One underutilized way to promote a self published book is by utilizing Amazon’s pre-order. Amazon allows pre-orders for KDP authors (Kindle Direct Publishing), which essentially levels the playing field even more between traditionally published authors and those who have self-published through KDP. I’ll walk you through the ways to get your book into pre-order, but more importantly – let’s examine how this will benefit you.
Amazon’s KDP/Pre-order information page says that pre-order is great to start building buzz and, true, it is, but it takes a lot of work. This is something that is best researched in depth before beginning the process. It’s important to understand your role as the author. But if you feel overwhelmed by the process, feel free to contact me. There’s a lot I can do to help you make the most of this function.
What are the benefits of the pre-order?
Newly published: If you’re a newly published author, the idea of a pre-order likely seems super enticing, right? Your book is up on the Amazon site as time ticks off to its release. It’s pretty exciting but I don’t know if I would spend a ton of time 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.
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 marketing to this page. You can, however, start playing with categories and keywords to see what spikes the book and what does not so you’ll be ready to go on launch day.
Already published: If you have a book out there (or several), and you’ve built a mailing list of fans, then pre-order may be a fun thing to do to build excitement for your upcoming book and be sure you’ve read my tips on smarter social media book marketing to support this.
It Can Be Difficult to Drive Traffic to a Pre-Order
I believe that most (if not all) of your marketing should be reserved for when the book is available on Amazon because that will benefit you so much more. What I’ve seen over the years is that unless you are J. K. Rowling or some mega-bestseller, it’s hard to drive significant numbers to your pre-order page.
The other issue you run into is if a reader wants something now, they may not want to wait for your book to be ready and could end up buying something else instead. But still, this can be a lot of fun for fans who have been waiting for your next book.
Long vs. Short Pre-Order
Regardless of the specific category you’re in, I don’t recommend dragging out the pre-order time to the full 90 days that Amazon allows. I think that since you aren’t spending a ton of time promoting the book in this stage, you don’t want it up too long. One aspect that’s important in learning to promote your self published book, is learning to work smarter, not harder.
I’d recommend a month-long pre-order period, and that’s it! The other thing is that you need to be sure and hit the deadline you assign to the pre-order 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 Promote It
To begin promoting a pre-order, I would suggest sending out a blast to your followers and your email list. It’s important to remember that if this is your first book, it may be difficult to raise in a pre-order. However, if this is your second, third, or fourth book, the interest is going to be stronger. Still, you can start to drive some interest to the book or, at least, let your followers know it’s coming.
I’ve sent out the smoke signals in many different ways: with images, Facebook posts, Twitter updates, blog posts, etc. Make sure that the promotion remains part of the entire conversation, so it’s not the only discussion we’re having with our followers. You want to keep your social media platforms entertaining, as well as informative.
Keep in mind that you can’t review a pre-order book. If you’re looking to get some early reviews for a book in the pre-order stage, you may want to consider focusing your attention toward Goodreads, which is a platform where you can push for pre-order reviews.
Pricing Your Pre-Order
For reasons I mentioned earlier, I would keep your pricing low – even if you plan on raising it later. The reason to keep your prices low is that you’re competing with millions of titles on Amazon and your book isn’t ready (yet), so the immediacy isn’t there. If you want to entice an impulse buy, keep the pricing lower at first, once the book is live you can always raise it.
How to Set Up Your Pre-Order:
In order to do this, you need to be a KDP author, so your eBook should be uploaded into the KDP system via their back-end dashboard. There are other benefits to being a KDP author as well, it often comes in handing while learning how to promote your self published book. Once you’re in there, you’ll see this:
Select a date and 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 they’ll set up your preorder. It does not matter if this manuscript is pre-edited, they just want to see what you plan to publish.
You’ll also need a cover. When I spoke to an Amazon representative, she told me that it doesn’t have to be the final cover. 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. Here is what the page looks like when it’s launched on their site:
According to Amazon, the book can be any length so if you’ve written a novella you can use this too. Right now there are no limitations on this, other than you need to be a KDP author, and clearly, this is for eBooks only right now.
Pre-order is great and fun and certainly a cool thing that self-published authors can do, but just be mindful of how much of your promotional sweat equity and dollars you spend. While it’s a great thing to do, most readers will prefer to buy a book they can get right away.
Resources and Free Downloads
Master Amazon & Sell More Books Video Series
6 Tips for Marketing Self-Published Books on Amazon with Author Central
How to Promote Your Book Before It’s Published on Amazon
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