For a traditionally published author, a hefty number of preorders can increase a print run and create a sense of excitement around a new release. Early buzz may convince the publisher’s marketing team to take a book more seriously, and invest more time, creative brain-power, and marketing dollars into nurturing a potential bestseller.
For a self-published author, a swell of preorders can trigger algorithms that wake retail sites like Amazon to your book’s presence. This makes it more likely that a book will appear in “hot new release” lists, which can increase not only preorders, but post-publication sales and even name recognition.
Finally, because many retailers count preorders on release day, a large number of preorders can land an author on a bestseller list, whether traditionally or self-published.
However, preorder marketing efforts don’t always guarantee preorder sales. When promoting a book, there are so many factors at play: the uniqueness of a book, whether it’s a series or standalone, the dynamic of the author’s platform, the promotional budget, the author’s marketing prowess, and more.
Regardless, the months before a book releases are golden for creating awareness. First, let’s cover how to set up a preorder for success.
Before you spend time and money marketing a preorder, clean up the online hotspots your future readers will visit most often.
- Your author website should look professional, feature your latest polished book cover, and provide readers with links to your book’s preorder page at all the usual haunts (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, etc.). Include a preview of the book — one chapter at least — to hook potential readers. Invite folks to sign up for your newsletter and follow you on book discovery sites like BookBub and Goodreads.
- Your author page on retailers and book discovery sites should be updated. Some sites like BookBub provide readers with the opportunity to follow an author, and be alerted when that author has a new book available, so thread some interesting details about yourself into that bio.
- Your book’s retailer product page should be designed to grab attention but never appear over-formatted.
“It’s amazing how many authors will have 17 different font sizes on their Amazon page, put reviews in the description section and the book’s description in the reviews section, and it matters. Readers rely on the book’s Amazon page more than any other source, and since a decision to preorder a book is dependent on what happens when a reader gets there, you need to make sure it looks professional, and has an excerpt and well-written book description.”
— M.J. Rose, NYT bestselling author and creator of AuthorBuzz
Compare your content to that of bestselling authors in your genre, including the layout, type-sizes, photos, etc.
Also, be sure to claim your books. It’s a step that many authors miss, and one you’ll need to take on retail and book discovery sites. (Learn how to find and claim your book on BookBub HERE.)
SIX MONTHS UNTIL RELEASE DAY
Now it’s time to hone your preorder marketing strategies. Ideally, you’ll have 3-6 months before your book’s release to brainstorm, experiment, and implement your promotional plan.
What’s worth your time? Here are 13 strategies to consider.
CONNECT WITH FANS YOU ALREADY HAVE
1. Carefully curate social media content.
Share your publishing journey across your author platform — blog, Facebook page, Twitter profile, and so on — and build excitement among your fans.
Pro Tip: Don’t just share sales links. Share your milestones — your cover reveal, a great early review — in a way that makes others feel invested.
“Be earnest. It’s exciting to publish a book. Let others feel that. I recently had a client post a preorder link to her forthcoming business book, a debut. She mentioned in her post that preorders can potentially tell a publisher the book’s potential. In that, she educated her audience in her heartfelt request. The audience realized they were part of her journey, too, and that most definitely led to preorders.”
— Ann-Marie Nieves, Owner of Get Red PR
Don’t allow your most important posts to go unseen; pay to boost posts on Facebook to maximize your exposure when it matters most.
2. Draft a newsletter.
You know you have a true fan when someone signs up to allow you into their inbox with regularity. And while you should never abuse that invitation, it’s a good idea to drop a few newsletters before your book’s release — starting about 4-6 weeks before the release — to stimulate preorders.
Include an excerpt, preorder links, and some compelling inside information about the book and/or your personal connection to it — perks that make your loyal fans feel special. Don’t undervalue this step, as basic as it may seem.
“Avoid depending on third parties — book reviewers, social media, publishers, anyone! — to reach your audience over the long term. If you want to future-proof your career, build methods of directly engaging with your readers in a way that you own and control. And by far the best method, in today’s digital media age, is email.”
— Jane Friedman, editor of The Hot Sheet
3. Cultivate a street team.
A street team is a group of loyal readers who help an author spread the word about their books. In exchange for this loyalty, and valued word-spread-ery, they’ll often gain access to special perks — free books, exclusive contests, sneak-peeks, and behind-the-scenes looks.
Bestselling author Kerry Lonsdale fostered a team of loyal readers primarily through her newsletter, which she began over a year before her debut released. Through the newsletter, she encouraged readers to join a secret Facebook group, where she provided fans with exclusive content. In return, those fans helped to spread the word about her book. Additionally, this group has led to “advanced reviewers,” who have early access to the book and leave reviews where they can, generating early interest in Kerry’s work.
“The moment my book cover is available for an upcoming release, I start promoting heavily. I encourage my street team to chat up the book on social media. I create Facebook ads and keep them running through release day, changing the ad every few weeks. And finally, I try to get as many people as I can to read the NetGalley/ARC and review the book.”
— Kerry Lonsdale, author of Everything We Keep