“Catch 22” for Indies re’ Pre-Orders

My first experience with Amazon’s version of Pre-order, like everything else I’ve done as an indie author, was for the learning experience. Today’s post is an effort to share that with you in the context of My Weird Indie Publishing Project – publishing the impossible memoir as a trilogy, in one year, no less.

My introduction to the Pre-order concept happened when I was reading one of Joe Vitale’s books. He wrote about having his book on Pre-order for six months and making exceptional money from those orders. Because he’s an internet guru, I wanted to learn more about that process. I wanted to see whether or not it could help me sell the “impossible memoir” books.

I read everything I could find online to see how to do it. Naturally, the Amazon process is more complicated than the one on Draft2Digital, but both are relatively easy. The pile of online articles I had read – pages and pages of techniques for getting around the fact that indie authors were not allowed to do pre-orders — were obviously “dated,” which means they could have been written two weeks ago.

The publishing business, especially for indie authors, changes frequently. You have to stay on top of it. (And that’s getting harder for me by the day.)

On Amazon, at least when I did my first Pre-order in February 2018, you get about thirty days for your Pre-order. If you violate that rule and take longer to upload your final drafts, Amazon will ban you from doing pre-orders for a year. Recall that Vitale said his book was on Pre-order for six months!

On Smashwords, you can get Pre-order pages set up at Nook, Kobo, and iTunes six months out.

But Draft2digital, another publisher, has a longer period: 90 days to a year! But the venues they distribute to – like Barnes & Noble and Apple – might have their own timelines. Not to worry. Fortunately, unlike Amazon’s KDP, D2D is pro-indie, and they make it easy. (D2D even formats your book!)

Of course, you can also approach the individual book companies — like Apple iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and Google Play. See Andy Lowe’s blog post, “How to Set up a Pre-order.”

Because everything changes in the indie business, your best bet is to do your own research at the time you intend to do something new, like using Pre-order.


More sales: According to the newsletter by Mark Coker of Smashwords, authors who publish with pre-orders make more sales. That was one reason I wanted to try one. But the reasoning is that you’ll have time to promote a book people can “see” (the book page on Amazon, Draft2Digital, or another publisher).

In my first-time experience, I concluded that only works if you’re a celebrity like Joe Vitale or have a humongous reader email list like Johanna Penn.

Time to get it right: Having your book on Pre-order does get it “out there” somewhat, in that it gives you a link to post on Goodreads and to share with your followers. But for me, it was the time to send free copies to as many people I could find to read the book for errors – even if you hired an editor, even if you did several rounds of line-by-line edits yourself, even if you did the final one using Grammarly. This is the time to get more eyes to find and correct those errors before the final copies are uploaded for publishing. Maybe that’s why Vitale took six months?

My mistakes using Amazon’s Pre-Order:

My first error for doing the Pre-Order on Amazon was in using the KDP link to create a print book instead of going through Create Space or, better yet, Lightning Source (Ingram Sparks) where I could have ordered print books for beta readers before “approving the book for publication.”

My second error was my refusal to “approve the print book” (done by KDP link, not Create Space) without being allowed to order copies first. Final readings are done best on print copies, and beta readers appreciate them. But KDP’s policy is that you must first approve the book before they will send you a “proof.”

And, unlike Create Space, they did not allow me to mail the book to different recipients. They shipped them to me; I got to package them separately and pay postage twice to ship them to my beta readers who live in different countries and different states within this country (U.S.A.). By the time one got the print version from the book and read it enough to spot an error, I had only three days to upload the final copies. No time to make the corrections because final copies are due five days before “release,” when the book goes live!


I like the idea of Pre-order, but will definitely do it differently next time!

“Catch 22” for Indies

No reader reviews: Only “editorial reviews” are allowed in the Pre-order book description – e.g., purchased reviews, like Kirkus ($500) or Self-Publishing Review ($339 for 8-10 reviews – $899 for 30-33 reviews). You can even pay $1,899 to buy a “top 20 ranking” on Amazon! And, according to the source, Amazon approves of this – just as they do for traditionally published book authors. (And I want to throw up, because KDP rejected a review this morning by a Facebook connection because, they said, “it was biased.” Seriously?

Indie authors are not allowed to post reviews written by advanced readers on their book page. And no one can post a review (including advanced readers) while the book is in Pre-order. That means you can use no paid promotions like Book Deals that require at least five reviews while your book is at a reduced price on Amazon’s Pre-Order.

And you can’t take advantage of other paid promotions, like BookZio (because there is no “red slash” in the price as there is on Kindle Select when you get to change it for a few days every 90 days. Readers can’t see what it’s going to cost when it comes off Pre-order; they see only what it costs while it’s on Pre-order.

But you can make the Pre-order price on Amazon’s KDP as low as $.99 and then change the price after the book goes live. And if you put the print version on Amazon at the same time as the Pre-order for Kindle book, they will use that as the “regular” price and draw that mighty red slash through it.

How Many Sales Did You Get?

Face it: someone is going to ask you this!

Here’s my answer: I have no data to share about my first effort with Pre-order because my book –2 years 1 paycheck 0 plans – just came off Pre-order on Friday, March 9: two days ago. If someone did buy the book while it was on Pre-order, Amazon did not include that in my reports on my KDP dashboard. I read that those show up only after the book goes live and this post was written prior to that.


My Weird Indy Publishing Project

However, I can report something regarding the other aspect of “My Weird Publishing Project” – walking my spiritual talk throughout the journey of publishing the impossible memoir (unknown author) as a trilogy:

When I realized the mess I was in — the utter futility of working with Amazon as an indie author regarding their unusual KDP “print proof” policy and their discrimination about reviews — there was a moment of freaking out. I asked the cards, “What should I do?” And the answer was a single card: “The Hanged One,” which means “Surrender.”

I laughed out loud because the last book of the trilogy — 2 years 1 paycheck 0 plans– is about the journey where I learned to let the divine mystery guide me.

I was getting a Cosmic Thump to let go. On my path, the rule is simple:

Enjoy what you’re doing with no expectation whatsoever about the outcome.

Got it! And thanks for the thump!

What about you?

Got an experience with Pre-order to share?

Til next time, please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi

2 years 1 paycheck 0 plans is available for the sale price of $.99 for a limited time.

Get yours here, now:


Nook, Kobo, Apple


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