Promote Your Book and Your Publishing Business with Bonus Materials

Giving away free bonus materials is a great way to drive traffic to your website, encourage people to sign up for your opt-in mailing list, and promote your books and other products and services.

Having free resources and bonus materials on your website can draw visitors to the site, encourage repeat visits, and motivate visitors to recommend your site to others. You can also advertise your free bonus materials through your social networks, press releases and other promotional tools. Bonuses are effective for both fiction and nonfiction books.

Customers who have already purchased your book in a retail or online bookstore or checked it out at the library haven’t necessarily visited your website. A good way to encourage readers to visit your site is to include information within your book about bonus materials available at your website. For example, include a page at the back of the book or a message at the end of a chapter inviting the reader to visit your website for more information or a special bonus.

There are several ways to give away bonus material on your site. First, it’s important to encourage people to sign up for your opt-in mailing list so that you can continue to keep in touch with them and let them know about other books or services you offer. The best way to encourage opt-ins is to offer a free bonus to visitors in exchange for their name and email address.

If you have more than one bonus item to offer, you can make the others freely available. Some authors offer bonus material that’s exclusive to people who already bought the book. For example, you might offer downloadable worksheets from your book and require customers to enter a password (such as "the first word on page 47 of the book") to gain access. A more user-friendly alternative is to list a special URL in the book that links to bonus material that’s not found elsewhere on your website.


Bonus material can be in the form of downloadable documents or online resources. The key is to offer something educational, useful or entertaining that’s tied to the topic of your book. Here are some bonus ideas for nonfiction books:

  • Ebooks and special reports
  • Video and audio tutorials
  • Checklists
  • Quizzes
  • Case studies
  • Updated material from the book
  • Shopping guides
  • Teleseminars
  • Mini-courses via email

For a great example, take a look at the downloadable grocery shopping, food storage and meal planning tools on the Eat Clean Diet website.

Here are some ideas for giveaways suited to fiction books:

  • Short prequel or sequel featuring characters from your book
  • Historical profile for the time period that the book is set in
  • Profile of the location where the story takes place
  • Sample chapter from the book
  • List of other similar books (including yours) that readers may enjoy
  • Contests related to the story or theme of the book
  • Checklist for keeping track of favorite authors and books to read
  • Games, puzzles, or videos for children’s books

Downloadable documents can reinforce your brand and advertise your other products and services. For example, you can place an "about" page at the end of the document that promotes your other offerings.

Think about what type of bonus materials would be best suited to your book and how you can use those materials to draw people to your website, increase your opt-in list, and promote your other products and services.

This is a reprint from Dana Lynn Smith’s The Savvy Book Marketer.

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