Ever driven by a Best Buy at 11:30pm the night before the next big gaming system comes out? Bonus points if you've ever been one of the dedicated who was part of the line stretching around the building. I'm not ashamed to admit, I've attending more than one midnight release for a Harry Potter novel.
These are prime examples of the power to be first. There is nothing at all different about the X-Box purchased at 12:02am on release day from the one purchased a week later. Except there is. Because thousands of other people will get to play the games before you. Thousands of other people will be blowing up your Facebook feed with how amazing the new system is and all the fun they're having. And you, no matter how much of a grown-up you are, will on some level wish you had stood in a ridiculous line for fourteen hours in the middle of December.
We see this happen all the time when the lucky recipients of ARCs for a highly anticipated book post pictures of their shiny copies on Twitter. They gush about how excited they are to read it and everyone who doesn't have one bemoans the fact they have to wait another two months.
You can put these same principles into affect for your own book. Even if aren't going to have official ARCs, you should recruit a group of target readers to be your "First Readers". Your book might not be as anticipated as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but that doesn't mean your First Readers can't feel like it is.
It's up to you to make them feel that way. Offer them an advanced copy, before anyone else that only this very small and special group gets to have. Tell them they are welcome to post pictures, add comments to Facebook and share teasers of their review on social media, but they can't let anyone else read the book or their full review until the book releases. Let them know why they were selected as one of the lucky First Readers.
Give them the power and status that comes with being first and then watch as they spread the word about how everyone else should be crazy jealous and will want to get their hands on this awesome book they were already lucky enough to read.
Not only will these First Readers spread the word of your book in anticipation of release, they are more likely to continue spreading the word and encouraging others to read your book. After all, it isn't as big of a deal to be the First Reader of a book no one cares about. That's like being an early adapter of 2014 model Walkman.
You have the power to make them First Readers. Use it wisely.