Reader magnet for writers: Everything you need to know

A reader magnet, also called a lead magnet, is content you offer your readers in exchange for them doing something for you, such as signing up for your mailing list or building a social media following. If done right, it can be an invaluable resource, helping writers and authors to draw their readers in and keep them engaged. A reader magnet is not only a means to build a meaningful connection with your audience but also a free and direct marketing tool. This post explains everything writers need to know about a reader magnet — what it is, its key characteristics, why you need it and how to create one, illustrated by five examples of successful, real-life magnets.

What are the key characteristics of a reader magnet?

A reader magnet or a lead magnet is a piece of content you offer your readers in exchange for them doing something for you, such as signing up for your mailing list. Here are six characteristics that make up a meaningful lead magnet.

#1 Value

First, the reader magnet has to be valuable to the reader — not in the monetary sense, but as useful or interesting content. A lead reader provides new knowledge and information relevant to the reader’s hobbies, interests or occupation. For instance, readers searching for a new job may be interested in a CV template specific to their industry.

#2 Takeaway format

Next, a reader magnet must be something tangible that a reader can take away with them and keep on their own device and or in the cloud. It could be a how-to ebook, a Word template, a PDF checklist, a sample chapter or a video tutorial.

#3 Relevance

Moreover, a reader magnet has to be relevant to the reader (that is, the reader must find it helpful or interesting) and to you as the creator of the magnet (that is, you are a credible source or authority in the field relevant to the magnet). A memoir writer’s lead magnet can be a sample chapter from their new book, but a checklist of how to pack for a family holiday may not attract readers.

#4 Exchange

Furthermore, a reader magnet only works as a barter, an exchange of value represented by the magnet and the readers’ email address. In other words, a reader magnet is free of cost to convince the reader that it is worth the effort and time spent signing up and the value of providing their email address. Because you already asked them for something — their contact details, the reader has already met the conditions of the exchange and thus should not be expected to provide any more than that. In return, they give you their email address and permission to contact them in future, for instance, with a monthly newsletter.  

#5 Exclusiveness

Additionally, a reader magnet has to be unique and exclusive. No source provides the same content as their reader magnet or in any other format, as a matter of fact. In other words, the reader should not be able to find it (or at least find it easily) anywhere else for free. This is one of the two primary reasons the reader may choose your magnet.

#6 Credibility

Finally, because the reader magnet provides some sort of value (catering to the reader’s search for information or their interest), you must be a trusted source, an authority, as the magnet-provider. For instance, fantasy fiction fans and writers might not be convinced that a reader magnet of world-building created by an SEO specialist will deliver sufficient quality and substance simply because this person is not a fiction expert.

How do you create an effective reader magnet?

#1 Get to know your readers

A reader magnet can be a fantastic opportunity for writers to get to know and engage with their audience. If you are a romance writer, your readers naturally are romance fans. Or if you teach how to creative writing or storytelling, then your audience is those who want to learn or improve these skills. However, there is so much more that you should know about your potential audience. For instance, demographic or geographical data could be helpful. But the most important questions you should answer to create a successful reader magnet are: What do your readers need? What are the pain points that your reader magnet can address?

This research is essential to create a meaningful and unique magnet. Here are a few ways to get to know your audience:

  • create polls on Instagram or Twitter
  • post questions in Facebook groups
  • create surveys using Google Forms or SurveyMonkey and post them on LinkedIn
  • join forums related to your genre or niche on Goodreads or Reddit
  • email your existing subscribers
  • host webinars or Q&A sessions
  • read reviews of your own books as well as those of similar authors in your genre
  • use analytics tools to understand your audience’s behaviour on your website.

Use the above-listed ideas to post questions about your readers’ needs and pain points so your reader magnet can address them.

#2 Articulate your offer

Building from the insights you learned about your audience’s pain points, now consider what you can offer that is unique and will benefit your readers. Once you decide on the format of your magnet (a Word/PDF document, an ebook, a video), use it to demonstrate the magnet’s value for the reader. In this case, value represents solving a problem, such as teaching a skill, giving new information or providing unique entertainment. Here are some ideas for magnets that could be interesting for writers and literature fans:

  • a PDF checklist for before submitting your manuscript to a publisher
  • a video tutorial teaching book marketing skills
  • a how to build convincing science fiction characters
  • a sample chapter of a newly published book
  • a discount on your books
  • a deleted scene from one of your already-published books
  • an author toolkit document
  • a writing planning sheets
  • an access to a private Facebook group
  • a Q&A session about your next book
  • a cheat sheet for self-editing
  • an unpublished short story.

Why do you need a magnet leader?

Two reasons why every writer should create a meaningful magnet are the following:

  • it provides you with an opportunity to engage with your readers
  • it provides you with an opportunity for free and direct marketing.

#1 Reader magnet as a means to build a relationship with the audience

It is not a coincidence that the word ‘authentic’ was chosen as the Merriam-Webster word of the year in 2023. More than ever, we seek meaningful and authentic interactions and connections in the modern digital world. And a reader magnet allows writers to initiate an authentic and intentional relationship with their readers. With a reader magnet, you attract readers who are genuinely interested in your work. Additionally, it gives you the chance, or even a privilege, to give your readers something you know they need. In other words, you help them solve a problem or address a need, which, in essence, is an extremely meaningful gesture.

Moreover, in return for addressing their problem or need, they have provided their email address. This means that you can communicate with them, for instance, via your monthly newsletter. Therefore, you form an ongoing and lasting relationship with your readers. Using the mailing list created thanks to the magnet, you can keep your readers updated on your writing progress or when your next book is out.

#2 Reader magnet as free and direct marketing

Furthermore, having a mailing list built on the reader magnet’s success means you do not have to invest in paid advertising or marketing — it is free marketing and goes directly to your readers’ inboxes. Unlike social media algorithms, which can limit the reach of your posts, emails reach your readers directly. This direct line of communication allows you to share updates, promotions or exclusive content with a receptive audience.

Likewise, a mailing list created thanks to the reader magnet strategy allows you to bypass many expenses involved in traditional marketing, such as social media ads, Google Ads or other promotional channels. With a reader magnet, you create a valuable piece of content that attracts readers organically. This means you can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for paid advertising to reach your target audience. Similarly, email marketing is highly effective, but building a substantial email list through paid methods can be expensive. A lead magnet allows you to build your email list organically and at a minimal cost. The only investment is the time and effort spent creating and promoting the magnet through various channels.

How to prepare your reader magnet for launch?

Once you have created your reader magnet, it is essential to ensure it is ready for launch. Editing services can help you finalise your reader magnet and prepare it for publication in book promotion. Different types of editing can ensure that your reader magnet is polished and professional: 

Proofreading focuses on correcting grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. It ensures that your reader magnet is free from any technical mistakes. 

Copyediting polishes the overall clarity and flow of your reader magnet. It ensures that your writing is clear, concise and easy to understand. Moreover, copyediting can help you maintain consistency in your reader magnet, ensuring that it reads smoothly from start to finish. 

Line editing addresses sentence-level issues, such as repetition, awkward phrasing and unnecessary words. In addition, line editing can help you refine your writing and make it more impactful. 

Developmental editing focuses on the overall structure and content of your reader magnet. Further, it can help you ensure that your reader magnet is engaging and compelling, with a clear and logical structure.

By investing in editing services, you can ensure that your reader magnet is of the highest quality possible. A well-polished reader magnet can help you build a meaningful connection with your readers and keep them engaged. Additionally, a high-quality reader magnet can help you establish yourself as a credible source in your field and attract more readers to your work.

Examples of effective reader magnets created by writers

Let us analyse reader magnets found on the websites of real-life writers and see what works well and what could be improved.

#1 A reader magnet for thriller fans

This magnet displayed on the website of a thriller writer offers five items in exchange for the readers’ name and email address: a regular newsletter, a free short story, the opportunity to preorder swag, upcoming releases sneak peeks and access to a Facebook or Discord group. The free short story is the primary magnet, supported by the remaining four items. This offering provides value to the readers because it is:

  • Exclusive: the readers cannot get the short story, early access to swag, access to the newsletter and sneak peeks anywhere else,
  • Tangible: the readers receive a short story as a separate document,
  • Relevant: thriller readers are offered a thriller short story,
  • Meaningful: the invitation to the Facebook/Discord group provides an opportunity to interact with the writer and a community of people with similar interests.
A reader magnet of thriller writer Diana Urban
A reader magnet of thriller writer Diana Urban. Source:

#2 A reader magnet for fantasy lovers

This reader magnet for fantasy fiction fans includes five offerings: a novella, photos, a book review, new release updates and book deals. The novella is the primary magnet, supported by the remaining four items. This magnet provides value to the readers because it is:

  • Exclusive: the readers cannot get the novella, newsletter, photos, book deals and reviews (authored by this writer) anywhere else,
  • Tangible: the readers receive a novella as a separate document,
  • Relevant: fantasy readers are offered a fantasy novella,
  • Meaningful: the author empathises with the readers and assures them of the quality of the content.
A reader magnet of fantasy writer Nick Wisseman
A reader magnet of fantasy writer Nick Wisseman. Source:

#3 A reader magnet for writers

This reader magnet was created by an established writer targeting writers and creatives. Its value is emphasised and evidenced by the existing subscriber pool — the impressive 25,000 readers. Because this newsletter is already successful, the magnet consists of only one item: a list of the most powerful writing tools. On the other hand, for a reader unfamiliar with this writer’s work, without additional context, the magnet may not be sufficiently valuable to provide their email address and join the bimonthly newsletter.

A reader magnet of non-fiction writer Jane Friedman
A reader magnet of non-fiction writer Jane Friedman. Source:

#4 A reader magnet for romance readers

This magnet reader offers romance fiction fans only one (but substantial) item: an entire ebook. To contextualise its value and encourage the readers to subscribe, the author provided a synopsis of the book. On the one hand, this magnet may look modest to other offerings consisting of four or five items. On the other hand, it includes an entire book, which is substantial, tangible and relevant.

A reader magnet of romance writer Kylie Gilmore. Source:

#5 A reader magnet for young readers

This reader magnet was created by an illustrator and children’s author. It offers seven items: sneak peeks of work in progress, art tips, freelance advice, thoughts on the creative life, early access to artwork sales, early access to workshops and the favourites of the month. This offering provides value to the readers because it is:

  • Exclusive: the readers cannot get the sneak peeks, thoughts, tips, advice and early access anywhere else,
  • Meaningful: the author provides personal insights and shares their experiences,
  • Credible: the author illustrates how valuable this newsletter is by pointing out that 8,000 people have already subscribed.
  • Relevant: the author provides access to older newsletters so the reader can access the relevance themselves.

On the downside, this magnet does not offer a tangible takeaway item, such as short stories or resources. Furthermore, it may not be entirely relevant because of the broad scope of the content. The author’s thoughts on creative life and freelance advice may not appeal to fans of their artwork, young readers or their parents.

A reader magnet of children’s writer Marloes De Vries. Source:

Final thoughts

In conclusion, understanding and effectively implementing a reader magnet is crucial for writers seeking to engage their audience and market their work. The key characteristics of a successful reader magnet include providing value, a takeaway format, relevance, an exchange mechanism, exclusiveness and credibility.

A reader magnet is a powerful tool for attracting readers, building a community and sustaining a lasting connection. As writers navigate the dynamic world of online engagement, understanding and implementing reader magnets can be a transformative and indispensable element of their overall strategy.

I am an experienced editor, working with non-fiction, academic and business books. If you need a second pair of eyes proofreading and editing the text of your newsletter or your manuscript, contact me for a free sample edit (and remember to use my early bird discount).

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I am an editor, indexer and a lifelong lover of literature with a PhD in literary history. I am an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, a student member of the Society of Indexers and a vetted partner of the Alliance of Independent Authors.