What is a Presale Campaign and Why Does It Matter?

I first learned about the importance of presale campaigns in my weekly book marketing class with Sue Campbell. I don’t know if this was a thing when I published my last book, I Thought We’d Never Speak Again, nineteen years ago, but if it was, I never heard of it. Or I wasn’t of the stature as an author to consider it. But now it’s a standard part of many book launches, primarily for authors who already have a bedrock of readers, students, and followers, people who are already interested in their work and the books they produce.

A presale campaign encourages readers to purchase books in the months leading up to the official release date, rather than waiting for the big day. In my case, my release date, is October 19th. That means my presale campaign is kicking off right now.

Why do presales matter?

  • Publishers base their print runs (and hence their commitment to the book and its marketing) on presales and other indicators of early interest.
  • The number of presales indicate the buzz a book is generating ahead of its release.
  • If a book racks up substantial presales, reviewers are more likely to review it.
  • Librarians are more likely to order it.
  • Book clubs perk up and take notice.
  • The more presales a book gets, the more copies bookstores order to stock on their shelves.
  • All pre-orders “count” as first week sales, giving books their best chance to hit a bestseller list.
  • And finally, people who receive the book first (shipped so it arrives the day it goes on sale) can share their excitement about receiving it on social media, then read it and review it soon after its release date, generating more buzz and word of mouth.

This is how books—especially a book like The Burning Light of Two Stars, that doesn’t have a big publisher and a giant advertising campaign behind it—become successful.

Readers don’t generally understand any of this and most aspiring authors don’t either. New authors think you publish a book and a) your publisher does everything for you (NOT!), or b) the book magically gets discovered and then you’re on Oprah. But this is my seventh book, and I understand that marketing, getting your book into readers hands, is primarily (and often solely) the author’s job. And in 2021, for me, creating an effective presale campaign is as important to being a successful author (successful meaning “read by more than 200 people”) as the inspiration and discipline to put words on the page. It took me ten years to write it. Now I have to launch it. And launching a book is not glamorous at all. It’s a relentless trudge. Just ask my spouse and my friends. They barely see me.

When I decided to create the presale campaign for The Burning Light of Two Stars, I began by thinking about what might motivate potential readers to plunk down their credit card three months before they could hold my book in their hands. What might motivate them to want to get on my team and support my launch in this way?

Many of my long-term students and readers only need to be educated about the importance of presales to the author. I’ve taught thousands of students over the years. And since The Courage to Heal was published in 1988, I’ve had hundreds of thousands of readers. My reach goes beyond the 200 or so individuals most of us personally know in our circles. So, the first thing I needed was a way to communicate to my readers, students, and followers (this post, my email list, social media) so I could ask, “Will you purchase this book, which you were planning to buy anyway, today? Here’s why you should.”

Asking people to buy your book requires confidence—the belief that your story has value, that it will entertain people, move people, that it’s well written, as good as you could make it, that it will make people laugh and cry, open their hearts in new ways. And I believe all of that about The Burning Light of Two Stars. I believe, no, I know, that I’m offering something of value—a story that matters. I’m not just asking for a favor. I’m giving people a gift.

But according to Sue, my marketing coach, it was inherent on me to figure out ways to sweeten the pot—to come up with incentives to make people say yes to delayed gratification—purchasing a book they wouldn’t get to read for several months. And so, I thought about my ideal reader—the person for whom my book hits a perfect sweet spot—and what that person might want that I could offer.

Here is a sample of the gifts and giveaways I’m offering to anyone who purchases books now: an invitation to a special four-part interview series with me, a sneak peek into the first five chapters of The Burning Light of Two Stars in advance of its October release, exclusive stories not found in the book, but too good to let go, a raffle to win workshops, books, an editorial consultation and more. So much more. To see all that I am offering to sweeten the pot, just click the link below:


After choosing my presale gifts , there were myriad details to figure out: how to process participants, track registrations, run the raffle, notify winners, deliver bonuses, send out links for the events—all of it. Each step requiring meticulous planning, consultation with experts, and a team of people to help: my marketing coach, my webmaster, my virtual assistant, someone to interview me, a tech host for the events, and on and on.

I bet you never knew that all of this was involved in being an author.

If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, you now know more than you ever wanted to about presales.

My presale campaign has just opened. And now, I’m asking for your support. To say yes, just hop over to my website, where there are a variety of links to buy the book (from Amazon to independent stores) so you can sign up to receive your rewards, enter the raffle, and become a vital part of the team bringing The Burning Light of Two Stars out into the world. Please join me in this effort today.



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