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  • [Reality Check] - Kindle Pre-orders: How it Works and What You Need to Know!
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[Reality Check] - Kindle Pre-orders: How it Works and What You Need to Know!
Written by
Zetta Brown
August 2014
Written by
Zetta Brown
August 2014

We're going a little off schedule this week on [REALITY CHECK]. In Jim's previous post about what Amazon can (and can't) do with your ebook (see "Amazon Ate My Ebook!"), he said, "Later in August I plan to publish another article that centres around Amazon, this time about print books."

Well, sometimes you're better off not planning ahead just in case something juicy pops up...and it has...and that something juicy is Amazon's new Kindle pre-order feature for ebooks.

Jim will be back to fulfill his earlier promise, but right now he wants to share some info you may or may not be aware of regarding this new tool for publishers and authors who sell ebooks.


Kindle Pre-orders: How it Works and What You Need to Know!
Jim Brown


I was going to write about Amazon’s CreateSpace print service, but since my last article about KDP ebooks, Amazon has come out with a pre-order feature for ebooks. In typical Amazon fashion, this came virtually out of the blue. Pre-order features can be excellent ways to market on the build-up to a release, so let’s take a really close look at what Amazon is offering in their Kindle pre-order feature.

This is what Amazon says (from Amazon’s Kindle Pre-order page):

You can make your new books available for pre-order in Kindle Stores worldwide. Setting a pre-order allows customers to order your book as early as 90 days before your book's release date. When you make your book available for pre-order, customers can order the book anytime leading up to the release date you set and it will be delivered to them on that date.

One advantage of pre-order is that you can start promoting your book before launch to help raise awareness. You can promote your book's pre-order page on Author Central, Goodreads, your own site, and elsewhere. Also, pre-orders will contribute toward sales rank and other Kindle Store merchandising even before your book is released, which can help more readers discover your book.

Being able to essentially “sell” your book 90 days before release is pretty good, as is the ability to promote your author pages and own website, but to take part in this, you have to upload at least a draft version of your book. This won’t be shown to customers obviously, but it is required. You’ll obviously have to have a cover ready too. This is done through your KDP interface, where a new option: “Step 4: Select Your Book Release Option” is available. Amazon reserves the right to refuse a title for pre-order after review of the initial uploaded content.

As with all features of any vendor, it is always worthwhile getting into the bare bones of terms and conditions, because you never want to be caught out. Here are some of the key terms that you must know before you venture into Amazon’s pre-order feature:

  • You can only have 10 titles on pre-order at any one time. That should be fine for many self-published authors, but some small publishers might find this restrictive. They have to wait until one or more are released before adding new pre-orders.
  • You must upload the final version of your book 10 days prior to the release date. This means you have to be extremely organised and on schedule, because the penalty for this is pretty stiff. If you do not meet this requirement, or have to delay or cancel a pre-order, Amazon will tell customers your book is not being released and you will lose the pre-order function for an entire year!
  • You can re-schedule release dates. You can move-up a release date (you still have to deliver the final version 10 days prior to the new release date), or postpone it up to 30 days past the initial release date. You can do this one time only for each title.

NOTE: According to my reading of the terms, delaying a release will also bar you from the pre-order feature for one year. To quoting Amazon, “Delivering your book on schedule is required for you to retain access to pre-order. If you delay or cancel a pre-order book, you will be unable to list any book for pre-order for one year.

  • The pre-order feature applies to new titles only.
  • All pre-orders count towards sales rank.
  • You can accept pre-orders for books you also enroll in KDP Select

So is this new feature for Kindle books worth it? Part of me thinks, If you have your book ready, why not have it selling and people reading it rather than having them wait 10 or more days for it?

But that’s not the whole story, of course. With this feature, Amazon is offering you a chance to promote on their platform. You can promote your Author Central page, your Goodreads page, and even your own website. And if you promote well enough, then you get to build the Amazon sales rank for your title before anyone has even read it

BUT – you are going to have to be very organised in order to use this feature (which in itself is not a bad thing, of course). You’ll have to not only meet your release date, but your final book has to be completed and converted at least 10 days before your release date, or else you’ll be hit with that tough penalty of being barred from Kindle pre-order for a full year. That means everything done—editing, proofing, final cover image, etc.—and we all know some of the delays that can take place in the publication process.

One last comment, and this is something I always have a strong opinion on: While this should work well for those who are really organised and businesslike in their approach, after it is fully up and running and more and more people try to take advantage of it, the effectiveness of it will go down as the sheer amount of pre-orders and related marketing efforts grow to a flood. No matter what the marketing tactic, it never works when everyone is doing it. But perhaps this need to be organised will keep the flood numbers down, and what we see will be quality books by quality, businesslike authors and publishers.

My opinion? This has promise, but be aware of that penalty for non-compliance!


Jim Brown is the founder/owner of JimandZetta.com providing customized publishing services for individual authors and publishing companies since 2008. He has personally converted over 8,000 manuscripts into various ebook formats. Jim has been a publisher of ebooks since 2003 with his publishing houses LL-Publications and Logical-Lust Publications. Former secretary, and vice president of EPIC (the Electronically Published Internet Coalition), in addition to his publisher services, Jim is available for guest blogs, speaking events, and industry consultation.

Contact him at jim[at]jimandzetta.com.


Got a [REALITY CHECK] about the publishing life to share? If you would like to be a guest on my blog, please friend me on She Writes with a message! :)

©2014. Zetta Brown is an editor and the author of several published short stories and the erotic romance novel Messalina: Devourer of Men. She also provides editing services through JimandZetta.com. If you like this post, then stop by her editing blog Zetta’s Desk or Zetta’s House of Random Thoughts.

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  • Christine Keleny

    I heard about this but hadn't read any details. Thanks for filling us in!


  • Patricia Robertson

    Thank you! I appreciate being kept up-to-date on what is happening at Amazon.