One of the great advantages large publishers used to have over self-publishers is that they could offer their books for pre-order. This allowed them to market a book and capture early interest in the form of book orders. Once the book is released, the pending orders are fulfilled, and the Amazon algorithms take over and potentially reward the book with a sales ranking that gives it even more visibility, ideally “best seller” status.
Kindle pre-order gives eBook indie publishers this same capability, thus leveling the playing field. Kindle pre-order is the ability to list your Kindle eBook—the program is not available for print books—for sale up to one year before its release (delivery) date.
Four important reasons why pre-order is helpful, especially for new authors:
1. A Kindle eBook available for pre-order allows you to set up your Author Central profile.
2. Your eBook will receive an ASIN*, which means you can link to your Amazon book listing from your website and share the link with others. (*An ASIN is like an ISBN but is limited to Amazon.)
3. Your book can begin accumulating orders. Numerous orders before the book’s release date can influence the Amazon algorithms.
4. You can choose, with certainty, the day your Kindle eBook will be available on Amazon. This can be helpful if your pre-release marketing is targeting a specific day.
Those are four reasons why pre-order can be helpful, but there are some significant rules you need to be aware of. These center on deadlines and pricing.
Kindle pre-order deadlines
- Your final manuscript files are due to Kindle more than 72 hours before the release date. The consequences for missing the deadline are that pre-orders are canceled, and you won’t be able to set up a pre-order for any eBook for one year.
- The same penalty applies if you voluntarily cancel the release of your pre-order.
Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your manuscript. If you upload your final manuscript just before the 72-hour deadline and Amazon’s automated review finds an issue, your pre-order will be canceled. Making matters worse, you must create a new listing for your book, which means a new ASIN. Any links using the pre-order ASIN are now invalid, and the links must be updated.
Amazon’s review period takes 24 to 72 hours, and during this time, changes cannot be made to the book’s listing information, nor may a new file be uploaded.
We recommend uploading files at least seven days prior to release, or even sooner. If Amazon flags a quality or property-rights issue, you’ll have time to fix it and resubmit.
Changing the price during the Kindle pre-order period may affect royalties
You can change your list price during the pre-order period.
- If you lower it, Amazon will retroactively charge that lower price to customers who already pre-ordered your book.
- If you raise the price, the new price applies only to new orders. Orders received at the lower price remain at that original lower price.
- Your royalty is based on the price Amazon charges customers. For example, if you initially list your eBook for $2.99 and subsequently drop it to 99 cents, all orders, regardless of when they were placed, will be priced at 99 cents, and your royalty is 35% of that lower price.
Note that there are special rules for certain markets—for example, Amazon.de and Amazon.in. See the Resources section below for links to official Amazon information.
Where do you find Kindle pre-order reports?
To see your pre-orders report, click the Reports link in the main menu at the top of the KDP screen. You’ll see eight tabs; click the Pre-orders link.
Your pre-order report is updated as orders are placed. This report includes pre-ordered units, pre-order cancelations, and net pre-order units.
Your pre-order sales data will not appear in other reports until after your eBook is delivered to customers on its release date. After that, you’ll see pre-order units listed in the Prior Months' Royalties report, under the Pre-order transaction type.
Royalties do not accumulate until your eBook is released. At that point, you receive credit for the sales, and royalties are paid, subject to Amazon’s terms.
Can you update your Kindle eBook while it’s on pre-order?
You may update/replace your eBook file prior to the submission deadline, which is approximately 72 hours before the release date. See Deadlines above and note that the specific time the submission deadline begins depends on your time zone. Once your eBook is live in the store, your ability to update/replace your eBook file resumes.
Two important things to keep in mind about updating files.
- Every update initiates a new file review. If, for example, the new file you uploaded is flagged by Amazon for some reason, and this happens during the 72-hour window, your pre-order will be canceled.
- Your royalty is based on the size of your file. Changes in the file size may result in a different royalty payout. (More about Amazon royalties.)
What if you don’t want to use Kindle pre-order?
Of course, there is no requirement to use pre-order. You can upload an eBook file at any time, but the release date of the eBook will be the date it goes live in the store. Unlike KDP Print, you cannot select a publication (release) date when uploading your eBook file to Kindle.
What Kindle eBooks qualify to use pre-order?
- Only new Kindle eBooks can use pre-order.
- Public domain eBooks cannot be listed for pre-order.
Reminder: You cannot list a print book for pre-order using KDP Print (hardcover or paperback). If you want a specific release date, you need to upload your print book file on or after that date.
Amazon KDP pre-order resources
For details about this policy and 33 other Amazon policies and programs, visit our Amazon Publishing Cheat Sheet here.
More details about Amazon Kindle eBook pre-order: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201499380
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