For the independently published author, preorders can be an important component of a successful marketing strategy. A significant majority of high-earning self-publishers employ this tactic as part of their launch campaign.* Whether an author is looking for a way to sell their book at an event prior to their publication date, wants to take advantage of potential sales during a prerelease publicity campaign, or simply wants to provide the more traditional offerings of a publishing house to their readers, setting up preorders is a smart choice.
Whether your preorder is for a print or digital edition, you should plan to post only publication-ready files. Attempting to get your book available for preorder by posting earlier versions of your files comes with the real risk of releasing incomplete iterations of your cover or manuscript. Instead of trying to figure out “workarounds” to get your book available for preorder before the files are ready, it’s worth setting your schedule for publication with a nice big preorder cushion time frame between when your final files are uploaded and when the book is on sale.
Here’s how to do it.
For Physical Books
- Post distribution-ready FINAL interior and cover files to IngramSpark.
- Set the on-sale date and the publication date as the SAME day in the future.
- Approve e-proofs once the files clear IngramSpark’s premedia check.
- Enable the title for distribution. Again, this step should be completed only if print proofs have already been ordered and approved.
- The preorder should be available within IngramSpark’s distribution network in one to six weeks.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP):
- Upload your final, distribution-ready mobi and cover files.
- Select the option to “Make a Kindle e-book available for pre-order.”
- Set a date in the future for the preorder release.
- The ebook will release at midnight local time in each marketplace on the on-sale date, and the status will automatically update from “preorder” to “live.”
Option 1 (book is complete):
- Upload the cover and EPUB files.
- On the “Publish” page, click “Make It a Preorder.”
Option 2 (book is not complete):
- Unlike with IngramSpark and KDP, “assetless” preorders are an option through Smashwords. This means you can set up an ebook preorder prior to the final files being ready. However, do NOT upload an unfinished draft of the book. Instead, select the option “I will upload my final formatted manuscript later.”
- Next, select the on-sale date.
- Upload your final file at least ten days before the on-sale date to be sure it has time to pass Smashwords’ quality checks.
For a coordinated release date, we recommend establishing one publication date for all editions of your book: hardcover, paperback, and ebook. The benefit of this coordinated preorder approach is that any sales made prior to your pub date appear as final sales on your official release, with the potential to boost your ranking on sites like Amazon.com.
* According to BookBaby’s recent large survey of self-published authors. High-earning means $5,000 in sales or more.