Why Pre-Orders Matter (And What You Need to Know About Them)

Have you ever pre-ordered a book?

It’s okay if you haven’t. Most consumers don’t pre-order books. Very few take advantage of the opportunity, even though retailers like Amazon offer the lowest guaranteed price: “Amazon.com's price for not-yet-released items sometimes changes between the time the item is listed for sale and the time it is released and shipped. Whenever you pre-order an item eligible for Pre-order Price Guarantee, the price we charge when we ship it to you will be the lowest price offered by Amazon.com between the time you place your order and the end of the day of the release date.” That’s a pretty great guarantee!!! Unless you are a super fan of books like Harry Potter, you probably weren’t aware of that hidden pre-order perk.

As literary agents and book enthusiasts, we preach the benefits of pre-ordering all the time. You save money and get a book you were already going to buy the day it releases. That’s a win-win!

But what if there was more to it than just that?

The biggest reason why authors encourage you to pre-order their books, along with offering incentives and bonuses to do so, is because it tells Amazon’s inventory system to stock up. The more pre-orders Amazon receives, the more books they order. That way when the book releases it doesn’t go out of stock – they have enough copies. Other retailers, like Barnes & Noble, are watching what Amazon does so they can gauge how many copies they should order. Amazon sets the pace.

“Going out of stock on release day is an author’s worst nightmare.”

The best way you can support an author is to pre-order their book. It makes a huge difference for them. If a book goes out of stock, it can be a momentum killer for all the promotional work an author is doing, and the time it takes for a book to reappear in stock feels like an eternity.

The other reason why pre-orders matter so much to authors is best-sellers lists. From the time a book is available to pre-order until it releases, those sales accumulate. Once a book releases, all those pre-orders are counted that first week. If your goal is to make it on the New York Times bestseller list, depending on the time of the year, it can take anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000+ units to get their attention. To become a bestselling book, you have to have pre-orders.

Now that you know the why behind pre-orders, let’s discuss what driving pre-orders can do for your next book launch. Pre-orders are a great way to start building momentum for the launch of your book. When it comes to creating pre-order offers, think of what would bring value to your reader. Oftentimes, and somewhat misguidedly, an author will offer up a collection of unrelated items, give them a dollar value, and promote their pre-order offer. A pre-order campaign shouldn’t feel like a yard sale with random items. The best pre-order offers focus on value. It’s value over quantity. Authors can create a lot of momentum for their book releases when they offer pre-order incentives that deliver value. A good way to know the difference is to think about your reader. The best pre-order perks are the ones that get your readers excited.

Let’s say you’re self-publishing your next project. Pre-orders can help you generate funds for printing and navigate your print runs more efficiently. Even if the project is print-on-demand, giving your readers a great pre-order offer can help you generate buzz about your book. Sneak peeks are the easiest way to start doing that. Give your readers the first chapter. Give them something to get excited about what you are working on. Remember, value beats quantity when it comes to pre-order offers.

If you pre-order an author’s book today, it makes a HUGE difference. You can’t see the smile on their face, but they are saying, “Thank you.” And if pre-orders are not part of your current launch strategy, now is the perfect time to go back and rethink how to incentivize readers and get them excited about your upcoming release.

Take Action: Book a call with us today!

If you have questions about building a pre-order campaign or writing your book, get help from an expert!  Schedule a one-on-one meeting with one of our agents. During this time, we teach and coach first-time and veteran authors interested in advancing their careers, using our unparalleled experience, hard-won wisdom, and industry-leading strengths to help them reach their full potential. Click here to learn more!


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