Lead Magnets: How to Make an Irresistible Author Lead Magnet

POSTED ON Apr 17, 2020

Scott Allan

Written by Scott Allan

Home > Blog > Marketing > Lead Magnets: How to Make an Irresistible Author Lead Magnet

A lead magnet has the power to exponentially increase your audience and book readership.

If you are an author and your book is geared as a lead generator to scale up your business, implementing the best lead magnet for your business is critical. You want to get it right.

When it comes to marketing your book, having a giveaway or freebie—also known as a lead magnet—is a necessary component of any business for bringing new audiences.

Planning to include a lead magnet together with your book makes it super-easy for readers to discover your brand and join your thriving community

Now you might be asking, “How long does it take to build an email list?”

I built an email list of 4000 subscribers within the first two years just from book signups alone. But there are many more ways to build your list if you have a great lead magnet. 

In this article, we are going to dive deep into what makes a lead magnet work, why you need one, and how to use it to best serve your audience and build a solid presence both on and offline.

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Here’s how to create a lead magnet for authors:

  1. What is a lead magnet?
  2. Determine if you need a lead magnet
  3. Create the lead magnet essentials
  4. Learn from bestselling author examples
  5. Correctly place your lead magnet
  6. Deliver your lead magnet
  7. BONUS: 11 More Ways Authors Can Promote a Lead Magnet

#1 – What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet (abbreviated term: LM) is a free gift you offer to potential customers to join your email list, thus becoming a subscriber and then a paying customer. As an author, building your platform through a book funnel is a huge reason to write a book.

You could be writing a book to grow your business, build an email list of customers invested in your product, or to increase clientele.

Your lead magnet is a great way to attract more customers and scale up your business as an authorproneur, but you have to know how to build an effective piece of content that people actually want, and then, present it to them when they need it the most.

The biggest challenge for many authors and online entrepreneurs is creating the best opt-in gift (lead magnet) that entices potential subscribers (remember, they haven’t signed up yet) into joining your community.

A lead magnet is your free gift to your audience and serves as the front door to your world. It adds a taste of professionalism to your branding and shows people that you are serious about communicating with your readers beyond the book.

#2 – Determine if you need a lead magnet

The question many authors ask is: “Do I need a lead magnet? Is it really necessary?”

Yes, you need a lead magnet if you want to:

  • Build an email list from scratch
  • Grow your current customer base
  • Establish your author brand
  • Research your audience
  • Increase conversion rates and convert readers into subscribers
  • Provide FREE value to your customers
  • Provides opportunity for new subscribers to discover you
  • Builds your reputation as an authority

As an author, you need a lead magnet to build your list so you can continue to sell books years later. This is true if you are writing nonfiction or a fiction novel.

The lead magnet has a two-fold purpose.

First, it needs to serve your purpose as an author or business owner. Second, it must serve the purpose of your subscribers. Why are they signing up in the first place? You must know why, and be prepared to deliver on that WHY.

Now that you have decided you need a lead magnet—or should revise your current one—let’s take a look at what your lead magnet should be.

#3 – Create the lead magnet essentials

The most common question new authors ask when it comes to creating a lead magnet is: “What can I create that people will want to give away their email address for?”

First of all, there are several rules when it comes to setting up your free gift. There’s no point in giving away something just because and hoping to score.

As an author—and potential business owner—, you must be strategic in your creativity and market when it comes to the free gift offer. Throwing something together in hopes of getting sign-ups is like trying to hit a moving target with a blindfold on.

What constitutes a great lead magnet?

One “secret” strategy: Check out the books in your genre and sign up for their email list. Download the free gift (if they have one) and pay attention to the process you are being asked to walk through.

These are the parts of an effective lead magnet:

Here are the 6 components of a strong lead magnet. Now, we know that not all are the same, so this is based on  general principle.

#1 – Value-packed

Your lead magnet is “free gold.” If it is presented with high quality value, your readers will expect the rest of your content and brand to be the same. Value has to be #1. It is fulfilling a promise and is rich enough that potential subscribers can’t resist.

#2 – A Call-to Action (Only One!)

People love to take action. But they often need prompting. This is your chance to get your subscribers to do something and achieve a desired result because of it. Your LM should have a Call To Action (1 specific action) they can take right away. If you have a CTA in your lead magnet, it should help your readers/subscribers to achieve a WIN.

#3 – Easy to Access

If you downloaded any of the lead magnets from the previous author resources, it should have taken no more than ten seconds and you had access in under one minute. This means no broken links or complicated run-arounds with multiple links and emails. 

#4 – Specific & Targeted

You wrote a book on gardening for beginners? Your free content should be based on gardening. It adds extended value that does not appear in the book. A good example of a poorly placed LM would be to publish a book on gardening and your free offer is “How to bake a pizza in under ten minutes.”

#5 – Easy to Implement

Checklists or reports work well because we can take these and put them into action. 

Now that you know the essential components of a lead magnet, it is time to start creating yours. Be sure to have your readers best interest in mind. Deliver high-quality, easy-to-access, actionable content and you can’t go wrong.

#6 – Taps into Emotion

You want to create something that a new customer really wants. To do this, it has to “call” to your reader. The best way to do this is to create a lead magnet that delivers a result they’ve always wanted. Imagine if someone could download something for free in under a minute and be putting it into action right away and getting a specific result. By the end of the day (or week), your subscribers should be enjoying a new experience with their new found friend…you! So, here are the best ways to deliver a magnet that is simple and can be set up easily.

You should pay attention to:

  1. Is the free gift of value? Do you find it useful?
  2. How easy was the process for signing up? (Hint: It MUST be easy)
  3. What does the welcome email look like? Does it make you feel as if you bought into a valuable community?
  4. What kind of lead magnet is it? (Action guide, checklist, workbook, audiobook).
  5. How do you feel after grabbing your free gift? (Emotional Response)
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#4 – Learn from these bestselling author examples

Here are eleven lead magnets from a list of bestselling authors that have successfully built a community around their brand. These examples include “high impact value” and this is what makes them work so well. 

You can sign up to just a few or all of them. You want to keep in mind the questions above, and throughout the rest of this post we will be referring back to the “high impact value” that a lead magnet can provide.

#1 –  Damon Zahariades

Click here to access.

#2 – Scott Allan

Click here to access.

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#3 – Thibeaut Meurisse

Click here to access.

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#4 – Patrik Edblad

Click here to access.

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#5 – Stephen Guise

Click here to access.

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#6 – Mark Dawson

Click here to access.

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#7 – Michael Hyatt

Click here to access.

#8 – Gundi Gabrielle

Click here to access.

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#9 – Steve Scott & Barrie Davenport

Click here to access.

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#10 – Lise Cartwright

Click here to access.

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Now that you’ve had a chance to digest several lead magnet offers from these bestselling authors, let’s take a look at the types of lead magnets that are available.

#5 – Irresistible Lead Magnet Ideas

A free gift to your subscriber can be one of many types of lead magnets. 

But how do you know what is the best fit? What if you create something nobody wants? What if people subscribe one day and unsubscribe the next?

The answer to this is, yes, all of that could happen. You won’t always know what works until you try it. I’ve had several lead magnets over the years and would switch them out every couple of years to keep it fresh. 

And some lead magnets just didn't work. You might create something and it doesn’t resonate with your audience.

This is why it is critical to understand who your audience is and, most important, what do they want? What are you helping your readers to achieve? If you know the answer to this, then you know the kind of free gift they are hungry for.

The kind of lead magnet you create depends on how you can best serve your audience. 

Here are some effective lead magnet ideas to consider creating:

  1. Action guide
  2. Checklists
  3. Catalog
  4. Workbooks
  5. Worksheets
  6. Cheatsheet
  7. Templates
  8. Video series
  9. First 3 videos for a paid course
  10. Spreadsheet
  11. Recipes
  12. Access to an exclusive Facebook community
  13. Toolkit
  14. Next book for free (eBook)
  15. Report
  16. Desktop wallpaper
  17. Quiz
  18. Calendar or planner
  19. Inspirational quotes
  20. Event tickets
  21. Webinar
  22. 15-minute coaching session
  23. Next chapter of the next book for free
  24. Email newsletter
  25. Companion course
  26. Free audiobook (of the book you bought)
  27. Access to resources not offered anywhere else

Now you have a list of possible lead magnets to select from. But use the criteria for developing your lead magnet.

Make it personal for your audience. You need to ask yourself, “Is this something I would really want?”

#6 – Place your lead magnet

Now that you have your lead magnet ready to go, the next question that many authors ask is:

“Where do I place it?”

There are several answers to this depending on the size of your platform. You have no doubt seen many websites with the lead capture bar on the front homepage.

Regardless of where your lead magnet is placed, the most important thing is, it’s easy to find.

If browsers or potential subscribers don’t know about your free offer, they can’t sign up and enjoy your free content 8and everything else you have to offer).

#1 – Lead Magnet in a Book (Front and Back Matter)

This is the most obvious but, in your book, the lead magnet needs to be placed at the front, just after the copyright page or the Table of Contents, and always before the introduction.

Why is this important? Readers are most likely going to see this, even if they don’t finish the book (or start it). In fact, thanks to Amazon’s “Look Inside Feature,” authors can get people to subscribe without anyone buying the book at all.

But the front of the book is one location. You can place the LM at the back of the book as well.

Why? Maybe at the start of the book they aren’t ready to sign up. They don’t know you yet. But after reading your bestseller, now they want to get to know you better and build a relationship

You could have the lead magnet page at the back right after the last chapter just to serve as a reminder:“Hey, don’t forget to sign up for your free action guide right here!”

By placing the lead magnet at the front and back, you have all the bases covered.

#2 – Link on Your Amazon Author Page

Your lead magnet in a book is not the only place to put it. What many authors fail to see is that the amazon author page serves as a great opportunity for you to build your email list. 

Why? That is most likely where most people will end up. You can place your lead magnet URL at the top of your author bio just like conversationalist Patrick King has here:

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This could result in a few hundred signups per month depending on your author page visibility.

#3 – On Your Website

Do you have a website for your book or business? If so, this is where you want to showcase your lead magnet. On a website, your lead magnet is featured in the form of an opt-in bar. 

The other place to feature a LM is the right side bar at the top end of the homepage. This is usually a cover of the LM. It should be clearly visible with the CTA (Call To Action) just under the picture.

When a potential lead lands on your website, you have about five seconds to snag their attention. For this reason, you want to make the lead capture box or cover as clear as possible.

#7 – Deliver your lead magnet

You have your lead magnet created and ready to go. You have followed the criteria for setting up a great lead and now that it is ready, the next question many authors have is: “How do I deliver this?”

Let’s cover quick and easy ways to send your LM to your subscribers. Remember: It has to be easy. You don’t want to be getting tons of emails from people saying that they couldn’t download the freebie. 

If set up right, you should be able to let it run on autopilot.

#1 – Book Funnel

This is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to deliver your lead magnet, book chapters, PDFs, or any other digital content that is in digital book form. 

Book Funnel has easy to implement landing pages that won’t require special skills or a manual to set up. Similar to LeadPages software, these landing pages are drag and drop, designed to be put together quickly so you can soon get this up and running.

The faster you can do this, the quicker you’ll be able to capture new leads. Book Funnel pricing is annually from $20 (beginning author) to $250 (bestseller). Depending on your needs and required features, you can choose from one of the three plans.

#2 – Email Server 

Nowadays you can deliver your lead magnet via most email servers: ConvertKit and MailChimp are set up to do this. But for a faster way (and cheaper) is using the Mailerlite email server.

This service is free for the first 1000 subscribers and has templates you can use. Delivering the freebie takes about 30 minutes to set up. By using the landing page templates offered on Mailerlite, you can upload your free gift to Dropbox or your website. For a complete walk through of how to do that, watch this video from Tricia at

#3 – LeadPages

LeadPages is another paid for service but when it comes to lead magnet delivery, nothing comes close to simplicity and efficiency. Leadpages pricing is either monthly or annual, and it’s cheaper if you pay for it annually. For a standard membership it is $37 a month or about $300 per year.

LeadPages has everything you need to set this up within twenty minutes. LeadPages’ Lead Magnet Delivery system makes it easy to deliver a free gift to your leads as soon as you submit the forms.

You can learn everything there is about setting this up on the LeadPages site here: Send a Lead magnet with LeadPages

BONUS: 11 More Ways Authors Can Promote a Lead Magnet

There are a lot of ways you can get your lead magnet in front of the right audience. One of the best ways is, as mentioned, selling lots of books, and getting readers to subscribe right away from your link on the first page. But that is only one method.

Here are eleven ideas for promoting your lead magnet and getting lots of valuable sign ups to your newsletter, blog and grow your list exponentially. Some methods work better than others.

Here are 11 lead magnet promotion ideas for authors:

  1. Cross promotion with authors: This is one of the fastest ways to grow your email list. You join forces with a band of other authors and each person puts up a book for free. Then, you have one link to share with your audience and as people sign up, you add those emails from other people’s list to your own when they download your book. You could potentially get 1-2 thousand new subscribers overnight.
  2. Sidebar/footer/header of your blog/website
  3. Your author bio on Amazon (and everywhere else)
  4. Add a tab to your Facebook page for your lead magnet
  5. Your email signature
  6. Business cards or promotional material for your book (postcards, posters etc)
  7. Offer it as a gift to your audience during speaking engagement, podcast interviews or summits.
  8. Embedded in blog posts. Guest post writing can prove effective here.
  9. Home page of website
  10. Inside your book and again at the back
  11. Ask other authors/bloggers to share your lead magnet link with their audience. There is strength in numbers.
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Get Ready to Generate Leads!

You are just days (or weeks) away from launching your book. Or you have been working on a website and you’re now giving serious thought to your LM. 

Remember that, whatever it is you choose to set up and deliver, it should add great value to your customers life. You want this person to be a part of your journey and not just grab free stuff and unsubscribe.

Make it so that they stick with you. Regardless if you are a career author or, using the lead magnet to scale up business growth, you can create and deliver something that people will be desperate to grab…and they can have it in less than a minute with a simple sign up procedure.

Now that you have everything set up, tell us how your lead magnet is working and what you’ve learned from going through this process.

What other questions or ideas do you have for lead magnets?

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