Setting up preorders for a new release on retailer sites can be a great way to generate buzz and boost sales prior to the book’s launch date.
When Melissa F. Miller was preparing to launch the sixth book in her legal thriller series, Irrevocable Trust, she decided to make her new book available for preorder on retailer sites for $2.99 30 days prior to launch. She let fans know that the price would jump to $4.99 a week after launch, creating a limited-time incentive for buying the book early. We interviewed Melissa on her process for launching Irrevocable Trust, and she had valuable insights to share on her preorder strategy.
Melissa is a USA Today bestselling author. After working as an editor for several years, she earned a law degree and worked for major international law firms, clerked for a federal judge, and ran a two-person law firm with her lawyer husband. This primed her to write two hugely successful legal thriller series, as well as a romantic comedy mystery series.
What were your goals for the book launch of Irrevocable Trust?
Irrevocable Trust is the sixth book in my Sasha McCandless legal thriller series, so it already had an established audience. Of course, I always want to grow that audience; so my goals for the launch were twofold:
- To reach my existing readers who had been (not so patiently) waiting for the next book in the series.
- To reach brand-new readers.
What marketing did you implement prior to this book’s release?
Irrevocable Trust was the first title that I made available as a preorder. Because this was my first experiment with preorders, I made the title available at $2.99 for the entire preorder period and the initial launch week, rather than my usual price of $4.99. I then raised it to the regular price for books in this series.
I set a short (30-day) preorder period on all retailer sites and announced the preorder on social media with a cover image and buy links to the retailer sites. I also sent an email to my newsletter subscribers with the news (and buy links). Here is that email:
Then, once per week for the next five weeks, I posted “quote” cards on Facebook and Twitter. Each card contained the cover image and a different teaser quote from the book. I also attached the buy links to these posts. This generated a lot of excitement among my readers.
I also was lucky enough to schedule a $0.99 BookBub Featured Deal on the box set of my first three titles in the series, which ran halfway through the preorder period.
In conjunction with that promotion, I also discounted the second volume box set, which meant readers could get completely caught up on the entire series before the launch of Book Six. In the front and back matter of both box sets, I included a link to the preorder for Irrevocable Trust. I also shared that promotion with my email list and posted about it on social media.
*Editor’s note: learn how to add links to your ebook’s back matter here.
As a result of the BookBub promotion, Volume 1 (the first box set) hit the USA TODAY bestseller list. This not only was exciting for me as an author, it also introduced loads of new readers to the series, just when a new title was about to release. The stars really aligned on that one!
How did you market your book on launch day?
On launch day, I sent out an email about the launch to my subscribers. Here is that email:
I also posted to social media to let folks know the book was live.
I followed the advice of author Cheryl Bradshaw and swapped out all my social media headers to show the book cover. (She actually advises doing this further in advance, but I am not quite as organized as she is!)
How did you continue the momentum in the weeks following your book’s launch?
Once the initial buzz died down, I returned my marketing focus to the first book in the series, which is a free title and a consistent funnel into the series. With a free first in series title available to serve as a “funnel” to draw new readers into the series, I tried to focus my efforts on that title by booking promotions with smaller (non-BookBub) sites in between BookBub promotions and by running Facebook ads and boosted posts highlighting the free title.
I also set up a preorder for the next book in the series and updated all my back matter to include the link.
What did you find was the most effective way to garner new reviews?
When I first published Irreparable Harm, I did a LibraryThing giveaway to gain visibility. I also contacted book bloggers and did get some early reviews through those efforts. I also have a note in the back of the book thanking readers and encouraging them to review the book and/or lend it to a friend. That was way back in 2011, though, and I don’t think those methods would be particularly helpful in the current environment. The vast majority of the 3,000+ reviews on that book have ramped up naturally over time, aided immensely by the fact that it’s free. It’s easy to take a chance on a free ebook, and when a free book resonates with a reader, they seem very inclined to review it!
As an ongoing series, the books benefit from a core of devoted readers (I think of them as super readers), who are eager to review them. I find that the first book has far more reviews than the other titles, but that there’s a good amount of “review through.”
Which marketing tactic do you think had the biggest impact on book sales?
I think my marketing efforts got off to a good start because the preorder had a nice number of sales from my followers on Facebook and my newsletter subscribers. That visibility was amplified by the BookBub price promotion of the box set and by retailer merchandise placement in on-site promotions. I’ve been lucky in that iBooks chose the first book in my series as a featured Pick of the Week. I’ve also benefited from inclusion in “deals” on Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks. Unfortunately, though, those opportunities are at the discretion of the retailers.
Which marketing tactic had the least impact?
Probably the ritual dance I performed in my backyard the night before the release. Seriously, I haven’t found Twitter to be an effective marketing platform. Some of that is a self-fulfilling prophecy because I don’t concentrate my efforts there.
How did you measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts?
My husband helps me out by tracking my sales by title, as well as the read-through rate for the series. He gave me a double thumbs-up after the launch, so I deemed the launch effective.
Do you plan to use BookBub’s New Release Alerts to promote your next book? If so, how do you plan on getting more BookBub followers?
Yes, definitely! Reaching readers is what it’s all about. I’m a believer that the more ways an author has into a reader’s email inbox, the more likely she is to find her way onto that reader’s ereader device, ereading app, or physical library. I plan to remind my existing readers of the ability to follow authors on BookBub every so often and to share the link to follow me on social media, in my newsletter, and everywhere else I can think of (short of bathroom walls)!
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