Making pre-orders work for you by Neil Plakcy

Neil Plakcy

Neil Plakcy

Last fall I went to the Novelists, Inc. convention in St. Petersburg Beach, where I learned a ton of great information about book marketing. One nugget that caught my eye was the idea of a pre-order on Amazon.  I decided to try that concept out with my latest golden retriever mystery, Dog Have Mercy.

A pre-order serves several purposes. First, it enables the author to publicize a book that’s not quite ready for prime time, and yet still snag orders. Second, all those pre-order sales ring in on the first day that the book is available. That means a big boost in sales all at once, which should help Dog Have Mercy move up the sales list fast, bringing it more visibility.

Want to give a pre-order a try? Just set up your Amazon book as you normally would, with one difference. In the “Book Release Option” section of your new book setup, just select “Make my book available for pre-order” and then set a release date.

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Once you pick a date, Amazon will let you know the deadline for delivering all your files. Make sure you pick a date that works for your delivery – if you miss a deadline, Amazon says they’ll prevent you from setting up pre-orders for a year as punishment. They will require all the files to be submitted by at least one week before your launch date, so they can have time to review and approve your files.

After the book is available for pre-order, you can track those potential sales from your KDP dashboard. Just click the “Pre-orders” link on the Reports page.

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Here’s what my pre-orders looked like about two weeks after I started:

Customers who view the page can simply click the order button, and the book will be automatically sent to them once it’s available. They can cancel before that date, though.

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They won’t be charged for the book until it’s delivered.

I did this with my most recent golden retriever mystery, Dog Have Mercy. I knew that I needed only a few days for a final proof of the book, so I dog_have_mercy_cover3x4.5was pretty confident that I’d have the finished manuscript done in time. And I was curious to see if I could build up some sales in advance that might help give the book a lift on publication day.

I ended up with 113 pre-orders—not enough to push me up very far on the best-seller list. I sold 755 copies during the month of February, which means that 15% of my monthly sales were from the pre-order.  It was a good start for the book, and sales have remained strong for the past month.  I’d certainly do this again.


Have you tried the pre-order function? Is it working for you?


3 thoughts on “Making pre-orders work for you by Neil Plakcy

  1. I’ve done it on Amazon and also on iBooks, where they count your sales twice–on the day someone pre-orders it and on the day the book is released. You can also set pre-orders on Kobo. Nook is the only one that doesn’t do this out of the four distributors.

  2. Terry Odell says:

    I did pre-orders for “Windswept Danger”, my 6th Blackthorne book, at Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks. If you distribute via Smashwords, they’ll allow preorders at B&N, but I prefer to keep my books “close to home” whenever possible. I offered the book at a special 99 cent pre-order price, and also announced that I was donating ALL pre-order royalties to a charity that’s near and dear to me (honestly, at 35 cents/book, I didn’t think it would be that big a sacrifice). Pre-orders weren’t huge at iBooks or Kobo (and Kobo had trouble breaking out the pre-orders from actual 1st day sales), but my Amazon pre-orders were almost 900, which kept the book at the top of the Hot New Releases category. I’m not sure I’ll do the deep discount for my next book, though.

  3. eenayray says:

    This is super timely since I’m getting ready to experiment with pre-ordering in a few months. I wanted to offer my next book for free to loyal readers with a side hope of enticing new readers to try me out. We’ll see how it goes.

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