Writers in the Storm

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December 5, 2022

Creating Bonus Content To Double Your Reader Engagement

by Penny C. Sansevieri

Book marketing and promotion can feel like a full-time job, and not one that’s always easy to excel at.

That’s because effective promotion takes consistency and creativity, and it’s challenging to not only stay on schedule, but to continually come up with new ideas.

So that’s why I’m a huge proponent of tapping into what you already know, which is your work, by creating bonus content and using it to bolster your book marketing efforts. Especially when you’re trying to be mindful of your budget if you’re taking the DIY route. Or when you’re looking for ways to support the work you hired a marketing team to do.

Creating and using bonus content is a fabulous way to contribute to the success of a professional marketing campaign! And the reason I recommend bonus content so enthusiastically is because in many cases, authors already have everything they need to make this strategy work.

So let’s dig into some ideas for promoting a book and enhancing reader engagement using bonus content!

How bonus content differs for fiction and non-fiction.

Fiction authors should think of bonus content as “world-enhancingelements of their brand. Ask yourself a few questions to get the creativity flowing, like:

  • What don’t readers know yet?
  • What did I have to cut for the final draft?
  • What can I share from my research and creative process?

Non-fiction authors should think of bonus content as “business building” elements of your brand. Again, ask yourself some smart questions, like:

  • How can I break down my unique perspective into single, easy-to-tackle tips?
  • What did I have to cut from my final draft that I think people could still benefit from?
  • What else is in my arsenal of knowledge that compliments my book’s topic?

How bonus content enhances your brand.

Bonus content gives readers a reason to keep coming back after they buy your book, when it’s otherwise far too easy to move onto the next things and forget about you altogether. Sounds harsh, but it’s the reality when there are over 4,500 books being published every single day.

Bonus content is also super special because it’s entirely unique to you and your brand, your creative platform, or your unique point of view.

It can’t be replicated by anyone else. Pretty incredible, right?

Bonus content engages readers in a way that adds value to their experience with you and your brand, which is also a bit standout in today’s market. Value-added is always the goal of any business, including the business of being an author.

Bonus content is free.

And we should all be capitalizing on what we can do for free or give away for free – because of how much weight that carries, both for you as the author and for the recipient.

Yes, there may be some small production costs to creating certain kinds of bonus content, like printing, or hiring a designer if you’re not open to tackling some of the creative on your own, but it will be nominal, especially if you consider the potential return. And don’t worry, there are lots of great designers out there on sites like Fiverr that are budget-friendly, we’re not talking book cover design costs here at all.

Bonus content adds longevity.

As I already mentioned, bonus content keeps people coming back for more. It’s a great way to keep people engaged with you long after they finish reading, and a strategic way to ensure you stay on their radar between releases.

Bonus content helps boost the effects of a new release.

Every time I release a book, I like to do something “extra” to make that title stand out, to make it unique to what I have to offer in the industry, and creating bonus content in the form of additional resources gives me options at the ready.

For my books, I create trading cards, but I’ve also done marketing planners (which readers love), and quizzes. Again, the goal is to figure out what easily compliments your work and enhances the experience of your buyer, reader, and future superfan if everything goes according to plan.

Bonus content is a great reader magnet.

Everyone’s time and privacy is precious, so if you’re asking people to sign up for your mailing list or newsletter and giving them nothing in return, I guarantee you’re missing out on a lot of sign-ups.

The reality is no one wants to sign up for nothing, they already get enough email, and they’ll tell themselves they’ll know how to find you again if they want another book…and by that point, you’ve lost them.

We use bonus content as a reader magnet, it’s a monthly planner, a freebie for folks why sign up for our newsletter, so figure out something you can deliver automatically that adds instant value, and your signups will increase dramatically.

Examples of popular bonus content.

For fiction writing like novellas:

  • a couple chapters of an upcoming release,
  • a reader’s guide, scenes or concepts from the cutting room floor,
  • unexpected real-life inspiration for characters or concepts,
  • character interviews, digital character trading cards,
  • recipes that compliment a theme or location in your book,
  • casting ideas for your movie deal,
  • insight into your research and other cool, interesting facts you learned along that way,
  • maps of towns, planets, or nearby fictional kingdoms…the list goes on.

Again, just remember it’s supposed to enhance the reader’s experience and strengthen their connection to you and your brand.

For children’s book authors, a lot of the above can apply, but you can also do downloadable coloring pages and craft ideas that align with your characters or topic and theme, these are always big winners because they help parents entertain their kiddos!

For non-fiction popular ideas include:

  • quizzes,
  • workbooks,
  • action items or checklists,
  • daily productivity prompts,
  • a list of your recommended resources,
  • helpful platforms and hacks,
  • a series of helpful videos,
  • trading cards with your top tips or motivational reminders.

Non-fiction authors should have the same goal as fiction authors – give readers more of what makes you unique, give them a reason to keep coming back, show them you have more to offer than just the book – and your perceived value will skyrocket.

Ready to get to work?

Hopefully you’re inspired, because bonus content, if done right, can be used in a variety of ways!

Just a few ideas include:

  • a reader magnet to build your list,
  • something to give away at events,
  • a special promotion for your new release,
  • promotions to build social media followers and engagement,
  • promotions to reward superfans,
  • incentives to get current fans to introduce your work to their friends, the list goes on.

I’ve known some authors to use bonus content to help boost pre-orders as well, something like, “Pre-order my book and send me the receipt to get XYZ free!”

Bonus content is often overlooked, but a really great addition to all the other marketing you’re doing for your book, and a really fabulous way to ensure nothing that’s already in your arsenal, or part of your process, goes to waste – which I think we can all get behind.

* * * * * *

About Penny

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon visibility campaigns as well offering national media pitching, online book marketing, author events, and other strategies designed to build the author/book visibility.

She is the author of 18 books, including "How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon," "Revise and Re-Release Your Book", "5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors," and the newly-released “From Book to Bestseller.”

AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com

Top Image by olga volkovitskaia from Pixabay 

16 comments on “Creating Bonus Content To Double Your Reader Engagement”

  1. Penny, this is a fantastic post. You have many suggestions for bonus content that never occurred to me. Thank you for these!

  2. Oh, I loved this post. This is the reason I never fully delete anything. As a fantasy writer, it makes sense that I'd have a lot of worldbuilding materials that otherwise would never see the light of day. That includes maps, mood boards, and character images I've created on ArtBreeder. Believe me, I keep everything. I even have the first map of a country in my world that I sketched on the back of scrap paper long ago. I also keep deleted scenes and even failed versions of stories that I later rewrote. On and on it goes. I have a blog and have shared snippets of all of the above and they're always popular, despite the fact I'm as yet unpublished. For instance, the evolution of my maps over the years. You've given me even more ideas, thank you for that.

  3. One of the things I love about managing WITS is that I get to find out about all these things IN ADVANCE of when I will need them. I can plan to have them so I can capitalize on the magic when the time comes.

    Thanks for the knowledge, Penny. It is extraordinarily helpful!

  4. This is excellent advice! I had an author ask me about this recently. They were under the impression that publishers would have an issue with it. I have yet to meet a publisher who would not LOVE to see authors being this proactive with marketing!!! Great ideas all around!

  5. Keep in mind:

    Preorders are illegal in Maryland, regardless of whether you're an author living there or if your readers are based there.

    If you do a giveaway, you must give an AMOE (Alternate Method of Entry) for all per federal law. You can't base a giveaway on a purchase.

  6. Some wonderful ideas here, Penny. Thank you.
    I have a reader magnet for my email list. I give a free and exclusive short story that I will never publish anywhere else. In asking for them to sign up, I tell them this, so they understand they are getting something they can't get anywhere else.
    Sadly, I've only got a handful of people signing up, though.

  7. As an experienced entrepreneur, I couldn't agree more with Penny insights on the power of bonus content in enhancing reader engagement. The article highlights the value of providing additional resources and insights to readers, whether they're fiction or non-fiction authors. Bonus content not only adds value to the reader's experience but also strengthens their connection to the author and their brand.

    I particularly appreciate the author's suggestion of using bonus content as a reader magnet to incentivize sign-ups for newsletters and mailing lists. Offering something of value, like a monthly planner or a freebie related to the book's topic, can effectively increase sign-ups and engage with the audience more effectively.

    The article also provides practical examples of bonus content for both fiction and non-fiction authors, from chapters of upcoming releases and character interviews to quizzes and workbooks. These bonus materials not only enhance the reader's experience but also give them a reason to keep coming back for more.

    If you're looking for ways to boost reader engagement and promote your books effectively, I highly recommend checking out this article on [bonus content](www.tely.ai/blog/boost-your-content-engagement-with-the-power-of-expert-quotes-learn-how). It's full of valuable insights and actionable tips that can take your marketing strategy to the next level.

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