I’ve spoken already about why you might want to give your work away here: https://cathleentownsend.com/2018/11/13/free-books-why-you-might-want-to-give-your-work-away/, but there’s another time that even writers who’d prefer to only sell their work end up offering it for free. Reader magnets.
These go by a variety of names, so I’ll give a definition: A reader magnet is the freebie you offer to entice readers into joining your email list. Most people are on board with this concept because it’s seen as a win-win: the reader gets a free book, and the writer has permission to send them emails.
Quite often it’s considered a plus if the book is only available to your email list. This is supposed to make feel readers feel like they’re getting something special in exchange for giving up their email address.
However, I’ve noticed something in the past year–random reader complaints about reader magnets. Comments to the effect of, “I never bother opening the freebie because it’s always something they just threw together.”
And it’s easy to see how that could happen. This is a book you’re not going to make any money from, so you whip up a quick cover on Photoshop or Canva. You toss in a few short stories you’ve got hanging around and call it good. It can be improved upon later, but at least for now, you’ve got something in place.
Only later never comes. Good intentions are so easily buried beneath trying to keep up with all the moving parts that make up self-publishing.
So, I’m trying something completely different.
I already wrote my reader magnet, Stolen Legacy, up to publishing standards when I started handing it out to my email list a year ago. But then I realized that I don’t get to say that to any doubting Thomases ahead of time. So, I decided to publish Stolen Legacy through all the major channels, although not for free, since that would eliminate its usefulness in gathering email subscribers. This way it can also gather reviews, and there’ll be something for people to check. And when I get a respectable number of them, I can mention that on my book page as well. I’ve noticed some BookBub ads do this.
And as an aside, while we’re speaking of reviews, if anyone out there has read Stolen Legacy and liked it, please consider adding your thoughts. Right now I’ve got a grand total of two reviews, and they could really use some friends. 🙂
(Review links can be found here: https://cathleentownsend.com/2017/10/09/stolen-legacy/.)
For all the other writers out there, what do you do? Is your reader magnet published, or did you go the “exclusive to email list only” route?