With authors and others touting books on television and social media and creating a buzz months before their release, capturing pre-order sales has become increasingly important to publishers, as they have become an essential component in a book’s success in the marketplace.
While Amazon inevitably captures the bulk of pre-orders, Atria is looking for a way to compete by conducting an exclusive pre-order campaign with indie bookstores for one of its lead summer releases, Jennifer Weiner’s latest novel, Mrs. Everything (June). Mrs. Everything follows the story of two sisters and their lives from the 1950s to the present day, set against the backdrop of a changing America. (The book is set in Detroit.)
Customers who pre-order copies of Mrs. Everything with participating booksellers will receive a custom-made enamel pin in addition to the book. Booksellers will receive one pin for each copy of Mrs. Everything ordered through Atria’s promotional page by March 25. Besides the pins, participating bookstores will receive social graphics and digital website banners from S&S to promote the title and the pin online, as well as an easel-back poster for in-store displays.
Atria Publishing Group publisher Libby McGuire said that publishing companies “have been challenged to find unique ways to support all bookstores across the country,” and conceived of this campaign with value added to pre-orders because “we couldn’t get amazing books like Mrs. Everything into the right readers’ hands without [the indies]." The American Booksellers Association, which convened a pre-orders task force and held a pre-orders information session at Winter Institute 14 in January, is supporting Atria’s initiative by posting a Mrs. Everything sell sheet on the ABA’s pre-order calendar and including a pre-order ad in the printed May Indies Next list.
To date, 25 indies around the country are participating in the promotion, including McLean and Eakin Bookstore in Petoskey, Mich. Frontlist adult buyer Alex Ness told PW that the store is participating in this promotion in a bid to capture more pre-orders from the bookstore's newsletter subscribers, who are all over the country, as well as from the store's social media followers. Ness emphasized that McLean and Eakin does not want to replace in-store sales with pre-orders, saying, "We want to increase the places that people might not necessarily be looking for titles to buy, but might see this [Mrs. Everything and forthcoming releases with added value] and say, 'hey, yes.'"
Ness is also hoping to build up Weiner’s visibility among McLean and Eakin's customers. While Weiner has written 21 books, including a few nonfiction titles and a novel for middle grade readers, she is best known for such novels about angst-ridden women’s lives and loves as Good in Bed and Little Earthquakes, which, Ness says, sell “fairly okay” in the store already. Noting that "beach reads" -- novels appealing primarily to female consumers -- "do very well" at the store, particularly during the busy summer months in Petoskey, Ness said that this campaign will certainly pump up sales of a novel that is "a good fit" with the store's customers.
The store has previously participated in pre-order promotions for children’s books, and, children’s buyer Sara Grochowski said, has done very well with them, in terms of both online sales and pumping up the visibility of the author in the store. The secret, she said, is to supplement the publisher’s promotional materials with the store’s own “grassroots” materials.
“We would not do a publisher’s pre-order campaign if the book was not a good fit for our store,” she said. “We’re trying to capture some of those sales that go to Amazon. How many of their [pre-order] sales do you get something extra?”
For her part, Weiner told PW that she appreciates the special efforts being made to promote Mrs. Everything, saying, “I will always have a special place in my heart for independent booksellers and for the smart, thoughtful, well-read people who work there. I am so proud of this book and these characters, and hope they’ll love them as much as I do.”
This article has been updated for clarity.