Stage Four of Publishing a Book: Preorders, Promotion, and The Year After Publication

preorders to launch a bestselling book
preorders to launch a bestselling book

This month I’m running a series on how the publishing process works and how to successfully navigate each stage of the journey, with zero bewilderment and maximum fun.

How to publish a book

You can catch up here if you want to learn more:

This last and final stage of the process is the longest (after building a platform, that is), and it typically starts about 6 months before publication of your book. This is when the marketing and publicity teams at publishers typically kick into gear and begin planning the promotional campaigns for the next season. This is also when you should begin acting on the promotional plan you brainstormed over the last 6 months. (You did take that time after manuscript delivery to brainstorm your promo plan, right? Right.)

There are a lot of moving pieces to any good promotional campaign, and since you’ll be working both with your own team and your publisher’s team, you’ll want to get organized. Organization = optimal results. So go ahead: calendars out, everyone!  Now assign every single appearance, interview, or to-do to a date on the calendar. This will help you not only see the big picture, but it will also help you divvy up your work over the weeks and weeks, so you don’t get completely overwhelmed. (After all, you’ll want to keep up your usual platform-building activities during this time, too.)

Next, hone in on the preorder phase, which is typically 1-3 months prior to publication. Preorders have become a huge deal in the publishing world in recent years, and it’s the best place to create snowballing momentum for your book. Here’s how it works:

An existing fan preorders your book because they know it will be awesome (because you’ve been giving them previews over the past year, of course)
Your Amazon ranking spikes, then other retailers see that your book is popular and order more copies
Your publisher sees that your book is popular with retailers and diverts more resources to your book, the title that’s taking off
You use that help to reach an even broader segment of potential readers
More people hear about your book, are enthralled (because your concept is so great, right?) then buy the book
Your Amazon ranking stays strong and retailers reorder to stay stocked on your book
And so on until you’ve conquered the world and can buy a new cat to replace that old one who didn’t appreciate you before you were a bestselling author.


The 4 Questions You Should Be Able to Answer at This Stage:

  • How will you share news about your book in a way that feels authentic and natural to you, rather than pushy and sales-y? You’ve worked hard to get to this point, and you should be brimming with excitement to share your book with the world, not dreading the promotional process. Remember that it’s not about selling—it’s about sharing something that you genuinely believe can help people.
  • How will you structure and manage your preorder campaign? What bonuses can you offer for readers who preorder? How can you encourage your existing readers to buy multiple copies to share with others who might also love it?
  • What connections will share news about your book release? Will they host giveaways? Will you provide them with content or shareable assets? (If so, schedule in time to create these way before you get to this phase!)
  • How will you sustain your book sales over the next year? How can you make this a key part of your business, so that publishers are eager to work with you again and other doors to new opportunities open for you?

If you’ve followed this series from the start, you should have a solid, detailed vision of what you have to do to create and launch a bestselling book. I often hear potential authors (who don’t have someone to coach them one-on-one through this process) express anxiety and nervousness and fear, because they don’t have a clue where to start and or how to start.

My hope is that this series helps to demystify the publishing process, so that you can pursue success and stay sane (and have a lot of fun!) on your publishing journey.  And while I tried to cover the key issues, there are entire books written on the subject of how to publish a book.

So what other questions do you all have? Feel free to ask me anything in the comments or in an email!

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