Bookseller Tips & Tricks: Promoting Pre-Orders

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Independent booksellers nationwide have worked to make the promotion of pre-order campaigns a priority in their stores. Liz Hottel of Politics and Prose (P&P) in Washington, D.C., told Bookselling This Week that the store has held a long-standing participation in the effort.

In order to maximize its promotion of pre-orders, Hottel said, P&P assessed what efforts they were already making. “My determination, and my team’s determination, was that there was so much we were already doing with pre-orders that we chose to highlight what we were already doing,” she said.

To promote pre-orders, P&P decided to take advantage of its robust events programming, as that allowed the store to have access to authors very close to their publication date. “That was something I chose to focus on,” Hottel said, “the added value of the signing.”

While signed books are some of P&P’s most successful pre-orders, Hottel found that swag or exclusive merchandise does not do as well with the store’s customers.

“We made the decision every month to remind our customers and highlight some of the great things that we could provide for them, and some of the great authors that we had access to,” added Hottel. “That said, we’re very open to also supporting pre-orders for books we don’t have [signed].”

A recent title P&P had success with, despite not having the author in its events lineup, was The Mueller Report, Hottel said, noting that following the announcement of the book’s release, P&P was able to immediately feature it on the website to drive sales. P&P also features titles available for pre-order in a dedicated newsletter e-mailed to customers each month, which, Hottel said, the store is seeing increased movement from. Additionally, the store posts pre-orders on social media, creates in-store displays and signage, and features a revolving carousel of titles available for pre-order on its website.

Hottel added that while there’s an urge to promote pre-orders of popular upcoming titles, booksellers should also consider their specific customer base. “We’re trying to drive it from our end…[we’re] making sure it’s consistent with our identity and our brand,” she said. “We’ve had a really robust business in pre-orders for events for many, many years now, so now we’re just trying to highlight that more than anything to make sure that everyone is aware that it’s something they can do.”

“It’s a lot about customer awareness,” Hottel added, “and making sure they know that their independent bookstore can provide the same things that Amazon can.”

Booksellers looking for more tips and tricks regarding the promotion of pre-orders in their stores can visit