Reader Magnet Prep Work

A reader magnet is also known as a cookie to bribe, I mean, encourage readers to sign up for your newsletter.

During the past couple of days I’ve been plotting the novel that is going to be my reader magnet for my newsletter. A reader magnet, or a “cookie” as some refer to it like Tammi Labrecque and David Gaughran, (though I think David borrowed it from her as they’re friends) is something free to entice readers to sign up for your newsletter. Authors give away a whole gamut of things from little short stories to full-length novels. Something Zoe York said in an interview on a podcast I listened to a long time ago (I forgot which one, I’m sorry) said that as an author who writes novels, giving away a story that is less than novel-length doesn’t make sense, and I took that advice to heart. It would be more time/cost effective to write a novella, since I could probably write 20k in just a few days, but I don’t write novellas, nor do I sell them, so skimping on my reader magnet doesn’t make much sense.

But, as I write my novel, I’m going to have a hard time parting with it. As an author, I give away books all the time. I do a Freebooksy now and then, and if someone approaches me and says they can’t afford to buy a book, I’ll send the PDF at no charge. That doesn’t happen very often, and I only had one taker when I offered up Wherever He Goes in an exchange for a possible review. Writing a reader magnet for the sole purpose of attaching it to a newsletter sign up will be a different mindset altogether, though I know it needs to be done. Giving a book away in a newsletter is almost the standard these days, and you’re missing out on a newsletter-building opportunity if that’s something you’re not doing.

It’s frustrating, in a way, that indie authors have trained readers to give away their email addresses for a free book, and you sometimes will get only freebie-seekers when you do that. Curating a list of readers who are interested in your work and sign up to stay on top of what you’re doing can be time-consuming and one of the (many) reasons I haven’t bothered with a newsletter yet.

That’s why I decided to write a full-length novel and write it to be the best book it can be. I want readers to have a taste of what they’ll get when they read my future work.

The plotting is almost done, though I am missing a couple of the big things I need to make the book move. I always have something huge in the middle of the book to prevent saggy middle, and always the BIG BAD that breaks them up (momentarily) toward the end. I have their backstories ironed out for the most part and I had to do a lot of name research to name the male MC because I have a habit of reusing names.

I also had to figure out where the novel was going to take place–all my books, even the ones I wrote in 3rd person past, are set in Minnesota, usually a fake city so I don’t have to worry about details. I make the city how I want it, and no one can complain. A good setting can actually become a protagonist/antagonist in its own right. A long series that comes to mind is Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold, a fictional town in California with a mayor who appears to be able to do a little magic through some not-quite-believable coincidences. I chose a fictitious resort on a lake in Minnesota, and I’m using the Arrowwood Resort Hotel and Conference Center as my muse. It’s not that far from me, in true, physical distance, but I’ve never been there. Here’s a picture from http://www.planetware.com from the Arrowwood website:

This resort will have everything the characters need to occupy themselves, and hopefully get into a little trouble, too. With a spa, pool, waterpark, marina, and much more, there’s no lack of things my characters can do. Because we’re talking about a billionaire family, they’ll own the resort, naturally.

I’ve been doing the preliminary work for this book–but doing so taking some advice from Suzy K. Quinn and Elana Johnson. I’ve worked out the potential cover, the tropes, the tagline, and the subgenre. Keeping in line with the “Package is the Promise” idea, this is the working cover for I suppose what will appear on Bookfunnel (though I haven’t gotten that far in the research stages yet).

The plot is about what you would expect–he’s best friends with her brother and when she was in her teens, he made fun of her for her looks. She never forgot it, and now when they meet up ten years later, he’s a bit surprised at just how far she’s come. This is a fine line to walk because he has to love her for who she is or he’ll get skewered in the reviews for being shallow. That means I have to make sure they spend a lot of time together so he can get to know the type of person she is. They don’t work together. I had to think of away he wouldn’t know she changed. So she doesn’t work for the family company–she set out on her own to make a reputation for herself on her own merits. He’ll come to eventually respect her for that, but at the beginning of the book he hates she’s not working for the family. There are a lot of layers and I’m really excited to start writing this book.

Still not 100% sure if I’ll use my initials for my pen name. I’ve been told to use my real name and brand the books differently from my 3rd person stuff, and I’ve been told to find something romantic that is in line with the authors who write billionaire romance. Chances are pretty good that the readers who like my billionaire stuff won’t move over to my 3rd person books, and that’s okay–that the whole point of the pivot. I don’t want to distance myself too far from the real me, otherwise I’ll have a difficult time being authentic in my newsletter and other social media platforms. I don’t want to hide behind a pen name, but I want to make it clear these books are different. We’ll see what happens.

Writing a cookie and starting up a newsletter is an exciting (and long-coming) thing for me. I’m excited to see where it takes me.

Thanks for reading!


February goals and what I’m doing this month.

I just wanted to say hello to everyone and give you all a quick heads up with what I’m doing this month. I will definitely finish the second book in my series by my soft deadline of Valentine’s Day. I’m at 66k right now and while I aim for 90k with these first person books, I’m at the point in the story where it will end how it will end. I have the rest of the book planned out and it shouldn’t take me long to finish it up.

After I finish, I’m going to learn MailerLite through their Academy. I’ve said enough about it on the blog, so I’m finally going to get that up and going, and while I do that I’m going to write a reader magnet to give away. That definitely won’t be a 90k novel, but it will be longer than a novella, complete and a standalone, and in the first person present/billionaire subgenre that I have decided to write in for the foreseeable future. I’m also taking Suzy K Quinn’s How to Write a Bestseller through Mark Dawson’s SPF University, and I’m going to write this reader magnet using the things I learn in her classes.

So I do have a few things coming this month, some of the “I don’t wanna” variety than really looking forward to doing them. The reader magnet will be fun, and I invite anyone to slap me if I even THINK about writing it to sell. I need something to giveaway. That’s a given. And the book before the one I’m writing now was supposed to be that magnet. It turned into a six-book series instead. Not good. There are authors who write a magnet to give away for newsletter subscribers and sell it too, but I’ve heard you can grab more emails if you are exclusively giving it away. On the other hand, all you grab then is the freebie seekers. On the other hand, I plan to put my books into KU and a lot of readers do feel that reading with KU is free, so I guess I’ll just have to take my chances and see what I get.

All I know for sure is:

  1. I need a newsletter.
  2. I need a reader magnet.
  3. Nurturing my list will be my main priority next to writing books.

2021 is the year to learn from my . . . I wouldn’t call the last four years of publishing a mistake, but I haven’t done things correctly, and the time to start that is now.

Also this month I’ve been dealing with a little anxiety. I don’t know where it’s coming from–other than the fact I’ve been trying to work too many hours at my job and still write as much as I always have. Due to some financial things going on, I had to go from part- to full-time last November. I’m fortunate in that I have been able to cut back my work hours just a little bit, and I hope that helps. I also have been sitting on a chair that is not made for sitting for so long and needless to say, it’s made my, ah, bottom a little sore. I think my anxiety latched on to that too, and I’ve been to the clinic a couple times for an ailment I simply don’t have. I need to stand up more during my working hours, that’s about it–and probably find a better chair to sit on.

Anyway, so I’ve decided to try a little counseling, and I made a tele-visit appointment with a counselor for the end of the month. I have a lot to talk through–working from home has been an adjustment–and a few other things. I don’t think one session is going to help me, but it’s a start in the right direction. I also need to take my health more seriously–I need to schedule a checkup soon for my girlie bits. I’m not a spring chicken any more, and my mom passed away when she was only ten years older than I am now. It’s not a pleasant feeling thinking about that. I’m going to try to be more proactive about my health in the coming months if it’s going to trigger my anxiety. I also try to do things with my sister and I walk with a friend every now and then (we wear masks) so I’m not completely cut off from the world because I’m working from home.

The main thing I need to remember is writing is fun, and while I still need to think of my writing as a business, I’m not going to want to do it for the long haul if I can’t enjoy it, too. I need to take a deep breath. Things will be okay.

How is your 2021 going? Let me know!


Thursday Musings, #firstworldproblems, and series update

Life is full of minor inconveniences. There’s even a hashtag for that–#firstworldproblems. What bothers us would make people in other countries shake their heads. I’m not talking about coronavirus now, though mask-wearing may be up there for some people who would prefer not for, um, reasons. But despite how petty and immature we can be about things that inconvenience us, when they keep coming, it can seem like life is trying its best to get you down.

I’ve had a few of those inconveniences, and I’m waiting for life to possibly get back to normal. I could be waiting for a long time, but trying to make lemonade out of lemons, or trying to find the silver lining, is getting to be a little tiring. My little inconveniences range from having maintenance in our bathroom fixing the caulking in the tub and repainting, to having to shower at my ex-husband’s while said paint and caulking dry, to being told, just a few minutes ago, that we can’t let water go down the drains in our apartment because it will make the guy’s bathroom downstairs flood. Of course he called maintenance, but the last time this happened they had to dig up pipes the front yard. So no telling when we’ll get to run our water. On the plus side, I’m clean, so there is that.

Other inconveniences range from my mouth is still hurting, and likely will for months to come as there isn’t an end to my dental work in the foreseeable future, (either they’ll finish or I’ll run out of money. Who knows?) to me being able to work from home but my cat making a meal of the ethernet cable laying on the floor. I did get permission to buy a new cord in the event this one is destroyed by tiny cat teeth, but then I’ll buy a longer one and attach it to the ceiling instead of letting lay on the floor.

Small inconveniences that add up to me being generally crabby about life right now, but make me feel like a petty snot because hello? fires everywhere. And they aren’t little, either.

In other news, I’m 26k into the last book of my series. I’m really excited to get these books all wrapped up, and it’s no secret that I am very excited to start something else. That will have to wait a bit but I can distract myself by looking more into newsletters. I created an email for my website and I signed up for MailerLite. I haven’t watched any of the tutorials to figure out how to set up a welcome email, but I should at least get that sorted so I can include a sign up link to the back of the books I’ll be editing soon. I need to figure out a reader magnet too, and look into how Story Origin works for building newsletter signups and joining promotions. I suppose I could be doing that instead of watching the old Jurassic Park films, but I feel such a kinship to Sam Neill and his crooked bottom teeth.


I’ve had to stop my ads for now. I spent 400 dollars in the month of August but made 500 (for all you math nerds that means I came in ahead by 100 dollars instead of breaking even like I normally do). Because of the way Amazon bills you for ad spent vs. the way they pay you for royalties, my ad spend money is in the hole, and I can’t afford more until that money is replaced. They pay out every sixty days, so I won’t be able to start more ads until the end of October or early November. Right now I’m still making a little very day, mostly in read-through of my series, so I’m not crying too much. I’ll start ads up again after Halloween and play up the Christmas aspect of my books, or at the very least, that they take place in the winter.

I guess that’s all I have for this Thursday. Tomorrow after I log off from work I’ll clean the bathroom and get that put together again. I hope I hear from the property management when it comes to being able to use water again. I mean, we can use the water, just not let anything go down the drain, and I’m assuming that means we can’t flush the toilet, either. We weren’t told by property management we can’t, but this has happened before, so I know all too well what is going on with the poor guy downstairs. I hope they can fix it quickly!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, and if you’ve had a crappy week, things pick up for you!

Keep your chin up! Until next time!


Happy Thursday! Author musings, and holy cow, why is it so hot outside?

Minnesota has been going through a heatwave, and I’ve never been more glad than when I emailed our property management last week and had them look at our air conditioner. The maintenance man cleaned it out and now we hold steady at about 71F in our apartment. I don’t mind the heat, and I’ll go walk in it or run errands without bitching, but only if I can find some relief when I’m tired of baking my brains out. Trying to sleep when your bedroom is 85F is tough. And trying to write without any sleep is tougher yet. Am I right? First world problems at their finest, I suppose.

Health Issues.

I had a scare last week when a new brand of coffee made me sick to my stomach, and I mean, SICK. I drink a lot of coffee, and for a handful of days I felt so terrible I thought I had stomach cancer. Luckily I put two and two together and after I switched back to an old brand, I felt a lot better. I’ve also started wearing my splints again. I wear my elbow compression sleeves off and on to keep the nerves in my elbows in check, but I forgot about my wrist splints, and wearing those again have helped my pain, too. For a little bit, between my back pain and my stomach issues, I was feeling pretty miserable. But I’m back up to 98%, and as a friend said, after you hit 40, 98% is about as well as you can hope for. I know I’ll always have carpal tunnel issues, and like anyone else with a chronic health problem, it’s easy to get lost in a mini pity-party. But I took a walk yesterday and a cyclist zoomed past me on the trail. This guy had a prosthetic arm that attached at his shoulder, and it shut me up real quick. I’m sure he’d trade a bit of carpal tunnel pain to have his body whole, and it’s always a gentle reminder to be thankful for what you have.

Back to the writing part of it.

In writing news, I finished the second read-through of the last book in my first person trilogy. I’m so happy with this trilogy, and the writing went very smoothly. Now I’m worried about how the second trilogy is going to go, but I want to start writing the first book soon. While I write, I’m going to go ahead and format the first three (and hahahaha, do their covers) and order the proofs. There’s no rush to get these done. While I was going to do a pen name for these books, I’ve decided that yes, I won’t publish under Vania Rheault, but I don’t want to distance myself using a whole different name like I was thinking about. So I’ll publish these under VM Rheault. It won’t be a secret I wrote these, but I do want to keep them separated from my 3rd person books. I’m thinking more about my brand this time around and every book under VM Rheault will be a lot more consistent with feel and sub-genre than my other books. Not sure if this will help sales, but I’ve been sniffing around my FB groups learning, and it’s time to apply what I’ve picked up and see if it helps me too.

Last month, I ran a handful of ads to my Tower City Romance Trilogy Box Set and I got a few nibbles but no sales, so I shut the ads off. It included the sequel novella I wrote a couple months ago when I re-edited the trilogy, but because I didn’t sell any of the box set, I published the novella separately this morning. There’s no point in keeping it exclusive material for a set that’s not selling. I can throw some low-bid ads at the first book and see if anything happens. I have it set up as a paperback too, but the cover needs tweaking. I’ll do that later this week, I suppose, though I doubt anyone is going to want to buy the paperback. It won’t be worth the price. It’s a substantial novella as far as they go (29,500 words), but it was still too slim to put text on the spine (at least, KDP couldn’t center it correctly and I finally just took it off rather than fight with the uploading system on KDP and the PDF). But it will be available, so I guess it doesn’t matter in the end.

This morning I also set up a freebooksy for book one of my Rocky Point Wedding series. I was thinking about doing a Christmas in July type thing, so I was able to tailor the ad copy in that general direction. Whether it will hit or miss remains to be seen, but I have that set up for the middle of July and my free promo days are already set up on Amazon. I actually did okay buying a freekbooksy a couple years ago for the first book in my Tower City Romance trilogy. I made back the cost of the promo and then some in KU page reads, and I can’t remember how many downloads my book got, but I made it quite high (in the top ten) in the free steamy contemporary romance category. I’m hoping I do better this time around with an extra book and better writing. I haven’t calculated read through for my series yet, since the last book has only been out two weeks, but people are buying it, so I’m hoping this series has better read-through potential. I just checked because I was curious, and I noticed that the last book in my series wasn’t enrolled in KU. Sigh. I can only blame myself for not checking, and I hate to think what that has done to potential page reads when the first three are in KU and the last wasn’t. Everything else is, but at least I figured it out before the promo went live next month. Live and learn, folks. Live and learn.

Newsletters.

I’m still looking into starting my newsletter. I’ve decided to go with MailChimp since Jane Friedman and Mark Dawson use it. That was probably one of the hardest decisions because there are so many newsletter providers out there and they all have their own sets of pros and cons. But if heavy-hitters like Jane and Mark use MailChimp, then it should be good enough for me. I did have a newsletter set up with them a couple years ago, but I never sent out anything, not even to myself as a tryout. I wasn’t as research-savvy as I am now though, and I’ll be watching plenty of tutorials on how to set up a newsletter effectively. And I’ll probably need to blow off the dust on my author email account. I’m not worried about content, just the over all learning the platform and setting things up so my emails are sent smoothly. Everything is a learning process. I’ll also be typing out a novelette that I wrote at work over the course of a few weeks, and though it’s got kind of an ambiguous ending, I’m considering using it as a reader magnet. I have to type it out though first–20 handwritten pages front and back. I think that equals about 15,000 words give or take. Not terrible, and written in first person present, so it’s a lead-in to my pen name. Now I’ll have to look into group promos to build my list but that’s more research and a post for another day.


How is everyone doing? Getting stuff done writing-wise? This is a great tip from my friends Petyon and Scarlett on Twitter:

I would definitely encourage you to follow these lovely ladies on Twitter! Until next time, everyone. 🙂