Maybe you’re about to launch your first series, or second, but you don’t know how to build up hype before the actual launch day?
Series Prequel Freebie! (A specific type of Reader Magnet.)
Why a Prequel
When giving away a freebie, it can be tempting to hand out a short story that you’ve already written, or a scene that you ended up cutting from the novel so as to not waste words, both of which can work for existing readers, but to gain new readers and turn them into superfans it’s best to use a prequel, since it can do twice the work.
Prequel’s allow you the best opportunity to established the world and characters for a brand new reader with zero barrier of entry. They don’t need to have a pre-established understanding of your series to enjoy the story. This is also known as a reader magnet.
New readers: check!
Likewise, if you use the prequel correctly, by writing back story for your main character ideally centered around a mystery as to why they are the way they are: a character’s weakness or need (if you follow John Truby’s Anatomy of Story), you’ll drive your current readers into the freebie, allowing you to collect their email address.
Readers love to read more about their favorite characters, and a prequel is a perfect structure to offer them the ability to live with your main character for a little longer.
A prequel freebie does not need to be a full novel. In fact I would highly recommend against putting so many words into it.
Ideally, 6,000-10,000 words is a good story length. Long enough to establish the character for new readers, but not so long that it will be hard for you to find the time to write it.
I don’t often place services as a “must have” but BookFunnel is the exception. Starting as low as $20/year, this is an author expense you should budget in.
BookFunnel seamlessly handles the ebook hosting and delivery so that you can focus on writing and don’t have to spend your time troubleshooting technical issues when readers try to download your freebie.
Joining Newsletter Group Promotions through BookFunnel can also help you test your cover with your target audience. A well covered reader magnet will generate over 500 claims in a month long promotion, if your freebie is hanging out in the 200 or lower claims area this is a red flag regarding the cover you chose.
In the back of your freebie you should place a link to your first in series novel. If you’re first in series is not yet available for purchase or preorder, then you can always update the ebook at a later time.
Don’t worry about having the first in series up for preorder before launching the freebie. Ideally you’ll write and publish the freebie first, before you begin writing the series.
At its core, the freebie is about getting readers to sign up to your newsletter.
Once they’re on your newsletter, you can then begin the process of turning them from just a reader into a superfan.
If you’ve gone through the process of writing a strong prequel that answers a core question about your main character, you’ve laid the proper groundwork for converting readers into superfans.
By offering the freebie, you’re making the story available to the maximum number of readers possible. Think of it like a free sample at the grocery store.
You’ve done the hard part, now it’s about sharing your journey to your newsletter subscribers. Don’t think of this list of readers as a place to direct market your books to. They are there to learn about the person behind the curtain, not just your next release. Instead, tell them about your personal life, especially about what it’s like to be an author. Give progress updates as you write the first in series novel, and of course let them know when it releases, just don’t force feed it to them. This list is more like a group of friends having coffee.
Readers love characters, but superfans love you!
Be as open with your readers as you feel comfortable with, and they will grow to admire you. Once they feel like they know you, and love the series and characters, they’ll start sharing your books with everyone they know.
That’s when you have a superfan.
Further Reading: Newsletter Ninja
Superfans are the lifeblood of your long-term author career. Readers will come and go as you write multiple series. Some will drop series midway through. But superfans will read everything you release and rave about it everywhere they can.
Go forth and write your Prequel Freebie.
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