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Why "Just Write More Books" is Terrible Advice: Introducing Reader Magnets

A Free and Simple Way to Grow Your Audience and Readership


There’s some very bad advice going round the internet. The idea that an author can “just write more books” and be successful is about as useful as suggesting to Barnes and Noble that in order to boost profits they “just need more stock”.

It’s crazy. And authors follow this advice, then wonder why (fifteen books later down the line) sales aren’t where they want them to be. And that’s because simply producing more content doesn’t work.

Not by itself.

What use is more content if nobody’s reading the books you already have published? “Just write more books” is not a marketing strategy – it’s wishful thinking. And, unfortunately, this so-called advice seems to be catching on. And who can blame people for listening? But there is a better way.

I’m not saying you don’t need content. Of course you do! But producing a top-quality book is the cost of entry in this business. You’ve written a good book? Got a pro cover and thorough editing? That’s a great start. But nobody’s going to reward you for producing something that thousands of other authors have already. The real differentiator comes when you learn how to effectively promote the content you already HAVE.

And I do this with Reader Magnets. 

Reader Magnets are what bring readers to YOU. They’re an irresistible force that draw readers in – the promise of getting great value content and building a valuable connection.

That’s what it’s all about, after all – making meaningful connections with your audience – building a direct line to your readers. This is what happens when a reader decides to trust you with their email address. And you can make this work using Reader Magnets.

I started using Reader Magnets a little over six months ago. I didn’t even have a term for it back then. Since I put these measures in place, over 15,000 readers have trusted me with their contact details. My readers trust me with their contact details for good reason. I give them good content. In return, they buy my books.

These guys are my fans. I appreciate every last one of them – and they’re the reason I get to write for a living. Here are some figures:

  • My last email sold 627 books in 24 hours
  • I launch every new book into the top #900 or better.
  • I don’t need to rely on Amazon algorithms for an income.
  • I don’t need to pay advertisers to get sales.
  • I saw my first 1,000 subscribers after just a couple of weeks.
  • My click-rate is five times higher than the industry average
  • My open-rate is more than double


IT’S ALL ABOUT GETTING READERS TO COMMIT. Get their email addresses. Follow up. Build value. Build your brand. Here’s what happened last time I emailed my readers about one of my old back-list titles:



That’s an extra 627 sales from one short email, for a book that I published years earlier. And when you have your own email list, you can do this whenever you choose.

Let me repeat the headline again: I picked up 15,000 new email addresses in less time than it takes for most people to write a new book. I got my first 1,000 readers signed up in just a couple of weeks. My click-rates and conversions are through the roof. I do this with Reader Magnets. Here’s how it breaks down:

Reader Magnets draw your target audience in with irresistible content. To make this work, do two things:

  1. Make one of your books permanently free. Or, write something new and set it to $0.00. This is your “Funnel Book”.
  2. But a big fat advertisement in the front AND back offering another book for free in return for a reader’s email address. If you can’t give away books (under a publishing contract, for example) write something new and exciting. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a full-length novel (short stories are fine too). This is your “Magnet Book”.

And that’s it. It’s so simple.

I see this all the time: “Sign up for new releases here”. “Join me on Facebook here”. “Follow me on Twitter here”.

But that’s missing the point. You need to give readers something of real value. Something more than an email every few months when you release a new book, or a tweet about your latest sale. Or a picture of your cat. You need to give them an irresistible reason to give you their email address. You need to say:

“Get the next book free when you sign up for my mailing list”.


“Get exclusive, never-before-published content when you sign up for my mailing list”.

It’s so simple. Follow steps (1) and (2). It works. Whether you’re self publishing a book or you’ve got a backlist of traditionally published titles. All you need to do is prove to your readers that you can add VALUE. And, never one to leave you hanging, you can download the step-by-step guide and find out what Reader Magnets can do for you. Get it here for free:



  1. Pete Bauer says:

    What I love about your approach is that it is so simple and effective. I’m no stranger to business or writing, but I am new to the writing business. It can be daunting when you hear so many different approaches and the fluidity of the marketplace/technology. But, what you’re offering would work in any business. Let them take a spin behind the wheel. Give them something of value. Build a relationship with your customers.

    Rock solid. And thank you for being so open with your information and solutions. It’s very generous of you.

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      My pleasure Pete 🙂

  2. Jay Falconer says:

    Great advice. However, if a new author only has one book available, giving away another one becomes problematic. If could be a year before another one is ready. A different approach might be… indie authors team up together to cross-promote and give away their (free) books together as a value added magnet. Then they have something else to offer in exchange for a signup. They’d all benefit by the (free) increased traffic and exposure. Can you imagine the reader signups if submitting your email address got you ten free books – each from a different author? If any other authors out there want to team up with me to give this idea a go, give me a shout at In the mean time… Nick, what did you offer as a magnet when you started your list building efforts right after the launch of your very first book?

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      I didn’t start building an email list until about February / March of this year – so my first 4 books launched into a black hole. But now, 15,000 email addresses later, I can launch a book into a three-figure ranking and it’ll hang around the top 10k for around 4-6 weeks. By which time, it’ll have picked up enough reviews to get a Bookbub ad, which keeps things going for maybe another month. So, essentially, that keeps things rolling over quite nicely!

      If you’ve only got one book, getting together with other authors is a great idea – and as soon as you’ve got 2 books to work with, you can start your own list 🙂

      1. John Nichol says:

        Hi Nick. I read a post or an email by you where you outlined a possible sequence of 12 emails in an autoresponder sequence. For the life of me I can’t find it again. Do you know the post I mean, and where I could find it?

    2. Antara Man says:

      Great tip, Jay! I also think networking with other authors is a huge benefit. I agree that having only two books is problematic.

    3. Judith Rook says:

      Hello Jay,
      I think your idea of getting together with other people and forming a group emailing identity is a good idea. Have you done anything about it? I’ll get to you at

    4. HD Knightley says:

      Hey Jay, that is a wonderful idea and one that we should all do. I checked out your books to sign on but think we’re too different (my magnet book is a light quirky romantic fairytale) with your permission though I want to find some Indie authors who will do it with me. Great idea!
      H D Knightley

    5. A year ago, I was in this boat. I had two books, not related to each other and I was getting ready to put out a series of novellas/novels. But I didn’t have a mailing list.

      What did I have?

      I had a collection of short stories that included a novelette. I made the novelette my giveaway. Readers who signed up slowly received the rest of the short stories for a total of five.

      Was I successful?

      Not like described above. I was going the giveaway route. I did earn ~1000 emails after a few months, but many of them have never opened an email since.

      But it wasn’t a total failure.

      I have several hundred people who open the emails. Many of them read in KU and many of them have purchased the new series that came out at the end of spring.

      I’m not disappointed. But I can do better.

      At this time, I’m writing a novel to be my reader magnet. It’s in the same genre/universe as my others. But I’m going to go a few steps further. For now, I’ll use this novel in giveaways until the second book is written. Then I’ll do as the Nick suggests above. It won’t be in KU so that I can sell it (give it away) for free and Amazon will price match.

      Then, I’ll have the second book to draw them in with.

      But that’s not all. I’ve planned this as a five-book series and the other three will be at regular price. And they’ll be available wide.

      So, I understand you have one book. Think long. You don’t have to do this method yet, but you can plan for it. Layout a road map and then follow it. Two years (One if you’re fast. I’m not.) and you’ll have it all put together. Then you’ll be here telling others to not give up just because they only have one book.

      You’ll know from experience. 🙂

  3. Great advice, Nick. I tend to recommend authors to write more and invest on the product rather than spend too much time, money or energy on the marketing, because I’m a firm believer in that a good product can sell itself at some point, but you’re right in that the “just write more books” advice has been a much too widespread one over the past few years.

    The thing is that the authors giving this advice are ones who take for granted that you know how to capture and engage with your audience. But that’s really rarely the case for most authors. Obvious things like building a newsletter and offering books for free in exchange for data (emails) are really not that obvious.
    Now, if you do have a reader magnets system, it does make sense to “just write more”, because each new book is going to bring more people, who are thengoing to read the precedent ones, make the email database grow, etc.

    In any case, congratulations on your success, Nick! It’s always fantastic to see indie authors take matters in their own hands and make it work – and, more importantly, share with the community what they did to make it work.

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      Absolutely – and if you get the Reader Magnets process set up, a lot of it is on autopilot. A couple of emails a month doesn’t take much effort, but it gets amazing results once you’ve built up a big enough list

      1. Jacques says:

        I like the idea. The only thing holding me back is i do not know what to email the new subscribers.

  4. Carolyn says:

    I can’t think of a better way to sabotage your career as an author than to race through writing more books just to get a bunch of titles out there. Readers are not stupid; they know the difference between a quality novel and hastily written drivel.

    1. Antara Man says:

      Speed and quantity is a huge advantage by either self- or traditional publishing. When one gains momentum, the creative process can advance fast. The point it to be persistent. I try to produce a lot of content but i am not very fast given the fact that my books have to be translated as well (English isn’t my native language). I will cite Steven King “If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all -read a lot and write a lot.”

  5. Evangeline says:

    Good to see someone who is sharing advice and experience. Am currently giving away a free book with my latest book and will be waiting to see what the outcome will be.

  6. Hi Nick, just wondering why this book is only free in the and store? Okay it’s only 89c in Spain, so I’ll get it anyway as your marketing books always deliver. Just wondering…

    1. Michal says:

      Each Amazon store has independent staff and politics. It took me about 3 months to make my book permafree in all the stores.

  7. Michal says:

    Hey Nick,
    The link to Paydown download site in the PDF version of Reader Magnets is not interactive (at least in my browser) and wrong. There is no on your site.

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      Hey Michal – this is the Reader Magnets download link:

      1. Michal says:

        You didin’t get me Nick. I’ve opened the Reader Magnets and read it. Inside the book there is a link to the Paydown download page and it wasn’t interactive (but only in Firefox; when I downloaded PDF and opened in Acrobat everything worked just fine).
        Sorry for confusion.

        1. Nick_Stephenson says:

          Yeah, some browsers deactivate links in PDFs 🙂

  8. Chris says:

    Hey Nick, thanks for the great PDF, I have a question though. In your PDF, you say you were getting 1000 downloads a day from your perma free book, and that getting 300 should be easy. Those are pretty impressive numbers to me. I have 5 books up on Amazon, with one perma free already, but am getting less than 20 downloads a day right now. Even when the permafree was a new release, it rarely did more than 50 downloads a day. Any suggestions for dealing with this big discrepancy using your methods?

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      It depends what genre you’re in (I’m in mysteries and thrillers, which is pretty lucrative) – but with the right keywords and a little paid promotion every few months, it’s very achievable. Check out “Supercharge Your Kindle Sales” for more on keywords 🙂

      1. Chris says:

        Thanks Nick. I’m in the post-apocalyptic/zombie genre, which is fairly popular as well. I got the impression from your PDF, that you weren’t doing any paid promotion to hit those numbers

        1. Nick_Stephenson says:

          I was hitting a few hundred a day without advertising, but after one or two advertisements, I was hitting 1,000+ a day for a good 90 days afterwards.

          1. Michal says:

            Naughty you Nick:
            “1,000+ downloads a day for 6 months without any promotion whatsoever.”

          2. Nick_Stephenson says:

            A few hundred per day on one of them, but I have more than one permafree book! Go check out the Case Study in “Supercharge Your Kindle Sales” – we took one book, made it permafree, and hit 1,000 downloads a day without promoting.

            I’m not going to say that’s going to work for EVERYONE (that would just be fibbing) – most people will need some kind of promo to either kickstart it or keep the numbers going. And it’s very achievable.

            I’m still seeing 800 – 1000 per day even now, and I haven’t run a promo in forever. Probably about time I did one 🙂

  9. Elyse Salpeter says:

    Nick, I have about 40 short stories not published – I was thinking of putting them into an anthology and using THAT as my free book – what do you think of that concept?

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      The ultimate aim is to get your freebie into Bookbub – I’m not sure on whether they take short story collections or not, but if they don’t, I’d consider making a novel permanently free and offering some short stories as an incentive to get people signed up to your list (you can still sell the boxed set at full price).

  10. What are the actual practicalities for ‘giving away a copy of a book for every email sign up’? Do you gift thru Email them a word doc? (Risky?) Gifting is only available on .com. Not Zon UK etc. Effectively gifting a book thru Amazon would cost $3 with $2 coming back in royalties. So cost of $1 per email addy. Given you have 15,000 email addies, that’s a lot of bucks!

    Also, I looked at Mailchimp for email capture and gave up. I found their website awesomely complicated!….but my website seems to have a subscriber sign up (I set it up ages ago) so maybe that shouldn’t worry me?

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      it’s worth the learning curve 🙂

      1. Are you still advocating Mailchimp?
        A quick look at your books and at your website shows that you only have a New Release (only) Newsletter email sign up. And only some – not all – of your books (from the Look Inside) have the link offering the free novella if you sign up.
        Is this email signup run by Mailchimp to accumulate email addresses or simply as part of your website?

        1. Nick_Stephenson says:

          Hi Paul – yes, I use Mailchimp for everything. I also have a signup option which doesn’t offer a free book. I’ve been split testing… the difference is about 1,000% in favour of the signup link with the incentive, but I keep the other one in place to capture anybody who already has a copy of the free novella.

          If you don’t like Mailchimp, any of the others will do the job just fine. It’s more personal taste than anything 🙂

    2. I completely agree, Paul and Nick. I’m a total techie, but I just didn’t get MailChimp for a while. In time I figured it out and I like it. So, I agree, it’s worth the effort. Also, I like a site called which helps to integrate the signup forms into your website. It costs a few bucks, but it’s a nice service.

      1. Nick_Stephenson says:

        I like Leadpages too – I use Optimizepress myself, which does pretty much the same thing, but with no monthly fee (that’s just me though).

    3. I realize this comment is a little old now, but I actually wrote a book on MailChimp if you’re interested in checking it out. I won’t link here unless I get the go-ahead from Nick, but you can find it by searching on Amazon under my name.

      It seems there’s quite a few people that struggle with setting up and maintaining MailChimp so I wrote the book to help beginners like yourself. Check it out!

      1. Nick_Stephenson says:

        Link away, my friend!

      2. Awesome. Thanks, Nick! Here’s the book You can also find it on all of the other vendors, too.

        1. Nick_Stephenson says:

          found it, bought it on the UK site. Looking good!

          1. Why thank you, very much!

  11. What I don’t get is, why not get them to opt in to get the first book free? It seems to me like you’ve got an unnecessary 2-step process. Though you may find you’re getting a higher opt in rate because of the reciprocation factor, assuming the first book you gave them really did provide good value. Is that what’s happening? Have you tested it? I’m more than curious!

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      Because we need the first book free on Amazon to generate traffic 🙂

  12. Ninie Hammon says:

    I could kiss your whole face…ok, that was excessive. It’s just that I’ve been stranded on the Desert Island of Book Obscurity for months (years?) and you are the ship that has finally appeared on the horizon.

    About a year ago, I took a deep breath, put on my big-boy pants and bought back the rights to my seven novels from my publisher. (gulp!) It was a small publishing house with which I’d signed a seven-book contract years ago (among the worst decisions of my professional life) and shortly after I signed, the company began to specialize in comic books and graphic novels and ignored the novel line. No promotion. None, zero, zip, zilch, nada. I had outrageous advances tucked under my mattress and no readers.

    In January, I set aside the WIP of my first-ever series, and concentrated full-time on learning how to sell the seven books I’d already written. I studied more than a dozen book-marketing books. I’d never heard of long-tail marketing, key words, categories (my publisher listed all my books in Fiction> General), Amazon algorithms, bestseller/popularity/hot new releases/top rated lists, KDP, KOLL, KU and KYSH (Kan You Say Helllllppp!) Based on my research, I then commissioned seven new book covers to match the branding on totally re-designed website, had links put in the backs of all my books to: a mailing list sign-up form, please-leave-a-review, covers and blurbs about all the other books and to videos I’d made about each book.

    If it wears you out reading about it, be glad you didn’t live it.

    I decided to re-launch every book at four-week intervals and in August I sent Five Days in May out into the wide world via a free give-away promoted on BookBub, EReader News Today, Kindle Nation Daily/Book Gorilla, Pixil of Ink, Booksends, The Midlist and too-many-to-list other sites. In five days, I had 56,978 downloads. And I was off to the races. Suddenly, I was selling books! And getting reviews–even a handful of email list subscribers.

    Using the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it school of marketing, I employed the same technique with the other books month after month–free give-aways promoted on BookBub et al. Four books and 182,056 free downloads later, here’s where I stand. All my books are in the top 100 Bestseller ranking in at least one of their categories, almost all are on the first two or three search pages. Five Days in May had 18 reviews August 16 and 401 now, with a 4.8-star average. It’s currently the #1 Top Rated book in Paranormal Suspense. All the books I’ve promoted so far have hundreds of reviews and right now, four of my them are in the top twenty Top Rated books in Inspirational Suspense.

    Nice, huh?

    Actually, not so much. I’m worn out with big free promotions once a month supplemented by monthly 99c promotions. And in spite of all the dust I’m kicking up, I’ve spent the past four months watching the number of give-away downloads dwindle with each book. Every post-free sales spike is lower and shorter than the last. The 99¢ sales have been flops. Across the board, sales have tanked. Clearly, a writing career based on giving books away is not a viable, sustainable strategy.

    So what is? What else do I try?

    And into the profound silence following that question a small voice whispered, “Reader Magnets.”

    Nick, you’ve lighted another path for me to follow forward. My KDP Select expires Dec. 21 so I can diversify and do perma-free. The (lame) promotions for my four collections will be over by then, too, as will my (maybe final?) BookBub freebie. After Christmas, I will leap with both feet into your marketing strategies.

    And we’ll see how it goes. I will keep you posted. Thanks!

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      Wow, I’ve never had a full-face kiss before. Does that involve you dislocating your jaw? In any event – my pleasure to be of any help. Free is great, but best used to get people onto your mailing list with the (huge) spike in traffic you get as a result. If you’re not converting customers into subscribers, nothing will work long-term. So go for it! Let me know how it goes 🙂

  13. stephencarter says:

    I’ve tried variations on this. I offered a free eBook download if people joined my Newsletter. I put clickable links in the front and back of my 4 ebooks, linking to a sign-up page on my site where visitors could fill in their email and I would send a mobi of the free book later that same day. I had a 1000 downloads over the last 6 months on Free days, and I received zero signups. I had another simple New Release Mailing List page on my site readers could link to, 1 signup. I recently discovered the New Release mailchimp form works fine, but apparently the newsletter form doesn’t. Not sure why. My point is, doing all this isn’t a foolproof route to getting signups. I know, everyone I know seems to have no problem doing this. I’m ready to give up, frankly. I also spent 20 hours last week following your advice on changing the keywords and categories on my books. I love how you explained about tracking down keywords that give high traffic and low competition. I was excited by the concept. But it’s had no effect on downloads so far. I don’t expect much from that either, frankly. Anyway, good luck. I hope you continue to help authors. Thanks.

    1. John Ling says:

      Hi Stephen. I don’t think it’s your sales technique that’s the problem. It may well be your subject matter and ideology. Try to tone it down a bit.

  14. James Minter says:

    Nick, thanks for your Reader Magnets book. It’s very timely. I’ve 5 books (paperback and eBook) exclusively on Amazon. One thing I’ve learnt – do the same thing in the same way and you get the same results – for me the results are poor measured in sales. Good to great reviews but very limited sales. I believed it was all about writing more books (books 6 and 7 are in progress) but in 2015 this will change. I’m planning to follow your advice to the letter. I write in two genres English humour and for children (8 to 11 yr olds) it will be interesting to see how well your techniques work for me. But nothing ventured noting gained and if I only increase book sales to one (yes one) per day on average I’ll be very happy. of course any more and I’ll be ecstatic …

  15. AlixMoore says:

    I love this idea and I am implementing it. One question I can’t seem to find an answer to is–what program to use to create the free mobi file for the giveaway book–that is book #2, the magnet book
    Can I use scrivener+amazon’s Kindlegen or do I need to create the giveaway mobi another way?

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      Hi Alix – yes, I just use Scrivener to export as a mobi file 🙂

  16. pd workman says:

    I just posted to Joanna Penn’s article, and I have to post to you too… you guys rock. Thanks so much for sharing what has worked for you and being so generous in the author community. Really. You rock.

  17. Leslie says:

    Nick! Love your material. In the Reader Magnets book you mention using Mailchimp for free. When you get to the part about using the autoresponder, can you do that for free? I can’t seem to get it to work. Maybe they’ve changed it, since this book has been written.

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      Hey Leslie – you can send a “welcome email” as part of the free package, but for full autoresponders you need to upgrade to paid. It starts at $10 a month I think 🙂

      1. Leslie Howard says:

        Thanks for clearing that up Nick. I just listened to you on the Side Hustle Show. Great interview!

  18. Hey Nick, I found you via Nick Loper’s Side Hustle Nation site. Thanks so much for sharing all of this great stuff. I’ve implemented your strategies with giving away my first book as permafree and in the front of that I offer two novellas and a guide to the top 16 hidden mysteries on the planet (a pdf I created for this purpose a few months ago). Since making the first book in the four book series free, I’ve had a few thousand downloads in a couple of days, but only two sign ups. I basically made my copy for the sign ups similar to yours and Mark Dawson’s (another author who does this), so I don’t think that’s the problem. And since I’m giving away two novellas instead of just one, I’d think the value proposition is good. The info is in the front and back of the book, the downloads are coming, but the subscribes are not. I’m in the same genre as you, mystery/thriller/suspense. Thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas? Arsenic? Thanks for your help. I appreciate it.

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      It all depends on where you’re getting your traffic from and how effective your signup process is. I would expect 3% – 5% signup rate, on average. That drops (a lot) with paid advertising, but this higher number of downloads usually makes up for it.

    2. Lynne says:

      I’m curious…since you last wrote this, has your signup conversion increased?

  19. Leslie Howard says:

    Nick! Great book. I’m going bonkers trying to figure out how you create auto responders with a free mail chimp account? Idk…I’m in the U.S. & what I saw is I have to have a paid account to create an automated sequence. Maybe I’m doing something wrong.

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      you can use the “welcome email” – it’s all in the free ebook 🙂

      autoresponders are paid only – so if you want more than just the one welcome email to go out, it starts at $10 a month, I think

      1. Hoang says:

        Or to start out with cheaply, just buy the minimum amount of credit ($9) and the automated sequence is unlocked. Each time you send out emails through a campaign uses credits though. If your campaign would exceed the subscription model, move over to that.

  20. Antara Man says:

    I put an offer for a self-help report at the beginning of my FICTION book. I don’t have any other available fiction books so I came up with the free report. I know it’s not exactly targeted but ope it’s still better than nothing. At the end I put “sign-up to get exclusive content, giveaways releases and bla-bla”. Thank you for the free ebook tutorial. Are you also using Mailchimp?

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      A self-help offer probably won’t convert very well for fiction – if you DON’T have another book, you can always say “get the next book free when you join my readers’ group – 2 weeks before it hits the shelves!” and then follow up to tell people they’ll get a VIP invite to download the book as soon as it’s ready (or something along those lines). The point is to make the offer VERY specific.

      Bad = “get free stuff when you join”
      Good = “get this specific thing when you join”

      1. Antara Man says:

        Yes, I did it but still until my second ebook is out, I will use the self-help book (it’s better than nothing). I wonder only one thing though – I will run a KDP Select free promo when my next book is out. I count on the fact that when those people who downloaded the first book for free and liked it, will be inclined to spend 1.99 or even 2.99 bucks for the next. If I offer it for free (and I don’t have more fiction titles) I am loosing potential sales. I think your strategies is perfect but at least wit 4-5 titles. One should have at least 4-5 back-list to be able to offer free stuff. One strategy I recommend and it worked for me (I spend money I didn’t intend to) is Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant’s strategy. They cut the book at the middle, leaving the reader to long for more and titled it Episode 1 and it’s permafree. The second book is titled The Complete 1 Season and it’s not for free. So writing more in the initial phase is a must.

        1. Jay Woods says:

          I can see why your opt-in rates are horrendous. I think Nick has been stereotypically British and reserved in how he answered you; your lead magnet is horribly irrelevant to your book and though you may try to convince yourself it is better than nothing, you are missing the point. Your prospective opt-ins don’t care that you imagine it to be “better than nothing”; for them, it really is as good as nothing.

          So, don’t be lazy now, go and produce something relevant, whether it’s a preview outline of your next book or even author’s notes on the current one. It’s still much better than the frankly offensive offer you have. You want to be successful, you’re really going to have to have a more methodical, single-minded, can-do attitude than what you appear to have from your posts thus far. Here endeth the kind (if harsh sounding) rebuke. (And I’m a Brit like Nick too, for what it’s worth!)

        2. Nick_Stephenson says:

          I’ve tested this out with multiple books and with multiple authors – if anything, offering the second book for free (in return for an email address) has improved sales. So far, I’ve not seen anyone lose out.

          And if you don’t want to give away another book, don’t sweat it – just come up with something that is relevant. One spy thriller author put together a 3-page “redacted MI5 case file” to use as a reader magnet and got great results.

          A couple of hours’ work and it made all the difference 🙂

          1. Meta Brown says:

            The case file was also fiction?

  21. Antara Man says:

    OK, I don’t get where do you set up the welcome email? I use Windows and in your ebook or pdf, I see a Mac screen. How do you make the sign up pages or squeeze pages? Just random wordpress full size page and the Mailchimp integration?

    1. Nick_Stephenson says:

      it’s all configured in mailchimp, so it doesn’t matter what OS you’re using. Go to list name -> signup forms -> general forms and you’ll see a dropdown box on the left. Choose “welcome email” and change the text to include the link. Full instructions in “Reader Magnets” at the link above 🙂

      1. Antara Man says:

        I got it now, thanks Nick! Yo are a genius. I wondered how to avoid my campaigns going in the spam and your welcome email showed me how to do it! I copied this part, “steal like an artist” attitude. I hope you don’t mind. What are your premium services for authors?

  22. Jay says:

    There’s a new website service that’s taking the whole reader magnet thing to a new level. helps authors offer free content to find new readers for Fantasy and Sci Fi.

  23. Eric Beaty says:


    I absolutely love your “Reader Magnets” book! I have a list of around 500 subscribers from my guitar videos on YouTube, but I’m having to start from scratch building my author platform and mailing list! Right now, all I have to offer is a couple of short stories I recently edited and am getting ready to release.

    My question relates to distribution of such stories on Wattpad. I’ve recently joined this author/writer social network as a means to motivate me to write more this year since I’m transitioning from focusing on guitar products and vids to writing fiction. How would you recommend approaching releasing my content on both my email list and my Wattpad profile?

    I thought about using the incentive for signing up on my list as “Get the stories all at once when you sign up to my email list instead of waiting for them to be released in serial format.” (Wattpad is a platform based on releasing content in chapter/serial form.) But I’m not sure whether I should include the same content on both Wattpad and my email list. I don’t feel like I have much of a choice right now with only two content options until I finish my first novel, which I’m currently working on, or my non-fiction book (not a priority, but it’s already transcribed; all I have to do is edit and format it in Scrivener).

    Lastly, should I even include these two stories on Amazon as my first works or is it even worth it until I finish my novel? I realize the novels might be a great introduction to my writing style for newcomers to decide whether they want to commit to a full-length novel, but I’m not so sure about publishing these two stories on Amazon.

    I could go on, but I think this is sufficient for getting my point across. Any help is appreciated. Thanks so much.

  24. D.L. says:

    I want to thank you for opposing the “Just write more books if your present work isn’t selling” advice. It drives me crazy. EVERYWHERE I go online I see authors saying this is the secret to success; if you have a lot of titles under your name, some magical force will impel buyers to flock to you and open their wallets. I was beginning to think there’s something wrong with me since I could not see the logic in this incredibly popular idea. Thank you so much. My books may not sell (at all; no matter what I do) but at least there’s nothing wrong with my powers of logic. I needed someone to agree with me on that, and you did. Bravo!

  25. JANIS says:

    7 questions for Nick:

    1. You mention Draft2Ditigal. What is that? Where does it fit into things?

    2. You said to upload your book (for free) to Kobo, Nook, iTunes, and then go to Amazon and ask them to do a price match. Does that mean you had already uploaded the same book on Amazon at a specific price, then you are asking them to make if free because it’s free on Kobo, etc? The problem I see with that is, I thought Amazon already had a program of making your book free for so many days, but if you did that you couldn’t sell it on other book sites. If you meant your book wasn’t on Amazon yet, can you explain more about what is involved with asking them to do a price match?

    3. What tool do you use for “giveaways?”

    4. How do you pick a “launch group?” Are they friends you know? Or do you just pick out a few names from your email list and ask them if they want to do a review? Can you set up MailChimp to send just to them?

    5. Did I understand (in one of your videos) that you can create a website through WordPress? I was going to hire an independent to do it, but then I’m wondering what widgets am I missing out on by not going through WordPress?

    6. The first time I ever went on WordPress it was too complicated so didn’t pursue it, and chose blogger to create my blog. Is there a “dummies” kind of book on Word Press you particularly recommend?

    7. Where did you get your names for your very first email list? Just a few friends?

    Comment: Since I just wrote my first novel, there’s no way I could have a 2nd one ready that fast. So, since I also write nonfiction, I’ll have to resort to genre.

    (To Adam Netherlund, thanks for recommending your book for Mail Chimp beginners. I just ordered it.)

  26. JANIS says:

    Nick, Do I need to come back to this site to read your answer? Or will it come to my email at

  27. Juli Ocean says:

    Nick, I’ve been working through your book Reader Magnets and wonder how someone with a PC can get books into iBooks? I’ve been looking at some pretty sketchy options and wonder if you have some link I am missing? I have no apple products of any kind. I’ve been able to upload to all the others… this one has my stymied.

  28. Great guide Nick. It’s really easy and simple to follow.

    Do you think this tactic would work with two short stories?
    The reason I ask is that I’m 50% through the first draft of my debut novel, and it’ll probably come in at 120K by the time its complete. However I could pause that to get two short stories out first. And use those to build an email list to give my main book the best chance possible. What do you think?

  29. Checko E. Martinez says:

    Hi Nick!

    ¿How do you know what authors to recommend? ¿You do time to read them?

    Thank you!!

  30. Werner Stejskal says:

    What is a “featured post slide”? Thanks! Werner

  31. Julia Hughes says:

    For the first time, I actually understand how to manage mailing lists – thank you! Have a couple of questions though, (doesn’t everyone?!)
    1. Why is WordPress recommended? I have an author site with weebly at my own domain. Is WordPress easier to sync with Mail Chimp? Should I just use WordPress as a landing page?
    2. Apart from the free price matched first in series & some short stories, my other titles are tied up with Kindle Unlimited. Can I offer short stories as a freebie? Can I offer a title in Kindle Unlimited as a freebie?
    Thanks again for Reader Magnets. I found the sample emails really helpful.

  32. J. Mahoney says:

    Let us say I have 2 books one on Paleo recipes and the other on Juicing for good health and
    I make the Paleo book the ‘funnel’ book and the Juicing book the ‘magnet’ book.

    Can this work for promoting affiliate products if I didn’t want to stick with just books. With the list that I have created by using this method would it be a good idea to at some point send out emails to people on my list directing them to affilate products that are related to Paleo and Juicing and hope they buy them.

  33. Kari says:

    So I see this discussion is older, but I thought it’d be worth a shot to ask. Firstly, mail-chimp or any campaigning type of email service? Next, this program covers all marketing? My books coming out in a few months, and marketing is so confusing, so I want to be sure that this program is right for me.

    1. Any email service will do, and yes – although not “all” marketing because 99% of what most authors consider marketing is often worthless (so we focus on the stuff that definitely works)

  34. David says:

    If I want to offer a free subscription to a paid online course for book purchasers, what’s a good way to establish proof of purchase of the book?

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  40. Anderson says:

    Writers can write a lot books, but the number of books cannot make a writer successful. For readers quality betters more than quantity and it is always advisable to prioritize the quality over the quantity. If the writers will not provide quality contents then the user will simply switch to the books of other authors.

  41. Elena says:

    Nick, many thanks for all your advice and help to authors.
    I decided to take your advice and and write 2 free books – the funnel and the magnet for Non-fiction.
    However I am not sure about the following:
    If I have got you right, the Funnel book should be wider in terms of topic than a regular book so it can present the range of the books the author is going to write in future. For example, the writer is specialised in Self-Improvement/Development and Funnel book can be on that. While future books will be on self-improvement in terms of being more motivated, efficient at work etc – more narrow.
    My question is: these wider topics are normally much more competitive – won´t my free funnel book just be lost? (if a beginner writer and don´t have any platform yet). May be I should write a funnel book on the less competitive but a more narrow topic? Or because it will be permafree competition doesn´t play such a big role and I should use a wider topic? I would really appreciate your advice as it´s a big investment for me. Thank you!

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  43. Sven says:

    Hi Nick, thank you so much for the great advice that you are giving!! I just finished Reader Magnets and have a question:

    What’s your opinion about working with more than one Magnets in the FreeBook? Like 2 different Magent Books and a Meditation? Do you think this is distracting or will it be more appealing?

    I personally would like it, but what says the Pioneer? Thanks for your suggestion. Best Sven

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  48. Ryan says:

    Hi Nick. I’ve just read through ‘Reader Magnets’ and have a question.

    I’ve completed a short series of short novellas (about 8K words each). While I have a number of novels planned, none of them are near completion. Since novels will be the vast majority of what I write, would you recommend I wait to setup my website and email list until I have free and magnet novels to offer – or do you believe that the variance in length is inconsequential and I should proceed with what I have? Many thanks!

  49. Ryan says:

    Hi Nick. I’ve just read through ‘Reader Magnets’ and have a question.

    I’ve completed a short series of short novellas (about 8K words each). While I have a number of novels planned, none of them are near completion. Since novels will be the vast majority of what I write, would you recommend I wait to setup my website and email list until I have free and magnet novels to offer – or do you believe that the variance in length is inconsequential and I should proceed with what I have? Many thanks!

  50. Steven says:

    Just downloaded this book from amazon. Didn’t know how else to get on my Kindle. Can’t wait to read more. Like others, I saw the absence of recent updates on your fb page and twitter account.
    Got this link from the youtube video from ‘Author’s Journey.’

  51. Steven says:

    Just downloaded this book from amazon. Didn’t know how else to get on my Kindle. Can’t wait to read more. Like others, I saw the absence of recent updates on your fb page and twitter account.
    Got this link from the youtube video from ‘Author’s Journey.’

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  56. tom behr says:

    Thanks as usual, Nick! Your posts are treasure chests, including really valuable reader comments. I’m still a couple of months away from being able to contribute to the conversation. I’m launching my third novel (historical spy fiction) while also transitioning into the series of self-help books I’ve planned for the summer. I have gotten Mailchimp working on my site without too much hair pulling. I’ll take a look at OptimizePress. Any thoughts about Sumo?

  57. tom behr says:

    Thanks as usual, Nick! Your posts are treasure chests, including really valuable reader comments. I’m still a couple of months away from being able to contribute to the conversation. I’m launching my third novel (historical spy fiction) while also transitioning into the series of self-help books I’ve planned for the summer. I have gotten Mailchimp working on my site without too much hair pulling. I’ll take a look at OptimizePress. Any thoughts about Sumo?

  58. O have a question. O am offering a book for free for their email address through book funnel. It is in KU. Does that violate any rules for Amazon. Thanks.

  59. Jed Herne says:

    I used to be able to do the permafree strategy with my ebooks, but now I can’t find the ‘tell amazon about a lower price’ option on my eBook’s page? Has amazon changed it to prevent people setting their books to free? Here’s my short story:

  60. Tabi says:

    Thanks for sharing! This is a good read. I have a question about the draw prize link you sent those who bought your book. What program did you use to handle this giveaway? Do you ha e an example draw prize your could share?

  61. I’ve just finished reading Reader Magnets for the second time. It’s great advice. One thing though. It’s aimed at self-published writers. I have my books with a small publisher, so don’t have the option of making the first book in my series permafree. Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do?
    Another problem I’ve encountered is getting a signup form on my wordpress site. I’ve spent hours trying, following innumerable pieces of advice, none of which worked. Then I read that you can’t do it with the free WordPress hosting.

  62. Dawn R says:

    I wish I would’ve known about this before I published my one and only book which will be a year old in February. What do you recommend I do now? I have a sign up link for my newsletter (Which I haven’t started to send out yet) and I offered the first 2 chapter to be read for free if you sign up.
    I don’t have time to pop out a reader magnet at this moment….but any other suggestions would be appreciated . Thanks in advance

  63. Pedro Flores says:

    I love this article…. I am also playing with 7XM.APP the best online game platform in the Philippines today. Cool content like

  64. Janet Silva says:

    Reading this material is highly recommended because it is reliable and really helpful. Interested in reading more of your post.

  65. andrew10 says:

    great post

  66. Dean says:

    Hi Nick, Found a typo in the article above. You wrote “But a big fat advertisement in the front”, but it should be “Put a big…” Just thought I’d point that out. You can delete this message after fixing it. 🙂
    Thank you for ‘Reader Magnets’ and all the great content!

  67. Jeff Veen says:

    Hey nick, just a heads up–the link to the Reader Magnet book didn’t work for me. But of course, I found it on Amazon with a quick search.

  68. ailice says:

    I am very interested in your book. It has sparked my interest in life, and it has provided inspiration during a period of disappointment in my past. Now, my life is filled with passion and enthusiasm, and I wake up with a smile every day. Additionally, I would like to share with you a book I have recently read called ‘Still With You’ by Karrin. I love it because it brings me a sense of anticipation and longing for love.

  69. Noah Jones says:

    Value comments are inherently subjective because they are based on personal opinions and experiences. What one person values highly, another might not.

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