Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Use a "First Edition" to Sell Advance Copies.

A publishing technique borrowed from printmakers: Thanks to novelist and artist Anne Flint for asking me how to go about creating a first edition in this world of on-demand printing. I hadn't thought about it, but the following made immediate sense.
  • Before you print any books, decide the number of books in your "first edition." Let's say 50.
  • Begin promoting your "first edition" to your most likely customers. Ask them to pre-pay, in which case you will give them a discount and, once the books are printed, send them an autographed and numbered "first edition" copy. Specify the number of copies in your first edition.
  • When the time comes to print your first books, go ahead and print whatever you need. It must be at least 50, if that's what you promoted, but it could be more. No need to add any printed indicator on the copyright page that this is a first edition.
  • When the books arrive, sign 50 copies (if that's what you promoted) and number them adding an FE after the number (e.g., 1/50 FE, 2/50 FE, etc.). The numbering system is the same one used by artists to sell numbered prints. The FE is one way to indicate that the copy is a "first edition." This way, you can do another run of signed and numbered copies, but you won't add the first-edition indicator after the number.
  • You may want to reinforce that your customer is getting a "signed and numbered first edition" with a little insert when you send him or her your book.
Offering a discount and an autographed copy to those willing to send you money before you even print your books is a well known technique for getting early orders and funding a first printing. You're just leveraging this technique by numbering the copies and specifying that a certain number of books are the first ones off the press. I like it.
The Publishing Pro

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