Are pre-orders Worth it? Some retailers (like Amazon) offer pre-orders for your books. This article will focus on Amazon as it’s the platform I’m most familiar with. There is strong support in the Indie Author community for offering pre-orders to their fans. But is a pre-order really worth it?
One perk of pre-orders is that fans can read through the first book and order the next one to appear in their e-reader when it goes live. Fans don’t have to mark their calendar for release day (like I did a thousand years ago for each Harry Potter book). It’s convenient for you and the reader.
Pre-orders count towards the sales for the first day your book is live. Amazon algorithms for example, boost books with better performance/purchase rates. More sales on day one equal better metrics and natural viewability of your title on the selling platform. This can potentially be seen as a con as well if you’re counting on sales on a daily rate. You will not accrue payments for pre-orders until launch day (basically you won’t get paid until the book hits the reader’s device).
Pre-orders require a file uploaded to the server. This can be a temp file you can swap out later (Amazon sends you reminders to make sure the final file is uploaded before launch) for the actual file you want customers to receive. If you’ve finished your manuscript this isn’t a problem as long as you attach your finished manuscript. I would also suggest that if this is your first book you may not want to organize a pre-order until the file is ready to go. The formatting process can often take longer than expected. I’ve published eight books and formatting always takes longer than I expect, and I always have surprise problems – and I even use templates and have formatting cheat sheets so I don’t forget anything/miss anything.
Some authors use pre-orders as motivation. They have customer’s counting on a title being available on a specific day therefore the book must be print ready prior to that date. If something happens and the manuscript isn’t ready on release day it can cause a variety of problems. If you aren’t in a position to definitely, one thousand percent, have that file ready to go by launch day this may not be the best option for you. Some retailers, like Amazon, warn you that you can lose access to the pre-order function if the file released on launch date isn’t correct. Or at least it did the last time I checked. It’s also just not a great look for your author business.
Ultimately Pre-orders really haven’t impacted my author business negatively or positively. That said, if you’re loading your title prior to release, why not offer it? It’s there if people want it, and if they don’t, it’s not costing you anything. So, from my point of view, I’m going to keep offering pre-orders for the time being. Who knows what may change in the future? Because if it’s one thing Indie Publishing has taught me it’s that everything changes with time. I’m going to say, at this point in time, pre-orders are definitely worth it.