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.