Writing a book is only part of the process– an important part, but just a part nonetheless. You still have to get it in the hands of the public, and that’s where a book launch comes in. But even before the launch itself is the idea of a preorder campaign. I’m sure you’ve all seen this and probably taken advantage of it: preorders keep readers hooked with the promise of things to come and provide authors with the chance to reward loyal readers through giveaways and personalized content.
You have a few options when it comes to setting up the preorder for your book, and I’m going to talk through the two I did and their pros and cons.
The Easy Way Out
When I released Welcome to Jessie’s, I just set a date in which people could preorder the books, and then everyone’s copies were shipped or sent out on launch day. All I had to do was set up the links and let people order in advance from my website, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Apple. I maintained a spreadsheet so I knew who had ordered which version, whether they requested a personalized message, and if they purchased add-ons.
The downside to this was I relied on platforms like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Draft2Digital, so I couldn’t personalize the experience for my readers. I didn’t have much of an incentive to offer other than “you’re guaranteed to get the book on this day!” The orders placed through my website included a thank you note, bookmark, and signed copy, but that was it.
Adding Some Incentives
I still can’t personalize the preorder experience through a third party platform, but for Where the Ogrekin Roam, I added preorder exclusives when readers ordered their copies through my website. In addition to the personalized copy, each order includes a print, sticker, bookmark, and coupon code applicable to a future purchase.
Where It All Went Horribly Wrong
When I set up the preorder for Ogre, I decided that anyone who preordered in December would get an advance copy of the book. Great incentive, right? Instead of waiting until I had the final proof in hand, I set a date and then ran up against obstacle after obstacle from printing delays to paper shortages to health issues. I had to take a chance and order the books without waiting weeks for the final proof, and when they came in (before the proof, I might add), the covers were horrible.
After a brief crying fit, I had to reach out to my readers and let them know what happened, give them the books with the wrong covers so they at least had something to show for their support and patience, redesign the cover, and reorder the proofs. I will send the preorder readers the correct versions, but now I’m out the cost of the new books and shipping.
Make sure you’re prepared. If you’re doing the bulk of the legwork on a preorder or book launch, do not commit to anything, especially a date, until you have the finished product in hand and know that you can deliver on your promises. That said, preorders create a sense of anticipation, and when you have a chance to personalize the experience, you can really build on the relationship with your readers.