Selling more books by giving away books for free might not sound like a smart policy, but it's the best way to start a solid career as a constantly-selling author. The key to continuous book sales is finding a group of loyal readers, and that means an email list so you can keep in touch with them. No one's going to give you their email address without reason; you have to give them an incentive. That's where a lead magnet comes in. Fiction or non-fiction author -- it makes no difference. A lead magnet can boost your sales, no matter what you write.
What is a Lead Magnet?
When you're trying to entice people to give up their email addresses and agree to let you send them information, it helps to have a little give to give in exchange for those addresses. That's a lead magnet: something that draws in potential readers like a magnet and provides leads to new fans. Your lead magnet has to be perfectly representative of your writing. It has to tell readers, in just a few pages, exactly what they'll be getting when they sign up for your newsletters or emails. You have to make them really want to read more. Some authors just throw together a short piece, but the smart thing to do is to craft the best lead magnet you can. It's you're first impression, your one and only chance to hook a reader's interest. It needs to be the best thing you can write.
Fiction Lead Magnets
If you're a fiction author with a planned or ongoing series, you've got a ready-made topic for your lead magnet. Write a short story or novella that fits in with the fictional world you're already writing. Call it book 2.5, or 0.5 if you want to write a short prequel. It doesn't have to be long; make it at least 10K words with a beginning and a satisfying ending. No cliffhangers here. You need to let new readers know about your characters and how they behave, and why they want to hear more about this world you've created. Let the readers know they'll be getting an exclusive sneak peek into your world that others can't see, and they'll sign up just to find out what happens.
Non-Fiction Lead Magnets
Your non-fiction lead magnet can go one of two ways. Using your niche topic, you can write an additional chapter for one of your currently published books. Make it a topic that has come up frequently in reviews and reader emails; you know that's a question many people are curious to hear the answer to. If this doesn't appeal to you, try writing a lesson on a small aspect of your subject expertise. If you write gardening books, do a hyper-detailed lesson on grafting trees or saving heirloom seeds. If you're good on camera, create a video and use that as your lead magnet instead of a book. Non-fiction topics lend themselves perfectly to this method.
Where to Offer a Lead Magnet
Once you've created your piece, it's just a matter of letting everyone possible know about it. If you have a platform started for your pen name, use that pull to spread the word about your lead magnet. If not, make use of social media to find new readers. Create Facebook ads, design Pinterest pins, tweet about the lead magnet, use it in your email and forum signatures. Always put your offer in the beginning and end of every book you publish to make sure readers have two chances to sign up.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!