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The Book Launch: eBook Preorder and Presale Strategies to Grow Your Readership

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As an indie author or publisher, you only have one change to make a big splash with your book launch. This presentation was first presented February 14, 2020 at the San Francisco Writers Conference. You'll learn how to leverage ebook preorders and presales to make your book launch as successful as possible. You'll also learn how to leverage the promise of ebook presales to grow your author mailing list 365 days a year, even if you don't have an upcoming release yet on preorder.

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The Book Launch: eBook Preorder and Presale Strategies to Grow Your Readership

  1. 1. The Book Launch: eBook Preorder and Presale Strategies to Grow Your Readership February 14, 2020 Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords Twitter: @markcoker
  2. 2. What you’ll learn in this presentation • Why preorders and presales are essential components of a successful book launch • How preorders and presales are different • Learn how to use ebook preorders and presales to … • Increase the visibility and desirability of your book • Sell more books • Build a durable long term author career • How to set up a Smashwords Presale • Advanced presale marketing tips!
  3. 3. THE BOOK LAUNCH: FOR MOST NEW RELEASES, THE FIRST FEW DAYS FOLLOWING A BOOK’S RELEASE ARE THE BEST SALES DAYS
  4. 4. Peak Excitement at Launch Release dates  This NYT bestseller’s three book launches illustrate the tremendous energy wrapped up in a new release, measured in daily unit sales. Sales spike at launch, then quickly recede.
  5. 5. EBOOK LAUNCH TOOLS AVAILABLE TO INDIE AUTHORS HAVE EVOLVED DRAMATICALLY OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS - LET’S LOOK AT THREE EXAMPLES -
  6. 6. Example 1 10 Years Ago
  7. 7. Ebook Launches 10 Years Ago Public release date: book available to all customers at same time Launch prep begins up to 12 months in advance of ebook release • When the ebook was ready for public release, the author would upload it to their self-publishing platform for immediate sale to readers
  8. 8. Example 2 7 Years Ago A huge innovation!
  9. 9. 7 Years Ago: Indie Authors Gain Ability to List Their Upcoming Releases as Preorders! Public release date: book fulfilled to all customers at same time Launch prep begins Preorder – reader places their reservation; waits until public release date • Preorders allow readers to place a “set and forget” purchase order reservation up to 12 months before release • Preorder customers must wait until the public release date to read the book • Books that start off as preorders sell significantly more copies than books uploaded the day of release
  10. 10. Learn Advanced Preorder Strategies in Episode 4 of the Smart Author Podcast www.smashwords.com/podcast
  11. 11. PREORDERS ARE REALLY COOL, BUT NOW AUTHORS HAVE A NEW BOOK LAUNCH TOOL THAT’S EVEN COOLER
  12. 12. Example 3 TODAY An Exciting New Tool Joins the Author’s Book Launch Toolbox
  13. 13. NEW! Presales Join The Author’s Book Launch Toolbox One or more presale events (i.e. targeting different affinity groups and customer segments). Early purchase, early customer fulfillment Launch prep begins Public release date Preorder – reader waits until public release date • Unlike a preorder, which requires readers to wait until the public release date, a presale allows readers to purchase and read early, before the general public • Presales are destined to become more popular with readers than preorders • Smashwords is first-to-market with an ebook presales solution; leverages patent-pending technology
  14. 14. How One eBook Launch Becomes Many Presale events targeting different affinity groups and customer segments. Early purchase and reading. Launch prep begins By tweaking author-controlled variables such as pricing, discounts, access rights, content (i.e. exclusive bonus content for presale customers only), targeting, and presale event timing (start and stop times), you can create infinitely customizable targeted presale events Public release date 1 2 3 1. Exclusive presale for newsletter subscribers 2. Presale for social media followers 3. Presale featuring exclusive bonus content
  15. 15. Introducing • Ebook presales transacted at the Smashwords Store • Compatible with all publishing strategies (KDP Select, direct upload to retailers, wide distribution via distributors such as Smashwords) • Simply run your presale at Smashwords in advance of the public release date • The date of your presale doesn’t change the date of your preorder’s public release date
  16. 16. Smashwords Presales Puts Authors in Control • Public and private presales • Public: Presale accessible to all, merchandised publicly in Smashwords Store • Private: Presale available only to those who possess the secret access hyperlink we provide you • Supports multiple file types (.epub, .mobi, .pdf) • Works with Smashwords Coupons to enable myriad custom marketing opportunities • Dollars off, cents off, limited redemption (metered), family coupons, private and public coupons
  17. 17. Presales Make Upcoming Book Releases More Desirable to Readers • Among the multi-dimensional factors that influence a reader’s perception of a book’s desirability, fans place high value on the early access enabled by presales Early Access
  18. 18. Do Your Readers Want Presales? • YES! • Not Sure? Ask them! • Poll your readers on Facebook with a question such as: “If I run a presale on my next release so you can buy and read the ebook days or weeks before the general public, would you be interested?”
  19. 19. HOW TO HARNESS PEAK READER EXCITEMENT FOR THE AUTHOR’S BENEFIT
  20. 20. Peak Excitement at Launch Release dates  Prior to Smashwords Presales, all the built-up energy of the release flowed in the direction of retailers which then in turn mediated the reader relationship.
  21. 21. THE DANGERS OF MEDIATED READER RELATIONSHIPS Image credit: https://www.vecteezy.com/vector-art/154301-toll-booth-worker
  22. 22. Q: Can you reach your prior readers? “I’d sell a lot more copies of my next book if only I could reach my prior readers to tell them about it …” ~ said every author who’s ever released more than one book • Most authors have ephemeral relationships with their readers. • The reader discovers you, reads you, enjoys you, and loses touch with you. • These readers would purchase your next new book if only they knew about it. Why can’t you reach your prior readers? The reason is mediated relationships.
  23. 23. The danger of mediated reader relationships • Gatekeeping intermediaries can erect tolls, taxes and obstacles that make it difficult, expensive, or even impossible for you to notify YOUR prior and prospective readers about your upcoming book release. • Examples of tolls, taxes and obstacles • Facebook and Amazon sponsored Ads • Amazon’s KDP Select which requires exclusivity • A retailer’s benign neglect of your self- interest
  24. 24. The antidote to mediated reader relationships: The author newsletter • Your author newsletter is your most important book marketing tool • 100% opt-in – readers affirmatively subscribe (never add people to your mailing list without their express permission!) • Author-controlled – reach readers with your unfiltered message on your schedule
  25. 25. How to Turbocharge Your List Building With Presales 1. Leverage reader desire for early access to build your mailing list 365 days a year  Promise early presale access to fans who subscribe to your author mailing list 2. When readers purchase your presale at Smashwords, we’ll offer them the opportunity to subscribe to your private mailing list!
  26. 26. Tying it All Together
  27. 27. Integrating Preorders and Presales into Your Next Book Launch  Review your release schedule for the next 12 months, and get everything up on preorder today! • You can establish your preorder listing without a cover image and without a manuscript! • Deliver your final manuscript and cover to Smashwords at least 10 days in advance of public release  Plan to run one or more presales in advance of your public release date
  28. 28. Presale Marketing Checklist: The Essential Basics  Promote your presale link to your newsletter subscribers (most of your presales will come from here!)  Promote your presale link on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc)  Download the 2020 edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide to learn over 65 book marketing ideas, all FREE to implement.  Listen to the SMART AUTHOR Podcast to learn evergreen best practices that make your books more discoverable, desirable and enjoyable to readers.  For future presales, update all newsletter subscription messaging (in backmatter, website) to promise that newsletter subscribers will be the first to learn of your future presales
  29. 29. BONUS CONTENT: Smashwords Presales Setup and Advanced Marketing Tips
  30. 30. HOW TO RUN A PRESALE
  31. 31. Before the Presale  Place upcoming release on preorder at Smashwords & upload final manuscript • Click “Publish” then select future release date  From Smashwords Dashboard, click Presale Dashboard when you’re ready to create, preview and launch your presale!
  32. 32. Presale Setup From the Presale Dashboard, select “Create Presale” to get started.
  33. 33. Presale Setup Step 1 Select public or private presale
  34. 34. Presale Setup Step 2 Enter optional logline (entices reader to buy)
  35. 35. Presale Setup Step 3 Select if you want to require anti-piracy agreement (readers must agree to not illegally share your ebook with others; otherwise they’re unable to purchase)
  36. 36. Presale Setup Step 4 Select if you want email capture and optional incentive pricing for capture
  37. 37. Presale Setup Step 5 Offer incentive pricing to encourage newsletter subscription?
  38. 38. Presale Setup Step 6 Click Preview Presale to view your presale’s custom landing page (next slide to view preview)
  39. 39. Presale Setup Step 7 Preview your presale’s landing page
  40. 40. Presale Created! Presale activated, now start your marketing! Below your confirmation is a marketing checklist
  41. 41. Advanced Marketing Tip: Feed the reward centers  Humans are sensate creatures. We seek to acquire unique products and experiences that give us joy.  Ideas to increase the perceived desirability of your presale  Make it feel special. Consider requiring the reader to do something in exchange for access (i.e. subscribe to your newsletter, join your private Facebook Group, other)  Offer incentive discounts (i.e. a private or public Smashwords Coupon) that reward presale customers for their purchase, or that reward readers for subscribing to your newsletter  Consider offering metered (limited redemption) Smashwords Coupons alongside your presale to incentivize urgency to purchase. For example, the coupon could enable the first 200 presale customers to get a special discount, after which other presale customers will need to pay full price
  42. 42. Advanced Marketing Tip: The Psychology of Sharing (and Not Sharing)  If you want your fans to help spread the word of your presale, consider making it a private presale BUT give your fans permission to share the private access link with friends.  A private presale “feels” more exclusive and more special (because it is!), thereby further incentivizing fans to share the link with their friends. People share on social media for the social capital it earns them.  If you DON’T want the link shared, tell your readers the private link is for their usage only in appreciation for [that thing they did to join the elite club of readers who can get the presale, like those who subscribed to your newsletter, or who join your private Facebook group, or who volunteer for your street team]. This exclusivity makes the presale feel more special to the reader, thereby making them more inclined to take advantage of this opportunity to purchase your presale.
  43. 43. Advanced Marketing Tip: Collaborate with fellow authors  There’s a good chance that other authors who write for your same audience have upcoming book launches for which they plan to run presales  Consider doing collaborative promotion swaps where they promote your public or private presale access links to their readers, and you promote their access links to your readers  Cross promotions can be simultaneous (if both authors have active presales) or staggered (to coincide with different presale periods)
  44. 44. Advanced Marketing Tip: Offer multiple file types  At the Smashwords Store, a single customer purchase entitles the customer to access your book is all available file types.  At a minimum, offer .epub and .mobi to satisfy all customer e-reading devices, and then consider PDF if your book is best enjoyed in a fixed format (i.e. children’s picture books, graphic novels, workbooks, research reports)  Manage available file types from your Dashboard’s “settings” page
  45. 45. Background on the Pending Smashwords Patent • 65-page application filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office October 22, 2019 • Patent application titled, “A PRODUCT RELEASE SYSTEM, METHOD AND DEVICE HAVING A CUSTOMIZABLE PREPURCHASE FUNCTION” • On December 13, 2019, USPTO granted Smashwords’ request for fast-tracked review of patent application • Invention reshapes the conventional temporal timeline for how new products are brought to market via ecommerce • The patent application describes many new first-of-their- kind presales capabilities, only a few of which are implemented in Smashwords Presales. Stay tuned for more exciting new capabilities! • Smashwords is open to licensing our technology to everyone – even our competitors – so that more authors benefit. Learn more at https://blog.smashwords.com/2019/12/presales.html
  46. 46. Final Thoughts • Readers love the convenience of preorders and the early access of presales • The readers who will appreciate your preorders and presales the most will be your most loyal readers • Presales now joining preorders as essential best practice for indie book launches • Due to how incremental advantages compound over time, the first authors to adopt presales will reap the greatest long term benefits, just as the early adopters of preorder did • Build a marketing platform you control with your private mailing list!
  47. 47. Learn Best Practices • Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of successful authors) • Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book) • Smashwords Style Guide (how to format an ebook) • Smart Author podcast (evergreen best practices)
  48. 48. Connect! Connect with Mark: Twitter: @markcoker Facebook: facebook.com/markcoker

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