A successful pre-order campaign can make or break the reputation and sales of your book. Especially for new authors who are just starting out, pre-orders can be a way to build author legitimacy and trust.
Traditional publishers use this pre-order option for books to elevate them to the “best-seller” status, because the pre-ordered books are instantly sold when the book is finally released. With Amazon’s pre-order feature, self-published authors too can now compete with traditional publishing houses. Unfortunately, though, this option is only available for Kindle ebooks to-date.
If you’re planning to publish your book via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program, here are some things you need to know about their pre-orders.
When should you start your pre-order campaign?
Amazon allows you to enable pre-orders for your book up-to one year before its release date. But most authors and publishers don’t recommend the use of this whole one-year period. Rather, limit it to about two weeks or a month and follow a proper plan to get the maximum pre-orders within that time period.
You can make your book available for pre-order by submitting a draft manuscript, but you’re required to submit your final manuscript 72 hours prior to the book’s release date. According to Amazon’s Kindle eBook Pre-Order page, “If you don’t upload your manuscript file on time, your pre-order will be canceled, and you won’t be able to set up a pre-order for any eBook for one year. The same applies if you cancel the release of your pre-order book.”
Further, Amazon also takes 24 to 72 hours to review. Hence, it is recommended to submit your final manuscript at least 7 days before the release date, leaving ample time to resubmit your manuscript if it somehow violates Amazon’s ebook requirements.
Deciding the pre-order pricing
Keeping your pre-order pricing low can attract a larger audience before release. You can always change your book’s pricing any time later. If you lower the price after certain customers have already pre-ordered it, they will be charged that lowered price when the book is released. But if the price is increased, Amazon will not increase the price for them. Instead, they will be charged at the previous price.
But changing the price after listing can change your Amazon royalties. If you lower the price during the pre-order period, your royalties will be calculated from this lowered price and not the initial price, for the full time period. This will considerably decrease your royalties, so keep this in mind when you set prices!
Beware of the Amazon pre-order algorithm
When your book is released on Amazon, it will be featured on Amazon’s “New Releases” section. If you put your book on pre-order but find no sales and no reviews for it by the time it is launched, this can greatly hurt your Amazon rankings—including the ranking on the New Releases page. Therefore, when deciding to make your book available for pre-order, it’s essential to have a properly planned marketing and promotional campaign to make sure you get enough pre-orders before your book’s release.
When you put your book up for pre-order, remember to share it on all of your socials, and also to reach out to friends and family and let them know about it. Offering buy-one-get-one-free deals like giving away the first book in the series for free can greatly encourage readers to pre-order your book. You can even give them access to courses and tutorials via the pre-order campaign.
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.