I hope you’re making your latest soon-to-be-released masterpiece available for pre-order. Here are some reasons why, and some things to consider if you decide to move forward with what could be a lucrative and very rewarding endeavor.
Why make your book available for purchase before it is available to be shipped…or even before it is finished?!
It generates revenue that you can immediately use to finance your operation (read: you don’t have to dip into your own pocket). It feels good to be in the black.
Folks who pre-order eagerly await the arrival of your book and will say so in public places like Facebook, Twitter, discussion forums, and who knows where else.
You can also use sites like Facebook to post stats and tidbits on your pre-orders, which can create a bandwagon effect and generate new orders.
If you can tell one bookstore that the neighboring bookstore pre-ordered 16 copies, they won’t want to be left out. There must be a reason the guy across the street ordered 16 copies, and they competition will be more inclined to order their own copies.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
#1 You must own your book – You can’t do this through Lulu, CreateSpace or any of those POD places. The idea is that your selling your book before it’s available and those places won’t let you do that (to my knowledge). Set up your own outfit and use a printer like Lightening Source. Setup a website where people can pre-order, like this one, and then link it everywhere.
#2 Hammer the social networking sites (hit up family and friends) – Family and friends are your first customers. They are going to buy your book no matter what. Many of them will have no problem sending you cash in order to be one of the first to own the book. People like being part of the inner circle. Take advantage of that.
I set up a fan page on Facebook and then bought a cheap Facebook ad for about $5 a day – the ad brought in over 20 fans the first day – complete strangers – people I would have never met.
#3 Use the money wisely – Even if you’re getting small orders, 1 or 2 copies, let the money ad up. I’ve collected over $1000 in revenue already which I’m reinvesting 100% into the book. This has given me the leverage to print postcards, business cards, extra review copies, take out a few ads and sign up for 3 trade shows. All using money earned from pre-orders.
#4 Keep track – The more orders you take, the more you’ll need to track. Learn Excel. Create spreadsheets that show who ordered, what they ordered, and whether they paid. You don’t want to receive a confused email 4 months from now from a reader asking when they’ll receive their copy.
#5 Bundle – This means you offer your new book for pre-order for $20…and throw your first book in for an additional $5. $25 for two books – only if you pre-order. If you wait, the old book goes back to $10. Tie this one to #6…
#6 Free-shipping for a limited time – Folks will hurry to place an order before the offer expires. Once free-shipping expires, make sure the buyer is responsible for shipping. This only creates additional revenue and helps you pay those (very expensive) shipping costs.
#7 Make sure you deliver! – You better make sure your book is sent to these folks as soon as it’s available, otherwise you’ll be sending a lot of refunds to angry ex-customers!
#8 It keeps you engaged – Every time you new pre-order come across your desk, you’ll be motivated to hit the bricks and keep promoting. And you’ll have the money to make your marketing effort that much easier.
I used no pre-order option for my first book, which meant I was using my own money to finance my operations. When it finally went on sale, I ended up paying myself back (read: paying off credit). This time, I already have a nice chunk of change in my pocket. Everything else just adds to the coffers. It feels good to be in the black. Good luck!