy your book. Familiarity builds trust, in what your book will hold, in you as an author, and ultimately in what they’ll receive as a subscriber.

The gift? A subscriber who trusts you is more likely to open your emails and stay with you.

Creates community

Why are you building a mailing list? The first answer that comes to mind will probably be ‘to sell books’. While that purpose is generally served by having a healthy mailing list, the true purpose is to build a community of best fit readers who will, yes, buy your books, but also remain a reader and help to promote your writing too.

Promoting your writing might mean:

  • leaving a book review on Amazon
  • playing their part in an online book tour
  • posting enthusiastically on social media when your book arrives in the post

The gift? When you create a community of loyal readers, you have a springboard for ideas, news, and book launches who are already happy to help. Plus, they buy your books.

It can be changed

A lead magnet doesn’t have to always be that short story that linked to your first book or whatever other gem you initially set up. You can change it for something more suitable over time.

You might offer a worksheet that reflects a different aspect of your non-fiction book, a fresh poem, or artwork of characters in your latest fantasy novel. As your catalogue of books grows, you can offer new lead magnets that link in with your latest book or ones that are simply improved and more topical.

The gift? Your lead magnet offering is always relevant to your current best fit reader.


Lead magnets can be a gift to both you as an author and your readers. They just take a little thought about their content and how they are presented. Do it right, however, and you can build a community of best fit readers who are happy to shout about your books from the rooftops.

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