I’ve been spending some time writing a couple of new e-books. You can read all about them here. Until now, Amazon has not had an option to allow pre-orders as part of the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. This changed earlier this year when Amazon enabled this option. I am using it for my two new e-books. Despite it being available, it got me to thinking; “Is this good for self-publishers?”

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Pros

  • Pre-orders are available up to 90 days prior to publishing.
  • Pre-orders count towards sales rank.
  • Sales dates can be pushed forward.
  • Self-Publishers can have up to 10 books, at one time, available for pre-order
  • Pre-orders are available to the consumer at midnight, their local time

Pre-orders are good for self-publishers because they do allow promotion of a title, in a coordinated fashion. With pre-orders counting towards Sales rank, a book that has a high pre-order count, will rise higher, meaning more people will see it. Both of these are good things for the self-publisher. The ability to have Self-published books available at midnight definitely helps the consumer. The limit of 10 titles available for pre-order should be plenty for any self-publishing author. If they need more than 10, then perhaps they are not the only ones writing their books.

Cons

  • Final drafts must be submitted 10 days prior to release date.
  • Sales Dates cannot be altered, except to move them up.
  • If you miss the publishing deadline, or cancel your pre-order being live, you lose access to pre-orders for 1 year.
  • Pre-orders do not count as “final” until after they’re downloaded

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Having a final draft required 10 days prior to the release date makes sense, in some respects. It gives time to go through the review phase, but that typically takes 48 hours, so why the 10 days prior requirement? Pre-orders are not necessarily a good thing because things happen and some books, like mine, may be dependent on external factors that would require delaying a book. While it is entirely understandable that users would become upset about having a pre-order delayed, delays do happen. How does Amazon currently handle this for physical publishers? Are they penalized to this extreme? Also, why would pre-orders not count as “sales” until after they are downloaded. I am sure Amazon charges the individual, so why would a self-publisher not get credit for the sale immediately at midnight.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am conflicted about pre-orders. On the one hand, I can totally understand the ability to coordinate a marketing campaign and allowing users to be directed towards pre-orders. On the other hand, having unforeseen circumstances require you to push your sales date back and lose access to pre-orders seem a bit untenable. The happy compromise would be having the ability to push the date out by at most, 30 additional days, one time per title. Along with this, there would be a maximum of two per year. If it needs to be pushed beyond 30 days, or you have more than two titles that need to be pushed back then maybe there is an issue.

For my own personal situation, I have both of my e-books available for pre-order. One of them I am not worried about releasing by the current release date (October 14th, 2014). If anything, that date may be pushed forward into September. However, the second e-book I am a bit more worried about. If it needs to be pushed back, I may be forced to submit the final version of the book, and then once it goes live, un-publish the title to avoid any issues. I am hoping it does not come to that, but only time will be able to determine if that is the case.

Are you a self-publisher? What are your thoughts on the Amazon’s Pre-orders?

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