Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pre-orders: Why They're Important

In the publishing business, as with most other industries, it’s all about the numbers.  Publishers look at them closely, reporting stores submit them, Nielson BookScan calculates them, and authors work hard to increase them. The quantity of units sold can mean the difference between being able to publish another book, or the beginning and end of a literary journey.

Pre-orders are an important component in book sales. Essentially, pre-orders serve as the launching pad for a book’s success, giving it wings to fly off the shelves—or in today’s marketplace, clicks to digital download heaven.

When I self-published my first novel, Unexpected Interruptions, in November 2007, I started my campaign for pre-orders five months before my pub date. Although 2007, wasn’t so terribly long ago, it feels like eons now, when I reflect back on it. Technology has changed so many things, and social media combined with e-readers have provided a more efficient way to spread the word about a book and increase access to sales. But whether then or now, pre-orders still remain a critical part of selling a book.

Pre-orders generate buzz, which creates anticipation, and ultimately drives sales. My goal was to generate enough pre-orders to pay for my first print run, which was a modest 2,500 books. On the day of my book’s release I had pre-sold 1,000 copies, and within 30 days I sold the rest of my stock and ordered a second print run. I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I not pre-sold units to cover those expenses. Readers who had pre-ordered the book received it on the day of its release and quickly posted reviews, which helped to build more interest, increase momentum, and boost sales.

Another important thing about pre-orders is that they count toward an author’s fist week sales. As I stated in a separate post about first week sales (January 29, 2013), those numbers help determine whether a book makes its way to a bestseller list or not.

So how do you generate pre-orders? What kinds of marketing and promotion strategies yield the best results? Check back next week for my post on marketing and promotion.

Trice Hickman

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