Archive for the Category »Pre-release Promotion Tips «

Pre-Promotion That Works

Novelists usually only have 3 months or less to catch readers’ attention. If your novel doesn’t start selling well in that window, it starts getting passed by. Websites and magazines stop reviewing it. Bookstores send it back to distributors. Publishers focus on next season’s offerings.

Only two things can expand that window. They are:

  • Growing sales momentum
  • Preorders

Growing sales momentum pushes past that three-month window as more and more people find out about your novel and buy it. It would be great to sell 100,000 copies in the first week, but if no one buys it after that, you will become yesterday’s news. Strong and steady sales are better.

Preorders are like backing up for a running start. Word of mouth marketing takes time, so the more people who get excited about your novel before it releases, the better. But how can you get preorder sales?

I came across a Facebook ad today that I believe answers that question. The ad was for a music album that releases in 10 days. For $10 plus shipping and tax, I could get:

  1. Immediate download of the first three songs off the album
  2. Digital download of full album one week before it released
  3. CD mailed to me on release date

It was a no-brainer. I bought the album. And then I wondered why I was willing to fork over $14.83 when in a few months I’d be able to get it from a discount site for $7.35 – less than half the price! Yet, I’m not sorry I bought it at all. How did they do that?

  1. They marketed to a previous customer. I already liked this artist, so I would naturally buy their new album eventually.
  2. They offered something to me immediately. As soon as my order was complete, I downloaded and listened to the 3 songs. If I had to wait, I would have hesitated, thought about it some more, and figured I might as well wait for the price to go down.
  3. They offered something that seemed exclusive. I could get the whole album a week earlier than all the other fans of this artist.
  4. They offered convenience. I wouldn’t have to rip the CD to my computer when it arrived.
  5. They gave me expected value (the CD),  at less than the retail price.

How can we apply this to our own novels?

First, we need a way to connect to readers who want to buy our new novel. If you have previous novels out and readers subscribed to your email newsletter, you already have this handled. If this is your first book or you want to expand your reader base, you’ll need to get creative.

Blogging is one way to connect with readers, and if you have a well-established blog you can post  your preorder offer there. Or you may need to include a free sample of your writing on your sales page. Facebook ads can let you target specific readers who love an author with a similar writing style or genre, but if they don’t know you, you’re going to have to bribe them with some type of freebie. It can’t be a “free with purchase” because they have no incentive to purchase anything if they don’t know you.

Because of this hurdle, I believe this pre-promotion idea will work best for sophomore novels and beyond. But if you can make it work for your debut novel, do so!

Second, offer something right away. It can be a digital copy of the book, or if you can’t manage that, the first three chapters.  This is one aspect that doesn’t translate very well from CD to book. You can enjoy a song on its own, but a chapter? One solution would be to offer a short story, perhaps one that takes place between two novels of a series.

Third, offer something exclusive. It could be as simple as an autographed book, or a neat promo item – a pen, bookmark, etc. Do your best to match the item with what the reader would want. Come up with something unique and inexpensive for you. If you’re able to offer a digital copy of the book before it releases, do so.

Fourth, make your offer convenient. At the minimum, let them pay with PayPal. Give them the download link on your thank you page and in their confirmation email. Make your digital copy compatible with the top ereaders.

Fifth, give them what they’re expecting – a great book! If you can, sell it for less than the retail price including shipping. People expect to be able to get things for less online.

I hope this article helps you promote and pre-sell your novel! If you have any other ideas for making a preorder offer irresistible, leave them in a comment below!