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The Power of Pre-order

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As we talk through all things marketing, I’d like to share a strategy that I’ve found to be wonderfully effective in gaining early sales and reviews. Using Pre-orders!

I’m a huge fan of releasing ebooks for pre-order before the official release date, although I realize there are a wide range of opinions on the topic. The concerns I’ve heard about using pre-orders say the authors either 1) don’t see the need (will wait and release the book when it’s ready) or 2) don’t feel comfortable with the commitment.

I didn’t take college Psychology classes past the 101 level, so I’m not qualified to address commitment issues. What I do want to discuss, though, are the pros and cons of releasing books for pre-order weeks or months before the actual release date. When is pre-order a FANTASTIC tool, and when you should stay away? pre

First, let me call out a few details that will be helpful during our discussion today. I believe the larger trad-pub houses can negotiate some of these requirements with Amazon, but for the rest of us, this is how it works.

  • You’re allowed to release a title for pre-order up to 90 days before the actual release date. At any time during the pre-order period, you can move the release date up (make it June 15th instead of June 30th, but you may NOT push it out (make it July 5th instead of June 30th).
  • When readers purchase a pre-order book, they are given a price guarantee. If the price drops at any time during the pre-order period, they are charged the lesser price. This means if you lower your pre-order price half way through the period, ALL pre-order sales will be sold at that lesser price.
  • You are required to submit the basic book information before you can make the pre-order live. Amazon requires you to upload a manuscript file, but you tell them whether it’s the final draft or not. Interestingly, whether you say it’s the final draft or not, you are allowed to upload a new draft at any time until about 3 days before the official release date.
  • The pre-orders all dump into your KDP Reports (and into Amazon’s system as actual sales) on the evening BEFORE your release. This is very important to one of the Pros we’ll talk about shortly!

Now, let’s talk through the reasons why pre-order is fantastic!

  1. Increase sales graphSales! It allows you to sell copies of your book while you’re still finishing up the final writing and editing details. Many of these sales are very likely some that you wouldn’t see otherwise!
  2. Reviews! When your pre-orders turn into sales on your release date and all those buyers are notified your book is now on their Kindle, hopefully they begin to read your book! If you’ve put a nice page in your back matter asking the reader to post a review, many of them will! This helps so much with getting those reviews early after your release date. My most recent release, The Lady and the Mountain Doctor, was up for pre-order for 81 days and sold 3,765 pre-order copies during that time. That resulted in 31 reviews during the first two weeks. That doesn’t sound like a lot of reviews based on the number of sales, but most of you probably know how hard it is to get those first 25 or so reviews.
  3. Early Reviews! Most authors have lamented the fact that reviews can’t be posted on Amazon.com until the book is officially released. I’ve developed a bit of a loop-hole to help with this. While the ebook is available for pre-order with the strict release date I’ve chosen, I release my paperback version a couple days before. That way, my launch team and early reviewers can click “Paperback” and leave their review, but all my ebook sales can stick to the release date I’ve chosen.
  4. Bestseller lists! This won’t apply to everyone, but if you’re planning a strategy to hit one of the bestseller lists (like USA Today), pre-orders are an absolute must. Keep in mind, though, that the sales all register the day BEFORE your release date.

And now the cons…

  1. Commitment… When you set a pre-order date with Amazon, you cannot push that date out without being chained and shackled inside Amazon Pre-order Prison for one full year. (I’ve been told it’s a real place.) The “better safe than sorry” method is a good one when planning the official release date for your pre-orders.
  2. Cover art… For most people, cover art is one of the last steps in the pre-publishing process. If you use pre-orders, you’ll need to rearrange the order of your process a little. I’ve actually started creating my cover art fairly early in my writing process, partly due to my use of pre-order for the full 90 days. It’s had a pleasant side effect that I can also make sure my character and location descriptions in the story match what I’ve chosen for the cover. Win-win!

To recap, pre-order might be a great option for you if…

  • You can decently stick to a deadline, even if you’re a procrastinator.

    now deadline written on blackboard
    now deadline written on blackboard
  • Or, if you’re pretty close to the end of your pre-publishing process.
  • You want to increase your number of reviews within the first few weeks of releasing.
  • You’re working to sell enough books to boost your title onto a bestseller list.

You will need to be careful with the pre-order strategy and plan effectively if…

  • You can’t meet a deadline to save your soul.
  • You have a specific reason the cover art can’t be created earlier in the process.

 

So now, tell me your experiences! Have you used pre-orders to garner early sales and reviews? Was it successful? What challenges did you face?

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What makes an Amazon Bestselling Novel?

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Hi, Gang! Before we kick-start our discussion on marketing and best practices to get our books in front of readers, let’s cover a few prerequisites.

No matter how much marketing or advertising you do, your sales potential will never be reached unless you have these factors in place. I’m sure there are a host of other important influencers (I can already think of several), but you’re dead in the water until you get these three right.

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Let’s kick this marketing thing off!

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Writing is my life.

However, I was blessed with eleven years in the corporate world, which vibrantly awoke the left side of my brain. Now, I analyze the budget impact and ROI (return on investment) for everything, even my creative works!shutterstock_133160609

With so many books available, and so many marketing opportunities jumping in our faces as authors, how do we sort the chaff to find our personal wheat?

Tweet: How do you sort all the book marketing chaff to find the right methods for you? http://ctt.ec/ueoCX+ #amwriting

As I released my debut novel, then my second, and third, I couldn’t stop analyzing the data (a spreadsheet habit is hard to kick). I began to realize certain marketing efforts worked better for me than others (in the business world we call these best practices). Not every effort to market or advertise is right for every scenario. I narrowed my efforts initially to what seemed to work best for me and my books (the low-hanging fruit). Now I’m gradually expanding my reach to cover the other areas to bring additional impact.

Who am I? I’m technically a hybrid author, with one traditionally published book releasing June 26, 2015 (The Rancher Takes a Cook from Prism Book Group). However, most of my books are Indie-published (meaning I act as the contractor who hires editors and cover artists, I upload my books to my chosen publishing venues, and I handle the marketing details myself). I love the control being an Indie author gives me. I can study the market, see what works for others, implement my own ideas, and see up-to-the-minute results and data.

God has blessed my books thus far, with each of them selling thousands each month. And now, with His help, I’m leaving the corporate world behind and focusing on my writing and marketing efforts full-time. I’m committed to this journey of writing and selling books, and I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn along the way!

I’ll be posting weekly on this blog (maybe more often as we get started), sharing marketing ideas I’ve tried, the success (or failure) in the attempt, and lessons learned. I’ll share real info and stats on:

  • Pricing strategies
  • Advertising platforms
  • When and how pre-orders work best
  • Borrows vs. buys in Amazon’s KDP Select program
  • And so much more!

As we kick off this journey together, I’d love hear the topics you want to discuss!

  1. First register at the link on the right to receive new blog posts in your email each week.
  2. Then leave a comment below to tell me what you’d like future posts to cover!

 

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