Pre-publication samples

Fewer restrictions would undoubtedly lead to more sales

This one has been nagging at me for years and I’m amazed none of the major ebook retailers offer a solution. I’m talking about the ability to pre-order an ebook sample prior to publication. Yesterday I received a bulk email from Eric Metaxas, author of Seven Men, telling me the book is “now available.” His team either pressed “send” prematurely or they just want us to pre-order yesterday. The print book didn’t release till today and the ebook doesn’t come out till a week from now. (Btw, why is a publisher delaying the ebook’s release by a week? That’s such out-dated thinking.)

I didn’t want to buy the ebook yesterday but I wanted to request the sample when it’s available. The ebook isn’t released for seven more days so the sample obviously won’t be available till then either. The chances of me remembering to check back next week and request the sample are close to zero.

So why not add a button that lets me pre-order the sample yesterday or even a week ago? You don’t have to send it to me now, but have it sent to me on April 30 when the ebook releases. How hard is that? More importantly, how many sales have been lost because this sample pre-order button doesn’t exist?

Lessons for all PR professionals:

  1. Never send the email blast saying the book is available the day/week before it actually is available.
  2. Tell your publisher to make sure the ebook is available the same day as the print book, not a week later.
  3. Tell your publisher and/or retail partner to implement a sample pre-order button for all ebooks. Better yet, make the ebook sample available on your own website, in all formats (EPUB, mobi, PDF), before the book releases anywhere else. What do you care if it gets out in to the wild and everyone shares it? It’s called “establishing a direct channel with your customers”, and it’s a good thing to do.

P.S. — The reason I’m on Metaxas’ mailing list is because I read his amazing book Bonhoeffer a year or so ago. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read.

This post originally appeared on Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 site. It’s republished with permission.

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