Sharing is Caring
By William Ballard
Self-Published and Indie Authors: Have you ever wanted to know what it feels like to get paid in advance to write your manuscript? In the traditional publishing world, signed writers and authors usually get advanced compensation while their book is being written. If you have yet to be signed by such a firm, being able to earn an advance may not be such a fantasy after all.
To be honest with you, I was extremely excited to see that Amazon now allows pre-orders for KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) authors, which essentially levels the playing field even more so between traditionally published authors. Later on, I’ll take you through the steps to get your e-book into pre-order status but first let’s look at when and how this can add tons of value to your writing business.
Amazon says that there new pre-order program is a great way to start creating some intrigue about your up and coming new book and, true, it is. However, there is one thing to bear in mind. With a limited fan base, pre-orders aren’t as effective. So if your audience is small and you are looking at this program as a way to make it big you may want to think twice.
So what’s the real benefit to the Amazon pre-order program? Well, let’s have a deeper look at this:
New and Aspiring Authors
If you’re a new or aspiring author, the idea of a pre-order seems pretty enticing, right? Your book is up on the Amazon site as time ticks off to its release. It’s pretty exciting, however, I don’t know if I would spend endless amounts of my creative energy marketing to a pre-order page for the reasons I mentioned earlier: no one knows you (yet) so any marketing efforts you make to this page may be a waste of time, and a waste of a resourceful buck.
Yes, you can do a small push, maybe to friends and family and a mailing list (if you have one), but I wouldn’t spend a ton of time and money marketing to this page. You can, however, start playing with categories and keywords to see what boost the book and what does not so you’ll be ready to blast off on launch day.
Salty Self-Published Authors
If you have a book out there (or several), and you’ve done what it takes to grow a mailing list of raving fans, then pre-order may be a fun thing to utilize in order to cultivate excitement for your next released book. However, I still think that most (if not all) of your marketing should be reserved for when the e-book is available on Amazon because that will multiply more value to your marketing efforts.
From what I have seen over the years, unless you are JK Rowling or some other mega-bestseller, it’s hard to drive significant traffic of "can't wait, got to have it" eager readers and fans to your pre-order page. On the other hand, another issue you may run into is if a reader wants something now, they may not be willing to wait for your book to be ready and could end up buying something else instead. This really only works if you have developed the qualities of a successful writer and have become a writer that readers can't wait to read from. (You can discover more about these qualities that readers are drawn to in my book, "The 21 Qualities of a Successful Writer")
When Should You Release Your Pre-Order e-Book?
Regardless of the category your book is in, I would not recommend stretching the pre-order time out to the full 90 days that Amazon allows because I think that since you aren’t spending all the creative energy and money to market the book, you don’t want it up too long. I’d recommend a month, that’s it.
The other thing is that you need to be sure and hit the deadline you assign to the pre-order e-book because once you select it (as we’ll see in a minute) you can’t go back. So pick a date that you know you can hit.
How to Effectively Market Your Pre-Order e-Book
In order to really get some transaction for your book I would promote it to your followers and your email list of fans, only. Again, if this is your second, third or fourth book, the intrigue is going to be stronger than if it’s your first. However, you can start to get eyes on your book or, at least, let your followers and fans know it’s coming. I have one title I am working with and I've done this with images, Facebook posts, Twitter updates, blog posts, etc., but it’s part of my entire conversation, so it’s not the only discussion I'm having with my followers and blog readers.
Getting Pre-Order Reviews
Bear in mind that Amazon currently does not allow for reviews on pre-order books, so if you’re looking to get some early reviews for it, you may want to consider focusing on Goodreads which does push for pre-order reviews.
How Much Should Your Pre-Order e-Book Be?
For reasons I mentioned earlier, I would keep your pricing low – even if you plan on raising it later. Why? Because you are competing with millions of titles on Amazon and your book isn’t ready (yet) so the immediate "buyer exchanges money and receives product" isn’t there. If you want to create an impulse buy, keep the pricing lower at first, once the book is live you can always increase it.
How to Set Up Your Pre-Order e-Book
First, in order to do this you need to be a KDP author, so your e-Book should be uploaded into the KDP system via their back office dashboard. If you have published KDP books before then you should already have a clear understanding of how the uploading process works.
Secondly, once you select a date for your pre-order book, the system will tell you that you must get the final book to Amazon no later than 10 days prior. Additionally, you need to upload a manuscript for them to approve before the system will set up your pre-order. It does not matter if this manuscript is pre-edited, they just want to have an idea of what you plan to publish.
Third, you’ll need a cover image, but when I spoke to an Amazon representative she told me that it doesn’t have to be final, so if you’re still a month out with no cover (that happens more than you think) then you can leave it blank or put up a placeholder for now and go back in and add it later.
Finally, according to Amazon, the book can be any length so if your thinking about writing a novella you can use this program too. Right now there are no limitations on this, other than you need to be a KDP author and, clearly, this is for e-Books only right now.
So, as you can see, setting up pre-order e-books is certainly a fun thing that self-published authors can look into, but just be mindful of how much of your creative promotional sweat equity and dollars you decide to invest. If you work this the right way, and focus in on growing your fan base, you really can get that advanced compensation for the actual work of writing a book that the highly paid traditional writers and authors get.
However, if you fan base is small, while this program may be a great thing to take advantage of, most readers will prefer to buy a book they can get right away from a writer they are familiar with and admire.
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About William Ballard
Freelance Writer, Copywriter, Blogger, Inbound Marketing Specialist, and Author, William Ballard, helps small businesses and entrepreneurs, like you, broadcast their message across the Internet (and offline through direct mail response) and be seen as experts in their field. He has been dubbed the Expert Marketer of Writing.
William, a writer and blogger since 2007, enjoys sharing with others his experience on how to become a successful writer, blogger, and author. View more about William Ballard →