Making your print book available for pre-order is a professional self-publishing marketing tactic. Here are four reasons why this is important:
- Prospective readers can place an order in advance. The book won’t ship until the release date.
- If this is your first book, having your book listed on Amazon means you can complete your author profile using Author Central.
- It’s real: media, influencers, and book reviewers you approach during your early marketing efforts can see all the details about your book. This helps them decide if they might want to review it or speak with you.
- You can link to it. The store link will not change after the book is released. Get this done now!
Offering your print book for pre-ordering on Amazon is possible if you use IngramSpark print-on-demand (POD). Amazon KDP print (formerly CreateSpace) does not currently offer pre-ordering.
This article explains how to coordinate using both IngramSpark and Amazon KDP Print to list a print book in advance of a release date. Once released, your book’s release date, also known as a publication date, will be the same for all stores where it is sold.
In practical terms, offering pre-ordering means that your book will appear on Amazon (and other online stores), but it will not be shipped to the customer (or sold in a physical store) before the publication date. Orders accumulated during the pre-order period are released on or slightly before the publication date.
How AuthorImprints coordinates IngramSpark pre-ordering with Amazon KDP Print
Here is the typical six-step process we follow. It takes advantage of the faster and lower-cost proofing you can do with KDP Print while maximizing the benefits of IngramSpark for pre-ordering.
1. KDP Print publishing date. The first time you set your book up, you can enter a publishing date. Don’t do it; just skip that step. If you put a date in, it must be the current date or an earlier date. If you forget to update the date when you do officially publish, the official publishing date will be the date you first entered. By leaving this blank, the system will use the date you officially approve the book (see step six below).
2. Proofing. Once you have a PDF of your interior and cover, upload both to KDP Print. The proofing process with KDP Print is much faster than with IngramSpark, and you’ll be able to order a printed proof in about a day. It then takes several days to arrive, depending on the shipping option you choose.
The reason we like KDP Print for proofing is that the total cost is lower—both to print the proof and to ship—and the process is much faster (not to mention less confusing) than with Ingram Spark. You can continue printing proofs like this until your book looks the way you want.
Note: The cost to print a proof using KDP Print and the cost to buy author copies once your book is published is the same. Read our article about Amazon Fees and Royalties for Kindle eBooks and KDP Print.
3. IngramSpark Dates—They have two:
- Publication Date: “The Publication date is the date that you plan to make the book available to bookstores, libraries and online retailers. If the On Sale Date field is left blank, the Publication and On Sale Date will be the same.”
Presumably, yours is in the future. This is the same date that you will eventually use for Amazon KDP Print as noted in number one above.
- On Sale Date: “The On Sale Date is the date before which the book may not be sold by Retail Partners.” Ingram further explains it this way: “Specifying an On Sale Date in your metadata allows you to set up a title in advance so that it becomes visible for pre-ordering to our established distribution partners.”
Technically, you just have to enter a publication date in the future to activate pre-ordering. But it doesn’t hurt to open the “on sale date” calendar and enter the same date. This is the date your pre-orders become orders, which is the same as the publication (release) date.
Pre-orders are accumulated in the Ingram system and then printed 10 or more days prior to the publication date, so that the books can be delivered to retailers and book buyers on or before the publication date.
4. IngramSpark setup. Set up your book and choose your publication date in the future. If you have already ordered a printed proof from KDP (step 2 above), we feel a printed proof from IngramSpark is optional. (You can easily download an e-proof during the setup process, which we highly recommend.)
5. KDP Print double-check. Now make sure your KDP Print information is complete and accurate and matches the information in IngramSpark. Keep the paperback in draft status on Amazon.
6. On the publication date. Once this date is reached, the online stores will change the book’s availability to “released and available for immediate shipping.” Go into your KDP account and enter the publication date on the “Paperback Content” screen. Save and continue to the next screen, “Paperback Rights & Pricing.” At the bottom, click “Publish Your Paperback.”
Once processed and approved by Amazon, orders placed on Amazon will be printed and shipped by Amazon, not IngramSpark. We tested this by immediately ordering a client’s book and it was indeed the file uploaded to Amazon that we received.
Caution: Are you using temporary files to set up pre-order?
If you are used to using Amazon KDP Kindle eBook pre-ordering, you know that it is possible to schedule a release date up to a year in advance. No eBook file is necessary, but you can upload a temporary or test file for proofing purposes.
Doing this with your print book on IngramSpark might result in that proof book being printed for customers. This very thing happened with David Wogahn’s The Book Review Companion. Due to pre-order volume, the paperback proof copy was printed in advance of the release date.
Here’s some advice from our interview with Ingram’s Bailey Davis:
“If pre-orders are received, it is possible that they may be printed at the time of order but held until the live date. So, if you don’t have the final files in place, we may print what you gave us as the orders come in. If that is a temporary file, then that is what will be shipped, come the publication date.”
Careful coordination with marketing
We at AuthorImprints are experts at coordinating this process along with the production of book files and eBook files. We also optimize metadata and can coordinate advance reading copies (ARCs) orders with self-publishing authors or their PR agency. Contact us to learn more.
You might also be interested in reading How to Print Advance Reader Copy (ARC) Books Using IngramSpark
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