How to sell your business book before you launch it

Marketing and promoting your business book before it is launched is a great way to secure book sales and engagement about your business book.

Selling your business book can (and should) start 3-4 months BEFORE you launch it. It’s a great way to get your target audience and book community aware of your upcoming book and secure pre-orders.

6-8 weeks out from your book launch you should be promoting the launch of your book and pre-publication special offers in between your usual social media posts. That way you can secure pre-orders. That’s exciting.

So why do so few business owners, consultants and entrepreneurs promote their book before they launch it?

If you haven’t written and published a business book before you actually don’t know what to do, when and how.

Then there’s the issue of being time poor. Most business people I work with are running their businesses. Marketing their book often gets put on the ‘want to do’ but ‘don’t have time to do’ pile. Which is a shame given they have probably spent the better part of 6 months writing it and another couple of months producing it.

Here are the three key things you can do BEFORE you launch your book.

1. Build your book community

Anyone who has been on The Book Adviser business book program knows that we start working on building their business book community early. At its simplest it’s about pulling together all your contacts and creating a main database and then categorising this main database into specific ones.

Don’t confuse quantity for quality. Add people to your database who you genuinely believe would have an interest in you, your book topic or business services. You’re better off having 200-300 relevant people on your database than one of 2,000 where most of them a people you may have met once, somewhere.

You can and will build your database over time. Remember, this is a long game.

The same goes for LinkedIn. Connect and engage with people you are genuinely interested in and have the time to engage, or you believe would have a genuine interest in your work/insights. It’s taken me over five years to grow my LinkedIn network from 500 to almost 11,000. Of course I don’t engage with ALL of them ALL the time, but I am diligent about engaging with my connections and spend as much time on this as writing and sharing my own content.

I suggest you divide your main database into 5 categories.

You’ll be reaching out to each of these groups at different times for different reasons. The main thing is to start building these lists early as it does take time and you don’t want to be in a rush to do this 3-4 months

  1. Main list (everyone on your phone, email list, business cards, LinkedIn – anywhere
  2. Close contacts and colleagues (who might help share your book)
  3. Professional and industry contacts
  4. Industry publications (their editors and journalists
  5. Media (radio, tv, print, online) and key influencers you know.

2. Create a content marketing strategy and plan then execute on it.

I’ve written before about how important a content marketing strategy is for a successful business book. The main thing to note is that it generates interest and engagement across your social media channels well ahead of time. This will convert into higher pre orders.

This means by the time you’re ready to launch a pre-publication special offer people are already aware you’re writing a book, are invested in your business book journey and have an idea what it’s about.

Another benefit of engaging people before your book is launched is that when you do undertake your pre-publication special offer campaign your networks have been engaged with you for a while. Your special offer doesn’t come out of the blue.

Think about it. How would you feel if you hadn’t heard from someone for 6 months, a year or two and suddenly you’re getting an email or connection request via LinkedIn promoting your book? It’s like ‘Oh, OK so I haven’t heard from you in xxx months/years and now you just want to sell me your book?’

Chances are your response rate isn’t going to be great with this approach.

We’re all bombarded with emails, posts, connection requests ALL the time. IF you’re genuine about connecting and engaging and sharing your knowledge and insights with people, make sure they might be interested in what you’ve written

3. Pre-orders and pre-publication offers

Firstly, just what is a Pre-order?

A pre-order is a book sale made in advance of publication. For you, as a publisher, pre-orders happen when you enable readers to purchase your book in advance of its launch date.

Readers buy your book (in whatever format/s you have made it available in) but they won’t receive it until your launch date. This goes for print books and digital books. You can set up your digital book sales so that it will automatically appear on their e-reader device or audiobook player, or a physical copy will drop through the mail if it’s on the day of launch.

Different companies (Amazon, IngramSpark, Apple Books) have slightly different policies around this so you need to check this.

I advise clients to start promoting their book through a pre-publication campaign two months out from the actual launch date. Ideally, you will have been engaging your book community for some months prior to this campaign.

A pre-publication campaign should offer the book in whatever format at a ‘good discount’ to the RRP to encourage people to order it early.

Of course, to do this you need to have your various eCommerce options and pre-order options set up to accept orders. This means getting across the platforms you want your book to be on if you want to publish an eBook and/or getting your own website ready to accept orders directly.

This means you need to decide earlier than you have probably thought about HOW you are going to publish your business book and in what order. By this I mean are you going to offer a print book, eBook, audio book all at once or in a staggered way? Are you going to print a quantity of books and fulfil orders yourself via your website OR choose a print on demand (POD) option?

How Do the Algorithms Work with Pre-orders?

On Amazon, pre-orders only count only on the day of the order itself. Which means, the longer your pre-order period, the harder it is to sustain a high ranking on that book. If you’re chasing Amazon Best-Seller status this approach will make it harder. (Most of you know my views about ‘Best Seller status).

Other stores, however, don’t treat pre-orders like this. Stores like Kobo, Apple, Google Play and others count the sale on the day of pre-order, but they also give you a ranking boost on the launch day itself.

The key advice then is to run a pre-order campaign when you have a set of activities, posts, adverts or actions you’re going to take in order to keep the momentum going on your pre-order. This is where your content marketing strategy and plan kicks in. If you don’t have one of these you need to.

How Long Should your Pre-order time period be?

It depends. As I mentioned earlier for business books I’d recommend between 2-3 months BEFORE your book launch. Of course, you can and should be building and engaging your business book community earlier than this. Here I am referring to the specific promotion of your book as opposed to sharing your business book journey.

The main things you need to consider are, have you:

  • built a strong and engage book community?
  • developed a content marketing strategy and plan and are you actually implementing it?
  • planned out promotions and what are they?
  • thought about (and integrated into your content marketing plan, other promotions such as an excerpt from your book, summary eBook, author interview, summaries/posts on your selected social media, LinkedIn specifically) etc.

Not all stores require you to load all your files prior to setting up the pre-order. In some cases you can load the cover and the blurb without the actual content. This said you need to check the timeframes and deadlines for loading up the final content files as they are different for different stores.

At the time of writing this article here are some of the timeframes…but check first as they often change.

I recently attended a webinar presented by AppleBooks. They’re putting way more effort into AppleBooks and their offer looks pretty good. It’s well worth checking out their platform.

Digital Pre-orders on Your Own Website

Pre-orders from your own website required a bit more effort and planning by you.

Many of my clients use a database to track who has pre-ordered an eBook or print book. Once the book is launched/live everyone who signed up to find out about the new book is emailed the website purchase link.

You will need to have an eCommerce platform set up on your site first. For those using WordPress (as I do) it’s pretty easy as there’s a range of plug-ins the integrate well. We use WooCommerce, Stripe and PayPal.

Make sure you have created a SHOP tab on your home page. You can also build some specific Landing Pages to make it super easy for people to find your book page/shop. If people have to click through more than 3 clicks you’ll likely lose them.

Actual printed books from your website

Many of my clients offer their books through Amazon, IngramSpark and AppleBooks, especially for international orders as it’s so expensive to ship books overseas – often more than the cost of the book!

They also order a bulk lot of printed books to sell directly and they fulfil these orders themselves. There are two main benefits to this.

  1. You get to keep more of the sale price of the book as people pay you directly;
  2. You know who is buying your book, so if you’re looking to establish a deeper relationship with them (perhaps they’ll be a client one day) this is a great start to that relationship.

Now you know what you should be planning in terms of marketing and promoting your book before you launch it, you’re probably wondering just when should you start thinking about this and then actioning the three steps.

As a guide, with 8-Step Book Adviser program, Building your Book Community is Step 3 and this comes immediately after we’ve finalised the book content outline and have clarity on the target audience. Yes, that’s about the same time as you start writing the first draft of your book.

How much time will it take?

Allocate 1 hour a week while you’re writing your book to the content marketing strategy and plan, building your databases and engaging your book community. If you don’t have the time, are not confident with marketing, social media posting and content writing contract someone to do this for you.

Follow these three tips and you will maximise the visibility and engagement of your book before you even launch it AND secure pre-orders!

If you’d like some advice and guidance contact me: [email protected]