How to maximise your prepublication sales

In these challenging times, bookstores have been very resilient and book sales have been up on the same period last year. However, there’s no doubt that anything authors and publishers can do to promote their books and start capturing prepublication sales will help get a new title off to the best start.

According to Kathi Kruse, in her article How social media crushes old school marketing, “a prospect needs to ‘hear’ the advertiser’s message at least seven times before they will take action to buy that product or service”.

So, let’s look at seven things you can do in your prepublication awareness strategy to maximise sales of your book.

1. Shout about your book’s cover

Most publishers will finalise a book cover design at least three months ahead of publication. As soon as you have finalised your book cover, you have a visual that you can share and you can start to create visual awareness of your forthcoming book. Use this in your email signature, put it on your website and make it part of your branding.

2. Free first chapter download

When your book is at the layout stage, ask your publisher for a clean copy of the first chapter in PDF format. You can offer a free PDF download of your new book to whet the appetite of potential buyers. Don’t forget to add a cover page to the PDF to increase awareness again of what your book will look like. Also, include a link in the PDF to where readers can pre-order the full book when it comes out.

3. Seek out testimonials

In her article Testimonials: How and why to get them, Marie Dean cites McKinsey research that “testimonials and word of mouth are the driving force behind 20–50% of all purchasing decisions”.  So, start seeking these as soon as your manuscript has been edited. Approach people whose opinion you value – if they can influence sales and are a recognisable name then even better. Ask them if they will read your book with a view to providing a testimonial. Your publisher will use the best ones on the back of your book and inside the preliminary pages. You can use them in your social media and other communications.

4. Why you wrote this book

Readers are curious. They like to get to know the author, so share your story, including why you wrote your book. This could be a blog post or have some-one record a Q&A with you that you can upload onto your YouTube channel and share in your social media. It’s often better to tell your story in person.

5. Solve readers’ problems

This part of the strategy is specific to business and self-help books. People will seek out your book if they think it will solve their problems, i.e. make them richer, make them a better leader, help them find a better job. What solutions does your book offer? Drill down to three key problems your book will solve and tell the world!

6. Make it easy to order

Link to sales outlets so people know where they can order a prepublication copy of your book. You may be selling copies on your own website (maybe offer a VIP price for your community?). Also link to online booksellers. is Australia’s leading online bookseller and they have author affiliate programs that you can join to receive a small royalty on sales that you drive to their site. These sales will count towards bestseller status too. Read also Should authors sell their own books?

7. Run a competition with giveaways

Everyone loves a free book. Why not run a competition promising to give away, say, five free signed copies to the first five people who can answer a question. Winners will be among the first to read your wonderful book that they have been hearing about for weeks now, because your pre-publication awareness strategy has been so effective.




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