Making the Most of Print On Demand, Part 2

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All You Need to Know About Book Pre-Sales

Welcome back to our Print On Demand series! In this part, we’re talking about book pre-sales and why they’re crucial for your book’s success.

In Part 1 of “Making the Most of Print On Demand,” we covered the basics, including a sample timeline and discussions about inventory and avoiding those annoying out-of-stock notices. Now, let’s focus on the all-important book pre-sales period.


What is a Pre-Sale Period?

After you’ve approved your book proof and finalized the file, BookFuel starts sending your digital files and metadata to our retail store network. This includes big names like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and Books a Million, as well as the Ingram and Baker & Taylor catalogs.

Each retailer has its own schedule for processing new books. Some do it weekly, others monthly. Because this involves shipping physical books rather than just electronic files, there’s a lot of prep work to be done to set up an inventory number in each store’s catalog database.

Once your book enters these systems, it’ll start appearing on retail websites worldwide. This usually happens two to three weeks after your files are finalized.


The Critical Pre-Sales Period

Now begins your crucial pre-sales period. Readers and new customers can order your book through these websites. They’ll purchase and pay for it, but their credit cards won’t be charged until the book ships.

The longer your book is available for pre-order, the more time you have to direct readers to places like Amazon and other stores to accumulate orders. All these pre-orders count as sales on your release date, giving you a better shot at cracking some top-100 best-seller subgenre lists on sites like Barnes & Noble and Powell’s. Note that Amazon is different; they count pre-sales orders on the day they’re placed, not combined on the release date.


Inventory Estimates

During the pre-sale period, Amazon uses its inventory algorithm to build a sales forecast for new titles. This includes product page views, adds to wish lists, and actual orders. They use this data to create a two-week inventory model.

Send as much traffic to your book product page as you can. The more visitors you direct to Amazon, the better. If your product page gets a lot of visits during the pre-sale, Amazon will stock your book in their warehouse and keep restocking based on sales. If your page gets little traffic, Amazon may not stock your book at launch, listing it as “Available to Ship in 7 to 11 Days.” If even more time passes without traffic, it could be marked as “Temporarily out of stock,” similar to asking a local bookstore to order a title for you.


How Long Will My Book Be in Pre-Sale?

This is a common question, and it’s tricky to answer. Even if you list a release date, no two pre-sales periods are the same in length, as each store has its own established period. We advise authors to have a flexible marketing plan not tied to specific dates since BookFuel can’t guarantee a fixed release date.


Building Excitement During Pre-Sales

Your pre-sales window is the perfect time to build excitement for your book launch. Here are a few tips:


Many authors map out a multi-week pre-order period with different promotions each week to build buzz.


Hold contests, reveal chapters, conduct giveaways, and host blog tours.


Include a link to the book product page in all your emails, tweets, and social media updates. Make it easy for your customers to order.

Whatever you’d do for a book launch, start doing it now while your book is in pre-order status on retail stores.


For more tips and resources, visit our website and check out our YouTube channel.


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