We always get asked, “When is the ideal time to start a publicity campaign?” And we really only have one answer to that: “Yesterday.” As nerve-wracking as it sounds, it’s the way of the world today. There is always something you could be doing to make sure that your book launch will be a success, whether it’s blogging, increasing your visibility on social media, or building buzz for your forthcoming book online. But surprisingly, there are really smart, experienced publishers who believe everything should wait until the book goes on sale.
When we worked for big publishers there were a few rules that seemed to be handed down over generations to publicists. One of them was that you never want any publicity to hit before books are available “in stores”. In fact, I was just in a meeting at a large publishing house the other day where I heard this repeated to me by a marketing director.
But these days a large and growing number of books are not purchased in stores, they’re purchased online. In our last post, we talked about the incredible market power of Amazon where books are purchased in a matter of clicks WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE EVEN IN STORES YET. It’s called pre-ordering and it’s a beautiful thing.
When a customer pre-orders a book, the sale of that book counts towards the first week’s sales. For instance, if you sell 300 books 3 months before the book goes on sale, those 300 sales are added to whatever books are sold in stores on the on sale date.
And maximizing your first day sales is important because the best seller lists are compiled by weekly sales data beginning Monday and ending the following Sunday. (Most books go on sale Tuesday – I’m sure there’s a reason for that but I have no idea why.) So really, if you mount an effective pre-order campaign, you can maximize your first week of sales and you have your best chance of hitting the best seller list.
That said, there are some rules governing pre-on sale publicity (and there are always exceptions to those rules – I know, it’s complicated!) National print and broadcast outlets are very competitive with each other and pitching them is a complicated process best left to your publicist. But we would say that outlets like blogs, early reader sites, and other online outlets are fair game ONCE YOUR BOOK IS AVAILABLE FOR SALE AT ONLINE RETAILERS like Amazon, BN.com, Borders.com, Indiebound, and others. And if you can get those online outlets to show the cover of your book and link to an online retailer, all the better.
In fact, we would go so far as to say that if your publisher tells you that you should have online media coverage hit only AFTER the book is on sale, you should probably be concerned. More often that not, it means they are stuck in the past.