Part 2 of our Print On Demand series focuses on book pre-sales and why this is an incredibly important period of time for your book.
In “Making The Most of Print On Demand, Part 1: Your Timeline To Maximize Book Sales,” we covered some of the important basics about Print On Demand (POD) including a sample timeline, and a discussion about inventory and those pesky out-of-stock notices.
In this installment, we focus on the all-important book pre-sales period.
Let’s start with an explanation of exactly what your pre-sale period is.
After you’ve approved your book proof and the file is finalized, BookBaby will begin sending your digital files and metadata out to our entire retail store network. Information will be sent out in feeds to stores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and Books a Million – plus the Ingram and Baker & Taylor catalogs.
Each retailer has their own schedule and process for handling the ingestion of new books. Some are on a weekly schedule; others are on a monthly routine. Because this involves the shipment of a physical book – not simply an electronic file such as an eBook – there is a lot of prep work involved for each store to set up an inventory number in its own store catalog database.
As your book enters into the various systems, your listing will start appearing on retail websites around the globe. This is usually two to three weeks after you have finalized your files.
Now starts your critical pre-sales period.
Your readers – and new customers – can order your book through these websites. They’ll purchase and pay for the book – although their credit cards won’t be charged until the book is actually shipped.
The longer your book is available for pre-order, the more time you have to send readers to Amazon and the other stores to accumulate orders. All these orders count as sales on your release date, giving you a good chance at cracking some top-100 best seller sub genre lists in sites like Barnes & Noble and Powell’s. Note: this is not the case with Amazon’s best selling list. They count pre-sales orders on the day it’s actually ordered, not all combined on the eventual release date.
It’s what happens behind the scenes at stores like Amazon that makes this pre-sales time period an incredibly important time in the lifespan of your book.
- Inventory estimates. During the pre-sale, Amazon uses their inventory algorithm to build a sales forecast for new titles, including product page views, adds to wish lists, and actual orders. This data is used to compile a two week inventory model.
- Send as much traffic to your book product page as you can. The more eyeballs you send to Amazon, the better. If your product page has many visitors during the pre-sale, Amazon will order inventory and place it in their warehouse, and continue to order 2 weeks’ worth of restocking inventory from us as sales warrant. That restocking order many only be one book or two books or five books or 10 books. Titles like this will show in stock and be listed in as available to ship immediately.
- If your book product page receives little traffic, Amazon will not likely stock any inventory of your book at launch. On your Amazon page, it will be listed as “Available To Ship In 7 to 11 Days,” because Amazon knows that most new books will, at some point, see some sales. If some period of time passes and still no traffic goes to your page, Amazon may move it to “Temporarily out of stock,” the online equivalent of walking into your local bookstore and asking them to order a title for you.
How long will my book be in pre-sale?
Many authors ask us: “How long will my book be in pre-sale?” That’s a difficult question to answer. Even though you may list a release date for your book, no two pre-sales periods are exactly the same in terms of length. Each store will have its own established time period. It’s hard to predict when a self-published book will go live on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all the rest. We often counsel our authors to have a flexible marketing plan that is not tied to any specific dates as BookBaby is not able to guarantee any specific release date.
For all these reasons and more, your pre-sales window is when you should build the excitement for your launch. How? Here are a few ideas.
- Plan. Many authors plan out a multi-week pre-order period, with a different promotion each week to build the buzz.
- Contests. Others hold contests, do chapter reveals, conduct giveaways, and host their own blog tours.
- Promote. Include a link to the book product page with all of your emails, tweets and social media status updates. This makes it simple for your customers to order quickly.
The bottom line: whatever you would do for a book launch, start doing it now while your book is in pre-order status on the retail stores.
Making The Most of Print On Demand, Part 1: Your Timeline To Maximize Book Sales
Tell Your Book’s Story With Metadata
Public Libraries: An Asset For Independent Authors
eBook Distribution: My Self-Publishing Experience
Your Book Needs To Be On Amazon, but…