Setting Book Sales in Motion with Digital Review Copies
As you can imagine, we’re often asked by publishers about best practices for increasing book sales. One of our top recommendations is to offer digital review copies (DRCs).
This is not too surprising. Digital review copies (also commonly referred to as advanced review copies or galleys) have been a mainstay of publisher marketing programs for years for good reason. They can increase sales by:
- Generating buzz and reviews prior to a title’s publication date.
- Gathering professional and industry reviews.
- Soliciting endorsements which may be printed in the book or in promotional materials.
- Allowing professional book buyers to read the title prior to making a large order.
- Enabling librarians and booksellers to read the title so that they can provide informed recommendations to buyers or readers.
- Aiding academic readers in determining if they should select a title for course adoption.
In other words, it’s one tactic that can accomplish a lot for very little! In fact, we estimate that investing $1 in digital review copies translates into at least $5 in increased sales. Clearly, digital review copies are cheaper to manage than print galleys, which is why they are being used more and more. Also, you can distribute them by request and on-demand, thereby eliminating a lot of waste that’s present in the typical print galley distribution process.
In addition to being cost-effective, they are also convenient – especially when you choose to manage them from within Edelweiss, where you already manage much of your other sales and marketing. We’re biased, of course, but Edelweiss makes uploading titles and managing reader requests super easy.
However, ultimately, digital review copies are popular because they are just plain effective. Time and time again, publishers find that digital review copies are instrumental in supporting a successful book launch. That said, there’s no doubt that some publishers have more success than others when it comes to using digital review copies to increase book sales. Usually, success comes down to two things: reaching the right people and getting them to talk about your book.
Reach the Right People
This is important. You want to get your digital review copies into the hands of people who can influence book sales. Obviously, this includes book buyers, but it could also include front-line booksellers, librarians, professional and semi-professional book reviewers or bloggers, and even just people who have a large following on social media.
Edelweiss is a natural place to distribute review copies because it has the largest community of book professionals. Edelweiss is used by all major publishers, so virtually all professional book buyers are already on the platform, and having access to review copies and pre-publication reviews can directly influence book orders. But in addition to book buyers, frontline booksellers, reviewers, and librarians also flock to Edelweiss to learn about upcoming titles and access reviews written by other book professionals.
When an Edelweiss user requests one of your review copies, you’ll be able to see her company information and helpful Edelweiss activity statistics. This information can help you decide if their early access to this title will help you achieve your marketing goals. And while many publishers elect to make certain titles available to any user in Edelweiss (there is no limit to the number of downloads), you have options. You can control access to your review copies in a manner that suits your publishing program and marketing goals. For example, you can:
- Grant immediate download access to certain groups, like validated B&N and Books-A-Million staff or ABA members.
- Whitelist or block individuals.
- Make a ‘request’ button only available to certain groups, such as librarians or booksellers.
- Share a title completely privately, with no requests allowed.
Another way to reach the right people is to market your review copy to your target audience. New review copies are highlighted in the weekly newsletter that goes out to all Edelweiss users, but there are several other options to consider when it comes to marketing your digital review copies. It all depends on your goals and your target audience for early distribution. You might decide to:
- Feature the title in your catalog on Edelweiss.
- Share the listing on social media with a snazzy graphic (don’t underestimate the power of bookish Twitter!).
- Have the author share the listing to his/her fans on social media, website, or newsletter.
- Advertise the title in the Edelweiss weekly newsletter.
- Include a banner ad or link to the title on your website and in your own newsletters.
- Use the Quick Send feature to send a download link directly to users in your Contact list or certain groups on Edelweiss.
- Include in markups and comp listings for your retail customers.
- Encourage your sales reps to share with their contacts.
- Advertise to your target audience in other forums (book blogs, associations, etc.).
Once you get the review copy to the right people, the next step is to get them to take whatever action you desire. This might mean writing a review in Edelweiss or on their blog, sharing on social media, recommending it to their book buyers, or adopting the title for use in their class.
The most effective strategy here is to simply ask! When approving a digital review copy request or sending a link directly to a contact, be sure to request that the reader take some kind of action. Be as specific as possible. At a minimum, ask them to write a short review in Edelweiss, as these are great at increasing Buzz and sales in Edelweiss!
Another simple yet often overlooked tactic here is to treat reviewers and readers well. Respond to their request to digital review copies in a timely fashion so that they have enough time to take action prior to the publication date. Thank your reviewers to let them know that their time and effort is noticed and appreciated. This creates a positive impression, and they’ll be more likely to help you again in the future!