Often authors ask, “Is it worth it for me to stick my book on pre-order?” Here’s why it’s worth it, and not worth it, depending on where you are with your book, your series, and your goals for ranking and sales on Launch Day.
What’s KDP Pre-Order?
Amazon gives authors the opportunity to put their book on pre-order when they upload their title details. “You can 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.”
*Note that you must get your book to Amazon 10 days before launch, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to hit that deadline.
Pre-Ordered Books Don’t Help Ranking on Launch Day
There’s a myth that pre-order sales get “saved” and “released” to the algorithm on Launch Day. That’s just not true. The A9 Algorithm used by Amazon to rank products is updated in real time – it’s a scalable beast, which means it can react to all those thousands of listings being added per day, and store them according to popularity. So any books you sell on pre-order will have the advantage of pushing you into the ranking already, meaning you may sell more books up to 90 days before actual release because you’ll already be exposed in lists and emails from Amazon, but you will not see the benefits of those sales on Day Zero.
For instance, look at this Pre-Order for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Already a Best Seller, but not out until July 2016:
Pre-Order for Unfinished Installment Books Is A Great Idea
If you are putting the finishing touches to your book and you are sure-sure you will be able to launch on the day chosen 89 days into the future, then you maybe should consider pre-order. But this means you should use this to sell before release – i.e. your motivation is making money early. You won’t sell and rank and hold rank. Use this if your book is the following book in a series, for instance, when you have just put your last series book on sale and you know you can complete the next installment in 90 days. This will keep your book series fresh in readers’ minds, and hopefully if they finish the current book before 90 days they will have the opportunity to pre-order.
Amazon commits to showing author’s series books on the same page, such as Anna Schlegel’s Dead Bank Diary series here, which means pre-orders will be seen when the reader visits your books:
Pre-Ordered Books Pay Out Earlier
If you are stuck for cash to market your book, it probably doesn’t hurt to start selling while marketing. This also has the bonus effect of meaning you will get paid earlier by KDP.
Pre-Ordered Book Pages Do Not Allow Customer Reviews
It’s worth noting it’s not possible to have customer reviews posted on your page while your book is in pre-order, and any reviews posted within the first hours will be removed more than likely. The book needs to be actually released for around 72 hours before reviews can go up, so the only reviews you can add beforehand are Editorial Reviews, such as the reviews offered by Kirkus, Indiereader, and Self-Publishing Review. Another reason to get yourself a professional review!
Pre-Orders Can Get You Listed in “Coming Soon” for your Category
IF you sell enough pre-orders to make a splash, that is.
Pre-Order Book Pages Give You Category Playtime
If your book is selling a few in pre-order, now is the time to start experimenting with categories. You can try various combinations by changing them in the admin of your book page. You should, of course, do this with some kind of educated guess (see our various keywords and categories posts on SPR) but this does buy you 90 sweet days to mess about with little consequence to find the exact keywords and categories that work for you by the time Launch Day swings around.