In some reports of book sales to publishers, I see the sale described as a "pre-empt." What does that mean? I think of "Friends" reruns giving place to something insipid and useless like the State of the Union Address, but obviously it must be something much more delightful than that, as it sounds so heroic and dramatic.
A pre-empt is when a publisher throws enough bags of money on the table that you promise not to visit anyone else's vault to see how much money they'll offer.
In other words, it's enough money to clinch the deal, and it occurs before an auction-thus pre-empting the bidding.