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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

pre-orders

Why Bother with Pre-Orders?

Let’s talk about pre-orders. If you spend any time exploring Amazon’s Book Department, you know that major publishers almost always offer their books for pre-ordering — sometimes as much as six months to a year in advance of the publication date. if you order the first book in a series from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, you are almost certain to get an e-mail inviting you to pre-order book number 2.  Now Kindle Books, Apple iBooks, and B & N Nook Books are also offering pre-orders.  Why? What’s in it for the author or publisher?  And what’s in in for you, the reader?

Take a look at the reader first, using my upcoming book as an example.  it’s August, and “Yankee Reconstructed” won’t be available until January 3, 2016. Why would you want to order it now? Well, first, there’s the simple matter of forgetfulness (and that’s something that happens to everybody, not just us seniors.) Between today and January comes that whole holiday season, with all of its distractions. And when January arrives, you’re going to be exhausted, even if not hung-over. Will you remember to order my book on January 3rd? Probably not. But if you have pre-ordered it, it will arrive, just in time to fill that empty void that follows the holiday season.

You’ll find cost-savings, too.  Most pre-orders carry a reduced price tag. My “Yankee Reconstructed” is available for pre-ordering at $4.99.  On January 3rd, the price will be $5.99.  What’s even better, you don’t have to pay a thing until the book ships. So order it in August, and by the time your bill arrives in January, you won’t even notice that you’re paying for it.

Here’s another advantage.  Let’s suppose you have a history-loving friend who enjoys historical novels, and you want to give her a book for Christmas. She might really enjoy my novel set in the period of Reconstruction, but it won’t be out in time for Christmas.  With a pre-order, you can ask me for a Christmas card that will announce the “gift-to-come.” It will have a picture of the book, the date of arrival, and a place for you to sign  your name. Problem solved, and you don’t even have to wrap the gift.

But let’s be honest.  I get more out of a pre-order than you do, at least in the short term.  And to understand why, you have to understand the methods by which “Best-Seller” lists are compiled. Every company has its own algorithms, but the idea is the same. The more copies a book sells, the more copies it will sell in the future. And since most of these lists are compiled every week, if not every day (or in the case of Amazon, every hour), the most recent sales take on an enormous importance.

Here’s an example.  For several days in a row, last month, my current offering “Damned Yankee” sold one copy each day in the Kindle Book Store.  Its ranking among the Top 100 — U.S. History — Civil War — Books about Abolition  wavered around #90 to #97. That’s OK.  It’s in the top 100 and has been there for months. But on one rainy Sunday afternoon, for reasons unknown, it sold seven copies within a couple of hours. And its rating in the top 100 jumped to #13. That put it on the first page of pictures of those “best sellers.” For the next several days, sales blossomed — not 7 every day, but 2 or 3, rather than 1.

Now, think about pre-orders. They don’t get charged — or paid for — until the day of publication. So for several months, the pre-orders can pile up. And if 20 people have pre-ordered the book, it will zoom to the top of its category ratings when those sales all  hit the cash register.  So WHEN you buy a book matters more than the simple act of buying it.  


* If nobody buys my new book on the day it comes out, its ranking will be something like #487,352 — and from there it’s a long, hard climb to the best-seller list.

* If  ten fans choose  to buy a copy of the book on random days during the first two weeks, the rating may move to five figures instead of six, but not many readers will take a chance on a book that’s only#7,294.

* But if those same ten fans pre-order “Yankee Reconstructed,” it has a great chance of being a “best-seller” from its first day of publication. And those at the top of their category tend to stay there because the listing inspires others to purchase the book.

That’s why pre-orders are so important to authors. They are one of the kindest gifts you can give your favorite author.

Coming Attractions.




For today, a nice little screen shot of an announcement that went out to my mailing list. Tomorrow we'll talk about why pre-orders are so important to the success of a new book.


Good Idea Gone Awry: Pre-Orders



Recently Amazon and other e-book retailers made it possible for independent publishers (like me) to take pre-orders for a new book, just as they do for traditional publishers.   The hope is that there will be enough pre-orders to kick-start the book's climb through the rankings. How does that work?  Retailers accept the orders but do not charge them or record them as purchases until all those pre-orders are entered in one batch on launch day.

I tried this for my first historical novel, Damned Yankee, which launched on May 1, 2014. Again I was not impressed with the outcome. Yes,  a few of my faithful readers dutifully pre-ordered their copies because I asked them to do so. I had the book on pre-order for a solid month, and there were only seven pre-orders on Kindle, and none on Apple or Nook as far as I can tell. 

My readers really didn't like doing pre-orders, and several told me so. Truth be told, there was not a single advantage to be gained by making a purchase early. Unlike a product whose supply might run out before you could get to the store, e-books never run out. So the pre-orders did not cause any sort of wild mob of lined-up buyers at the time. On the morning the set went live on Kindle, the seven pre-orders all came in at once, and they had absolutely no impact on the book's ranking. A couple of months later, the book took off well on its own and sold hundreds of copies a month for the rest of the year. The pre-order option turned out to be another waste of my time. Would I bother doing it again? Probably not.



How Many Strange Things Can We Find?

Several days ago, a friend commented about the football rankings in Mississippi and the winning political party in Arkansas, speculating that they signaled the coming of Apocalypse. As for us, we've had the wandering red chicken and yesterday's disastrous snowfall.  Can there be more?

This morning, Floyd walked out onto our veranda to pour coffee while I finished cooking breakfast in the kitchen.  He shouted loud enough to scare me witless. I was sure he had fallen or had a heart attack or uncovered a burglary. Here's what he saw looking back at him through the window:

Remember, we live in an urban area, within a more-or-less fenced -in community. No outdoor pets allowed, and he only trees are those planted ten years ago. This beautiful fellow was as scared as he was. They made eye contact, Floyd shouted for me to come see, and the buck took off running across the yards. Hope he makes it home safely.

Meanwhile, I'll remind you once more. The "boxed set" of my first four books is on sale as a pre-order until tomorrow. Save $2.00 by ordering today and help set a record Amazon book rating.

Thanks for clicking here.


What's All This About Pre-Orders?

As I announced a couple of days ago, my new collection of books about "The Civil War in South Carolina's Low Country" is now available for pre-ordering. It's not really "four books in a box," of course, but rather, four electronic books in one easily navigated e-book format. Their publication dates range from 2007 to 2013, but they have much in common -- more than just the author!

All four are set, at least in part, on the Sea Islands of South Carolina -- from Charleston to Savannah -- during the same period of 1861 to 1865. They cover many of the same events, but from different points of view. The war looks very different, depending on whether you're a Confederate soldier, a Union soldier, a battlefield nurse, a well-meaning missionary, an abolitionist, a cotton agent, or an African whose status is still wavering between enslavement and freedom.

Each book is a separate story, but occasionally one character pops up in several books. Jim McCaskey is a featured character in A Scratch with the Rebels, but he also appears briefly in Beyond All Price. Laura Towne and her fellow missionaries have a a brief introduction in Beyond All Price before they take center stage in The Road to Frogmore. Many other minor characters seem unimportant in one book, only to reappear with their own short stories in Left by the Side of the Road.

The collection will be published and available on November 15, 2014, for $7.99. Why are there pre-orders? Well, they serve several purposes. I was originally encouraged to put the four books together because recent sales have suggested that readers are going back to earlier books to pick up a greater understanding of the events. I wanted to make it easier (and cheaper) for them to do so, but at the same time, I wanted to give those readers some advance notice that they could save money by ordering the set now and waiting for the release date.. (At the moment, purchasing the four individual books would cost $12.96; the boxed set at pre-order price, $6.00 or slightly higher on iBooks.)

There's a benefit for me, as well. Pre-order sales are not charged until the day of the scheduled release, so on that first day, as all the pre-order sales hit the sales lists at once, there's a better chance that the collection will break into the 100 best-seller category and encourage others to buy the book, albeit at the slightly higher official list price of $7.99.

The best news is that these pre-orders are available NOW. You can order a Kindle edition at: http://www.amazon.com/Civil-War-South-Carolinas-Country-ebook/dp/B00OKUZF4M. The set is also available in iBooks (in the Apple Bookstore) and on Kobo, by searching under my name, Carolyn P. Schriber. I expect the Nook edition to be ready within the week, as well.

Happy Reading!