Preorder Campaigns for Authors

If you’re an author with a book on the way, start thinking about how you can drive preorders for your book. Here are three ways you can increase preorders for your project.

  1. Create bonus materials. Oftentimes, preorders are incentivized with giveaways—like extra chapters or fun promotions—that encourage early buyers to get exclusive content from the author. Think of ways you can reward the early-bird fans who want to buy your book. Digital giveaways are usually free, so I recommend starting there.
  2. Be available. Online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble usually have landing pages for almost every book, but your title may be harder to preorder from a physical store. Visit your local bookshop and ask if they will allow customers to preorder the book. Also check to see if discounts are available for your book online or in stores. Certain retailers will also provide low price points for preordered books, sometimes giving discounts up to 50% off the regular price. Many retailers make these decisions independently, but if you’re selling your own book, consider offering a preorder discount.
  3. Make the ask. Encourage people who are planning to buy your book to preorder it instead of waiting for it to be released in stores. I’m mainly talking about family and friends here, but you can also reach out to readers via your social media, blog, website, radio station, etc. Explaining the benefits of preorders—for the author and the reader—can help move the needle!

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Why Preordering Books Matters

Order a Book Now, Help an Author Later

If you’re an avid reader, odds are you’ve preordered a book. (Quick definition: when you purchase a book from a bookstore or online retailer before it’s on sale to the public, that’s a preorder.) In the past few years, you’ve probably started to see more of the authors you follow on social media asking readers to preorder their books. So what’s the big deal? Why are preorders so important?

First and foremost, preorders count toward first-week sales. That’s right—every book that’s purchased from the moment the book is available for purchase through the last day of that first week on sale counts toward first-week sales.

So? you ask. Why does that matter? Well, with the publishing marketplace more competitive than ever, the number of copies sold in those early weeks can be make or break. If a retailer doesn’t see a book performing in the early stages of the game, they have millions of other options to choose from. (Literally millions.) The better a book does out of the gate, the higher chance of success it will have going forward. Especially because…

Preorders can translate to making the bestseller lists. Preorders are an extremely important tool for achieving bestseller status. Most of the bestseller lists are issued weekly and rank how well a book performed during a 7-day period. Because preorders count toward first-week sales, if you get a ton of preorders, you will essentially have a ton of sales in a single week, giving you a shot at hitting the covetous bestseller list.

As if a shot at being a bestseller wasn’t motivation enough, keep in mind that preorders can influence the stock a retailer carries for a particular title. Preorders are a good indication about consumer interest in a book, so if a lot of people preorder a book, retailers are more likely to order more copies to keep in stock. If there aren’t many preorders, retailers may choose to stock fewer copies. Of course, this is mostly true for online retailers—since that’s where most preorders happen—but some brick-and-mortar stores abide by similar rules, especially if they have large online platforms, like Barnes and Noble.

All right, preorders are important to authors, you say. Why are they important to me? Here are seven ways preordering benefits you:

  1. Many retailers offer discounts on preorder books, so you can get a sweet deal on your next read!
  2. Authors often provide incentives for preordering, like bonus content, fun swag, or a promo/deal on another one of their books.
  3. The book will be in your hands within 0-5 days of the on-sale date, depending on your retailer. (And most places don’t bill you until the book ships!)
  4. Because you get the book first, you don’t have to deal with spoilers from your internet friends (looking at you, Game of Thrones watchers!).
  5. You won’t forget to buy the book once it hits shelves.
  6. You are buying a new copy from the author and/or publisher, which helps a book and an author be more successful. (Used copies or copies from third-party sellers on sites like Amazon provide little or no royalties to the author and publisher.)
  7. You will most likely get a first printing/first edition, which—depending on the book or author—can be great for collectors!

The moral of the story: if you are passionate about an author or excited about an upcoming book, preorder it! You help yourself and the author…what could be better?

If you want to learn more about preorders, check out the links below:


Jillian Bergsma Manning is a contributing editor for Independent Publisher. She loves reading and writing but not arithmetic. Follow her on Twitter at @LillianJaine or on her blog at www.editorsays.com.


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