How to Run a Successful Preorder Campaign for Your Book [STEPS]

Hannah Lee Kidder
NovelPad Author
One of the most important segments of a book launch is the preorder period. Your actual launch might feel like the big deal, but the time before your book is available to read is a great marketing opportunity, and not utilizing it can leave a lot of sales on the table.

What is a book preorder campaign?

A book preorder campaign is a marketing strategy used by authors and publishers to generate excitement and anticipation for an upcoming book before its official release date. During a preorder campaign, the book is available for purchase in advance, often months before its publication date. Customers can place their orders during this period, securing a copy of the book that will be delivered upon the official release.
Preorder campaigns offer various incentives to encourage readers to pre-purchase the book, such as discounts, exclusive content, signed copies, limited editions, swag and merch, early access, or sneak peeks. We'll look at these options in more detail below.

Should I do a preorder campaign?

Yes, authors can massively benefit from running preorder campaigns for their new books. Benefits include building excitement and anticipation for the release, increasing your rankings and visibility, encouraging publisher and retailer support, and proving that there is an audience for your book.
A well-executed preorder campaign can significantly increase your book's successful, both in its initial launch and in long-term sales.

How long should a book presale last?

While there are no set rules for how long a presale (or preorder) period for a book should last, they commonly fall between several weeks to several months. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Marketing goals

If preorders are an important factor in your marketing strategy, you might opt for a longer presale period. A lot of marketing for a book happens here, so if you're trying to capitalize on the promotional opportunity of a presale, plan out a general timeline to figure out how long it needs to run.

2. Author or publisher preferences

If the book is intended for quick release, your presale period might trend shorter. If you're trying to $ capitalize on book sales with a quick-release series$ , for example, a long presale period makes less sense.

3. Genre and audience

Similarly, the target demographic and genre of the book should be taken into account. As an example, readers of certain subgenres in romance, mystery, sci-fi, and erotica typically read fast. These are highly consumable books, meaning your readers are in and out, unless you can push them to purchase another book or the next in the series.
Genres like $ fantasy tend to have more time between publications$ , meaning you have more time to run a preorder campaign for each release. In genres that take longer to produce and publish, you'll also want to build up more hype, because the fewer books you publish, the more sales you need to $ support a living as an author$  (if that is your goal).

4. Book release date

Sometimes—especially with self-publishing—writing, editing, and designing the book take a lot longer than we intend it to. If this happens and you already have a book release date in mind (e.g., dropping a $ new romance book in February$ ), there might not be actual time on the calendar to run a long preorder campaign.
If you find yourself in this situation, try to find at least a week or two in your $ publishing schedule$  to fit in a quick preorder campaign.

5. Marketing campaign length

Your preorder period should make sense for your marketing campaign and how much time and effort you plan to put toward it. Some authors prefer minimal marketing, relying on series and other strategies to keep their current readership interested.
Other authors might be breaking into a new genre, or perhaps they don't publish very often. The intent you have for marketing a book should affect how long you run your preorder campaign.
Here's a sample of what a monthly marketing plan might look like:

 preorder campaign schedule
As a general guideline, a presale period between 4 and 8 weeks is relatively common, but many can last up to six months.
Personally, when I $ publish a short story collection$ , I assign several months to that preorder campaign. If I'm publishing under an erotica or romance pen name, I'll opt for three weeks, max. That strategy is mainly based on how frequently I publish under each name—I rarely publish a collection, while I try to $ publish a romance novel$  every couple months.
Take the above factors into account when determining the length of your presale.

How to get people to preorder your book

To entice readers to preorder your book, you should offer incentives. These might be the first few chapters of the book, exclusive content, or entry into a giveaway sweepstakes. Keep your audience in mind when you plan the preorder period—what do they want and enjoy?

What is a preorder incentive?

A preorder incentive is something you offer readers in exchange for preordering your book. The incentive might be early access to the book or the next book in the series, giveaway items, a personalized copy, etc.

Should I list my book for preorder?

Yes, authors should list their books for preorder. Even if you don't plan to run a whole campaign, and even if the preorder period isn't very long, there's no reason not to list it for preorder as early as you reasonably can, then link it on your socials. You might snag a few preorders, and it's a good excuse to make a few promotional posts.

Running a Book Preorder Giveaway [STEPS]

If I've convinced you that a preorder giveaway can fit into your marketing campaign, here is a plan to get you started. Every writer, book, and campaign will be unique, so tweak this outline to suit your goals!

Phase 1: Set-up

To run any successful campaign, an amount of pre-work is crucial. For a preorder giveaway, set-up might include:
Preparing prizes
1. Consolation prize
A consolation prize is something you offer to every preorder giveaway participant. It should be something small that doesn't require much effort on your end. The most common consolation prize is a preview of the book. Don't be stingy if you use this route! If you're selling a novel, three chapters is a good amount to send out.
While chapter previews are a fine idea, readers know they can eventually access those without preordering. That means the best consolation prize will be something that only preorders will receive.
For the $ Starlight $ giveaway, I sent three stories that I cut from the final collection to every participant of my giveaway. That was something exclusive that only readers who took part in the preorder giveaway could see. If you can think of an exclusive prize, I recommend going that route.
2. Small prizes
Having a big prize or two to hand out during your launch event is wonderful, but it might not inspire readers throughout the campaign. Planning some smaller prizes can give a sense of a more immediate benefit.
For my $ Little Birds$  giveaway, I offered prizes like signed copies, candles, pretty notebooks, and other little goodies I thought my audience would enjoy. I uploaded one YouTube video per week with my regular content, but I'd start each video by announcing a winner of a smaller prize. This meant everyone who watched my videos were getting a weekly reminder that my book was available for preorder, and people were actively winning gifts.
You might host a livestream on Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, or whatever other platform you already use to announce your winners. If you're not one for being on camera, a weekly/biweekly social media post announcing a winner can also work!

Ideas for small giveaway prizes

  • personalized copies of your book
  • copies of your previous publications
  • candles
  • mugs
  • stickers and bookmarks
  • merch, if you have a shop
  • writing critiques/edits (if you're qualified)
  • social media shoutouts
3. Grand prizes
While you might give out a smaller prize once a week for the duration of your preorder campaign, you should also have some more impressive gifts available to give out during your book launch event (be that in person, a livestream, or whatever else).
For my $ Starlight $ launch event, I gave away prizes like a bundle of my books and posts, all signed. You might have a few grand prizes, but work within your budget! One bigger prize is plenty, and it can be something you're able to afford.

Ideas for grand giveaway prizes

  • gift card
  • hoodie
  • water bottle
  • subscription to software
  • a copy of several/all of your previous publications
You should also consider making your grand prize(s) only claimable AT your launch event. This is an incentive for people to attend, plus makes it more exciting for attendees during the event.
Whatever you ultimately choose as your prizes, I recommend having at least one consolation prize, one small prize per month, and one larger prize to give away at your launch event.
Application form
The next thing you'll need is an application form. This can be as simple as a Google Form. Be sure to link it with every post you make about the preorder giveaway. Information you should collect:
  • proof of purchase (allow them to upload a screenshot)
  • their name and email/contact information
  • address, if the gifts are tangible items
  • (optional) preferences of gift, if you have several types to offer

 presale giveaway form
Creating social posts
To minimize stress during your book launch, you could prepare your posts ahead of time. They could be simple, but collecting your images, writing your captions, and scheduling the posts can really streamline marketing efforts.
Planning events
While this is more of a general step for a marketing campaign, events are important for the preorder giveaway as well. If you're giving out smaller prizes throughout the period, you might plan to announce winners during events. Events could be in-person readings, livestreams, Instagram Q&As, or any other interactive activity you can regularly host.
With those things in place, let's move on to actually running your campaign.

Phase 2: Running

You should already know how long your campaign will run, what you will be giving away, and when/how you'll announce winners.
List the book for preorder
Before you launch your preorder giveaway you, surprise, need to have a book available for preorder. Before doing anything publically, set this up. You might even plan a special event for the preorder launch: This can build up hype, be a good excuse for social media content, and get your preorder campaign off on the right foot.
Note: Not all publishing platforms allow for preorders, or allow for preorders in all formats. Be sure to check what you're allowed to do within that platform before you plan your giveaway.
Collect applications
Application management might be important for you, depending on how you've set up the giveaway. You might not want to select the same winner twice, so keeping track of which applicants have already won is helpful.
You also want to make sure you're sending out the consolation prize soon after the reader has preordered. (You could automate this, but that runs the risk of people submitting applications without actually having preordered.) I recommend sending them out in daily batches.
Award small prizes routinely
As we've discussed, the small giveaway prizes should be awarded routinely throughout the run of your giveaway. The frequency is up to you, but be sure to make a schedule and stick to it!

Phase 3: Wrap-up

Now it's time to end our giveaway.
The preorder giveaway ends when the book launches. A launch event is a great idea. My launch events had great turnouts, and I had a lot of fun hosting them. It doesn't have to be anything fancy—I made a themed Twitch background, planned a few activities, and gave away my last prizes.
Award grand prizes
Make a big deal about your grand prize winners. After all, you've been hyping it up for (potentially) months. You might plan a little surprise, too! That might be awarding multiple of the grand prize, after only promising one in your promos. It could also be a complete surprise gift no one even knew about.

A preorder giveaway can be the most powerful item of your marketing campaign. I recommend it for authors of any genre!$ $ 
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