Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pat's Convention Note #10 of 100 things I learned from attending FIVE LITERARY CONFERENCES in 2014


#10 PRE-ORDERS.
I heard about pre-orders from Mark Coker and his assistant, Jim Azeveo, at the RT Booklovers Convention, Romcon, and RWA. I spoke with both of them one-on-one several times.
The concept is not new, because big publishers have done this for years. Indie authors I met said this is where the $$ is. Until last week, Smashwords was the only option for indie authors to upload an eBook for pre-orders.
In the workshop at RT, Mark Coker seemed to be flexible with the “eBook release” date. If the manuscript wasn’t ready, simply push back the date. I could see this backfiring for new authors. However, life happens, and that at times, we have to request an extension.
Mark said the key to success was having the eBook on the pre-order status for as long as possible. Here’s why. Let’s suppose you decide to release an eBook on October 1, 2014. Mark suggests you upload it on August or September 1st because if you generate one pre-order sale a day for 60 days, when that eBook goes live on October 1st, all those 60 orders will be applied on one day and that will immediately boost your sales ranking. Sounds like a plan!
 Talk to Me
So I tried this exciting opportunity! After I had TALK TO ME reproofed, formatted, and a new cover created, I uploaded it on Smashwords at a reduced price $2.99 vs. $5.99 for pre-orders. Since August 1st, 26 readers have downloaded a sample, but no sales—bummer. Hmm, I must have done something wrong. But since this plan has worked for others, I’m going to give pre-orders another try with my Christmas eBook. I guess I better write it first.
Okay, what happened last week? Amazon jumped on board with pre-order options for indie authors—about time. HOWEVER, they have stricter guidelines. The most important one is there is no flexibility on delivery date. If I say my book will be ready on October 1st, I can’t push it back, regardless of any unforeseen circumstances. If I don’t deliver it on that date, Amazon will suspend me from the pre-orders program for one year. Yikes. That is a serious offense.
So I uploaded TALK TO ME with the same discount price. When I listed my September 2, 2014, release date, Amazon sent me a notice that my final manuscript must be to them by 8/23/2014. These people are serious. Although, I can’t see where I’ve generated any pre-sales, I did make ranking yesterday, but it’s gone today.
So there you have it on what I’ve learned about pre-orders at the conferences. FYI, Apple and Google Books also have pre-order programs.  The key is to have it on pre-orders as early as possible—the longer, the better—but you have to deliver. Make sure your eBook is almost done before you sign on to this commitment.

Next up is #11. Why Google+ is the new Black (I’m trying to reach the workshop speaker to send me one or two highlights), if not, I’ll talk about street teams—my notes from RWA and an actual reader. Until then, I hope this has been a blessing.

Pat