6 Marketing Strategies to Maximize Your Pre-order Sales

“How many pre-orders should I expect to sell?” and “How can I maximize my pre-order sales?” are two questions that authors frequently ask me. And I understand why. Many authors spend years working on their books and they want to ensure that as many people read them as possible. As a singer-songwriter, I experience a similar feeling when I’m about to release new music. As an experienced book marketer, I’m eager to help you establish and reach your pre-order goals. In this post, I’ll explain:


Whether this is your first book or you’re already a published author hoping to move more copies, I’m here to help! You can learn more about how to have a successful launch and book a FREE discovery call with me here: Book Rockstar VIP Session.





What is a pre-order?

A pre-order is when a person places an order for your book before its release. All pre-order sales count towards your first week of sales. So, if you move 200 copies during your pre-order, and then sell 1,000 copies in your first week, your first week sales are 1,200 copies. Pre-orders are important to the success of your book because they can:


  • Inform retailers that there’s interest in your book

  • Increase the likelihood of your book hitting a bestseller list

  • Indicate to media and event holders that there’s a strong interest in you and your topic



When can I start a pre-order campaign?

I recommend starting a pre-order campaign 30-90 days before your book’s release date. While it’s okay to announce your pre-order months before release, consider reserving heavy campaigning for the month leading up to your book’s release. If you follow this timeline, you can avoid wearing out your audience with extended promotion.




How many books can I expect to sell at launch?

It’s important for authors to have a realistic idea of what their book sales may look like. In the past, I’ve been apprehensive about being this transparent with authors, but I’ve learned that setting realistic expectations is key to a successful book launch. Throughout my years in publishing, I’ve observed that the following statistics are accurate:


  • 1-2% of an author’s audience will pre-order a book.

  • 5-10% of an author’s audience will order a book within the first week of its release.


While these statistics may seem underwhelming, knowing what to expect at launch can help you accurately define (or refine) your sales goals. I encourage authors to use these statistics as motivation for working hard to market their books and maximize sales.


Learn more: How to Get Your Book on Bookstore Shelves




6 marketing strategies to maximize your pre-order sales

Growing your audience and connecting with them is your bread and butter when marketing your book. While you should always keep these goals in mind, there are some tried-and-true methods for maximizing pre-orders. Here are six strategies you can use to drive your pre-order sales:




1. Nail your messaging

Your messaging is crucial when trying to maximize pre-orders. Too many authors simply announce that their book is available for pre-order and that’s it. But what does this tell the reader? Well, not much. To drive sales, explain to your reader WHY they should read your book and HOW reading it can help them. Think of the WHY and the HOW as the core of your messaging and ensure that it stays consistent across all platforms you use to discuss your book.


Learn more: 7 Marketing Tips for Nonfiction Authors




2. Utilize email

As social media algorithms can limit the reach of your social posts, email is the most direct and reliable way to communicate with your readers. I strongly recommend creating an author email list, which you can use to connect with your audience and share marketing material. I explain the steps you can take to create and grow an email list in the post, How to Build an Author Email List (With Lead Magnet Ideas).


To connect with your email list, consider sharing more personal information or exclusive updates that you don’t post on social media platforms. This is the place to be real and vulnerable and create a community that feels like they’re part of your inner circle. When marketing your pre-order to your email list, aim to answer the following questions:


  • WHAT is your book about?

  • WHY did you write it?

  • WHO is your book for?

  • WHY is your book the right resource for them?

  • HOW is your book going to help them succeed?


You can answer these questions in separate emails. Consider sending one email per month or one per week. Remember to focus on your messaging in these emails and always aim to connect with your audience. Your email subscribers are the most likely to pre-order your book, so it's crucial to utilize this outlet.


Read more: 7 Reasons Every Author Should Have an Email List




3. Utilize social media

As organic reach on social media continues to decrease, frequent posting becomes more important in maximizing who sees your posts. The more you share about the book and the pre-order, the more likely a large percentage of your audience will see your posts. Consider sharing the following on social media:


  • Book announcement and cover reveal

  • Captions that hit on the felt need of the audience

  • Video to get your message across in a clear and concise way

  • Quotes with book branding


Make sure that your posts allow your audience to engage with your content, get to know you more as a person, and make them feel like they belong in your tribe. Again, be sure to keep your messaging consistent, and remind your followers what they may get out of the book. You can also consider running paid ads on social media to help reach a larger audience. I recommend starting pre-order ads 30 days before your release and targeting a warm audience

(page followers, email subscribers, and video viewers).




4. Offer incentives

When a reader pre-orders a book, they lose the instant gratification of receiving the book shortly after purchasing it. Offering an incentive or bonus may help restore a sense of instant gratification. Here are some ideas of incentives for nonfiction genres that you may offer to readers who pre-order your book:


  • Advance chapter(s) from the book with notes from the author

  • Bonus chapters or passages that you cut from the book

  • A link to your audiobook (limited-time only)

  • Access to an exclusive webinar

  • A ticket to a launch event

  • Access to a coaching group

  • Access to a book club or launch team

  • A discussion guide for a book club


Here are some ideas of incentives for fiction genres that you may offer to readers who pre-order your book:


  • Advance chapter(s) from the book with notes from the author

  • A short prequel that introduces the characters and storyline in your book

  • Access to a book club or launch team

  • A book club guide

  • Coloring pages based on characters or scenes from your book

  • A ticket to a launch event or book signing


While the incentives are for all readers who pre-order your book, consider doing an exclusive offer for your email subscribers to help build your author email list and to reward their loyalty.




5. Network

Utilize your network to find partners who are willing to share information about your book’s release and the opportunity to pre-order. Also consider reaching out to authors you don’t know who have a similar audience. It may surprise you who responds and is willing to share information about your book. Partners can help in the following ways:


  • Including information about the pre-order in their social media post(s)

  • Informing their audience about the pre-order in an email to their newsletter list

  • Conducting a live video interview with you on their social media pages

  • Having you on their podcast to discuss your book and pre-order


Coordinate for partner promotion to occur in the weeks leading up to your book’s release to maximize pre-order opportunities. The key to getting partners to share your book’s information is making sharing it as easy as possible, which you can achieve by:


  • Extracting and formatting an excerpt from the book that a partner can share via email.

  • Putting a high-resolution image(s) of the book in a Google or Dropbox folder for a partner to include in an email or on their social media accounts.

  • Drafting 2-3 different captions that a partner can copy and paste with their social media posts.

  • Creating and completing a simple Q&A that a partner can share via email or use as an outline for a live video or podcast interview.

  • Inviting 1-2 partners to take part in a virtual event with you and providing them with a digital promotion kit they can use to share with their audiences.

  • Offering clear instructions for how a partner can help you spread awareness about your upcoming book release.




6. Hold an event

Many authors promote pre-orders of their books through both in-person and virtual events.

Typically, when a reader places a pre-order, their book purchase acts as a ticket to the event. Some examples of events you may consider include:


  • Exclusive interview with a special guest

  • Live book signing

  • Webinar

  • Virtual launch party



If you’re an author who is hoping to get your book in the hands of more readers, you can download my FREE guide,10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch.

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