What Does it Mean to Pre-order a Book and Why is it Important?

What does it mean to pre-order a book? 

Traditionally published books and, sometimes, self-published books, have an anticipated release date. On that date, and not before, the book will be available to buy. Traditional publishers usually choose a Tuesday.   

When you pre-order a book, you reserve your copy before the publishers’ release date.  You have to wait until the release date to receive the copy you bought. 

Why is it important to pre-order books?

1. It encourages the author

Breaking into a writing career is an uphill climb.  

So many factors affect the success of an writer.  One thing for sure:  you can’t be a successful author without readers.  Even more than readers, a writer needs some people willing to buy their book and not just read a borrowed copy.  

Every sale is important to an emerging author.  Someone has gambled their money that they will enjoy the book. 

Just like a rocket leaving the earth’s atmosphere, the launch of a new author takes a lot of momentum to break through the barrier of obscurity.  

Trust me, seeing your pre-order will encourage the author. 

2. It lets the publisher know there’s interest in the book

Preorders may influence the size of the run As the publisher takes a look at the number of preorders, he gains confidence that he’ll be able to sell the quantity of the books he’s printing.  It might even influence the decision of how big a run to start with. 

Established authors have a track record.  Publishers have an educated guess of how many copies of a their next book will sell based on past sales. 

Emerging authors are an unknown entity.  It’s hard to predict how sales will be. Any hard data that predicts how well a book will do helps the publisher make informed decisions.  Preorders do that.  

3. It lets booksellers know there’s interest in the book

Every day booksellers have to decide which books and how many copies will sit on their shelves.  Lots of factors go into making that decision, including knowing their clientele and knowing their authors.  Seeing a lot of interest in a book before it’s released gives booksellers more confidence to stock that book and keep multiple copies on the shelves.  

For most of my ten years as a bookseller, I was responsible for what we ordered to carry on the shelves in our store. 

It wasn’t a precise science.  Some books you thought would sell didn’t.  Others surprised you and flew off the shelves. 

New authors were always riskier.  Established authors were (sometimes) more of a sure thing.  Readers tastes differ.  It’s not always easy to guess which books will connect and which ones won’t. 

It was always a matter of trying to match your customers with books they liked.  

Books that were getting a lot of pre-release buzz were more likely to end up on our shelves.  Part of that buzz is preorders. 

4. It stacks up sales for release day

Preorders that have been coming in for weeks or months ahead of release day all count as release day sales.  

With a lot of anticipation and pre-release buzz, those sales can stack up to a significant number on release day. 

5. Stacked up orders in one week are important for hitting bestseller lists. 

Traditional bestseller lists are based on weekly sales. In order to hit a bestseller list, you need sales to spike during one week.  Of course, to stay on the list, sales have to continue week after week.  But, often, when  book hits a list, it gains enough attention to compel more people to purchase.  Without hitting the list, it often doesn’t win the same amount of attention. 

Amazon bestseller lists are another beast altogether.  Sales of books on Amazon are updated hourly.  There are also a plethora of categories that your book could be a best seller in.  Sporting a best seller badge on Amazon gives your book validity, but it’s important to note that you can game the system and choose obscure categories to win the badge.  

On the other hand, people go to Amazon to buy.  They are searching for products to buy, so if the best seller badge catches their eye, it will influence sales.  

6. Sometimes authors offers bonuses to people who pre-order their books which aren’t available after release day. 

Pre-order bonuses create urgency for readers to purchase books before their release date.  Some authors offer over a $100 worth of bonuses for a pre-order of their book.  Maybe the author will offer a free copy of the audiobook or a free online course or swag connected with the book.  Authors offering bonuses should make sure they are within the law with their incentive programs. 

7. It often guarantees price and availability

It’s frustrating to plan on buying something and find that it’s out of stock.  Of course, with pre-ordering you have to wait till release date anyway.  But, with a preorder, you’re guaranteed to get a copy, although some testimonies attest to the fact that they don’t always arrive on release day like they’re supposed to.  

Amazon offers a price guarantee as well so that if the price drops, you will get the lower price.

8. It gives you the chance to spread the news on social media networks

Word of mouth is easier than ever with social media networks. It’s also harder than ever to stand out from the crowd, and get noticed on a noisy internet. There’s a lot of demands for people’s time and attention.

But, the good news is, spreading the news by social media networks can be very affordable. With dedicated fans, news of a book release can spread far and wide. It’s fun to be part of a movement you believe in.

Along with sales, reviews are critical. They build credibility. They influence the word -of- mouth factor.  People need to be talking about new books. They need to tell their social networks about it, and especially why they liked them.  All this builds the critical buzz for book sales to take off.

How do you pre-order a book on Amazon?

Click on the title of the book.  If it has not been released yet, there should be a pre-order button.  Click on that button to reserve your copy when the book is released. 

Case in point. Amy Lynn Green’s new book is now available for preorder on Amazon. There’s plenty of time to build buzz between now and it’s November release.

Follow my affiliate link below to find out more about Amy’s book. (Note: If you purchase using this link, a small percentage will go to support this site.)

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green

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