The Win-Win of Pre-Selling

Elizabeth Schieber’s review of In the Land of Armadillos is a reminder to me of the benefits of pre-selling. If you’re so excited about a book months before its release, spreading that enthusiasm now can reap longterm rewards that will last far beyond the shelf-life of one title.

Unless you are making cold calls with no knowledge of a person’s reading preferences, you need to cut yourself some slack. Book selling is an honored profession. A vocation for some. You are not forcing an undesirable good or service. Instead, you are selling the ultimate luxury item. Knowledge. And along with it, free speech and personal freedom to read whatever you please.

The next time you’re thinking about pre-selling a title, keep these things in mind:

  1. You are the expert. You know what books are new and you know what your readers enjoy. Walking into a bookstore can be overwhelming, and you are being helpful.
  2. Enthusiasm should not be tamed. It not only builds a bookseller/reader relationship, it also builds excitement and anticipation for a release date when, at last, bookseller and reader can discuss this amazing book.
  3. Have an “in the meantime” title ready. You have this person on the phone. You’ve already established that you’re looking out for them and their reading interests by pre-ordering a book that they cannot miss. Offer an ICYMI (in case you missed it) suggestion. Have a hardcover, a paperback, and a backlist title ready so you don’t have to wait 4 months to see them.

The “win” for readers is this: Not only are you helping a reader wade through an ocean of new releases, you’re also illustrating to them that they are a valued customer. The fact that you thought of them while reading this book you enjoyed so much shows that you appreciate them as a reader and a customer, and perhaps, as a friend to you or to the store.

And the bookstore earns a “win” when ordering. If you know that 20 customers have been called and told, “I’m ordering this book for you because I loved it so much,” it makes it a little easier to place that front list order. Earning a case-quantity discount on a couple of cases is pretty sweet when 20 of them are halfway out the door.

Beth Golay

Beth is a reader, writer, marketer and Books & Whatnot founder. Even though she knows better, she's a sucker for a good book cover and will positively swoon if a book is set in appropriate type. @BethGolay