Get The Most out of Your Prerelease
Basic Prerelease Strategy
You don’t need to prerelease your book. Distributors can accept your book the moment it is approved and send it out across their platform for readers to buy, sometimes only minutes after you first submit your manuscript. However, many writers take advantage of a prerelease campaign to build initial buzz over a new book.
A prerelease campaign consists of any efforts you put into advertising and selling your book before it hits the market. This includes emails you send to your list, cover reveals, blog interviews, and listing your book for sale through a prerelease order.
You can run an effective prerelease campaign on a low budget with limited supplies. A book cover will do. If you don’t have a cover yet, you can design social media graphics around the overall branding, look and feel of what you want your cover to present. You can also use your title, genre, and brief quotes from your writing to add to your packaging and tease readers.
When it comes to your prerelease, anything you know is fair gain.
Prerelease campaigns are not only easy to implement, but they also take a load off your shoulders for early promotion when your book actually releases. It allows you to test reader interest from an earlier point and make any last-minute changes before a potentially embarrassing launch.
Better yet, any books that you sell during your prerelease go toward your day-one total, ramping up your book’s spot on a competitive page. You don’t need to make a truck-load of sales, either. Even one or two will go a long way to prove to the store that people love your book and couldn’t wait to buy it the day it came out.
Every step helps!
Top Tips to Succeed
There are as many prerelease strategies as there are authors, and you might need to experiment to find what works best for your books. If you’re starting with a blank slate or looking to spruce up your usual campaigns, here are some tips:
1. Plan ahead.
How early is too early to start pitching your book? While some authors start pitching the day they have the idea, a solid prerelease campaign should start about six months before the release date, when you are putting the finishing touches on your book and soliciting cover artists and putting together ARC’s for reviewers.
Depending on the speed at which you release books, you might need more or less time to set up, but several months in between releases can help build momentum and give readers time to get excited about your new book.
2. Limit your newsletters.
Scarcity implies value.
That’s true in market research, and it also comes into play during your prerelease campaigns. While you might be tempted to send multiple letters out per week leading up to your release date, readers might tune out too much noise or grow tired of your book before it comes out.
Avoid spamming readers with news!
Instead, schedule a few carefully weighted letters to go out over the span of a few months, as seen in the next tip.
3. Cover reveals and teasers in your newsletter
People like graphics, and a picture of your new book’s cover is a reason to celebrate. After your cover is designed, you can send a cover reveal newsletter out to your readers and build momentum for your release day.
Some authors pull off cover reveals in multiple steps. You can do a partial reveal of your cover to your newsletter one week (see below) and a full reveal the next, possibly shifting to a blog or review site for the full reveal.
This teaser of Sierra Storm's The Vampire's Secret gives a tantalizing glimpse of the cover without giving anything away!
4. Text snippets
What better way to preview your book than with your book itself? One of the most popular ways to tease an upcoming release is to share teasers in the form of text snippets. You can choose a brief phrase, as I did below for one of my works in progress:
Whole paragraphs work as well. Use any segment that you feel gives a satisfying glimpse into your writing.
Or you could always stick to the old classic: the first chapter in its entirety. Readers who discover they love smaller portions of your book are far more likely to buy the book instead of taking a chance on something they’ve never read.
5. Use your branding!
If you really want graphics that pop, use the branding that you’ve decided on for yourself as an author. Borrow from your book’s genre and expectations as well as your previous work, and be intentional about your font and color choices. Spending even a few minutes to design your aesthetic will go a long way to win readers over.
You also want to keep your branding consistent across graphics, whether it’s headers, social media posts, or newsletter graphics. The consistency makes your book appear bolder and more of a big deal to readers who might tune out graphics on an individual level.
6. Have a blog? Use it!
Your author site and blog is a great way to share your process with readers. This doesn’t just tie in with prereleases; it lasts throughout your writing cycle. Open up to readers with a few posts about your favorite parts of writing this book, the struggles you encountered putting the words on the page, and where your publishing progress is at.
If you allow readers to join you on your own journey, your release will become a personal experience for them--and they’ll treasure your book all the more because of it.
7. Release day sales
Nothing gets readers more excited than a sale on a favorite book. To boost your sales on day one of your release, lower your price--or give the book away for free. Readers will jump on board excitedly with news of a flash sale, and the bump you get will help your book get a rankings boost in the store.
Alternatively, some authors “release” their book at a free price a few days early to allow reviewers and ARC street teams to download a copy to become verified reviewers. This is up to you, and on Amazon will require that your book is a part of Kindle Unlimited.
8. Have fun
There are no limits to what you can do with a prerelease. You could make a mood board, design a YouTube soundtrack, or draw comics of your characters illustrating core scenes of your book. If something sounds like a fun way to get the word out, go for it!
This isn’t just empty advice to love what you do. Your excitement when introducing your future book to readers will show on the other side. When you design your prerelease campaign, go out of your way to make sure you have as much fun with it as possible. After all, a new release is a big deal and a lot of fun in itself.
What strategies help you out the most when planning your prerelease? Please share in the comment section below or join the Pen and Glory Facebook group for further discussion.