A month ago, I published Mad Water, the third book in my epic fantasy series Pearseus. I had announced the imminent publication on social media and to my friends. A lot of them asked me if they could pre-order the book.
“I’m afraid Amazon doesn’t support pre-orders,” I had to explain, to my dismay.
Which is why I am so excited to announce that it now does! I came across the good news the other day, and knew I had to share with you.
According to the Amazon website, you can now make your new books available for pre-order in Kindle Stores worldwide. Setting a pre-order allows customers to order your book as early as 90 days before your book’s release date. When you make your book available for pre-order, customers can order the book anytime leading up to the release date you set and it will be delivered to them on that date.
One advantage of pre-order is that you can start promoting your book before launch to help raise awareness. You can promote your book’s pre-order page on Author Central, Goodreads, your own site, and elsewhere. Also, pre-orders will contribute toward sales rank and other Kindle Store merchandising even before your book is released, which can help more readers discover your book.
How it works
You’ll list your book as you would with any other KDP book. When you’re adding a new book, on Step 4, “Select Your Book Release Option,” you will choose “Make my book available for pre-order” and set a date in the future. That’s it.
Though your book isn’t available for download yet, Amazon will still publish a product detail page for it within 24 hours of approval. Customers can order the book anytime leading up to the release date you set and it will be delivered to them on that date. However, customers won’t be able to download sample content for pre-order books.
You can list pre-order books in all marketplaces except Amazon.com.in, where pre-orders are not currently available. Your book will be released at midnight local time in each marketplace.
When you list a book for pre-order, you’ll need to upload the final version or a draft manuscript of the book file for review. Typically, a draft manuscript would be something like a complete book that might still need copyediting and proofreading. Amazon won’t show the version to customers, but they’ll need to preview the content for compliance with the company’s Program Policies before creating the pre-order detail page. It will go through the same review process that any other KDP book would. Your final version must be uploaded 10 days before the release date you set.
Only new KDP books are eligible for pre-order. Public domain books are not eligible for pre-order. You may list up to 10 titles at once for pre-order, with room for more pre-order listings as you release each title.
Reporting and Royalty
Your pre-order report is updated as orders are placed. This report includes pre-ordered units, pre-order cancellations, and net pre-order units. Your pre-order sales data will not appear in other reports until after your book is delivered to customers on its release date. After that, you’ll see pre-order units listed in the Prior Months’ Royalties report, under the “Pre-order” transaction type.
Once your book is released and customers start downloading their copies, you will receive credit for final sales. Once you meet the monthly minimum sales threshold, you’ll be paid royalty approximately 60 days after the end of the month, as with normal orders.
UPDATE: My Thoughts
I guess it’s pretty clear that I’m all giddy about this. Other, however, are more skeptical. Ruth Ann Nordin has the following to say on her post, “Are Pre-Orders Right For You?”
“Apple will let all of your pre-order sales build up. Then when the book is released, all of the pre-order sales adds to all the sales you make on your first day. For example, let’s say you sell 20 books in pre-order, and you sell 40 books the day the book is released. Apple will make it count your ranking as if you sold 60 books that day. The higher ranking will give you added exposure and possibilities for getting noticed. That’s the biggest benefit to doing pre-orders from a marketing perspective, in my opinion.
Amazon, however, doesn’t operate the same way with pre-orders. So you might sell 20 books in pre-order. Then the day of release, you sell 40. For ranking purposes, it will look as if you only sold 40 books. This makes you more vulnerable to a dip in sales. If all your fans pre-order your books, then those sales won’t boost your ranking on the first day your book is available.”
No, my understanding is that Ruth is wrong, and ranking will follow the sales. That is, you will have sold 60 books in her example; 20 of them prior to the launch and 40 afterwards. Still, I’m not sure what Ruth’s sources are, and sadly her blog is closed for comments. So, I’m giving you the link and you can check out her arguments for yourselves.
According to my friend and fellow author, Nat Russo, Amazon rewards a slow rise to the top with a gentle fall to the bottom. They do this by means of a rolling 30-day average. This is what makes the “long tail” of sales a more gradual descent, rather than a plummet. The more slowly we reach the top of the sales charts, the more slowly we’ll fall off of them, which dramatically extends our exposure on the various bestseller lists.
If Amazon were to aggregate all of our pre-order sales with all of our “Day 1″ sales, we’d jump straight to the top of the charts in our respective categories. However, it’s doubtful that our “Day 2″ sales could compete with those aggregated values, so the moment “Day 1″ drops off the rolling 30-day average, our rankings would plummet.
Ruth’s other arguments against pre-orders are:
1. Pre-orders force you into a deadline. This may be problematic if you haven’t got the final manuscript by then. Generally speaking, one of the perks of self-publishing is flexibility. Inevitably, you lose some of that when you organize a pre-launch campaign.
2. Readers might want to buy a pre-order instead of going back to your blog or social networking site to see if your book is out. This may eat into your blog visitors. However, in my mind, the two are not linked. Making your readers jump through hoops is not only unprofessional, it’s also counterproductive.
Mind you, she also makes arguments in favour of pre-orders, so be sure to check out her post. Special thanks to MM Jaye for sharing this with me!