Hello everyone! So, today, I wanted to talk about something that’s always fascinated me since I’ve heard of them: pre-order incentives (POIs). It’s a conversation I’ve seen going around Twitter for a long while (legit, I started this post in September) but, before being a book blogger (and actually up until 2 yrs into my career), I didn’t know POIs were a thing. That you could buy a book and in return get something else, on top of getting the book. When I found out about it, I was slightly stunned and I am still stunned because they are really amazing! Now, for the people who don’t get why I am so wow-ed by this, I should probably explain that I am majoring in marketing which POIs definitely fall under so, of course, I would be fascinated by it and I for sure want to discuss POIs, how they affect a reader’s choice in what to buy and what kind(s) of POI works best in gaining more pre-orders. Let’s goooooo……
What Is A Pre-Order Incentive?
Ok so to begin the discussion on POIs, we need to define what exactly is a pre-order incentive and, in the most basic sense, it’s what you think it is: it is an incentive for someone to pre-order a book and said incentives can come in the form of special bookmarks, prints, buttons, etc (more on this later). What kind of incentive(s) are offered really depends on the publishing team for the book and the author.
Why Have A Pre-Order Incentive?
So, the reason to have a POI is to boost pre-order sales which is important because:
- the author and publishing team want to make money
- pre-order sales are one of the factors on getting on popular lists like the New York Times Bestseller List.
Now, you may be asking why exactly would anyone want to be on a list, and here’s why: because there is a high correlation between reader’s picking up a book and reader’s noticing a book is on an NYT Bestseller List. It’s like verifying a Twitter profile; like, this person/book is really cool/good, they know what they’re doing, and they are popular and everyone loves them so you should love them too. Plus, for authors who want to write more than one book in their lifetime or they want to get a movie deal or whatever, it really helps to be on the NYT Bestseller List and get awards to show off because it shows you have an audience who is willing to read more of your work and/or see your book come to life and watch it in theatres and buy DVDs of it etc.
Essentially, POIs are really important to authors because they can either make or
break not do anything for your career. I would like to point out, though, that you don’t need a POI to do well (or more than well), however, it seems to really help.
[Related: DISCUSSION: #POCbent and the Media]
What Can A Pre-Order Incentive Be?
As I said previously, POIs are usually some type of swag that relates to the book in some way, whether it shows information about the book and author or it can be about a certain character or about a specific scene or theme in the book. The following list is a bit of a mega list of what kinds of incentives I’ve seen for books:
- enamel pins
- playing cards
- character cards
- quote cards
- deleted scenes
- door holders
- makeup (usually like lip gloss or lipstick)
- compact mirror
- mini notebook
- flash drive
- mini snow globe
- a fan (like an actual, old-timey fan….not a huge fan or a person lol)
Etc etc etc. There’s a lot more, especially if you take into account the kinds of things that go into ARC (advanced reader copy) boxes that some people receive. Regardless, all of these things, most have to do with the book.
How Do You Decide What Your POI(s) Should Be?
So, imagine you’re the marketing team for an author and you want some cool POIs. You have a mega list to pick from but you can’t exactly use them all; you can pick 1, 2, maybe 3. So, how do you pick what POIs to use? Well, I’m not on the marketing team for an author, but I would like to one day (publishers, hit me up!) and here’s how I would pick:
- what are the themes of the book?
- are there any specific images or ideas that come to mind when you think of the book? (eg: apples, war, fairies, superheroes etc)
- what colours are central to the book? Typically, these are also the colours of the cover.
- are there two, distinct sides in the story? (eg: superhero vs villain, snow white vs the evil queen, monster vs human etc)
- how popular is the author? is this a debut or is this the 13th book the author has written?
After answering those questions, I could come up with a medium sized list of several things that would fit as POIs and I wouldn’t think about costs just yet. For example, let’s say the book I’m working on is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a list of POIs I could do are:
- character cards of the seven dwarves for the POIs, with exclusive character cards of Snow and the Evil Queen as author tour exclusives
- an apple button or enamel pin, either with words on it or without words on it
- a 4 button set that interchanges buttons representing the seven dwarves, an apple, a heart, snow white, the evil queen, the prince
- a cool snow globe showing the prince standing over snow white, about to kiss her, with the seven dwarves hidden amongst the trees
- a cool apple necklace
- a comb
Etc etc etc. Now, from that list, I take out the ones that will probably be the most costly (aka the last three items). Then I take a look and see if I can consolidate or reduce ideas: in the first one maybe I can do just Snow and the seven dwarves on one card for the POI and the Evil Queen could be a tour exclusive. The second one can be consolidated into the third one as an apple button can be added to the button set. For the third one, I could completely take out all the seven dwarves buttons and the prince button and end up with just one, 4-button set of the apple, the heart, snow white, and the evil queen. Next I take a look at my budget to see if I can afford to do both new ideas, and I look to see if the book is a debut or not because, if it’s a debut, it may need some more oomph in terms of POIs to get people talking and pre-ordering so maybe it would be better to do both. Assuming the budget allows it and maybe it’s a debut, I end up doing both ideas (character cards and button set) and that’s it!
After that, it’s just regular manufacturing and promo stuff to get the ball rolling and get people ordering!
Considering all that, pre-order incentives are kind of a big thing, in terms of the thought/work/money needed to create them, and also in terms of how much they can influence a reader to buy or not to pre-order a book. Mind you, there is, of course, a limit most of us has when it comes to how books we can pre-order but like, at least for me, I don’t pre-order books often so, when I do, I carefully pick which ones I will pre-order. based on how much value I’ll get from them: how interested am I in the book? What do I know of the author? If they’re not a debut author, have I read any of their other work and what have I thought of them? And then, what pre-order incentives do they/will they probably have? Most of the time, I have several books I want to pick between that are the same price-ish and only one book I can pre-order and in the end, the pre-order incentive is the deal-breaker. So yeah, pre-orders can be a big thing.
Now, tell me, what are your thoughts on pre-order incentives? How much do they matter to you when pre-ordering a book? Are there any specific kinds of pre-order incentives you like? Let me know in the comments down below!! Thanks, have a great day/night and tata for now!!