Getting featured on the New York Times Bestsellers List is an ultimate goal for many authors, but not an easy one to accomplish. The list is compiled each week based on sales in brick and mortar bookstores, and for self-published authors that don’t have bookstore distribution, it’s impossible to reach the list. And the truth is that the vast majority of traditionally published authors won’t even reach the list either since thousands of books must be sold in a single week to achieve this status.
However, the NY Times also publishes and EBook Bestsellers List, which frequently features independent and self-published authors. While nobody knows for sure how many ebooks must be sold to end up on the list, some estimate that 500 ebooks sold in a week is a good starting point.
Of course 500 is a large sales number, but it can be far more achievable when an author conducts a focused preorder campaign.
Benefits of an Ebook Preorder Promotion
- The biggest and most exciting benefit is that all of the pre-sales accumulated will count toward your book’s TOTAL sales on launch day. This means that if you’ve done a stellar job with pre-promotion, you have a great chance of reaching the Ebook Bestsellers list.
- Sales accumulated prior to launch day will also count on the individual retailers’ bestseller lists, so you could potentially get listed on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and Barnes and Noble as a bestseller that week—and that exposure can generate even more sales.
- The act of promoting your book in advance of release gets readers excited. Building anticipation is sure to get people talking about your book, and ideally many will begin leaving reviews right away (reviews also influence future sales).
- You can begin your publicity strategy well in advance, allowing you to conduct media interviews and build momentum prior to launch day.
- All of these effort can also positively impact sales of your print book (if applicable), which should be released concurrently with the ebook version on launch day to maximize sales.
How to Host an Ebook Preorder Campaign
- Set up a preorder of your Kindle ebook with Amazon up to 90 days in advance. You will need to provide a digital copy of the manuscript, even if it’s not yet edited, to go through Amazon’s approval process, but the manuscript will not be distributed or shown to buyers. Within a couple of days, your preorder will be approved and you can begin promotion efforts. The Kindle preorder process is detailed here.
- Set up your ebook with the Smashwords preorder program, which will make your ebook available through its retail channels include Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble Nook and Kobo.
Note that you should also have a professional book cover designed and ready to go with your campaign, and should be fairly certain of your launch date so as not to sabotage your efforts. The Smashwords process is detailed here.
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Just a slight correction: Amazon treats pre-orders as sales on the day they were made, so the book moves up and down the rankings before release. This means you don’t get a big hit on release day, unlike the other sites.