The 13 Pre-Order Strategies That Increase Book Sales

by | May 16, 2018 | Bestseller Essentials, Book Marketing Basics

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If your first question is: What is a pre-order campaign? then you’re in the right place. If you’ve done a pre-order campaign in the past but it wasn’t successful, then you’re also in the right place. Below are the 13 strategies that will ensure success when it comes to selling your books.

Including pre-order campaigns in your author marketing plan is a great way to build buzz. Additionally, it’s an excellent excuse to engage fans and draw in new ones. And perhaps most importantly, pre-orders can prove very lucrative for sales, when done right.

It’s important to note that a lot of these strategies include a request that people email you a copy of their Amazon receipt in exchange for an offer or prize. Not only is this a simple way to verify who’s really buying, you get the added bonus of building your mailing list with their email addresses. A mailing list (and subsequently, your newsletter) is an author marketing goldmine when it comes to opening doors to sell more books.

So, let’s go through the list of my favorite (and most successful) pre-order strategies:

Update Your Content

Effective author marketing requires you to stay current. And that means keeping your already published titles updated as well.

In preparation for a new release, update your eBook files for any of your previously published titles in the same genre. Why? To ensure they’re directing people to the new book via a link to the product page.

You should already have your current titles in regular marketing rotations. So the effort you’re already putting in should benefit your upcoming book as well, right?

Advertise Special Pre-Order Pricing

Everyone loves a deal, right? And one of the most effective ways to sell more books during a pre-order promotion is to offer the book at a discounted price. The next step is to constantly remind people through all your other efforts that the book goes back to full price on the release date.

Offer Cool Swag Packs

People love free stuff! If you want to sell more books, there’s a good chance you’ll see a better return if you get a little more generous with your brand swag.

Swag is a good author marketing investment in general, and when compounded with a pre-order campaign this ‘gimmick’ can become a successful strategy. It doesn’t have to be super expensive with some smart planning. Once you have some swag on hand, you’ll be amazed at how many ways you come up to use it, which will enhance your marketing efforts on every level.

Give Away Digital Swag

If you don’t have the budget to mail out physical swag, don’t sweat it! You can do something fun with digital material too.

Poster-quality art downloads, excerpts, deleted scenes, etc, are all pieces of content that intrigue your readers. There are so many options and this is a great way to strengthen your brand as well.

Create a Teaser Excerpt

Build the excitement for an impending release by sharing an excerpt from your new book! And don’t be stingy – if you’re having them buy the book on pre-order, then give them the first few chapters for free to really get them excited!

Collect Some Deleted Scenes

We’re all suckers for a good BTS (Behind the Scenes) glimpse of the books we love. This is more for authors who write series, or write in a very defined genre, but readers love insider info. And deleted scenes from previous titles can be fun ways to reward established fans for pre-ordering.

Do a Cover Reveal

Another great way to milk a pre-order campaign and potentially sell more books is with a cover reveal. Covers can make or break a book. Plus, they strengthen the psychological connection to your brand.

Discount and Cross-Promote

If you really want to ramp up to sell more books during a pre-order campaign, consider discounting other titles.

You’ve already updated the back matter of your previous titles to announce the new release. So limited-time promotions will help you get those books into more hands to help spread the word.

Update Your Social Images

Be sure you’re updating your website and social media headers to represent the new book, promote the cover, advertise the pre-order dates, and especially bring awareness to pre-order pricing.

Start the Countdown

This is a super simple strategy that doubles as your social media marketing as well. Schedule posts that push the pre-order and remind people when the pre-order ends. This strategy is particularly effective for selling more books when combined with a special pre-order discount price.

Run a Branded Contest

Sometimes selling more books isn’t about selling more books. Let me explain. Show your followers that you truly appreciate their loyalty, no strings attached, by giving them something just because. But this doesn’t mean you can’t still get some immediate benefits.

Author Leigh Bardugo did a contest (image below) and simply asked people to follow her blog and comment on the post with the “rules” to be entered. And, of course, she reminded people about the pre-order.

You can ask people to follow you on social and share a post of your book release announcement. There are lots of ways to benefit from reader engagement aside from just asking them to buy the book directly.

Give out ARCs to Drum Up Early Reviews

Just like the contest, this is a great way to generate early reviews. Ask fans to do something for you: share a post, sign up for your newsletter, follow your blog, etc. Then, start handing out advance copies of the book with the understanding that you really want people to get on Amazon and write a review as soon as the book is officially released.

Insider Tip: A personalized note goes a long way to communicate the importance of reviewing, I assure you.

Run a BOGO Offer

I love running BOGO (Buy One Get One or Buy One Give One) offers because it essentially doubles the amount of people being brought into your fold.

I like to do buy one, give one. So I ask people to pre-order my book, and send me the receipt plus a name and email address of friend or colleague I can gift a digital copy to as well.

People love to share books they enjoy, and you can be a part of that while also getting introduced to new potential fans and followers.

I’ve even invited people to include a short note they’d want me to include, to take the personalization up a notch when I’m gifting.

Create a Video

Video content is essential to social media exposure, in regards to generating interest and engagement.

Here’s how to use video in your pre-order strategy: First, make an official announcement about the pre-order. Next, publish videos that announce discounts or describe a giveaway or swag offer. There’s really no reason you can’t do a video to accompany any of these strategies. Plus with proper planning, you can record all these in one afternoon and release them as appropriate.

So get camera-ready and get to work!

The Takeaway

Pre-order campaigns are about being prepared. Now that I’ve gone over some really strong strategies to sell more books during your pre-order campaign, you can prepare a lot of what you need in advance.

That way, when it’s time to pick a publication date and pre-order date you’ll have an arsenal of material and ideas at the ready to keep this part of your author marketing plan stress free.

And if it seems like there’s a lot of moving parts, you’re right. There can be. So I definitely recommend downloading my free monthly book marketing planner. It will help you stay organized and keep your promotion moving so that you can sell more books.


  1. Vivienne Sang

    Thank you for those brilliant ideas. I will definitely be using some when my next book is ready for pre-order.

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Vivienne, thank you so much! Please keep us posted on your progress. We’d love to hear about your new release, and how these strategies work for you, especially if you have a clear favorite!



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