How to presell your book

Your proposal looks great, but how do you get readers?

Lee Constantine
7 min readJul 30, 2016


The most effective way to sell books is email. So this article is going to focus on how to use email to get sales quickly.

If you’ve been building an email list, you will have more contacts to segment and test different messages and bonuses. If your email list is small, you should still segment them and reach out to everyone personally. Your advantage is that it will take you less time to connect with everyone and you can get to the follow-ups quicker and testing what it takes to get a response or an answer from them.

It’s important to follow up with everyone until you get either a yes or no. And your first request is a conversation, not an ask to buy the book. The intent is to get people to support your project, no just buy your book.

1 week before you launch

So, send 1 email to your entire contact list before you launch to let them know you’re working on a book project and it goes up for pre-order on a specific date. This builds a bit of excitement and starts the conversation.

Subject line: This is how to get a brand new book

Hi (friends/family/colleagues)

For the past seven years, as time has allowed, I’ve been working on an alternate-history novel, That One Cigarette, which follows various members of four families that finally intersect in the last chapter.

After my TEDx talk last year, I decide to crowdfund this book and get some publisher interest. The more preorders it gets, the better the publisher my book will attract!

This is why I’m reaching out to you!

Let’s co-create this book together. Let’s spread this story to as many people as possible. You can read CH1 and CH2 for free right now.

You can also visit this page to check out the special bonuses I plan to give away when this pre-order campaign launches on August 1st.

That’s the other thing! These bonuses are limited. The first 200 to pre-order a copy get special bonuses like signed copies, launch party invitations, 1-to-1 screenplay writing sessions, and so much more!

If you want to have exclusive access to preorder this novel, and get some cool bonuses, please preorder on August 1st here, and share this with a friend!

Lots o’ love,


This email does many things. It lets people know what Stu is up to, it describes his book in less than 60 words and offers sample reading to get a sense of quality. It also lets them know that they are special because they get first access to special bonuses when it goes live on a specific date.

The results of this email put Stu in really good shape:

“88 folks have subscribed but many more have sent personal emails saying they can’t wait to pre-order! The campaign video has 837 views and there are 171 likes on Facebook, plus more than 100 folks have read the first chapter so word is definitely getting out.”

In addition to this primer email you should be sending one-off emails to partners, organizations, or potential endorsers that would find value in pre-ordering bulk copies of your book. These sales take longer. These are either sponsors who support your book and can offer many copies to their members or network of followers or they are potential clients who will buy your services and also receive some copies of your book to support you and perhaps give away to more people. Or they are influencers you know with a large following and you think your book could be valuable to them and their own email list.

Write down a list of every person you know and then email them a pitch for your book. For individuals, use the example above. For sponsors and clients, make it more personal like the example below.

Remember that people are busy and spend very little time reading emails, so keep it short and be clear on the next steps.

Something like:

Subject line: This will get you VIP access to my book launch

Hi (sponsor/partner/client)

For the past seven years, I’ve been working on an alternate-history novel, That One Cigarette, which follows various members of four families that finally intersect in the last chapter.

This is why I’m reaching out to you!

I’m trying to get a publisher, and the more preorder I obtain the better publisher I’ll attract. Can you help me out? I have create a specific reward just for you. It’s packed with value and it would help my campaign really get noticed. Here it is:

$5000 Sponsor acknowledgement + Personalized Copies + VIP Access

Receive 250 Paperback copies of “That One Cigarette,” plus Acknowledgement in the book as a sponsor and early adopter. Also get a limited edition signed copy by me + the digital copy.

+Not only that I’ll add in a special screenplay or writing session for up to 10 people. I’ll also give you and those 10 people an exclusive invitation to my book launch party in Washington D.C., plus VIP access which guarantees you some free SWAG.

+One more thing, if I get a publisher when this is all over, I’ll invite you to a special dinner party at my house in California with some special friends ;)

I’d love to jump on the phone to chat about this, as I only offer these to a few people I know personally and would like to co-create this special experience with.

You can also visit this page to check out this and more special bonuses I give away when this preorder campaign launches on August 1st.



Think about also adding these personalized messages to smaller bonuses. Again, make a list of every potential person or company or team you can think of and send a super personalized email with a bonus you created just for them.

Since this is a pre-launch email you can ask them to watch your campaign video, schedule a call to chat, or invite them to Facebook page dedicated to your book campaign to interact with other readers or posts.

The day your campaign goes live

Send another email to these same exact people, in a segmented email blast and one to one. The next email should focus on the pre-order campaign just going LIVE and mention the special bonuses.

Subject line: It’s LIVE!… You can now preorder That One Cigarette

Hi (friends/family/colleagues)

It’s LIVE! Please visit this page to preorder my brand new book That One Cigarette, an alternative history novel that follows various members of four families that finally intersect in the last chapter.

Special bonuses inside! The first 200 to preorder get exclusive bonuses like signed copies, launch party invitations, 1-to-1 screenplay writing sessions, recognition in the book, and so much more!

[Or insert specific reward for sponsors, clients, etc.]

If I sell enough copies I also get a publishing deal, all thanks to your support! Here’s that link one more time to preorder:

Thanks so much and please enjoy!

Lots o’ love


Follow up with people who said they’d buy but haven’t yet. Follow up with everyone by keeping them updated on the progress of your campaign. Ask them if they can jump on a Skype call or phone call and discuss your book and special reward just for them. Or give them a call and tell them about your book and a specific package you would love to offer them. Sales are in the follow-ups, and have a milestone to share brings that excitement back.

  • Presold 50 copies? Let them know!
  • Presold 100 copies? Let them know and ask them to share it with more friends.
  • You have a new bonus coming? A special 1-to-1 session or a discounted ebook? Let them know.

If they already bought, tell them it’s great for a gift or to share with a friend. How are your sponsors doing? Have they made a bulk pre-order yet? If so, update them. And thank them again. If not, follow up. Give them a call and let them know the campaign closes in only 30 days and the special price for the higher-priced bonus is available for a limited time only. Sponsors love the word ‘discount’! Show them the extra value packed inside that reward and ask them to purchase.


Always ask for the pre-order. If you don’t ask for the sale then don’t expect to get it. If people are hesitant, ask them what it will take for them to preorder. You can always modify bonuses and packages to get them to buy. Other than lowering the price of your book, think about what you can add to the book package to get a yes.

You don’t want to ask your friends and family to give you money? Or you think people won’t be interested in what you’ve written? Then you may not have a book that you believe in and you’re likely not ready to become a published author. And that’s okay.

It’s okay to put yourself out there and connect with people. Once you have recorded a video, complete your proposal, and know exactly what this book is going to be you will be more confident in sharing the idea with people.


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