It’s no secret that pre-orders are important to the publishing industry, both on a traditional publisher and at a book retailer level. Pre-orders can – and honestly should – be important to you as an indie author, too. Pre-orders can help garner pre-release buzz about your new release, can advertise you as an exciting new (or established!) writer to watch, get reviewers and influencers interested in your title, and more.
We’ve compiled five of the best pre-order marketing tips with the hope that these words of advice will help your next (or first) pre-order campaign run smoothly and successfully!
- Offer your pre-order as soon as possible – ideally, 12 months in advance! Note that your book doesn’t have to be anywhere near finished to begin pre-orders. Make sure you have a title, cover, and synopsis, and you’re good to go. And, if you release regularly (once a month, once every 3 months, twice a year, etc.), you can shorten the pre-order period – but make sure it is still the longest period of time available to you.
The longer the period of time your pre-order is available, the more pre-orders you can garner and the more buzz you can build. Planning lighter promotion when you first post the pre-order, followed by more targeted advertising to your readers as the pre-order period ends, can really benefit your sales and is sure to reach all types of buyers. Some readers prefer to snap up a pre-order right away, while others will wait until closer to the release, and need reminders to purchase their copy before launch day.
However, a reminder from us here at Kobo Writing Life: “If it is necessary to set up your pre-order prior to the final touches on your manuscript, then be sure to upload a file that has at least the first 3 chapters included. This is because all books available in our store (pre-orders included) have a preview automatically made available for the first 5% of the file. If you do upload an incomplete file for your pre-order, make sure to upload the final file at least 48 hours prior to the release date.”
Never forget to get that final file uploaded before release day!
- Use your backlist to back up your pre-order – your backlist books can benefit your new release, even if they aren’t a part of a continuing series. Consider holding a promotional sale alongside the launch of your pre-order period. Likewise, a week or two before release day, hold another sale to get people interested in your available books – and excited for the next instalment in a series, or an interesting new standalone. This tip is especially pertinent if you are an author who doesn’t release as frequently as others. Hosting a sale – and advertising it widely – reminds your past readers that you are still active and creating new content for them to enjoy, as well as offering them a chance to revisit your previous books.
- Share status updates on your socials – if you are still in the process of writing the book on pre-order, don’t be shy – your readers would love to be updated on the status of your writing! Consider posting short excerpts, quotes, and “day in the life of an author”-style updates on your social media. And, of course, with each of these updates, include a link to your pre-order!
When it gets closer to release day, start posting a countdown. Seven to ten days in advance is ideal. You can include more quotes, either from the book, from advanced readers, or from any reviews you have gathered already. Readers will be reminded each day that your pre-order period is still open, giving them more drive to place that pre-order.
- Reach out to reviewers, influencers, and your readers – if you already have dedicated readers, AND your book is complete, put out a call for reviewers! Book bloggers, bookstagrammers, and those active on BookTok are a great way to get the word of your book out there. Offer a free advanced reading copy to these readers, and be sure to ask them to feature a link to your pre-order in whatever post or video they create.
Don’t neglect your readers that aren’t as social-media savvy as others – they can still receive review copies and write advanced reviews on review-sharing sites like Storygraph or Goodreads. Consider offering a number of digital ARCs to these readers as well.
- Promote, promote, promote in the last few weeks leading to launch – of course, we know you’ve been promoting your pre-order this whole time, but during the last 2-4 weeks of your pre-order period, really hone in on promotions and advertising. Post about your pre-orders everywhere! Send multiple newsletters! Let everyone know launch day is just around the corner! An aggressive marketing campaign near the end of a pre-order period can really push those final sales and remind everyone about the upcoming release.
BONUS TIP – don’t be afraid to emphasize how important pre-orders are to you as a career author. Readers appreciate the honesty – and it reminds them of how pre-orders can really encourage you to keep going, even when writing times get tough. Pre-orders translate to guaranteed sales, which means you – as an author – can continue to do what you love: write!
BONUS BONUS TIP – offer a limited-time, special pre-order price! For a limited time, reduce the price of your title for those readers who get in there first. Make sure to emphasize the limited time aspect of this offer over and over again. After that period ends, price your pre-order at its usual sale price – don’t be afraid, this won’t scare potential purchasers away! What it will do, however, is get some guaranteed sales from those readers who want to take advantage of that great deal.
And, of course, make sure your follow our pre-order guide when setting up your pre-orders. Happy writing!