There is a battle going on in my house right now. It is the battle for my office chair, and I want it back. Of course, being the assertive person that I am, I gave in to her need to watch dolphins and went back to balancing a laptop on my knees. That was ten days ago.
Today’s post is all about actually getting your book out there, starting with preorders.
So what exactly is a preorder?
Yes, it’s a copy of your book that can be purchased in advance before it actually comes out, but why do you want to do it? Well, first and foremost, preorders are completed the day the book is officially released. As an author, what that really means for you is that your book has a larger number of sales right off the bat, and when you’re trying to make it onto bestseller lists, that bump can help, especially for any of Amazon’s subgenre lists.
For me, preorders are what I get to look forward to; a little present to myself, if you will. There’s something about the excitement of knowing that at midnight a book I waited eagerly for will show up in my ereader or that a copy with all kinds of goodies will be in my mailbox. A preorder for a new book or series gives readers something new to look forward to. When you write a sequel, the preorder is a reminder to your readers that the next installment is on the way. It keeps them hooked, especially if you’re not in a position to do rapid release for your series. Any chance you have to throw in bonus content or goodies, take it. It’s the perfect way to thank them for their loyalty.
In the interest of full disclosure, I personally distrust bestseller lists (this article sums up why perfectly), so my personal strategy is designed to benefit my readers. For my second book, Where the Ogrekin Roam, I’m doing a two month exclusive preorder campaign through my website that will include a short story and swag. The preordered copies will also be sent to their owners in January. The book itself is due to be released on March 1, so I’ll have a regular preorder campaign on Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble from February 12-28. The site exclusive campaign will take out a significant chunk of preorders that would be reported to any bestseller list aggregators, but because my long term strategy is building reader relationships and a dedicated fanbase, I chose to take the route of thanking my loyal readers with an early release and bonus content.
However, if the lists are important to you, take advantage of Kindle, Nook, and Apple Book’s abilities to upload your epub and set it for a preorder. Promote it on social media and in your mailing lists. Also consider discounting the previous book in the series or even making it free for a limited time either leading up to or during the preorder period. If people can get it at a discounted rate and love it, they’re more likely to preorder the sequel. once all of those sales hit on release day, it can really bump you in Amazon’s and Barnes & Nobles rankings, and that will get you on some pretty nice recommendation lists.
Marketing and Getting Yourself Out There
Once the book is out, you can start marketing yourself. Apply to get your book into libraries, see if bookstores have a submission form, and look for ways to do appearances. Don’t be discouraged if you have low turnouts or pushback! Start locally and build out from there. If you self-publish using IngramSpark or any distribution company that builds off of them, make sure to let bookstores and libraries know that’s where they can find your book. Let them know if your books are available through print on demand or bulk (it costs more to print, but for now, I’m sticking with POD). If you have an ebook, most libraries use Overdrive. Draft2Digital and IngramSpark submit ebooks to it, or you can do it yourself.
Think outside the box too. My sister-in-law suggested that I submit my book to local nursing homes and hospital reading rooms, which I thought was a great idea. Look for book clubs taking submissions, and see if there are meet-up groups that might let you do a reading or talk about your book, your writing process, publishing, etc. Don’t discount local business organizations either– I had a lot of fun speaking at a local Rotary club this past Halloween, and I was asked to come back in the spring.
Look for local weekend and art markets, apply for tables at cons and shows, and really think about where your book might appeal to the most people. Make little postcard flyers with a coupon code and a QR code that links to your site or mailing list and put them up on community bulletin boards. If you live in an area with little library boxes on corners (I love those), leave a copy of your book for someone to find. Are there any local publications, bloggers, or podcasts who do reviews or interviews? Submit yourself to those. You can talk about your books, your writing process, your journey, inspirations, anything you want.
You can also do collaborations with local artists and artisans based on elements of your works or your characters. In February, I will have a line of candles from a local candlemaker that represent each of the four witching elements, and a local artist is drawing LaSalle, Rupert, and Jessie for stickers and prints.
You don’t have to limit yourself to Amazon ads (although they’re a great idea) or social media. There are a lot of ways you can get out there if you look around your community. Have fun with it, and keep writing!