There is nothing more frustrating to me than finding a great book, reading one or two more by the author and then finding out they are no longer being published. Sometimes its just because I have found a writer who has passed away, decided they don’t wish to go through all that is need to get published, or maybe the publisher folds. But if its a sales issue, I and other readers who like that writer are at least partly responsible. Thanks to the fabulous   I ran across a great blog post on what you can do to help authors you like.

That blog post by Jody Hedlund is a great start and filled with pretty easy things readers can do to help writers they like succeed. One important way to help that I mentioned at Ravencon, but don’t see talked about enough is pretty simple but may take as much as three minutes of time is probably the most important thing we fans can do to help our fellow readers find books we like, and help publishers and writers get books to shelves. It is fortunately pretty simple: preorder.

Preorders, especially early preorders (two or three months or more before the book comes out) help shape the entire sales arc of a book and potentially the writers career. A new book by a writer who is not a best seller It can be their second book or their twelfth) will get a targeted lay down (the number of books printed for the first print run) of anything from three thousand to ten thousand copies, but the number will vary by publisher, genre and prior sales record.

If Joe and Jane Scribe have written three books together, and their first two books sold a passable but not spectacular four thousand copies each over the last two years, and the lay down for book three is set at six thousand, this is where Ye Loyale Readers can step in and help get J&J to the next level, and possibly see to them getting a contract for book number four. If preorders for book one (their debut) was say a hundred copies, and book two got say five hundred but both in the end sold about the same number of copies, that increase is noticed, and probably not outside expectations going from a debut to a follow on to sequel. However, if book three suddenly gets to a thousand or even two thousand preorders, and is done before the books are actually printed it can boost the size of that initial print run, and ensure that stores order more both when the book comes out and reorder when those sell.

I’ve personally seen the effects of preorders on retail stores. If a frequent shopper says "I loved book a by J&J Scribe, can you preorder the next one?" they are likely to order more copies of the book you want and other books by that writer. Writers who are consistently recommended by readers will get to the promised land; automatic replenishment.