pre-order sales

Better Conditions for Amazon’s Pre-Orders


Remember author Mindy Klasky’s nightmare experiences last year: Amazon’s Pre-Order Quagmire  – when Amazon screw up her pre-orders and sent the wrong e-book files to 8,100 book purchasers?  

It costed her valuable reader goodwill and hard cash, for which she was not compensated.  And on top of that: “most frustratingly, Amazon refused to delete the one- and two-star reviews for the wrong book files”. Read the whole story here.

My own issues with Amazon’s pre-order program seems to pale, compared to this story.  I only was banned for a year, even though I sent dozens of emails with written proof that Amazon placed the wrong date to my pre-order.  At the end I just could not stand the stupidity of the stressful calls, the lost time and decided to never, ever place another pre-order.  At this time I also did not know the direct email to Jeff Bezos.

Now it Seems That Amazon has Learned…
They introduced very quietly new policies to their pre-order process, which results in more benefits and less stress for authors:

  • authors have more time to get their final book in
  • authors are able to push back the pre-order’s on-sale date
  • one-year ban enforcements get limited

The New Requirements

  • 1. To start your pre-orders you don’t need to deliver a perfect manuscript, so you have time to make last minute changes and corrections until four days before the official book launch. Why do I state four days and not three
    Amazon states: “make sure to upload your revised manuscript file at least 3 days before the pre-order release date. We’ll need to preview your manuscript content for compliance with our Program Policies before we create the pre-order detail page. It will go through the same review process that any other KDP eBook would.”
    But watch out: Amazon talks about three full days! Which in practical terms is four days. Don’t wait until the last minute! You will find even a warning on the section final files.
  • 2. The most valuable of all changes Amazon made, is the possibility to postpone your official book launch date, if you don’t get your final version ready in time. This should certainly be only an exception and in very serious cases!
    Amazon states: “You can postpone the release date for your eBook one time, as much as 30 days past the initial release date.  Postpone at least for days before the official launch date.  Customers who pre-ordered the eBook will receive an email letting them know that you have delayed the release of your eBook.”  These pre-order customers get their book automatically now at a maximum of 30 days.
  • 3. In the past, Amazon would cancel the pre-order if you didn’t get the file in on time, and you would be banned from any pre-order activities for one full-year.  The new policy doesn’t offer any circumstances for which Amazon would cancel a pre-order, so it’s up to the author now to cancel in extreme circumstances (and get banned for a year).

Amazon Explains on Their Website:

List your eBook as you would any other KDP book.  When you’re adding a new eBook, on Step 4, “Select Your eBook Release Option,” choose “Make my eBook available for pre-order” and set a date in the future (max 90 days).

Though your eBook isn’t available for download yet, Amazon publishes a product detail page for the pre-order book within 24 hours of approval.  Customers can order the eBook anytime until the release date you set and it will be delivered to them on that date.  However, customers won’t be able to download sample content for pre-order eBooks during the pre-order period.  After the release date, Amazon makes sample content (“Look Inside”) available for download.

List Price Requirements
Amazon: “You can set the list price for your pre-order book based on our list price requirements.  You can change your book’s list price during the pre-order period, but if you lower it, we’ll retroactively charge that lower price to customers who have already pre-ordered your book. If you raise the price during pre-order, all prior customers will still pay the lower price.  Your royalty will be based on the actual price we charge customers.” Read more on Amazon’s website.

Pre-Order Tips for Authors
Readers who pre-order your book are “buying a pig in a poke” as they cannot look inside, not even see the TOC’s and they cannot order a reading sample.  Not good for first-time authors!

After all, readers want to know your writing. Unless you have a lively blog, or have written dozens of short stories, giving your potential readers samples of your craft.

Create the best book description you can think of.  Use lots of enticing keywords to engage the right audience / purchasers and use all the space Amazon gives you for the books description.  It’s the only way for readers to find out if your book is worth pre-ordering.



Pre-Orders on Apple iBooks Up to 1 Year


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Apple offers a powerful marketing feature on iBooks, and even authors who upload directly to Apple can use it.  Your book title can be posted on iBooks for pre-order – up to one year before book launch – even if you don’t have a book cover or interior file yet.  (However, it’s advisable to have the cover at least).  Pre-release twelve months in advance and you’ve got twelve months of people discovering your book before it hits the market.  That can mean twelve months of additional sales in those first few days.  All you need is your metadata: the book title, author, book description, price, pre-order and release date. Way more favorable than Amazon’s pre-order conditions!

Easy Upload if You Have Access to a Mac.
Authors can distribute to iBooks on their own or through an aggregator (kind of a distributor) such as, who are the only aggregator with a yearly low flat rate, which means you keep 100% of the online sales revenue.   Any author who goes the direct upload route with iBooks can certainly use their own Mac computer to upload.

Mark Coker von Smashword wrote: “On a median basis, e-books born as pre-orders earned the authors 3 1/2 times more income than books that were simply uploaded the day of release.  The average was even more stunning.  The bottom line, however, is that about 90% of indies are failing to take full advantage of this amazing tool.  If you don’t have your next 12 months of planned releases listed as pre-orders today, then you’re leaving readers and money on the table.  Preorders are such an essential best practice that it’s simply dumb not to take the time to learn how to use them to your advantage.
The Book Designer Writes:
“This presents a huge opportunity to build sales and buzz around a book, especially for authors with a fan base and writing books in series, because iBooks factors all pre-orders into first-day sales.  So books will often hit the bestseller charts based on orders that have been accumulating for months.”

Apple Explains:
“Additionally, you can add excerpts or chapters to your books in advance of the release date.  Readers love to have access to early samples and will often share them with their friends and fans, helping you to grow your audience even more before your book releases.”

Apple’s Detailed Instructions:

Setting Up Pre-Orders with Metadata Only
To offer your book for pre-order on iBooks without assets:

  • Open iTunes Producer
  • Enter the book’s metadata in the Details pane
  • Click on the Price pane
  • Enter a Pre-Order Start Date, a Sales Start Date (Release Date), the rights and pricing details
  • Select Save from the File menu
  • Click Submit

BTW:  Title, author, book description, etc.  can still be changed prior to the release, as well as the release date itself.  Compare this to Amazon! Way better conditions!

Once your files are ready:

  • Search for your pre-order in iTunes Producer by typing the title or Apple ID in the “Search iTunes Connect” field
  • Drag and drop the cover or screenshots in the Details pane
  • Drag and drop the book file(s) in the Files pane
  • Click Submit

Files must be submitted at least 10 business days prior to the scheduled release date to ensure they pass review and are available to customers on the expected date.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  If you plan to publish a book in early 2016, you are able to set it up for pre-order already on Apple iBooks. 

If you need help during this process or have questions, you can contact the iBooks support team at (877) 206-2092 Mondays through Fridays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time.  Or, click “Contact Us” under Resources and Help in iTunes Connect to send them an email:

Coming soon:

Pre-Order Book .

The iBooks Store Currently Offers Books in 51 Territories:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the USA and Venezuela.

Signing up on iBook Store.
To offer your books on the iBooks Store, enable your Apple ID for iTunes Connect, provide your publisher name, and indicate whether you will be submitting your own books or submitting books on behalf of a company.  If you don’t have a Mac with OS X 10.9 or later, you may choose to work with an Apple-approved aggregator to submit and offer books on iBooks.  Books at Apple’s iBook store can be read on tablets, iPhone and PC.

Apple got serious with its operating system finally and included iBooks as a stand alone app instead of making the reader jump through hoops on iTunes (where half of them probably bought the new Adele song instead!)

If Apple could just swallow their pride for once and make an Android app for iBooks, imagine what could happen…



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To learn more about professional book marketing and publishing, please read also
“Book Marketing on a Shoestring”

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