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Setting Up a Book Preorder – Should You Do It?


There are a lot of decisions to make when you prepare to release a new book. Today I want to chat a little about whether to put your ebook on preorder or do a live release.

I’d suggest you base your decision on a variety of factors. Here are some things to consider:

How firm is your timeline?
Certain retailers will penalize you if you miss a release date, so make sure you are confident in your ability to have your book edited, formatted, and ready for delivery at least one week prior to release.

How long is your pre-promotional time frame? How will you capture interested parties?
If you have a long pre-promotion planned (some authors start promoting during the writing process) you need some way to capture those readers – either through a preorder, a release notification signup form, asking them to add it to Goodreads, or something else. A preorder can be a great way to test ads and accumulate advance purchases prior to release.

Is the book part of a series?
If your book is part of a series, I highly recommend a preorder. The most likely time for a reader to buy book #2 in the series is when they finish reading book #1 – and having a preorder link in the back of book #1 is critical to secure that sale.

Are you trying to hit a bestseller list?
Bestseller lists count all preorders on the day of release – if you think you’re likely to hit the USA Today or Wall Street Journal list, having weeks or months to build up sales can be the key to making that list.

Will this ebook be available on all retailers?
If your ebook is going to be published on Apple Books, your Apple Book preorders are counted toward their bestseller list on both the day of preorder and the day of release, which gives your book a fantastic chance of appearing on this list (if you have a fair amount of preorders) on release day:

That list has fantastic visibility and is where a lot of Apple Book readers discover and purchase books. Barnes & Noble’s top list works in a similar way.

The other side of the coin…
Some authors choose a live release on Amazon because they want the majority of their release week purchases to be made in a short period of time, in hopes of boosting their Amazon sales rank.
Sales rank is where their book ranks in the overall store or a retailer’s category lists. For example, here is the Amazon top 100 list for the entire store and here is one of their Top 100 category lists.

The exact algorithm that determines that ranking is secret, but it’s most influenced by the most recent sales with sales becoming less influential as they become older.

Rank is something to consider, but I would be careful not to base your entire preorder strategy on rank impact. Preorder ability is a very consistent and reliable strategy and the only I typically utilize.

I hope this information is helpful.

P.S. If you want to set up a preorder, you can do it directly through each retailer

(ex: Kindle Direct Publishing to post an Amazon preorder) or through a distribution (Draft2Digital).

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