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Why Preorders Matter

Preorders are books ordered prior to publication. Readers preorder books because they are fans and don’t want to miss out on the next book.

For authors, preorders make the difference between a bestseller list, a new book contract, and your ranking on bookseller websites or places like Goodreads.

Rankings

Rankings on a bookseller’s website, whether it’s Amazon or an Indie, help determine the promotion that store will give a book. The higher the ranking the more likely the algorithm is to recommend it to future readers.

The more readers see your book in emails or on their home page, the more likely to buy. The more they buy, the better for an author.

First Day Sales

Preorders are a relatively new phenomena in publishing. Before we had an online marketplace, readers had to go to bookstores to buy books. Sure some might preorder, but for the most part, books were sold the day they released. In those days what mattered was those first-week sales numbers.

Now those first-week sales numbers are based heavily on preorders. While you might preorder a May book in January, the actual sale doesn’t count until the day the book is released when, ostensibly, the book is set to ship.

That means, thanks to preorders, you have sold all of those books on the first day, which bumps up your rankings and bumps up your potential for a bestseller list that first week on sale.

Making a Difference

Authors wishing to up their preorders need to promote accordingly and of course strategically. That means encouraging readers and fans to preorder without inundating them constantly by telling them to buy.

Fans can do their part too. If you know you’re going to read and buy a book don’t just add it to your wishlist, go ahead and preorder. You can do that through a bookstore directly (which pushes them to order more books) or online. Wherever you prefer to buy preorders are welcome.

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7 comments

  1. Just a note: Independent bookseller websites do not use algorithms to determine a “ranking” of an author’s book. Whether the book is promoted by an indie depends on a number of factors, none of which are a math equation or computer program. Is the author local? Is the book of interest to our community and customer base? Did a bookseller read it and love it? Did someone we know and trust at the publisher read it and love it? What pre-orders do at independent bookstores is help to gauge customer interest in a title, which influences how many copies we buy for store stock. They may also encourage a staff member to read the book and write a recommendation for it, if the interest is high. Pre-orders at independent bookstores are important, just not exactly for the reason you noted.

  2. I love pre-ordering, especially far in advance. I forget about it and wake up to a surprise.

    The small indie bookseller the university use encourages preordering especially if it’s one of the books being featured by or in the campus in some way.
    I’ve seen them sell out of books they thought would last two days in under an hour because the author(s) have caught the public’s attention.
    Unfortunately Beyond the Walls 2019 wasn’t featured in any of the public events, so my little bit of publishing fame hasn’t been seen by anyone.

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