About the Episode
How do you come up with an idea for a lead magnet (also called a reader magnet or opt-in) when you are a fiction writer who hasn’t published a novel yet? In today’s episode, Rachel is walking you through the process, complete with examples!
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📒 Show Notes and Resources 📒
About the Episode:
00:00 When to Use a Sample Chapter as a Lead Magnet
01:54 Start Here: XYZ
04:26 The Job of a Writer
09:26 3 Examples
13:59 Fiction Writers can have non-fiction lead magnets
15:29 7 Ideas for Lead Magnets (and an opt-in for 18 more)
22:15 What Your Lead Magnet MUST DO
Click for Transcript
[00:00:00] Coming up with a lead magnet when you are a fiction writer who hasn’t yet published a novel can be so difficult. In today’s episode, I’m going to demystify the process and simplify it for you so that you can create multiple lead magnets for your audience well before you have a published novel.
Hi, I’m Rachel Fahrenbach and I help Christian writers make an impact and an income from their novels.
So you wanna create a lead magnet cuz you know you need one in order to grow your email it, but you’re not quite sure what to make. Now. Oftentimes writers will default thinking that the lead magnet needs to be the first chapter of their book or something to like a, a sample of their book. And quite honestly, you can’t really do that as a lead magnet, though, it is a good lead magnet. And I encourage everybody if they’re able to, to have that on their website at some point in time, once you have a solid manuscript, you know that first [00:01:00] chapter’s not gonna change anymore.
And if you are either self-publishing or you have permission from your traditional publisher to put that on your website. Some publishers have it in their contract that you can’t share content from the book on your website, so you have to make sure that that’s okay with your publisher. Just double check.
But it is a good lead magnet. So if you have a manuscript that’s in a solid state and you know that that first chapter probably isn’t going to change, then go ahead and make that as your leave magnet. But if you’re in a position where a lot of fiction writers are, where they’re trying to build up their list so they can query a publisher, or they’re trying to build up their list so that when they self-publish later on, they have a customer base to sell to.
You really don’t have the luxury of using that first chapter as a lead magnet, and so in that case, you need to get a little creative. And the number one thing I tell writer to do is to go back to your x, y, [00:02:00] Z statement.
So if you’re watching this on YouTube, you’ll be able to see the graphic that I’m about to pull up. This is actually from my write and Rally planner. This is a page in that planner. You can find the planner on my website. The planner helps you apply a plan in order to write your novel while building your author platform.
But in that planner I talk about the x, Y, Z statement, and I talk about how it’s really meant to help you tailor your efforts. Just like in college where you have to tailor your essays for your professor and what they’re hoping you accomplish with that essay, you have to do the same thing with the writing work that you do now. As an author, you need to know who’s who you are writing to and what that message is that you’re writing to them and how you’re going to accomplish that, and that’s really what your X, Y, Z statement is. It’s a positioning statement. Now, where it comes into play for lead magnet is that it gives you an idea of who the reader [00:03:00] is that you’re trying to reach and what kind of experience they hope from to gain from working with you. So if you haven’t worked on an X, Y, Z statement, I encourage you to do so. I encourage you to go back and listen to episode nine. I really talk about the x, y, Z statement in episode nine of the podcast. I explain how a fiction writer can kind of wrap their brains around an x, y, Z statement because sometimes we think of an x, y, Z statement as working for non-fiction, for coaches for businesses, but not for fiction writers. But the reality is it we need an X, y, Z statement just like everybody else does. The XYZ statement is like the foundation of the house.
If you don’t have this, everything else is a little shaky, and so you really need to get clear on who you’re serving, why you’re serving them, and how you’re serving them. So I’m gonna go into that a little bit just as a review really quickly here. So you can see how you start with the X, Y, Z statement and you pull out this information in order to [00:04:00] create a lead magnet.
So on the screen, if you’re watching on YouTube, you’ll see the page from my planner that talks about the x, y, Z statement, and it gives three examples. So I’m pulling up this page for my planner because in on that page, I actually give three examples of X, Y, Z statements for fiction writers. And one of the things I want to stress, we’re gonna come back to these three examples in just a second, but the thing that I want to stress here is that a fiction writer helps the reader experienced something. Oftentimes we use words like, oh, we just entertain. Oh, we help them escape. That is actually not the full picture. And as a fiction writer, you have to know what you’re helping your reader experience in the world that you’re creating, in the story that you’re putting onto the page.
What emotion are you trying to help them feel? What ways in which their imaginations are being engaged? Reading is not a passive [00:05:00] activity, especially reading fiction. It’s something that engages all parts of your imagination. You have to recreate for yourself and your imagination, all the things that you’re reading on the page.
And so it’s not this pa passive activity. It’s not this activity that allows people to shut down. It actually engages their imagination and allows them to feel things that maybe they wanna feel or maybe they need to feel. And so you as a fiction writer really need to wrap your brain around what your book is accomplishing in that whole aspect of thing.
And the reason why this is so important is that when we come up with a lead magnet, what we’re actually doing is taking that experience that we’re creating for an individual and creating a small sample of it. And so, X, Y, Z statement is very vitally important to help us narrow that down.
Now, I’m pulling up now on the screen. I’m pulling up a flow chart [00:06:00] of sorts, and if you’re on YouTube you’ll see this. But this is the graphic that I’ve created to kind of explain the X, Y, Z statement. Now, the X, Y, Z statement is, I help blank to do blank so they can. It’s a structured statement that helps people, mostly businesses, position themselves in their industry, right?
X is who you serve. Y is how you serve them, and Z is why you serve them. So when we’re talking about fiction, X is your reader’s bio, right? It’s who they are, what they bring to the table, their demographics, their psychographics, what they want to experience, why they’re picking a book up to read in the first place.
That’s all contained in X, and you can get as detailed as you want with that. I would pick just like one or two major things that need to stand out about them and then move on from there. Leave the other stuff. You need to know the other stuff, but you don’t need to put it into the statement.
Let’s skip to Z for a [00:07:00] second. The Z is why you serve them. It’s oftentimes talked about being the change. What is true now that your reader has engaged with you and your work. So you have to think about that. Like, okay, once the person puts down my book, what am I hoping to be true for them now?
Change in the world of fiction writing is that my reader wasn’t experiencing one thing before they picked up the book, but now that they’ve put the book down, they have experienced it.
Now, where authors often get messed up is the why. It’s the how you serve them. And this is actually where the lead magnet comes into play.
So they think how I serve them is, well, I create a podcast, I do blog posts, I create, you know, a, a novel I do. But that’s actually the format you use in order serve the individual, so don’t mistake blogs, Instagram reels, whatever you’re doing as the [00:08:00] how you’re serving them, those are a tool, that’s a format.
That’s not how you’re serving the individual. How you’re serving them is that experience you’re crafting for them, what you’re doing to help the reader engage, helping them move to that experience that they want. That’s how you’re serving them, is that moment where you’re taking an individual and you’re moving them from this state to this state.
That’s how you’re serving them. You are giving them the experience that they want when they pick up your novel.
Now, let’s take the business jargon and set it aside for a second, and let’s just talk about this as readers, right? You know what this is instinctively, you do this, there’s moments when you want to read a swashbuckling pirate adventure and other times when you just wanna read a really sweet romance, there is a time and a place for each of those things.
There’s times when, you know what, your season of life is really tough, and so you just want [00:09:00] lighthearted books or there’s a time when your season of life is really tough and you wanna cry alongside of somebody else in a novel.
We do this as readers. And sometimes we forget that when we’re talking about the reader that’s gonna pick up our book, because a reader is gonna pick up our book, not because the premise is the most amazing premise ever, or it’s the most amazing story ever, or your most, what they’re gonna do is they’re gonna pick up a book because they’re expecting you to do something for them.
Let’s go back to the three examples that I have of an X, Y, Z statement. So the very first one, just to give you an idea of these, how this x, y, Z statement works as a fiction writer, and then how it turns into a lead magnet.
Example one, I provide the stay at home mom of littles, a momentary break from the mundane so she can remember who she is outside of the everyday demands of life. Okay? We’re not talking about her escaping, we’re just giving her a little break. But in the moment of her reading, she’s gonna remember who she [00:10:00] is outside this craziness, right?
When she puts her books down, she’s gonna be like, that’s right. I’m a human being. I have value. I am important. I have important work to do here in this home, but I am somebody who exists and who has value.
Example two, I engage the history fanatic, empty nester with stories of historical power plays so they can get lost on a rabbit hole of intrigue and learn something new along the way.
So who are you serving? History fanatic, empty nesters. How are you serving them? You’re giving them stories of historical power plays so they can get lost down a rabbit hole of intrigue. Right? It’s not just, oh, I write historical novels. It’s I’m writing this particular kinda novel so that this thing can be true for them. And at the end of the day, they walk away learning something. So we’re really diving into the experience we’re giving them.
Example three. I give cosplay, high schoolers, new worlds to immerse themselves in so they can find a [00:11:00] place to belong and new friends to make.
Can you hear how this is so different from just saying, I write historical romance, or I write fantasy novels, or I write like, no, we gotta know what we’re doing when we’re writing the novels that we’re writing.
So then we can then in turn, do the lead magnet. Because here’s the thing with just these three examples, I know a couple. For the first one, I provide the stay-at-home mom of little’s, a momentary break from the mundane so she can remember who she is outside of the everyday demands of life. So I know a couple things. Like I’m not gonna make a list of books that are 500 page books, right? Because that’s not a momentary break. I might give her a list of books that are shortened and to the point, right? Like there’s just things that you’re not gonna do because you know your audience well.
In the second example, I engage the history fanatic empty nester with stories of historical power place. We’re not gonna be suggesting sweet romance to these people. We’re not gonna be suggesting fantasy to these people. We’re gonna be suggesting historical [00:12:00] novels. We’re going to be giving them resources. We’re going to be talking about interesting historical power plays throughout history.
Like we’re gonna wrap our lead magnet and our Content that we put out on social media all around this because at the end of the the day, they wanna get lost in the rabbit hole. So like you’re not gonna make them a lead magnet that says like five ways to get more time to read in your busy life.
Because they don’t have that going on. They’re empty nesters. They’re not trying to shove reading in the cracks in between taking kids to school and trying to get dinner on the table, like that’s not their world, so you’re not gonna make a lead magnet for that, right? In the last one, I give cosplaying, high schoolers, new worlds to immerse themselves in so they can find a place to belong and new friends to make.
We’re talking about fantasy, right? Fantasy sci-fi. We’re not gonna be making lead magnets that talk about anything other than that. Anything other than creating a place to [00:13:00] belong and new friends to make, like creating a new world, being involved in a new world. So we’re gonna give them lead magnets that help them do that.
It might be a lead magnet, like, It might be something like how to find other cosplaying high schoolers in your area where to look, where to, like obviously I am showing how, I don’t really know very much about this area.
This is not my world, but like, you know what I’m saying? Like you, if this is your world, do you know what that high schooler needs in order? Give themselves a place to immerse themselves into and so that they belong and they can make new friends, like, you know, what they need.
And you can create lead magnets that help them do that. So you can see like, it’s not just about the novel, it’s not just about writing words on a page. And that’s the, the lead magnets the sample of that. It’s about this experience that you’re trying to cultivate for the individual. And now you’re gonna give them a small sliver of that, and that might be in story form and it might not.
And it is [00:14:00] a okay for us as fiction writers to have non-fiction lead magnets. It is okay, because at the end of the day, your goal is to create a lead magnet that allows individuals to understand the type of experience that they will get when they engage with you and the work that you. That is it. At the end of the day, that is what the lead magnet is there for.
And then they get a small win in the process, right? But at the end of the day, they’re just trying to get to know who you are and the work that you do and the experience that they’re gonna have because they engage with you and that work. That’s it.
If you don’t know who you’re serving and you don’t know what kind of experience the why, the, like, how you’re help, like how you’re serving them and you don’t know your z what is true now that they’ve experienced this thing with you, then you really have no basis for creating a lead magnet. It will be tough. You’ll not be able to wrap your head around it. But when you think about it this way, when you pull back the curtain a little bit and you say, okay, wait a second.[00:15:00] Who am I serving? Okay, what would they, what are they wanting? How am I serving them? What’s this experience and how can I make, like what will be true? Once they get done with this experience? Then you begin to see what you can do, and then a thing like a list of different formats that you could put your lead magnet into it can kind of spark the creativity, but but you have to first know that experience. You have to first know how you serve them. That’s where that lead magnet comes out of that, how you serve them.
So before I close this episode, I wanted to just talk through a couple different formats that you can use with your lead magnet.
There’s so many different ways you can format a lead magnet. There’s so many different ways, essentially, you can package this experience, this small sliver of a sample of experience for your reader, right? There’s just different ways you can go about it.
So I’m gonna read the first seven ideas that I have for you from my 25 lead magnet ideas for fiction writers, [00:16:00] lead magnet opt-in. So if you go to rachelfahrenbach.com/leadmagnet. Rachel fach.com/lead magnet.
You will, um, be able to opt in to that lead magnet and download it. And it’s 25 lead magnet ideas for fiction writers. In there I talk again about the x, y, Z statement. So if you’re like, I just need to revisit that conversation that’s there.
I also give you, um, some worksheets in there to help you kind of process this and design your own lead magnet.
So the first one is a short story it’s a really great way to, um, communicate the experience you can create for your reader. The thing is, if you’re not great at writing short stories, which I will tell you I’m not, I’m not the best short storyteller, and it kind of is a fallacy oh, a novelist should be able to write a short story.
They’re actually two different skill sets, and I just wanna give you permission if you are like, I’m not really that great at short stories, but [00:17:00] everybody tells me I should write a short story as a lead magnet. I just wanna give you permission to not feel like you have to write a short story as your lead magnet.
Another suggestion people make is a novelette, and I would say that’s about like under 40,000 words. It’s a little longer than a short story, but not quite as long as a novel. Here’s the thing that I would just encourage you to contemplate a novelette.
Takes a lot of time. Once again, you’re like crafting 40,000 words and you’re crafting a story. So just remember you’re putting a lot of time and energy into a story that you’re giving away for free. So just remember that now you might feel like that’s the good at return on investment because you feel like it really gives people a sense of who you are, but just weigh the pros and cons of that for yourself. It’s a business decision that you’ll have to make.
So another thing that people suggest is the bonus chapter, and this is good, but I would say to you that this is more for the individual who kind of has a [00:18:00] solid manuscript. They know where this is going, and it’s going to be for the reader who has already read your novels.
So while it can be good as a lead magnet, I would suggest to use this later on down the road. It is a solid way to get people who maybe bought your book on Amazon to opt into your email list, but just know that this probably isn’t gonna be the best one for you to use right off the bat. I did include it though in my Optin ideas just because it is something that people talk about quite of often.
The other thing that I suggest you could do is printables quotes, reading questions, artwork. You can do so many different things for a printable. There’s so many options. That’s why you need to be really clear on your X, Y, Z statement. So it kind of narrows it all down for you. You would know best what your what your reader needs from you.
You would know best what would entice your reader to download a printable.
An audio collection. Maybe you [00:19:00] talking through some concepts. Maybe, uh, for instance, if we go back the history example I gave of an x, Y, Z statement of the history, fanatic, empty nester.
An audio collection might be, you know, stories of five people that you might not have heard of that have absolutely made the world what it is. You could record yourself talking about these five individuals.
It could be a small like five episode collection where you talk about each time you talk about one person, you could do totally something like that. Same thing, along the same lines with a video collection. Like either it’s a video of you talking or it’s a compilation of things, like it’s just, you can get as creative as you want with this.
You could, with the video collection, you could essentially make a list of 10 of the best TED talks on this particular time period. And it could be a list just linking to [00:20:00] those videos for them, like how that would be really great.
That would be like awesome for that reader, and that’s really not that hard for you to pull together.
And then number seven is a deep dive into the character novel theme time period, topic, a novels similar to yours.
Maybe for that mom who has a momentary break for the mundane, right? Let’s talk about her for a second. Maybe. Your books are written all in a certain time period, and they’re all from perspective of mothers during that time period, and your books are kind of short and quick, and they are really, uh, just pulling out unique aspects of everyday life of those time periods.
So like the mom who has this, this is actually kind of really brilliant and I wish somebody would write these books, but you are like, essentially. mirroring, the mom who has this ev, you know, the mom of the [00:21:00] modern day and all the crazy that we have to deal with and all of our just like everyday tasks that are very monotonous and over.
Like what if your series was these women in history? And you just highlight the mundane of their lives, but you kind of make it a little interesting and it gives the mom who has the mundane life now a little break. Anyways, I digress. My point being is that what you could do for your reader in that, in that aspect is you could deep dive into that time period.
Hey, did you know X, Y, Z about this time period? Or maybe it’s a certain theme that your novels addresses. For instance, with that third example I gave with the cosplaying high schoolers, like we’re talking about this idea of belonging. Of friendships. So maybe the deep dive is into that novel theme, like, Hey, this is, you know, here’s all my thoughts on friendship.
Here’s the things you need to know. This is what to do when your friendships kind of fall apart and you have to find new people. Like [00:22:00] this is, you know, phrases, you can introduce yourself to somebody new with, uh, Who knows, what does your reader need from you? You’re not necessarily giving how-to books, but at the same time you are kind of giving them a how-to, right?
You are giving them an experience. You’re helping them experience it for themselves, and your novel can do it and your lead magnets can do it, and your lead magnets do not have to be stories just because you’re a fiction writer.
They do, however, have to point your reader to that experience and that change that Y in the Z of your X, Y, Z statement in order to give them a small sample of what they’re going to expect from you and the work that you do.
Woo. I hope this episode has been helpful for you. I know we covered a lot. We talked a lot about this, how the x, y, Z connects to your lead magnet.
In a future episode, we’re [00:23:00] going to dive into the steps of creating a lead magnet, like the actual nitty gritty of it, and some tools that you can use, uh, the things you need to think about. The different steps to put it into place. That way you know what you need to do in order to get a lead magnet up and running and directing people to it. So
I hope you join us back here next time on the Business of Christian Fiction. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help Christian fiction writers figure out how they can make an impact and an income from their storytelling while keeping rest a priority.
You can learn more about how I’m in your corner here.
And you can learn more about my personal journey here.
One last thing, if you’re looking for a bit more rest in your life, be sure to check out the Rest & Reflect guided journal.