When it comes to building a readership, writing is only half the journey. Here’s what else to do before your book is published.

You spend countless hours writing, but how much time do you spend planning how to optimize your book’s chances of success? Developing a marketing strategy is how most of the bestsellers on Apple Books — particularly independent authors — separate themselves from the ever-growing competition.

Set up pre-orders

It’s hard to overstate the importance of pre-orders. Pre-orders allow existing fans and new readers to purchase a book in advance of the publication date, and the more pre-orders you have on your release date, the better your odds of gaining visibility on our top charts. Linking marketing efforts directly to your book’s pre-order page is the most effective way to benefit from the buzz that you’re creating. It allows you to capture sales while you have your reader’s attention.

The good news is pre-orders are easy to set up on Apple Books. You can set a pre-order up to 12 months in advance of the book’s publication date, and all you’ll need is some basic information about the book: covers, files, and a sample (preview chapters). Any updates you might want to make later, such as changes to your book description copy or even adjustments to your publication date, are easy to submit at any time.

If you publish your book through an aggregator like Draft2Digital or Smashwords, you can contact them directly for instructions on setting up pre-orders. If you sell directly on Apple Books, review how to set up pre-orders for full instructions.

Deliver an early sample

A great way to build buzz prior to publication is to give readers a preview of what’s to come by offering an early sample of your book. You could share a couple of riveting passages, the first few chapters, or an extended preview. Samples are customizable, so you can choose what you think will get readers excited best.

Make sure you let your fans know that although your book isn’t out yet, they can get a sneak peek on Apple Books. Uploading an early sample is easy, but the exact process depends on how your book is being delivered. If you sell directly on Apple Books, please visit Resources and Help for instructions.

Use your promo codes

All publishers, including independent authors, receive promo codes for 250 free downloads of every book they distribute on Apple Books. This means 250 free copies are available for you to use for publicity, marketing and promotion, or testing purposes. Once you distribute a promo code, the recipient can redeem it on Apple Books for a free copy of your book in any territory where the book is available for sale.

You can generate promo codes as soon as your finished book file has been delivered into our system and approved to go live — even during the pre-order period. Strategically sharing promo codes in the lead-up to your on-sale date is a great way to build buzz. Give them out to reviewers, bloggers, and fans in order to encourage store ratings, reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations before your book publishes.

If you publish through an aggregator like Smashwords or Draft2Digital, contact the aggregator directly for access to Apple Books promo codes. If you sell directly on Apple Books, visit Resources and Help for complete instructions.

Turn launch day into an event

Make sure your friends and fans know the day your book debuts. Get them excited! Start the conversation (on social media, for instance) and ask them to help you spread the word. Create compelling messaging and content in advance so you have it ready to go. (Refer to our article on how to use social media effectively for more tips.) If you’re running an advertising campaign of any size, make sure those ads are running by the time you release your book.

And if you’re planning on writing another book within the next 12 months, have the pre-order for that book live so that when readers finish your current book, they can easily build on their excitement and place their orders for your next book right away.