Pre-orders of a book are so important for authors. First things first, though -- in case you’re wondering, What’s a pre-order? It’s when your book is available for purchase online or through an e-book store before its actual publication date.

I’ve seen this window of time range from six months long to just a month before the book comes out. A traditional publisher will usually dictate the length, but if you choose to self-publish or to go with a hybrid publisher, you have more control over this timeline.

Want to know the number-one mistake I see authors make in regards to pre-orders? It’s not having a pre-order window! 

Committing to pre-order availability will help your book succeed before it's even officially out in the world.

Here are four reasons why pre-orders are a crucial part of the publishing process:

  1. Pre-orders signal interest and draw attention.

The number of pre-orders your book has signals to the publisher, bookstores, libraries (and the publishing industry as a whole) that people are interested in your book. And having a large number of pre-orders of your book makes people sit up and pay attention to you, particularly if you're a debut author!

  1. Pre-orders help spread the word about your book and build buzz.

Building your name as an author is especially important if you are self-publishing or publishing a book with a hybrid press or a small publisher that doesn't have a marketing or PR crew like some of the bigger publishers. Creating this buzz and establishing connections, especially with bookstores and libraries, really means a lot. 

For example, let's say you tell people, “It would mean a lot if you pre-order my book through your local indie bookstore.” They go in the bookstore and ask for your book. If the bookseller hasn't heard of your book before, they’ll check it out. Maybe they read the description and think, “Oh, hey, this book sounds really neat”, or “Wow, this book hasn't even been released yet and people are already asking for it. This is something I want to stock in my store.”

If a bookstore or a certain bookseller falls in love with your book, they become a fan of yours. They're going to want to read your future books. They're going to want to host an event for you in their store.

This has happened with my books and it's been one of my favorite parts of the whole journey – making connections with other people who love books and champion books. It touches me when a bookstore owner first discovers me through one of my recent books, whether it's my new short story collection or my novel Thanks, Carissa, For Ruining My Life that came out earlier this year, and then they go back and they read (and stock!) my earlier books, too.

If you have a local indie bookstore, they may want to host an event to celebrate the launch of your book and build more buzz. You can even offer signed copies through that bookstore for those readers who pre-order. That means the bookstore would order those copies – they know in advance how many copies to order because they've all been pre ordered before the publication date – then, once your book is published, you drive over to that bookstore and sign books (which is also just really fun to do as an author! I think we all sort of daydream about autographing our books for people, right?!)

By building connections like this, you’re able to support an indie bookstore with sales and build buzz for your book at the same time.


3. Pre-orders can help your book make a bestseller list.

Bestseller lists are calculated weekly and if your book sells enough copies you can make one of the bestseller lists - whether that's The New York Times bestseller list, The Washington Post bestseller list, an Amazon bestseller or the Indie Next bestseller list. They're all amazing and such a great honor to use in your marketing! 

When I was coming out with my debut novel, I learned that all pre-orders are counted toward the book's first week of sales numbers – even if those were collected over three or six months time! So pre-orders are a great way to make the most of that opportunity and get the largest number of of orders counted during a certain week. 

I feel so grateful that both of my novels were Amazon number-one new releases, and this happened because of my preorder campaigns. I strategically built buzz and gained a lot of momentum and a lot of orders in that pre-publication timeframe, which then counted during that first week of sales when my books were released. 

4. Pre-orders are a special way to connect.

Pre-orders are a way for your readers to get to know you and they're a way for you, the author, to connect with your readers in a special way. 

One of the first things I do with my clients when we work together is talk about their "why" for writing their book. And so many of my clients say: If I hear from one person that my book touched them, that it made them feel understood, that it impacted their life in some way -- that will make this whole project worthwhile.

Sometimes I think we shift into selling and the marketing and we lose that personal connection with readers. Focusing on a pre-order campaign is a special way for you to connect on an individual level with these people who are excited about your book. And and it's a way for them to feel that personal connection with you as well. 

There have been people who pre-ordered my first novel, The Best Week That Never Happened, and then I was able to get to know them through social media or email. Then they pre-ordered my next book Thanks, Carissa, For Ruining My Life and they joined my street team to help promote it. When my book came out, they reviewed it and shared about it on social media. I feel like we've become friends now. And a large part of why that was able to happen was because I intentionally created a preorder campaign for my book to really nurture those relationships.

Closing Thoughts

Now that we've gone over four reasons why pre-orders are so important, I want you to either jot down or make a mental note of which one resonates most deeply with your heart today. Which one creates that fire in your belly? This way you have something that you can go back to as your WHY for doing your book marketing and pre-order campaign.

Some of my clients aim to make a bestseller list. Having "best-selling author" on their website and social media is their big driver. 

For other people, it's making those connections with bookstores. The idea of actually going to their local indie bookstore and signing copies of their book gives them goosebumps.

Looking back over my writing career, my "why" has shifted over time. With my first book, it was definitely about becoming a best-selling author. That was something I dreamed about since I was a little girl. As time has gone on, connecting with readers is now what really drives me, fills me up and makes me excited to keep going.


Of course I still care about sales numbers and bestseller lists and publishing deals – all of that is still exciting! And I'm always so grateful for anyone who takes the time to recognize my book with an award or a nice review. Yes, it's gratifying to see that "number-one new release" little orange banner on Amazon beside my book.

But more and more, the journey of writing the books and the relationships I build are what sustain me over the long haul.

It's natural for us to have certain goals or motivating factors that change over time with different books, different projects and different places in our writing career. I love helping clients focus on the sustainable habits of building a creative life as an author, because it will allow you to thrive along the day-to-day journey.

Want to delve more into pre-order campaigns? Listen to my podcast episode on this very topic!

Looking for help developing a marketing plan for your book? Schedule a 1:1 Intensive with me and we'll sit down together for an hour to create a pre-order and marketing campaign personalized for YOU and your book, so that you feel excited and energized to leap into book promotion. Let's take the guesswork and overwhelm out of book marketing so that you have a clear strategy and know what specifically to do each day to market your book in a way that lights you up instead of draining your energy. Learn more here!