Pre-orders matter

I have a confession. Prior to working in book marketing, I had NEVER pre-ordered a book.


Sorry to all the authors I loved and followed back then. I didn’t realize the difference it made.

Pre-order sales help retailers take notice of your book, signaling them to increase orders. Without strong pre-orders, retailers are likely to run out of stock on the morning your book releases. Unfortunately, people are less likely to buy a book that’s out of stock, causing your book to lose momentum during the most crucial period of your launch.

When to start promoting pre-orders

Many books appear on Amazon and other retailers’ websites 6 to 9 months prior to the release date. While I recommend starting your preparations for your launch early, I don’t recommend promoting pre-orders too early. It’s fine to share your excitement with a one-time celebratory email or social media post announcing the book is coming, but don’t start regularly promoting pre-orders too early. If you start your pre-order campaign 6 months in advance you will wear out your audience—and yourself—long before your book releases. For most books, I recommend a strong pre-order campaign starting 30 to 60 days prior to the release date.

How to maximize the pre-order period

Whether you are working with a traditional publisher or are self-publishing, there are a few simple actions you can take to make the most of your book’s pre-order period. As you plan your launch strategy, be sure to include pre-order incentives, communicate with your audience, and partner with others.

 Offer Incentives

Give people a reason to pre-order your book by offering a great pre-order bonus that adds value to the book.

From a logistics standpoint, I highly recommend making your free bonus something downloadable. This way it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, plus you can avoid the headache of packaging and shipping bonuses. (The exception to this rule may be offering an additional bonus for bulk orders.)

For Overwhelmed, Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory offered 5 free e-books during the pre-order period plus created a downloadable planner and coaching videos to help readers apply the principles of the book to their lives.

I’ve worked on launches where we created a companion study guide, a prayer journal, bonus chapters or Bible verse cards. Think about what would enhance the experience for your readers and offer it as a pre-order bonus.

Communicate with your audience

Email marketing is your #1 tool in selling more books—and this includes the pre-order period. One of the reasons I recommend building your email list early is so you can utilize that list to maximize your impact during your pre-order period.

Let your readers know about your upcoming book, what it’s about, and that it’s available for pre-order.

Share a few short excerpts (over time, not all at once) that will leave your readers wanting more.

Give them a reason to buy your book now. (This is where the pre-order bonuses come into play.)

Communicate the importance of pre-orders to them.

A well-planned email marketing campaign during the pre-order period will be one of the greatest assets of your launch.

Partner with others

Partnering with others who will share about your book will help expand the reach of your message beyond your audience, and increase your pre-order sales. There are two groups of people I recommend connecting with during your book launch.

Launch team—Form a team of your core followers and supporters to share about your upcoming book. Usually launch teams receive an early copy of the book (physical or electronic), which helps build their excitement. Give them easy methods and tools to help them spread the word about your book and pre-order bonuses. Graphics, links and copy-and-paste text work well. I’ll share more about launch teams in next month’s article.

Influencers and Endorsers—Think about your book’s message and who you know who might be willing to help spread that message. Reach out to authors, bloggers, and other influential people. Ask them to share about your book and pre-order bonuses. It’s ok to shoot for the stars and ask for endorsements from people with large audiences, but personal connections are best. As with the launch team, provide them with the tools that make sharing easy. By supplying graphics, shareable posts, and guest blog posts, you’ll make it easy for your influencers and endorsers to expand your book’s reach.

One struggle several of my authors have encountered during their launches is that they don’t feel right about self-promotion. It’s important to remember you are not promoting yourself, you are promoting the message God has given you to share with the world through your book. Be faithful to do what you can to share the message and trust Him to expand it.

What if I missed the pre-order window?  

If you find yourself at the end of this article wishing you had known these things before your book released, don’t worry. While you can’t run a “pre-order” campaign after your book releases, you can still use some of these strategies to market your already released book.

Brooke MartinezBrooke Martinez specializes in book launches—from strategy consultations to implementation and full launch management. For help creating your pre-order strategy or bonuses, connect with her at