Smashwords Pre-order AND Amazon KDP Select at the Same Time

Guest post
by Thorsten Nesch

Contrary to all other information currently available, publishing your eBook for Kindle on Amazon in the KDP Select program and offering it for pre-order over Smashwords parallel IS possible!

A short while ago Smashwords started its pre-order system. Since I’ve published my novels recently at Amazon choosing the 90 day select program, Smashwords caught my attention at a time I was looking for the next platform anyway.

How great is that? I could upload my novels already in Smashwords – since I had the time to do it now – and when Amazon’s 90 days are over, it would be automatically published and widely available. In addition, people could pre-order it before. Perfect.

I did my research and I read a couple of blog articles, but everybody was saying that this isn’t possible. I wondered why? Because according to Amazon’s program no “sales“ are allowed at the same time on any other portal.

A pre-order is not a “sale,“ so what is the problem?

I wrote Amazon asking exactly that.

ANSWER AMAZON ( Germany, translation follows)

Guten Tag Herr Nesch,

ja, wenn Sie sicherstellen, dass Ihre eBooks nicht vor dem KDP Select-Ablaufdatum bei Smashwords verkauft werden, sondern nur “eingestellt” sind, dann können Sie so vorgehen, wie Sie es beschreiben.

Denken Sie dann auch daran, dass Sie nur bis zu 10% Ihres Buchs als Leseprobe oder Vorschau anbieten dürfen.

Freundliche Grüße,

Stephanie Mattern

Kindle Direct Publishing


Good day Mr. Nesch,

yes, you can do that, if you make sure your eBook is not sold via Smashwords before the end of your KDP Select time but only “listed.”

But keep in mind, you can only allow a 10% reading-sample.

Best regards,

Stephanie Mattern

Kindle Direct Publishing

Their answer was positive and they were so nice to point out that I only have to take care of my book’s last sales day in the KDP Select program and that I am just allowed a 10% reading sample on Smashwords.

I went straight to work, formatting for Smashwords. Until I went on to publish the novel as a pre-order where it says it can’t be sold on any platform during pre-order time.

But it was on Amazon – so I sent another email, this time to Smashwords (there is no German site):

My ebook IS available on one platform. I asked there and they ARE OKAY it being listed as a pre-order on SW.

then it should be ok for SW as well, or?

And Smashwords responded just as quick and precise as Amazon:


Good Afternoon, Thorsten.

Thanks for your email. That shouldn’t be a problem; however, if you are already publishing this title directly through kobo, Apple, or Barnes & Noble, be sure to opt-out of distribution to then by going to Dashboard: Channel Manager.



Service Team


It would be okay for them, too, pointing only out that if it is on Kobo etc. I have to opt out that channel in the Dashbord Channel Manager. Fantastic.

The result you can see The Locomotive here on Smashwords and here on Amazon KDP Kindle.

I think that here Amazon and Smashwords are doing us – the authors – a big favour in making this possible. I just wanted to let you know that it is possible. I hope this information is helpful to you.


Thorsten Nesch is an award-winning author. The German version of his novel Joyride West was nominated Best YA Debut and is in pre-production for a movie. Three novels and one non-fiction book are available in English. Currently he is living close to the river Rhine in Germany. Learn more about Thorsten at his website.

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23 thoughts on “Smashwords Pre-order AND Amazon KDP Select at the Same Time”

  1. Thanks you for this information, Thorsten. It is extremely helpful to me as a soon-to-be published author. Best wishes on your book and movie. 🙂

  2. That’s pretty cool. And good thinking! I’m not 100% sold on the value of KDP, even for just one 90-day stint. But if you’re hoping to take advantage of the Smashwords pre-order period anyway, then this is not a bad way to go about it; and you can take advantage of what value KDP still has (some people still do very well with it).

    As some writers have expounded on at length, ebooks aren’t produce: they don’t have expiration dates. We need to keep that in mind, so we can come up with interesting methods like this one more often!

    1. check what e.grayson said about the 6 weeks pre-order time … otherwise to use any outlet for an ebook is absolutely ligit if it is according to everybodys rules. KDP served me well with a German novel – with another not so. It is a lot about genre.

      And ebooks can be read, many like them and some can read them only (bad eyesight e.g.) so for me there is no second thought: I publish them myself – if no publishing house does it. Since 20 years I am publishing myself.

      The difference? Now I dont have to smuggle printed books over East-European borders … because they were so expensive to print in Germany. And since 20 years everybody tells me: Dont publish yourself. My experience: If I wouldnt have published myself, I wouldnt be a published author now.

  3. Interesting. Just yesterday someone posted on the KDP board that he received a notice from Amazon that he had five days to remove his book from “preorder” status on Smashwords (it was the Apple preorder they discovered) or he would be removed from the KDP Select program. It seems maybe Amazon needs to communicate to make sure they’re on the same page? I’d urge caution….

      1. I agree that’s the best thing to do. That way, if you get one of the emails like the person on KDP did, you have proof that you were granted permission.

  4. Smashwords recommends preorders be up to 6 weeks (I thought that was what I read). How long did you make your title available as a preorder? Thanks and congrats.

    1. I honestly didnt read this anywhere but my pre-order time was about that timeframe of 6 weeks – so coincidentally right. I believe you if you read this. And I mean any time longer than a month in pre-order I wouldnt recommend. One month is a good start to inform friends and readers that soon it will be available in other formats (with a hint at the beginning).

  5. Interesting. This really would be a perfect set-up to do 90 days KDP select with pre-orders elsewhere & then available everywhere for sale. I suspect that is why the rules might be changing already (or will change soon).

  6. Hi, that’s NOT what I’m hearing from Amazon. Maybe because I arranged my pre-order through Draft2Digital, instead of Smashwords? Earlier this week, Amazon said they’d look into the fact that my book is only available for PRE-ORDER on iTunes. Well, they looked into it and I just got this email from them:

    “I’ve consulted with our KDP Select compliance team, and they’ve advised that, if your book is marketed in a way that indicates it is available for distribution, for sale or for free, then it is not eligible for KDP Select. For example, one of the possible indicators that the book is available for distribution may be the presence of instructions on another website or sales channel for downloading or obtaining the book, including by way of pre-order.”

    The 5th day deadline Amazon gave me to resolve this is tomorrow. I’ll probably take my book off of pre-order at iTunes because I’ve already advertised my KDP free days

    1. I’ve read that experience from someone else on the KDP forum regarding preorders through Smashwords, Naimahaviland, so it doesn’t seem to be a Draft2Digital issue. One poster on the KDP forum (the comment is now deleted, for whatever reason) pointed out that if someone preorders from any of the Smashwords affiliates Amazon loses a sale, which is why they’re against that practice if one is in KDP Select.

      I wonder if the difference is Amazon U.S. vs. elsewhere? Or maybe as I speculated somewhere up in the comments, Amazon hasn’t clearly communicated their stance on the issue across the board, so different people get different responses?

      1. Melinda, I agree with your suggestion that the pre-order option is so new that folks at Amazon and beyond aren’t on the same page yet. This issue will probably get ironed out in the next month or so. I’ll be watching developments with interest!

        1. this is my best guess, too. it is a huge company, those things take time.

          but i do honestly believe amazon doesn’t loose 1 sale by pre-order – rather the opposite! caused by the more PR channels (reaching also people only with kindles that havent heard of the book before).
          i think it is a win-win-win (KDP,SW,author) situation and they should see to set it clear.

  7. PS: Thanks for your post, Thorsten. It’s good info and I’m glad to know there’s another story out there beside mine. Now if MY Amazon guy will talk to YOUR Amazon guy, who’s obviously a genius 😉

    1. i like to contact people – even with a simple question like that – also in the publishing business – we re authors … we have the freedom of a jester !
      And I hope the next company-meeting will set it straight with the best decision for all sides! and then asap inform your amazon-guy 🙂

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