When Amazon announced that indie authors other than Hugh Howey would be allowed to offer their e-books on pre-order, the timing couldn’t have been better for me to give it a try. I was in the midst of planning my next book release. The description was ready, the categories and keywords chosen, and I’d just sent the final draft of the manuscript out for copyediting.
I literally sat down at my computer, saw the heads-up from Martin Crosbie in my e-mail box (thank you, Martin!), and went to work. KDP makes it really easy (as Lynne Cantwell described in greater detail on her recent post):
1. Start a new title on your KDP dashboard.
2. Enter as much info as you can about title, contributors, keywords, categories.
3. Load a cover (if you have one…mine was accepted without one, but I added one afterward.)
4. Load a draft copy of your manuscript. If you enable the right settings, it will NOT be available for sampling or download on Amazon, so no worries that readers will get a sneak peek of something unedited. BUT, in a last-minute and disturbing discovery, if you load your book to Goodreads during the pre-order period, your preview WILL be available to US Goodreads users. [The preview is a feature Goodreads just added.] When I asked KDP about this, they suggested I talk to the Goodreads people. I’m not holding my breath for a quick solution. In the meantime, I’d suggest either loading up only your print version to Goodreads [previews are not available for print] or making sure the manuscript you submit to KDP is either the final version or one of at least the quality you’d be comfortable submitting as an ARC (advance reader copy.)
5. Set your pre-order date (from ten days away to three months max).
6. Wait for approval and share the pre-order link with the world!
Now, more caveats I discovered along the way.
1. Be careful with your deadline. Yes. You get a deadline. When you choose a pre-order date, KDP works backward ten days and gives you a drop-dead for loading your final materials. I guess they want to make sure we’re all tidy and ready for our close-up. Or that they will have sufficient time to calculate your pre-orders into your sales ranking. Choose your date carefully. At this point, I expect to be “all systems go” before the actual date I entered. (It’s that advertising background, I guess.) So I assume I can change my release date to something earlier if I want to. Missing your deadline, however, comes with penalties. One, you will be banned from pre-order privileges for a year. Two, and more importantly, your credibility with your fans could take a hit. Depending on your genre, and if you’re writing a series, fans’ tolerance for the next installment varies. Three, love Amazon or hate them, but they’ve given us an opportunity. If we give them enough evidence that we can’t keep our promises, I can’t imagine that they will continue to offer the privilege. After all, “customer satisfaction,” at least publicly, drives the company.
2. It takes a few days for your new title to show up in Google searches. So don’t flake out if you’re not everywhere yet. And don’t forget to log into Author Central to add your book to your author page!
3. Pre-release reviews are not possible, at least at this point. Apparently you can’t upload a review until the book is released. But…your pre-order period seems like a fine time to solicit prepublication reviewers, if you’re so inclined.
4. You can monitor your pre-order numbers in the KDP dashboard. It even lets you know how many you got on specific days. This is great because you can roughly attribute pre-orders with any specific announcements you’ve made. For example, I sent out an email newsletter to my list and saw a spike soon afterward in my pre-order numbers.
5. Woot, you get a sales ranking! Okay, it’s not completely official because you haven’t technically SOLD anything yet (customers aren’t charged until the book is released) but it gives you some nice visibility if your pre-order numbers pop you up in your category rankings.
I don’t know how this is going to turn out in the long run, but I’m looking forward to the adventure. Are any of you trying the pre-order option?
36 thoughts on “What You Need to Know about Amazon Pre-ordering”
Great information, Laurie, thank you! I hope to be trying this soon.
Thank you, Melinda. It’s been a learning experience so far. And authors are getting really creative with some of it. We all learn together…
Thanks Laurie. Another piece of valuable information.
I don’t have anything ready yet, but I do intend to try this for my next book. Thanks for the additional info, Laurie!
Thanks so much for the Goodreads preview heads up Laurie! 🙂
I’m trying it right now with the first book under my Raymond Lee pen name. The 1st day only got me three sales and one of those I know was a friend. I’m hoping it picks up soon but either way, it’s cool having it out there before it is “out there.” I have one more scene to write which will be completed today and then editing. All due by 9/20 for my 9/30/14 release date.
I’m doing an Amazon gift card giveaway to go along with it in effort to get more presales and get my pen name out there. Hoping it all pays off!
Crystal, good luck with your launch! That’s a really good idea about the gift card. Hmm…
If you’re worried about the deadline – and remember, if you screw up a deadline on this, KDP will remove your ability to do preorders! – then consider this:
Upload the final version as your “preorder”.
Not only does this remove the worry about Goodreads and the preview, but it also removes any worry you might have about having the book done in time. If the copy you are uploading is the final and ready to sell version, then you’re already set.
So why do a preorder at all then? Because it gives you a tool to build buzz about a book, and then splash it all at once at the release date. It’s why major publishers use preorders, too. They’re not doing it to show a book is there before it is ready (usually). In most cases they already have ARC copies out to reviewers by the time a preorder is listed.
Play it smart, and professionally.
Thank you, Kevin. I’m learning so much for next time. Now I have the final file in place, so no more worries about my slip showing! 😉
Looks like I have already lost my pre-order privileges. I changed the date or something and then I couldn’t do it for my other books. In my case it really didn’t matter but it was nice to see some ranking for both Fractured Vows and Alex the Mutt before their release date. So much fun to follow a good ranking! Better than crack 😉
I don’t think you have much to lose but yes, it’s good to upload a good copy of the manuscript so be prepared!
Thanks for sharing as you do!!!
Oh no, Brenda! But it is fun to follow along and keep the excitement going.
Very helpful information Laurie, thanks! I”m considering a preorder for my next novel, so have bookmarked this page. Let’s hope I actually hit my (artificial) deadline for completion…
Good luck with Charlie!
Thank you, DV! This…should be interesting.
Thanks for this, Laurie. It’s a good topic. I’ve been noodling on preorder, too.
My next novel–Love Poison–is available for preorder right now, but I haven’t publicized it at all. I’m concerned that without an Amazon sample (not available for preorders), potential buyers might be put off. I’d think differently if I had a “following,” but I really don’t. Or more precisely, anyone who is likely to preorder (my wife & the dog–maybe) will buy the book anyway when it comes out. Although the dog might still want to scan a sample.
Also, the preordered sales affect the sales rank at the point of ordering, so they’ll drop off my 30 day moving average earlier. I don’t know that I’ll be able to generate enough release-day orders to climb Amazon’s Hot New Release list, but I think preorders will dilute opening day sales.
One big benefit I did find, though, by putting the book on preorder I get an Amazon ASIN, which I’ve been able to add as a link in the back of my other novel and to use for some launch-day promotions without waiting for the release date.
Thanks, Pete. Yes, it’s handy to have that link. It went on the first book right away. I’m looking at this as an adventure. 😀
Thanks Laurie. Really useful information.
Another very useful article that will make many authors happy. Someday, I hope to be “popular enough” to avail myself of the service.
It should be noted if you have to cancel a pre-order FOR ANY REASON (which I did unfortunately) you lose the privilege for an entire year.
Thanks, Elene. Yes, another reason to think carefully about your release strategy. Including planning in some breathing room.
Very useful indeed! Thank you. And good luck with your new release.
Thank you, Sandra, and thanks for stopping by!
I’m going to try this with my new book as soon as I decide on the release date. I have a question about the final version that has to be uploaded 10 days prior to release. Is the book frozen during those 10 days, or can you upload it again if you have to make a last-minute correction to something like a typo?
Hi, Sylvia. I have a question pending with KDP about that. Hopefully I’ll know soon, and I’ll pass that along.
Thank you, Laurie!
Okay, according to the response I received from KDP, you can move your launch sooner, but you still need to upload your final materials ten days prior to that date. You CAN make last minute changes during that period – up to three days before launch – but they would prefer if you didn’t.
Thank you! That’s good news — I was hesitant to tie a book up for 10 days when I couldn’t make a correction if necessary, knowing all the people who preordered would see whatever error I had found.
Great information update for me, thanks Laurie.
Yes! Thank you for this! We were successful with our book EBO by setting up the preorder. I noticed the ranking as well, which is a nice added bonus. We are looking forward to using this feature for all of our up coming books.
I have three up right now ready (final versions already there) for the end of the month. The cool thing is being able to control when everything releases. Add in that these books are also up on smashwords for preorder right now as well.
This allows them to release pretty much at the same time in all the outlets they are slated for. And even better, one of the books has a print copy. The print copy will be set to go live right around the same time.
I like the coordination of efforts that this allows. Now if Draft to digital sets up a pre-order I can get everything to hit at exactly the same time.
Jon, good to know re the print copy co-ordination. Were you able to do this via Createspace? I’ve til Oct 19 for mine, and thought having the print book ready on release would be good also. Thanks!
Do you know if Amazon allows you to push back a release date if you give them enough notice? For example, if someone knew they wanted to release something in 4 months but really wanted to have that link right away, could they set it up for 3 months out and then after a month push it back another month (so it would still be 3 months out) to get to that 4 month mark?
In other words, I can understand if there are punishments if someone pushes it back last minute due to Amazon not wanting disappointed customers, but what if the date issue is addressed way in advance? Have you heard anything about their policy on pushing back release dates?
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