This comes up because of a little incident with one of my publishers. Nothing major, but a little wonky on exactly what day a book was due out. It started a discussion in a few places, a couple readers comments on blogs.
Basically the upshot is: Wishlists and Coming Soon Pages.
They want ’em.
Your publisher (or you if you direct sell) need ’em.
If you’re lucky to have a readership (as I’m gaining one) those readers want to know when to expect your next book. Coming Soon Pages (whether on your own site or the publishers) allow them to browse and plan ahead. They get excited about a book. They love to be teased with a little taste. Then they can set money aside, or put it into the book budget. Let’s face it, books are disposable income purchases. Bills get paid, food gets bought, the kids get clothes on their backs…whatever’s left over you may buy books with.
A Wishlist (basically a non purchase shopping cart) allows them to easily earmark the books they want. The process of moving the book from Wishlist to Shopping Cart needs to be pretty seamless. Many of the comments bemoaned how difficult it was to move thier books into actual purchase mode (on several publishers sites).
When I have cover art ahead of time, I’ll go about showing it off (blogs, email –not spam, but relevant ones–, post cards and such). People like the pretty, especially if you give them a small snippet of the book to read. If I get it the same day the book comes out, I’ve lost some of the advanced marketing ability. Yeah, I can put a blurb on my site with a place holder picture…but it’s not the same.
Obviously very different books, you can tell it just by the style and subject matter of the cover art. One’s contemporary, very much gay the other is AU high fantasy. Guess which is which. The covers will draw the type of reader looking for that type of book. I can use them to market to specific subgroups of readers. If I have the full publisher blurb and maybe an advanced reveiw, so much the better. People remember what they hear and see often. That is one of the marketing lessons we, as authors, need to remember.