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  • Kristina Elyse Butke

Pre-Order Campaigns: Stress & Swag


Shopping bags and presents on pink background - PREORDER CAMPAIGNS STRESS & SWAG
Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash

One more item to add to the author's list of things to do for their book: pre-order campaigns! As a reader, I actually love these. Many campaigns include custom art of the book's characters, unique pins, bookmarks (metal and otherwise), signed bookplates, tarot cards, stickers, and more. As someone who collects art, these campaigns are wonderful, and I'm happy to support authors by pre-ordering.


I've participated in pre-order campaigns for Lori M. Lee (Forest of Souls), Judy I. Lin (A Magic Steeped in Poison), Alix Harrow (A Spindle Splintered), and Allison Saft (A Far Wilder Magic). Some authors opened it up to international orders (lucky me!) and for those that didn't (like Macmillan), I just used my American address to get stuff.


Here are some examples of swag I've gotten:


Clockwise from top: swag from Lori M. Lee, Judy I. Lin, and Allison Saft
Clockwise from top: swag from Lori M. Lee, Judy I. Lin, and Allison Saft

And if you're interested, author and blogger Nicole M. Hewitt has been diligently keeping track of campaigns on her website. Take a look here! She posts them in order of expiration date, so keep scrolling for active promotions.


The thing that I'm not quite figuring out is--who does these campaigns? Does the publisher handle this (for example, it looks like Macmillan does it for their authors...see Holly Black's current promotion)? Or, do authors take charge of it (for example, a lot of what I've gotten in the mail seems hand-addressed, stamped, and packaged by the authors themselves)? I find out about these campaigns either through the author's Twitter or their email newsletter, and aside from Macmillan, I've never seen any other publisher promote this sort of thing. Just the authors.


I think pre-order campaigns are wonderful for readers, as I've said. I don't know what kind of sales numbers these campaigns generate for authors, but they must be doing something because I keep seeing campaigns popping up, and I definitely want to participate in them.


If this is something authors do on their own, though, I can see how it can generate additional stress. Even if you're working with a traditional publisher, authors are still expected to do a lot of marketing on their own. If pre-order campaigns are something that they have to take the lead on...I can't imagine how much it would cost to manufacture the swag and distribute it.


For Son of the Siren, I want to do my own pre-order campaign. I don't know if I'll be traditionally published or if it'll be self-published yet, but I've been working with an artist and paying commercial licenses for character art just for this purpose. Juhaihai is very popular and commissions get filled very fast, which is why I've been commissioning so early on in the process--who knows if I'll get the chance to again? My goal is to have character art for the three main characters, and offer them in a preorder campaign as character postcards. So, commissioning has cost me money, then the licensing fee cost me money, and then...I have to print these bad boys when the time comes, so that will cost me money. If I'm going to be traditionally published, then I would ask the publisher to print the art for me, but for now, I'm treating this like I'm going it alone. Because...that might be the case!


What do you think, readers? Do you like pre-order campaigns? Writers, would you partake in them for your own books? Let me know in the comments below!