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.
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.
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.
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 was 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?