Amazon Pre-order Follow-up

DSCN0101When Amazon announced last summer that e-book pre-orders would be accepted for garden-variety indie authors, I pounced. The timing was perfect for my upcoming release, a third book in a series, and I’m usually willing to try something new. You can read about my little adventure in Amazon pre-ordering here. Now that I’ve gone through the process, let’s wrap it up.

What’s the scoop on sales rank?

Amazon did not offer a payout for pre-orders until it released the book. They also did not charge readers until the release date, when the book was automatically sent to their Kindles. I DID get a pre-order ranking that rose and fell depending on how many pre-orders I was getting. That was pretty cool to watch and take screenshots of and use (a bit) as social media content. Having my book sit next to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray on Amazon’s shelf was kind of fun.

On release day, all pre-orders (about thirty) were credited to my book in my KDP reports and that gave my ranking a little boost. Playing Charlie Cool hit #1 “Hot New Releases” in one of its biggest categories, though, and stayed there for about a week and a half. I’m immensely grateful to have had Twitter support and friends to help spread the word. Regular sales and KU borrows have been, if not brisk, at least steady.

Even though I did not get that many pre-orders, this was an interesting way to launch a book and a good lesson to learn. I can see that it would be especially effective if you have a really popular series with a built-in audience clamoring for the next story.

What I would do differently next time…IF I ever do it again.

I would offer the pre-order for a lower price, maybe 99 cents, to encourage more potential readers to purchase. I also might try again when I have more books published. I would only load the complete, formatted manuscript into KDP next time, to avoid the glitch that Goodreads seems to have no interest in fixing. I would also do more advertising, probably on Goodreads or through direct mail.

What you really need to watch out for:

Deadline means deadline. Build yourself in some fudge room, especially if this is your first book. A myriad of things can go wrong, and nearly everything takes longer than you think it will.

Your deadline is ten days prior to the release date that you set on KDP. That means no more changes. Plan to be on the spot with your final formatted file, or else you will have to wait until publication to fix that typo. In dire emergencies, you can work directly with KDP to get a new file uploaded within three days before the deadline, but this is taking a BIG risk. At least one author has reported that KDP released the WRONG version of the file when it came down to crunch time.

Similar to best practices when releasing ANY e-book, purchase a copy for yourself (you did pre-order a copy of your own book, didn’t you?) to see what your readers are getting and to be ready to fix any potential glitches immediately. DO plan to be near your computer on release day. But you knew that, right?

Has anybody else tried this? What kind of results have you seen? Readers, if you’ve purchased a book on pre-order, has it arrived on time and as expected?

Author: Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of four novels. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley. Learn more about Laurie at her website and her Amazon author page.

13 thoughts on “Amazon Pre-order Follow-up”

  1. Thanks for the tips, Laurie. I’m going to try it for my January release. I was planning on waiting to set up the pre-order until the final manuscript was ready, so I wouldn’t have to deal with any of the “releasing the wrong version” horrors I’m hearing about.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. I will be trying this for the second book in my series, in early 2015. Great idea about the “lower” price pre-order incentive. They do that with video-games and other consumer products all the time. Writing is a business and requires all the same tricks and savvy that we see in other fields to succeed (*success and definitions of success vary by individual, I know).

  3. Laurie! Great info. I did a pre-release. I did not have a clue what to look for as far as stats. So I didn’t. I also had 17 minor typos and only discovered after I set the dang book on pre-release that I could not fix them until release day. Here is what I do now: Once I have a title ready for publication, I send a mobi file to my ereader and review it before I hit that publish button. I have still missed a dropped quotation mark, or an extra space, but if I do find things that stop my eye.–I fix it. I just spoke to an author who managed 5,000 books ordered on 90 campaign pre-release. In the book description he mentioned: Exclusive to Amazon. Offered the title for 99¢ on pre-release and said regular price $2.99. Amazon noted that “Exclusive to Amazon” and did a single day email blast on the pre-release. The author has two books in the series. He published the first and offered the second on pre-release… with caveat: Buy the first book at $2.99 and get the second on pre-release at 99 cents. I gotta ask more questions on that bit. So. He says he sold 5000 of the first book while the second was on pre-release for a total of 10,000 books sold in 90 days. Very nice.

  4. Thanks for writing this post, you share some impotant info here. I think the pre-order thing may work as a nice surprise if you are planning on giving a book as a gift to someone.

  5. Thanks Laurie. The timing of your article is perfect.
    I will adjust the price down to $.99 for the early pre-orders for my novel coming out this month. Today is the final day to have a file uploaded.

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