Let’s talk about another type of potential energy that you can gather ahead of your launch.
It’s the most powerful type of potential energy an author can acquire.
I am talking about preorders.
Generating sales for your book helps your launch in several ways.
1. Early commitments indicate you are addressing the right problem
This sounds incredibly obvious, but you really don’t know until people start buying your book, if you have made something people want.
Yes, early readers can help determine if you are on the right track. Building an email list around a subject is great, especially for selling the book later. If you are already selling speaking engagements, coaching or consulting on the topic, that can be another good indicator.
None of those activities prove people will buy your book, until you ask them to buy your book.
Let’s ask potential customers early and get their direct support for the book’s launch.
2. Early buyers are your best promoters
“Authors chase publishers, but your best investor is the first person who buys your book. And your readers are also your best salespeople.” -Todd Sattersten
People who buy your book early are going to talk about your book! It is going to come up in conversations with colleagues as they are placing the order, making arrangements around logistics and they are often organizing events to share the book widely. If your book is helping them, they are going to be excited to share it with others.
Here are a set of early promoter photos for When Everyone Leads in Minnesota, Montana, and Nicaragua:
3. Early sales help your publisher with their work
When publishers are pitching new books to their salesforce, they are looking for as many ways as possible to demonstrate the interest already out there. Sharing cover art and a compelling pitch is a good start. Authors with credentials gain attention. Early endorsements are helpful.
Here is the deal: everyone likes betting on a winner.
If your publisher is working to convince retailers to stock and display the book, presales are among the most helpful datapoints. Those sold copies show there is already demand in the marketplace. It also shows that you and your publisher are actively creating conditions that will help your title be successful in the marketplace. Retailers are making a bet; help them believe they can make a good bet on your book.
4. Preorders improve your chances of making the bestseller lists
We create a preorder plan for every book published at Bard Press.
Every book is different, so the details of every campaign are different.
The objective is always the same: focus as much sales energy into the launch as possible.
Any given week, it is going to take thousands of copies sold to make the bestseller list.
When I first talk with authors, they all say, “Of course, I can do that.” And then reality sets in, as the author starts to think through where those preorders will come from. I usually have to share more data about how those sales are not just going to appear organically because the book has been published and people will naturally find it.
Taking preorders creates a high level of confidence that making the bestseller lists will happen, with real commitments from customers rather than promises from prospects. There is a huge difference! As I said last week, I have more coming about bestseller lists, but for now, let’s acknowledge that the preorders vastly increase your chances of making the bestseller list and can put it squarely in your control.
For When Everyone Leads, we have been encouraging preorders in quantities of 20 copies.
You can see the preorder page by clicking through here. Feel free to buy a carton 🙂
- All the way back at the printer, we asked that our books be put in 20 copy cartons. This makes it easy for our distributor to handle preorders through their standard bulk processing. And for shipping, it is as simple as applying a label to the box and being done. We use thick walled cartons or double-box our cartons to ensure the shipment arrives safely.
- The preorder purchase was $429 and that included all shipping, tax and handling. We do analysis in advance around retailer discounts, shipping charges to various points in the US, and tax rates in various regions. It is never perfect, but we build enough of a cushion to account for the variation in all of them.
- We found that 20 copies worked well for teams and small organizations, especially those who were going to be attending training. The authors created a 100 copy offer that were tied limited number of slots for author speaking engagements in 2023. After the initial set sold out, they raised the threshold to 250 copies. For Kansas Leadership Center, this offer was really effective and worked well for their clients who were looking for speakers at upcoming events.
- We used a similar 20 copy carton campaign for our launch of Your First Home in September. For that campaign we focused on real estate agents who could hold first time home buyer seminars and give away the book to attendees. That strategy worked well for that audience.
Build a pre-order strategy and plan for your book! There will be numerous benefits for your launch.