Make Pre-Orders Part of Your Book Launch Marketing Strategy

Print book preorders IngramSpark self-publishing Carla King

This week, Smashwords announced what they say is its most ambitious feature ever, assetless preorders. I always encourage authors to use Smashwords, the largest ebookseller in the world, to publish and distribute their ebooks to the widest network possible. If you’ve got Smashwords and Kindle, then you’ve got the ebook market covered. Not to mention app stores and libraries.

Yesterday I blogged about Book Launches. Preorders are hot and can help you launch your book to bestselling status. So if you’re serious about your author marketing, and I know you are, read what Smashwords sent me yesterday, then go to their blog post, and follow their step-by-step instructions on how to set up your preorder: 


Assetless preorders enable Smashwords authors and publishers to list an upcoming title as a preorder without requiring a completed manuscript or cover image. Assetless preorders can be listed up to 12 months in advance of a title’s on sale date and will be distributed to iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Full announcement is here: http://blog.smashwords.com/2015/06/smashwords-introduces-assetless.html

Smashwords has offered preorder distribution for over two years, and they’ve proven to be a boon to sales rankings for authors who leverage the tool. In fact, according to Smashwords sales data, 67% of our top 200 bestsellers in the last 12 months were born as preorders.  However, less than 10% of our 100,000+ authors and indie publishers use preorders. Why such a low amount? Until today, authors and publishers were required to have a final manuscript and final cover art to distribute a preorder. When given the choice to immediately release their completed manuscript, or delay the release by scheduling a preorder, over 90% chose to release immediately.

Smashwords assetless preorder distribution eliminates this quandary. Now authors and publishers can establish a preorder listing with just the title, the price, the release date, the category and the book’s description.

As we state in our blog post, ebook preorders are the single most important tool for indie authors. Ebook preorders enable more effective advance marketing. Perhaps even more important, at iBooks, B&N and Kobo, all accumulated preorders credit toward the book’s first-day sales rank, causing a pop in sales rank.

Here’s some additional information regarding today’s announcement:

  • In the last two years we’ve amassed a lot of experience to understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to preorders. As such, we’ve published a companion post, How to Reach More Readers with Preorders at our blog: http://blog.smashwords.com/2015/06/how-to-reach-more-readers-with-ebook.html
  • Hundreds of our bestselling authors participated in the beta, which ran over 12 months.  NYT and USA Today bestsellers like Jamie McGuire, Kristen Ashley, Sydney Landon, Chanda Hahn, R.L. Mathewson and others too numerous to name.
  • This was Smashwords’ biggest, most ambitious development project in the last seven years.  In total man and woman hours, it probably took us about 5 times as long to create this feature than it took to develop and launch the entire Smashwords platform in 2008!
  • Interestingly, although preorders have been available to all authors and publishers at Smashwords for over two years, romance authors have adopted preorders more quickly and with greater gusto and success than authors in other genres and categories.  Yet another example of how romance authors are pioneering the best practices of indie ebook publishing.

Read more about assetless preorders with Smashwords here.

Confused about self-publishing tools and services? I have a class coming up next week on how to choose a self-publishing service. June 24 at 10am PT. Here are the details.


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