As an author of young adult novels, putting books on pre-order has never worked well for my brand. My fans seem to wait until the book has been released to consider buying it. Because of this, I’ve had great success with “surprise releasing” books in my brand.
Over the past few years, I’ve surprise-released several of my books and they have always received more sales within the first two days than any pre-order I’ve ever had. To do this, I write the book without saying a word to my fans. I don’t do any build-up specific to the book, nor do I mention what I’m working on. Then, about a week before I release the new book, I start posting to my website and social media, building up that I have a big announcement coming the following week, leading fans to believe I’ll be announcing a new book or series and, because I frequently announce new books or events to them, they rarely guess my true motives.
When the day arrives for the release, I jump onto a live broadcast—my usual platform for making announcements to my fans about upcoming events and books—and start to tell them about a new book I’m going to be releasing. I don’t waste a lot of time acting like it’s “just an announcement,” but rather tell them about the book, and then immediately let them know they don’t have to wait to pick up the book I’m telling them about.
The shock and surprise that they can get it immediately is enough to not only convince them to get a copy while I’m still on air, but they then run to their friends to tell them about the surprise book. This usually spreads on social media, resulting in a firestorm of “Bookstagram” posts, YouTube videos, Instagram Stories conversations, and tweets.
For extra help, I partner up with my author friends who help spread the word about the surprise to their fans as well, extending the life of the surprise release. Depending on my plans for the book, it’s also helpful to initiate a sale for the surprise release day, which adds extra incentive to grab a copy that day instead of waiting.
Surprise book releases have really helped my number and ranking for new releases, and seem to do better than when I have pre-releases running with bonuses and early behind-the-scenes for fans. The ability to “get it now” and “not have to wait” really makes the difference, whereas pre-orders could potentially make people think they have time to “do it tomorrow,” and put it off.
I’m excited to do more surprise releases in the future, especially since I’ve been studying my results, and have seen what works and doesn’t work in my own brand. I highly recommend giving it a try!
K.M. Robinson is a young adult author and professional social media strategist who has been interviewed by Facebook for her innovative work in the field of social media marketing and messenger bots. She’s also represented the USA in a major live broadcast for World Social Media Day, as well as sponsored for her work in marketing through live broadcasting.
HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT SELF-PUBLISHING A BOOK?
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.
I think this is excellent advice.