Pre-ordering is essential for gaining momentum when a book first hits shelves. It is the most important thing a reader can do to support an author.
As a result, authors are often asked, “Where should readers pre-order books?” Where does it have the maximum impact and benefit? The short answer is that any sort of pre-order is helpful. Amazon purchases boost the book in important algorithms, an author’s online shop provides the biggest financial benefit, and ordering from independent bookstores helps your local community.
The largest book retailer on the planet, Amazon’s internal rankings are important to a book’s sales. Many readers will only ever discover the book on the platform if it has a large number of pre-orders and is selling consistently. 50 reviews boost a book’s visibility significantly; 100 starts recommending it alongside other books, i.e. “if you like X, you would like Y.”
PROS: Pre-orders help the book’s sales ranking on the platform, Verified Reviews left by people who pre-order on Amazon increase discoverability
CONS: Amazon takes 60%-70% of the book’s cover price for print books, and it ranges for ebooks from 30-70%
Chances are you have an independently owned and operated bookstore in your community. They probably host author events, promote literacy, and employ people in your town or city. Even if you don’t see Fat Witch Summer on their limited shelf space, the book is available on Ingram, a global book distributor. Any indie bookstore can order a copy.
PROS: Shop local! Keep your money within your local community, help support a small business
CONS: Ordering books that are not in stock may take a few days or weeks
Note: You can support any independent bookstore in the US by shopping at Bookshop.org and choosing a store to receive a portion of the retail price
Barnes & Noble (Online or In-Person)
While I have little control over whether or not an individual B&N stocks Fat Witch Summer on its shelves, the book is available in their online catalogue, which also connects to Ingram. You can call a Barnes & Noble or ask in person about ordering a copy. They also have a few sales throughout the year where pre-orders are 25% off—a great opportunity to support authors. In some towns, they might be the only bookstore.
PROS: An author-friendly business, B&N is a brick and mortar presence that is valuable to many communities
CONS: Like Amazon, they take a solid cut—around 50-60% for print books, 30% for digital Nook titles
The Author’s Online Store
Often the best way to get signed copies of a book is to order them directly from the author. The Sword And Rose Press Shop has signed copies of Fat Witch Summer and limited edition merch. This is the most direct way to financially support your favorite authors.
PROS: The author makes the most off the cover price—70% of the sale instead of 50% (bookstore) or 30% (Amazon)
CONS: These sales are not reported and thus do not affect sales rankings/algorithms
Requesting and reading books from your local library also supports authors. If you request Fat Witch Summer from your local library, they will use their budget to purchase physical or digital copies, directly driving sales. If your library already has a copy of Fat Witch Summer, don’t feel too guilty if you read it there instead of buying it—reading it through the library shows the library that you care about the book and they should support future books from the author.
PROS: Makes the novel more accessible teenagers and readers of all income levels
Ultimately, different pre-orders help authors in different ways, but the bottom line is that every order in the first few days of the book's launch makes a massive difference. However you choose to support the book—thank you!