If you’ve been online in the last week, let alone the last three years or so, then you’ve probably also amassed your fair share of digital downloads.

Sometimes known as lead magnets (freebies, giveaways, etc.), these are items that authors and other businesses create to entice you to give up your almighty and powerful email address for the practice of list building. The format is typically a PDF that is relatively short, 1-5 pages, and shares quick, actionable, super-useful content and is 100% free in exchange for the reader’s email address.

For authors, one of the easiest things to create is a book club guide (read our story about creating those here). In addition, digital downloads are a great way to give a free chapter of a book, a research report/white paper, or other bite-size information that you want to offer your audience.

The thought is that the person reading it will be able to take your idea and become a brand ambassador for you. They might say “I just did this really thought-provoking declutter worksheet from this really great author — you should visit her site and get it.”

case study: amy blankson

In 2017, we worked with technology and positive psychology researcher Amy Blankson to launch her book The Future of Happiness. Worthy CEO Jayme Johnson recently discussed the book launch process with Amy on a Facebook live (watch the session below).

Amy Blankson's Intention ScreensSome of Amy’s assets were created as fun items she could advertise to her growing social media following. For example (as pictured here), her intention screens are images of a few key messages resized for various types of phones. Amy does not tell her audience to run away and live in the hills without tech, but instead, she wants us to use tech with intention. So, having your phone ask if you’re opening it to meet a goal or not is a way to help you change your tech use habits — perhaps like checking social media more than once or twice a day.

Some of Amy’s downloads were created to incentivize preorders of her book. Preorders are the new normal of modern publishing. They are how books reach The New York Times bestseller list the day they’re released. Publishers—as well as a whole industry of warehouses holding “preorders”—have taken notice! Yet consumers could often care less unless it’s the next installment of a wildly popular series. So what’s an author to do? Enter the pre-order incentives.

Some publishers will take the lead on this, creating branded “swag” that gets mailed to consumers who submit a receipt showing proof of purchase. We’ve seen coffee mugs, journals, pens, wristbands, and bookmarks most commonly. If you’re a new-to-the-scene author and represent more of a risk to the publisher, they may suggest digital assets or may not even be helping with a pre-order campaign much at all (where Worthy often finds a sweet spot to assist authors).

The good news about digital assets is that you don’t have a bunch of boxes in your garage and you don’t have to handle shipping. However, fear of drop shipping shouldn’t keep you from making an asset. For example, our client Lisa Kohn wanted to do something extra personal (so not digital) for her readers that took the time to preorder. So we created custom bookplates and bookmarks. While these are tangible things that Lisa will actually sign and personalize, they can still be mailed in a first-class envelope without any extra padding or shipping, so we feel it’s often the best of both the digital and branded product worlds.

what about paid digital assets?

Great question. We’ll have entire post devoted to that coming next week.



amy and jayme’s facebook live video chat:

1:04 Amy Blankson introduces herself and her book The Future of Happiness
2:54 Amy’s perspective on technology and its everyday use on our health
6:33 Amy on writing a children’s book vs adult research based book
9:37 Processes: writing, editing and marketing the book
13:11 Jayme talks about how WMG markets authors and not necessarily the books
15:44 How publishers market your book.
18:30 Boutique publishers and publishers and using their resources
20:00 Amy’s lessons learned – what she would not do again while creating a book
21:50 Amy shares opportunities and benefits that came after releasing her book

See all of Amy’s assets here on her RESOURCES tab.

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