So, I think how long and IF you do a pre-order is really dependent on what your goals are and what your launch plan is like. Also, your sub-genre and your size.
Some things to consider:
– Can you, with any expectation, hope to hit #1 in a related sub-category (including KU and sales). If so, then a short pre-order is better; because getting that yellow tag and being high on those sub-category lists can help generate a certain amount of sales.
– Can you, with any expectation, expect to get onto decent also boughts? If so, a somewhat short pre-order can help so that you are on good also boughts that are RECENT.
– Are you writing in a series? Pre-orders are great for series, because it lets you capture readers right after they’ve finished your last book.
– How long a gap is there between books? A book releasing in a month is great to have a pre-order up, since it keeps excitement high. Conversely, a book releasing 12 months later is good to have a pre-order up because people are going to forget. It’s the middle stages (3-5 months in my view) where it seems that pre-orders are less required.
– Do you want bank or rank? Generally speaking, pre-orders make you more money, no or short pre-orders can get you higher rank.
– do you have diverse product types? Hardcover, paperbacks, audiobooks? You need a few days for Amazon to sort itself out, up to a week. Yes, MOSTLY they are fine within a day or two (even the Ingram ones) but that’s mostly. When they had issues, it can take a few days to get them to fix it. Giving yourself a short pre-order that you don’t publicise necessarily will let you make sure all that is sorted.
– used to be, categories and making sure you added the additional 10 categories helped get those yellow tags. Now the new rules on categories on Amazon makes it less important, but can still be useful. Again, having a week would help.
– What kind of systems do you have in place to reach readers outside of Amazon and the book itself? Where (and how) do you reach your readers? Can you, with any good expectation, hope to reach them when you do a release via the various social media platforms?
What’s your promotional release plan? Does it include cover reveals, press releases, pushing via social media and newsletters to buy? Would it benefit by having a pre-order page then for more sales?
Again, you can go with a broad tease, but having specific links are important.
– How are you doing releases? Are you pre-releasing on your own site? On Kickstarter?
– if you’re using audiobooks, are you far ahead of your writing to set-up simultaneous release? If so, you’re going to need at least a month if not 6 weeks to make sure you get a pre-order for the audiobook set-up properly to release on the same day.
– Cashflow is another thing. Since pre-orders pull sales forward, you earn more faster with a pre-order than with a cold release.
Pre-orders by themselves capture readers after they finish reading. They tell readers that you have a plan for the series and that it is coming out (hopefully soon). You get them when they’re hot, and it gives you a place to point readers to if they are looking to buy.
However, that also means if you have pre-orders set-up on Amazon, you might have trouble capturing these same readers otherwise if you are selling via KS, your own site, etc. It can also act as bellweather for what to write next (I know some people who have multiple pre-orders and write whichever book has the most, though they’re also SUPER fast writers). Shorter pre-orders used to make sense to link up paperbacks, hardcovers and make sure categories were all sorted. Now with categories messed up, meh.
And oh, this is all Amazon.
The rule for Wide is easy – do pre-orders. As long as possible.
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