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How to Create Attractive Book Bonuses

What are bonuses? How are they used to sell lots of copies of your book? And how do you create them in ways that excite people?

Crowdfunding and running a pre-order campaign are great tools to raise money for your book project by getting a community of readers engaged and supporting its publication. One of the most powerful tools an author has at his or her disposal is the bonus feature where you provide them free or extra stuff depending on how much money they contribute to the book project. 

Think of bonuses in three different categories:

  1. Give a copy of the “book.” Your campaign reward can be a direct transaction: pre-order for your book. You then have the capital to finance its production and your reader gets the book once it’s published.
  2. Share the story. Make your readers insiders to your creative process and the project development. Engage them by sending updates, videos, blogs, photos. You may offer them credits in your book by adding their name in the manuscript or to the Acknowledgments page. You can provide them signed copies or personalized messages for supporting the campaign.
  3. Creative experiences. Give your readers access to you and participation in the project. Invitations to the book launch, meeting for coffee or having a chat about the book as it relates to them or their business, access to an online course or program, or the opportunity to hire you to speak or give a workshop or retreat. These can be experiences for premium readers who would love to pre-order a book + many more copies they can share with their friends and own community.

Every book project should benefit its readers just as much as the author, and it’s up to you to define how. These readers will become your advocates once your book hits stores and can write early book reviews which help get the book out there even further.

The goal of your book pre-order campaign is to sell as many copies as possible since the more you can sell the more publishers will express interest in offering book deals for your idea on Publishizer. 

Selling pre-order copies of your book takes a personal approach and some strategy. Your bonuses are key assets in helping you do both of these. Put another way, your bonuses are the most compelling way to encourage or incentivize your email list, following, and community to become readers and pre-order copies of your book.

You don't need fancy book covers or to test book promotion sites, your book promotions should be direct and through a channel that encourages a reply: daily email. Whereas promoting your bonuses through social media sites is less likely to get people to take action and actually buy. That's why mailing lists are so valuable to an author building a platform, and why publishers use it as a main criterion when reviewing a book proposal. 

How many people should I aim to buy my bonuses?

We looked at hundreds and hundreds of successful book campaigns launched on Publishizer and there are some consistencies in the data. For instance, it's clear that being able to get about 200 people to buy a bonus and become a reader is the mark to hit. Most of our top authors have this number. Although, there are quite a few that only got 100 people to buy bonuses, and still sold the same amount of books and attract big name publishers.

This all has to do with the value of the bonus and how many copies are included. 

Let's stay your goal is to sell 500 copies within your 30-day campaign.

At 200 people, each would have to pre-order 2 copies at $25 each, on average 

Ok, why would the average person buy 2 copies? Because everyone is buying exactly 2 copies? No. Because some will buy many copies, maybe 20 or 50 or 100, depending on what your bonuses are. And most will buy only 1 copy. This averages out to 2 copies person, and our data says this is very common amongst book campaigns that reach 500 or more copies on Publishizer. 

Why would someone buy so many copies?

  1. They want a service you offer and will buy books to get it.
  2. They want to support you and see you succeed.
  3. They want your book and have a community they can share it with.

In your community or network, you will have all three of these. You will also have people who just won’t be interested at all. That’s okay. You need to connect with everyone to figure which one they are.

To garner enough book sales, you will have to list out all your email contacts and reach out personally to start a conversation. Since your goal is to get 200 people to support and buy, the size of your mailing list will tell you how many you will need to convert into a reader during your 30-day campaign and which bonuses to focus on.

For example,

  • Let’s say you have 2,000 email contacts
  • You will need to convert 10% of them to pre-order a bonus

Adjust your numbers depending on the size of your email contact list. (Again, social media does not sell books very well). Of course, the larger the list the more you can test with segment groups, and the odds of you reaching and exceeding your pre-order goal increases. If you have a smaller email contact list, you will want to be even more strategic and offer higher value bonuses.

As a good rule of thumb, consider how you could create bonuses in a way that would allow you to sell just one of each bonus and still reach 500 copies. 

Ok, how do I create a good bonus?

Here are two real-world examples to get you started:

  1. Neil Patel ran a pre-order campaign with his publisher, Rodale, for his book Hustle and offered a free one-hour SEO coaching to everyone on his email list who pre-ordered at least 10 copies. He limited availability of this offer for only 3 days and only to his engaged email list, which allowed him to sell hundreds of pre-order copies this way very quickly.
  2. Gary Vaynerchuk ran a pre-order campaign with his publisher, HarperCollins, for his book Crushing It! and offered a 1-full day with him if anyone on his Instagram pre-ordered 350 copies of his book for a limited time only. Again, he sold thousands of copies this way. He essentially replaced his consulting fee with books.

These are two very successful authors. And you don’t need to be a big brand or have a large following like Neil Patel or Gary V to take this principle and apply it to your own expertise and following. This is what pre-orders are all about — and publishers love this. Think of Publishizer as a way to help you figure out what your bonus offers are and combine them to crush your book pre-order campaign before 30 days is up.

Go back to the three reasons someone would buy many copies of your book and create a couple of bonuses for each one, such as these examples:

1. They want a service you offer and will buy books to get it.

  • Pre-order 5 copies for $100 and get a free 1:1 30-min. coaching session + access to your newsletter and Facebook community + invitations to personalized book signings
  • Pre-order 50 copies for $1,000 and get 1 month of coaching, multiple 60-minute sessions + your name mentioned in the acknowledgments

2. They want to support you and see you succeed.

  • Pre-order 2 copies for $40 and share the other copy with a friend + get your name mentioned in the book and personalized thank you note once you receive the copy
  • Pre-order 25 copies for $500 and get a shoutout on all social media and in your newsletter as an endorser + mention them in the Acknowledgments

3. They want your book and have a community they can share it with.

  • Pre-order 20 copies for $400 and get access to your online program for 20 people for free + join your newsletter to receive more updates on the book
  • Pre-order 100 copies for $2,000 and you will come speak at an event or a team workshop on the topic of the book

Going back to that rule of thumb from above, if you were to get just 1 reader per each of these bonuses, how many pre-order copies would have been sold already?

Remember, the best bonuses highlight your expertise and help validate a book idea in the process. Especially for non-fiction titles, this is where business development plays a key role in the success of the campaign. It’s about providing value beyond the book that relates directly to your business or personal brand. This is the most important strategy authors can use during their time spent on Publishizer.

Have fun with it.

For potential readers, it’s all about the experience and the value they receive. For authors, it’s about positioning your book and your messaging in a way that lets readers know that your campaign is for them, and that together you’re going to have a unique experience if they support you now.

The examples provided above are just standard bonuses and amounts of readers that tend to work. What you add to them and how you promote them to your readers will determine their excitement and level of engagement.

There have been a handful of campaigns that did not sell any larger bonuses but got 400 or 500 readers to buy single copies. That's the value the author decided to push, and they had the engagement to make that strategy work for them.

Lastly, be unique. What can you offer that is relevant to your book, will bring loads of value to them, and have fun in the process? 

Here are just some extra unique examples that worked well:

  • Pre-order 10 copies of my book and receive a free online 60-minute didgeridoo class for you and a friend.
  • Pre-order 3 copies of my book and I’ll write a new personalized haiku for you based on your name and background.
  • Pre-order 5 copies of my novel and I’ll review and assess a screenplay you’re currently working on.
  • Pre-order 100 copies and receive 6-months coaching from me + access to an online speaking course for an unlimited time.
  • Pre-order 20 copies and receive a personalized cooking apron from my partner and your name mentioned in the cookbook.
  • Pre-order 200 copies of my book and receive a guided Ayahuasca ceremony for you and 3 friends.
  • Pre-order 27 copies and for 8 weeks, you’ll join me and 7 other women on a guided meditation and writing retreat.

As a final reminder, although it is the goal of authors on Publishizer to get book deals from publishers, successful book promotion campaigns in any form come down to how well you can engage with your readers and offer value (not a discounted book). Having a group you can tap into to share it with their own communities and be there for book reviews is how a vast majority of indie authors build a platform and become bestsellers.


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Lidewij Wiersma

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Lidewij Wiersma

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