Preorders are a great way to earn money for a new book release before its launch date. I started the process for Gone Daddy Gone, the seventh novel in my Sloane Monroe mystery series, three months before its release. My goal was to promote the book enough to see consistent sales each day during the preorder period, and to build its platform early to hit the ground running after launch.
Driving preorder sales is essential for driving early revenue and buzz around a book, and can be especially useful for building excitement for a later series book. When developing my marketing plan for Gone Daddy Gone, I wanted to target my existing fans first. I hoped this would work out well since they were familiar with the series and willing to pay full price for the book. Here was my checklist for marketing Gone Daddy Gone during its preorder period.
1. Finalize my pricing strategy
I generally launch a preorder at full price to maximize revenue early on, and because I target my existing fans first, and they are always willing to pay full price for the book. I used this same strategy for Gone Daddy Gone, which was listed at $5.99 during the entire preorder period.
2. Update the previous book’s back matter
Once the preorder was set up on retailer sites, I added a sneak peek of the first chapter of Gone Daddy Gone to the back of the previous book in the series, along with links to purchase.
3. Distribute ARCs
I also had my assistant send digital copies of the book to my street team, allowing them to read the book in advance. They’re great about helping me generate buzz.
4. Update my website
Next, I did a cover reveal on my website, posted the first two chapters on my blog as a teaser, and created a banner for the new release with links to preorder.
5. Create an extra incentive for readers to preorder
To entice readers to purchase the preorder (since it’s not immediately available to read), I ran a giveaway using Google Forms. Readers who preordered the new book ahead of time were able to choose any other book in the series to read for free.
I promoted the preorder giveaway by sending it to my newsletter subscribers. I divided my mailing list by four so I could stretch the notifications out over several days, thereby staggering the number of emails sent each day. I also set the newsletter up to resend to anyone who didn’t open it the first time. Here’s what the newsletter looked like:
6. Spread the word on social media
Once my newsletter sends were complete, I alerted my followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter about the preorder giveaway. I also ran Facebook ads targeting my own subscribers first and then set up secondary ads using targeted keywords to reach an extended audience.
7. Send a BookBub Preorder Alert
Approximately one month before the book released, I ran a BookBub Preorder Alert. They sent an email notification to my US BookBub followers, informing them I had a new book that was about to be released. The email alert was a success, had an excellent ROI, and it added an additional few hundred sales on top of those I already had, bringing my preorder total close to 1,000 sales for a full-priced book.
BookBub is one of the most cost effective ways for an author to spread the word about a new book to their fans, and since they send the Preorder Alert to each author’s followers, it’s important to grow that number of followers. I do this by periodically offering my fans an incentive and running a giveaway if they follow me on BookBub.
Thanks to my pre-launch marketing plan, I sold 1,000 copies of Gone Daddy Gone on Amazon alone, and several hundred more between iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play. The book also debuted in the top 100 in three different mystery and thriller categories. In order to keep building on this momentum, I continued running promotions on launch day and post-launch.
Launch Day Strategy
On launch day, I left the book at full price. And since BookBub also sent out a New Release Alert, I saw a nice bump in sales. I also hosted a release day party on my Facebook page. Every hour I ran a giveaway. To enter, fans had to answer a question they could only find in the book. This provided a great incentive to purchase and read quickly! I gave away things like tote bags with my series name on it and mugs with quotes from the book. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too, and my fans loved it. I also let them know release day was their last chance to purchase the new book and receive another book in my series for free.
After the book had been released for a month or two, I focused my efforts on ads to keep the sales coming in. I ran Facebook, AMS, and BookBub Ads (the square ones at the bottom of the deals email they send out each day). In order to finalize my targeting strategy, I created a spreadsheet of mystery and thriller authors who had a decent following. I then tested each one by running a separate ad targeted to each of them until I ended up with a shortlist of similar authors whose ads yielded more clicks with a lower cost-per-click.
I kept the book at full price for a couple of months, and when I felt the book had a sufficient amount of reviews (ideally 50 or more), I applied for a BookBub Featured Deal and discounted the book to $0.99 for almost a month. I’m usually trying to get new fans by that time, and the $0.99 price point makes it easy for new readers to agree to give me a try. I also had over 6,000 sales that week and made the USA Today bestseller list, which is my fifth consecutive year to do so. Not too shabby!
Thanks to a comprehensive pre-launch strategy, Gone Daddy Gone established a solid platform early, which allowed for a really successful first year on sale. Recently I scheduled another BookBub Preorder Alert — this time for Deadly Sins: Wrath, a novella priced at $2.99. Even at the lower price point it was a success! I had over 300 downloads, and as the novella approaches its release, it has almost the same number of preorders that Gone Daddy Gone did several months ago. I’m thrilled with the results I’ve been getting with BookBub Preorder Alerts and plan on using them to advertise all my books in the future.
The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of BookBub.
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