Use Pre-Orders to Build Buzz (and Test Marketing)

Posted by: Kevin Tumlinson 1 month, 3 weeks ago

This week’s post includes heavy contributions from D2D’s own Steed Brown, Operations Manager (and all-around awesome guy!)

As authors, one of the trickiest things about marketing our work is determining whether it’s really having any impact. And sure, we can get buried in a sea of numbers—including click-thrus and impressions and a whole host of other data. But the one number we can rely on most to tell us if readers are responding to what we’re doing is sales. That’s one of the reasons that pre-orders are a valuable part of your marketing strategy.

Pre-orders with Draft2Digital

Setting up a preorder with Draft2Digital is incredibly simple. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Required:

  • Book Title
  • ISBN (if you plan to provide your own)
  • Expected release date (Get as close as you can, and if you’re unsure then set the date a bit farther out than you realistically think you’ll need to)
  • The book description or “blurb” for the book (also called a ‘synopsis’). This doesn’t have to be the final description, but it should give the reader a general idea of what the book will be about. Don’t use a placeholder such as “Coming in July 2017.” Those will be rejected by our vendors.
  • BISAC Subjects that apply to your book, so it can be placed in the proper categories on the vendor stores
  • Search terms or keywords
  • List price (preorders can’t be free, so you’ll need to set a price)

Optional:

  • The final manuscript or a complete, rough edited manuscript (more on this later)
  • Cover art or placeholder cover art (more on this later as well)

Now that we have all the pieces in place, it’s time to get them on the board. Let’s look at the step-by-step for setting up your pre-order.

Step One: The Acquisitions Page

To get started, create a new book project on Draft2Digital just like you would with any other book you’d upload to us. On the first page of book setup (the Acquisitions tab) Enter in the title, author, and all of the rest of the metadata we ask for. 

When you come to the Release Date field, set that to the date you want your book to be available for sale. You can set this to any date in the future, but we recommend at least 10 business days out to allow the vendors time to make sure everything is ready to go.

Remember, the longer your book is on preorder, the more time you’ll have to market it and generate those preorder sales to get a lovely bump on release day. So give yourself the time you need to do it right.

You’ll also upload your manuscript at this time. This doesn’t have to be your final manuscript, but it does need to be complete. If you’re okay with letting people read a short sample of your book that isn’t necessarily fully edited, then you’re all set. Just don’t use any placeholder files or files that contain only the first few chapters.

If you don’t have a complete manuscript to upload (or you’d rather that no one saw any of it unedited) the best option is to not upload any manuscript at all. Instead, finish up the metadata and hit Save & Continue at the bottom of the Acquisitions page.

*Note that we’re emphasizing complete here. Placeholder files or incomplete manuscripts can jeopardize your preorder, so do no use an incomplete manuscript!

Step Two: The Layout Page

Once you reach the layout page there are a couple of things you’ll want to do, depending on whether or not you uploaded a manuscript.

If you uploaded a manuscript, you’ll want to check any boxes for any of the automated Draft2Digital front and end matter. You’ll also want to ensure that D2D was able to detect your chapters properly during the conversion process. You’ll be able to verify this in the Chapter Layout Window.

NOTE: If you uploaded your own ePub, you can skip the chapter layout bit above. Your chapters should already be defined in your ePub. If not, you might consider uploading your book as a Word document, and letting us take care of ePub and MOBI conversion for you!

At this point you would upload the cover for your book and move to the next step.

If you haven’t uploaded a manuscript, there’s no need to upload cover art just yet. However, you may choose to upload a placeholder cover if you’d like. For example, if you’re planning a big cover reveal, you could toss up a simple 1600x2400 image that says something like “Cover Reveal 7-25-17!” Use your temporary cover to invite people to come back and check out your book again, to build even more suspense as you ramp up to release.

If you have uploaded a manuscript, we highly recommend that you upload cover art as well, even if it is just placeholder art as described above. If you don’t, our system will auto-generate a simple black and white cover that isn’t very alluring. You can always go in and add in the full cover art later if you need to. Once everything looks good on this page, the rest is exactly like every other book you’ve ever published via Draft2Digital. Just continue through the process until you’ve clicked “Publish My Book!”

That’s it! You’ve just created a preorder on Draft2Digital. Now you can start marketing like crazy, and you’ll know how effective your marketing efforts actually are by watching the pre-order sales go up (and up, and up). You’ll also help generate additional buzz for your release, bumping up the anticipation as your release date closes in!

What Happens Next?

Once you click “Publish My Book” your preorder is off to all of our vendors that support preorders—currently iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Tolino.

You’ll receive an email from us for each of these stores, once the book becomes available for preorder on their site. (The email actually says the book is “live” but don’t panic, that just means its live for preorder only). For those sites that do not support preorders (24Symbols, Scribd, Inktera), the book will be put in an “embargo” state and will automatically go live on its release date.

What if I didn’t a Upload Manuscript or Cover Art?

If you didn’t upload a manuscript or cover art, that’s okay. Just keep working on your book. You don’t need to supply that material until 10 business days prior to the book’s release. If everything is ready before that time, great! If not, we’ll start sending you emails 21 days out to remind you.

If you think you may miss your release date or are going to be down to the wire getting the final files in, just contact Customer Support and we’ll be happy to work with you to make sure your release date is a success.

Preorders are a great tool for building up anticipation and excitement around your release, as well as helping you gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. If you start your pre-orders out far enough from your release date, you’ll have plenty of time to test and experiment with your marketing strategy, including ad placement, to determine what’s working and what isn’t. Keep improving until you start getting the sort of pre-orders you were hoping for.