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Give Your Readers Something More

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The reading log I created.

Right before Thanksgiving, I spotted an awesome graphic on Twitter. Someone had created a log for students to use to keep track of their reading. For each book, they were to color in a book in the outline and a key was provided for the correct colors. It went something like this. 

  • Mystery: Blue 
  • Adventure: Green 
  • Historical Fiction: Yellow 
  • Realistic Fiction: Brown 
  • Science fiction and fantasy: Purple 
  • Poetry: Red 
  • Nonfiction: Orange 

It didn’t take long for the nonfiction writers to notice that although many readers enjoy nonfiction, fiction was being emphasized while nonfiction was being downplayed. Yes, I commented, but I also decided to make a better log. I bounced ideas off fellow nonfiction author Annette Whipple. Admittedly, I got sidetracked by a contract and the holidays but I finished my version of the reading chart last week.

I decided to give it away on my site. In fact, I started a new page where I am going to add a new freebie every month. You can find the log here

A lot of writers are busily monetizing their content. Why am I giving this away? Because freebies are a great way to show your readers or, in my case, the teachers, librarians, and parents who buy your books, that you appreciate them. This is especially true today when inflation is an issue and people are having to make hard choices about where they spend their money. 

And there are so many things that you can give away. 

  • I’ve heard Alessandra Torre talk about giving away book one in a series to reinvigorate interest in books 2 and 3. 
  • Not comfortable giving away book 1? Then write a short story featuring your characters or a secondary character. 
  • Have a drawing to meet virtually with a book club that chooses your book. 
  • Create printable bookmarks or, if you write for teens, the equivalent of trading cards with images of your characters, the monsters they fight in your fantasy, or the locations in which your story takes place. 
  • Create an online scavenger hunt. 
  • Give away a virtual school visit. 
  •  Create online content such as music or artwork. 
  • Screen a handful of t-shirts to give away if you are crafty. 
  • Make up a quiz regarding which character your reader is most like or in which fictional city they should live. 
  • A booklet of recipes prepared by your character or a pattern for the sweater she is knitting throughout the book. 

What you give away is going to depend a lot on who your readers are and what types of books you write. Think about it for a day or so and I’m sure you’ll come up with some great ideas. After all, you are a creator.


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 35 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

The next session of her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on February 6, 2023).  Coping with rejection is one of the topics she will cover in this course.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins February 6, 2023) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins February 6, 2023). 

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