Preorder Campaigns

Most authors, whether independently published or publishing with an established press, are responsible for at least some of their own marketing. One marketing option is putting together a preorder campaign for your books before they release, offering a small gift to readers who send you proof of their preorder. Erin Bowman has a great post about what such campaigns entail and some ideas for them; I want to focus more on the nitty-gritty of setting up such a campaign.

Why consider a preorder campaign?

Unless you are a big lead title at your imprint, your publisher probably won’t do a preorder incentive for you. However, preorder campaigns can be a useful way to build buzz about your book before it comes out, particularly if readers share the campaign or their swag on their social media platforms. Preorder campaigns provide you with media content to share, and they can be a fun way to say thanks to readers.

Preorder campaigns can be time consuming and (depending on your swag) costly, however, so if organizing a campaign doesn’t sound fun to you, there’s no shame in not doing one. As for me, gift giving is one of my love languages, so preorders are precisely the kind of marketing I enjoy.

Step One: Figure out the size and scale

The first thing you’ll want to establish is how many preorder gifts you’re willing to send out, and whether the campaign is local or international. If you’re in the U.S., it’s a good idea to send swag that fits in a standard envelope with a forever stamp (.50 in 2018) or an international stamp (1.15). If you only have a limited number of swag packs, you may want to cap the number of preorders, or say “while supplies last.”

In Bowman’s post, she talks about setting up different tiers for your preorder: everyone in the first tier gets a basic gift, and are entered into giveaways for the higher tiers. If you choose to do giveaways, you should know that most states forbid sweepstakes, where entrants have to pay for their entry, so you’ll need to provide an alternative entry that does not cost money. (Or be prepared for your publisher to not be able to help promote your campaign on their social media platforms).

Step Two: Design and Order Swag

If you’re not sure how much you want to invest in a preorder campaign, you can opt for a simple bookmark and signed bookplate. Personally, I like preorder campaigns that offer exclusive content for readers, whether that’s a digital content related to the book (a chapter from a different POV, supplemental material, etc.), maps, character cards, etc. I offered a map that I’d drawn with BLOOD ROSE REBELLION that got an enthusiastic response; for LOST CROW CONSPIRACY, I opted for flat fridge magnets and temporary tattoos.

As far as vendors, there are lots of options out there. Here are my preferences (though I’d love to know other ideas in the comments).  It can take several weeks for swag to arrive, so plan ahead.

For bookmarks, Gotprint is fast and pretty inexpensive. I had mine designed by Icebooks.com.

For bookplates, any 3×4 stickers work well. This time around, I used UPrinting and I loved how well they turned out.

I used Vistaprint for my fridge magnets, and Tattoofun for the temporary tattoos.

Step Three: Advertise

You’ll want to make sure the preorder information is prominent on your website and any social media you use regularly for readers who go looking for it. Graphics are an easy way to advertise it on social media (I used Canva for mine). Be aware that if you’re planning a Facebook promotion for your campaign, you’ll need an image with minimal text.

Canva graphic for my Lost Crow Conspiracy preorder

 

Step Four: Collect Information

Most preorder campaigns require some kind of proof of preorder (screen shot, email) along with a mailing address. Some authors opt to have those sent directly to their author email; I prefer to create a separate email dedicated to preorders so the information doesn’t get lost.

Ultimately, setting up a preorder campaign can take time (and money), but it can be a fun way to say thank you to readers and generate some excitement before the book comes out.

What kind of swag do you like to see in preorders? Do you have any suggestions for swag vendors? Or questions? Let us know in the comments.

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Rosalyn Eves is a part-time writer, part-time English professor, and full-time mother of three. She loves all things BBC, especially costume dramas and mysteries. When not wrangling children (and sometimes when she should be wrangling children), she’s often found reading. Her debut novel, BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, is now available. The sequel, LOST CROW CONSPIRACY, comes out March 27.

 

 

Author Websites 101

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You want to be published? You want to have a career as a writer? Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re building your website. Because you NEED a website. And your website should show you’re a professional–even if you’re a goofy one.

INFORMATION:

YOU – A biography. On my site I have a brief bio on the front page, and a more in-depth one later on. You need an author photo that wasn’t taken by your child or by your phone held at arm’s length. Professionalism counts.

YOUR BOOKS – What they are and where to find them. I like to have one page with everything, and then individual pages for each novel so I can talk about inspiration or share bits of trade reviews – I LOVE it when other authors do this. If you write in different genres, separating by genres is smart. And just like a resume, put the most recent up first – you may argue w/ me if you’re writing a series, but otherwise? Most recent book gets top billing.

EVENTS OR APPEARANCES – Even release dates, or cover release dates… Sometimes it’s more about making yourself LOOK busy and/or important. Yes, I just said that. I’ve seen authors write up things like – attending launch party for XXX, which is promo for the both of you – WIN-WIN)

LINKS TO SOCIAL MEDIA – You don’t have to take on the whole world in social media. Choose what works for you and keep your audience in mind (Yes, this could be a post on its own. Maybe several).

LINKS TO BLOG – If you blog, if you group blog…

AN OFFER TO SIGN UP FOR A NEWSLETTER – If you have one. The pros and cons of this would be much better discussed by someone other than myself 😉

THE FEEL OF THE SITE:

You’re selling YOU. You need to have a website that reflects both you and what you write. Your website could/should follow the feel of your stories, but as more people branch out into more genres, the more important it is to have a website that encompasses YOU, and second, what you write.

A few examples:

I wanted to show Lindsey Leavitt’s site because she writes in several genres. Now, if she wanted to build a site specifically for a series, awesome! She can link to it from the site that is about HER.

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Her tagline, right at the top, tells you what you’re in for. Social media is easy to find, and her tabs help readers of different genres find what they’re looking for. The colors are bright and fun, and match the tone of her book covers. www.lindseyleavitt.com Just under her header – fab white space (I’ll show examples later on).

Maggie Stiefvater’s website is also fab. Her novels/series are all quite different, so her website is neutral. Want more info on a series? She has links for that. The rotating headers all involve MAGGIE and things she likes as a person rather than as an author. Just under the lovely headers is very simple with lots of white space.

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OK. We’re not all Brandon Sanderson, but this is his sidebar:

All of his upcoming events are right on the landing page. No one needs to hunt around on his website to find his fan club or where he’s going to be next.

Simple and brilliant. AND the artwork falls in line with his books without taking over the site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How beautiful is KATHRYN PURDIE’S SITE??? I know right away what she writes from the background, but it’s so subtle! I love it.

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And then it gets even better when you press ENTER:

All her links are interesting, and there’s some great info here without this feeling overwhelming.

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And now we’ll talk about – THE WHITESPACE. Cluttered sites are SO hard to navigate. Kathryn Purdie put this subtle background in instead of white space, which I think works SUPER well, but it’s so easy for a website to be so busy that visitors don’t know where to direct their attention.

Veronica Roth’s website does a brilliant job with clean white space:

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Jennifer Weiner’s site is gorgeous, simple, and you can see how effective white space can be – even at the bottom of her landing page (BELOW):

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I will readily admit that I’m a sucker for simplicity, but ANDREW HARWELL’S site? Simple & interesting. He wears a lot of different hats, so simple is going to be better.

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My best advice to you is this:

Go to a TON of websites of authors you admire. Authors who write what you do. Authors who write something completely different from what you write. Take note of what works. What doesn’t work. And then spend some time thinking about how you can tailor what works, to yourself. You may need to hire a designer. You definitely need more eyes than just your own.

My inspiration for today’s post came from the fact that I really want to re-work my own site. Something I’ll be tweaking over the holiday break 🙂

Happy designing!

~ J0

Jolene Perry has written young adult titles for Entangled/Macmillan, Albert Whitman Teen, and Simon Pulse. She is represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. You can find her on her BLOG, her WEBSITE, or chillin’ with her family in Alaska (pun intended).