How to build excitement before publication and get preorders.
You have a great book scheduled for publication. How can you prime the pump and get preorders, sales before that publication date? The opportunities are greater than ever.
PreOrders on Platforms
The low-hanging fruit is to simply put the book on various platforms for preorder.
eBook are especially easy to set up for preorders because you can do this without “assets,” which means you don’t have the finished book file. You don’t even need a book cover—though out discussion on metadata will tell you that you won’t get many sales without at least a cover.
Print book preorders are available if you use Ingram Spark. You set up the book but list the publication date/release date in the future. The listing will go live on Amazon before the book is available.
A more involved method of preorders is to run a Kickstarter project. These are crowd-funding project aimed at selling books before publication. Kickstarter requires that the project is for something new, which means preorders. You could create a new boxed set, of course, but even there you want preorders. I’ve done two projects, both successfully funded. I’ve written here about the 2022 project and the 2021 project.
Customers like Kickstarters because they want to support creators. Here are some things that attract them to a project:
Special formats such as premium hardcover. Maybe you could use a special collectible cover just for this project.
Bling and Merch. Some people like getting art prints, posters, figurines of your characters, stickers, tshirts, collectible pins, coloring pages, and so on.
Pop-up sales during a project. In the middle of the project, some creators run a pop-up sale to increase their profit per customer.
If you’re interested in a Kickstarter project, I’d advise you to study the platform extensively, learning the tips and tricks for a successful project. The possibilities are huge, but this method of preorders is a big undertaking. Here’s one book to get you started.
Website - Selling Direct to Customer
In the indie community, the idea of selling direct to a customer through your website is gaining popularity. Many are tired of giving a split to retailers like Amazon, Apple and GooglePlay. They want to retain more profits, so they set up an online store and sell directly to customers. To do this well, you should become an expert in email marketing and have a reliable way to drive traffic.
For preordering, your own website opens up possibilities. Some authors are selling from their website for a month before putting the book live on the platforms. They capture the initial excitement of the book launch, but then allow others to sell the book. Or, you could just set up a book preorder months ahead on your website and mention it in your newsletters. Click the image below to see my 2023 books!
Bulk sales to organizations
Sometimes a book’s topic lends itself to promoting to organizations. For example, a friend from Louisiana wrote a book about a local pollution story. A local environmental group negotiated for 1000 paperbacks to give away to promote their environmental goals.
Step back from your book and think about organizations, groups, or businesses that might be interested. Then (take a deep breath!) contact that organization, discussing a preorder. Sometimes that preorder can fund the initial offset printing.
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Some authors focus on wholesale relationships with gift shops and other small retailers. If you have such relationships, be sure to send early marketing materials and ask for preorders. Make their store part of the launch celebration.
If you don’t have relationships yet, you might consider using the preorder time frame to develop such relationships. This behind-the-scenes marketing can increase overall profitability.
Catalogs, Sell Sheets, and Line Sheets
What do you need to make preorders? Metadata. You need all the information about the book packaged in one of several ways.
Online listing. When you set up a preorder on Amazon or Ingram, you must have metadata: title, subtitle, authors, illustrators, ISBNs, description, category, tags, keywords, and so on.
Sell Sheets. A sell sheet is a summary of one book. It includes the appropriate metadata. I stuff these inside a book when I send out review copies.
Catalogs or Line Sheets. Both of these are designed to show your whole catalog of books, but a catalog is more detailed and a line sheet is more streamlined. Line sheets are common when selling wholesale and allow a buyer to see the scope of your books. Catalogs offer opportunity for more in-depth information about your books. I have my catalogs available for download with a prominent link in my website’s menu.