Those of you who have visited my blog previously probably know that I’m a big supporter of having your work available through as many outlets as possible. You also know that I distribute my books through Smashwords in addition to uploading directly to Amazon. I’ve touched on my experiences with preorders here before, but recently there was a post on this very subject on the Smashwords blog, along with a call to action for any authors who had used their preorder option to blog about it.
The following is a slideshow prepared by Mark Coker of Smashwords which sums up why self-publishers should be using this service:
Though this slideshow does an excellent job of explaining why all indie authors should include preorders as a component of their marketing strategy, I wanted to touch on a couple of points that I personally noticed were benefits.
First off, preorders allow for you to have a set date on which your book will go live on retailers’ virtual shelves. As exciting as it was to publish my first book at the beginning of 2013, I didn’t have the option of doing a preorder then. So my book came out at Smashwords one day, Amazon another, B & N yet another and iTunes even later. Planning a release day event would have been mind-boggling at that rate. Fortunately, when my second book was ready to be published, I opted for the preorder feature and knew when my new release would go live. As you can imagine, it helps marketing immensely when you can quote a specific date instead of a general idea. Plus, you have the links available for each retailer well in advance of the big day and you’re not scrambling at the last minute to get them out to tour companies or posted on your website.
Something else that I haven’t seen mentioned is that once the book is uploaded to Smashwords as a preorder, you as the author have access to download the whole thing. This allowed me to do my final proofing on my Kindle. Mind you, everyone else can see the sample portion (in my case, the first 20%), so you want to make certain that your work is well-edited prior to uploading. This was invaluable to me because I noticed some quirky things that looked perfectly fine in my Word document, but didn’t translate over to the Kindle version well. I used the highlight feature on the Kindle to mark the sections that I wanted to revise, then went back once I was completely done reading and fixed them.
My first experience with the preorder feature was decidedly positive. I’d like to report that simply because I took advantage of this option that my book sales skyrocketed, but that’s not the case. Part of this reason stems from the fact that I don’t yet have a sizable backlist from which to gain momentum. Conventional wisdom says that most authors need three to five books under their belt before they really start to get traction. After all, who would anticipate a release from a brand new author except for a select few friends and family? I’m currently standing on the threshold of that three to five book window, and my fingers are crossed that it holds true for me as well.
As an aside, I also took away some food for thought from Mark’s slideshow. I chose a Tuesday as release day for my second book since the majority of others do that as well. If you think about it, books, DVDs and music are commonly released on Tuesdays. It just seemed natural. But he makes an interesting point for indies to release on other days of the week, when consumers will be less bombarded with shiny new objects and it might be easier to get noticed. I might just have to try that with my upcoming book.
There’s no one trick to mastering the art of book marketing, but having as many tools in your arsenal as possible definitely helps. That’s why every book that I publish from this point forward will utilize the preorder option.
Questions? Comments? Any experiences of your own with preorders either as a publisher or as a reader?