Thursday, June 9

Marketing Strategy: Enlist a Pre-Release Team

By Julie Musil, @juliemusil

Part of the Indie Author Series

My latest book, Bound by the Heart, released last month. Hooray! I tried something new this time, which is always fun as an indie author. Instead of doing a blog tour, which mainly targets other writers, I enlisted a “pre-release” team consisting of family and friends.

The idea was to garner some reviews before the actual release date, which makes the book more visible on Amazon, which exposes it to a wider audience.

Once the book was available in all formats, here’s what I did:
  • Emailed closest friends and family, and other folks who’ve expressed interest in my work. Tip: email it to yourself and use “bcc” (blind carbon copy) for everyone else. This avoids exposing all the other email addresses.
  • In the email, I explained that I needed their help prior to the wider release date.
  • Offered the book at a discounted price (I listed it at $.99). Note: you can offer it for free, but most people acknowledge that reading a book for a buck is a great deal. Plus, I’m not experienced with free.
  • Included direct links to all formats.
  • Asked them to read the book within two weeks and post an honest review.
  • Asked them to email me directly if they saw anything wonky--typos, strange formatting, etc.
  • Calendared two weeks out to change the pricing on all formats and announce the wider release.
  • Thanked them profusely!

People responded to my request with such enthusiasm. They loved being part of the pre-release team. It created camaraderie among the people closest to me who are rooting for me and wanted to be a part of the process. It also created buzz when I met with those people at family gatherings, track meets, and other school functions.

The results? I don’t have numbers for you that would determine how well it worked, because I don’t track such things (*gasp*). But I can tell you that it was fun. And isn’t that what’s most important?

One of the beautiful things about being an indie author is that you can try new things, play with strategies, and see what works. You have nothing to lose!

Tell me, have you ever been a part of a pre-release team? Have you ever enlisted one? Do you have any other marketing strategies that would be fun for us to try? Please share!

Julie Musil writes from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her Young Adult novels, Bound by the Heart, The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire, are available now. For more information, or to stop by an say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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About Bound by the Heart

Sixteen-year-old Lucy's life-saving heart transplant comes with a terrifying side effect: cellular memory in the form of nightmares. Lucy dreams about feet pounding the pavement, fingers locked around a fragile neck, and shortness of breath. Mounting sleepless nights threaten to weaken her new heart.

When she crashes her bike beneath a highway underpass, she’s rescued by JR, a surfer dude who takes easy-on-the-eye to a new level and draws portraits as easily as drawing breath. With JR’s guidance, Lucy confronts her nightmares by sketching detailed images she sees each night, until a familiar face appears—one she’s sure has an insidious link to the heart beating in her chest. 


  1. Great idea. Will save this post for when I'm ready to go!

    1. Carol, I wish you lots of success when you take the plunge!

  2. This is a great idea. I used one for the recent release of my first novella, but it included others besides friends and family. It met with mixed results. Of the 17 people I had arranged to read and review 6 actually followed through even after a reminder email. I have since gained additional supporters and think I'll have more success next time. It's all about gaining traction. Thanks for your post.

    1. Linda, great analysis. It's great to try new things and come at it from different angles. Six out of 17 isn't bad at all!

  3. Great idea. I will also save this post for when I’m ready to go.

    I will offer my pre-release family, friends, and others a free copy of the book. Readers of my first book passed it around and that increased sales. Go figure! But as you said, being an indie author lets you try new things . . . Thank you for your marketing strategy idea.

    1. Ron, offering it for free is a great idea. I've yet to play around with free. I have a feeling you'll have great results. Good luck!

  4. Great information. I'm getting ready to launch my second book and am going to put this into motion right away. Thank you.

  5. Hi Julie,
    I totally agree, a prelaunch team works beautifully. I just did that with my new Calm Coloring: Faith, Hope & Love coloring eBook, and it pushed my book up to #1 in coloring books. It was a lot of work, but worth every minute of my time. Thanks, Janice, for having Julie swing by. :-)