Image from blog.Smashwords.comIf you’ve used Smashwords pre-order function, you know that in order to set the book up you have to upload a version of the book. Mark Coker has strongly suggested uploading your final version, meaning that you’ve got your book completely edited and ready to go BEFORE you set your pre-order up. Organized authors might find this easy, but if you’re like me, you may find yourself finishing your final version at the very last minute. To give authors wiggle room, Smashwords said you could upload a draft version, so long as your final version was uploaded at least ten days before your release date (that made sure that the final version arrived at all retailers in time). But it still meant formatting your book multiple times. For my last release I uploaded no less than five versions, including the final, meaning I formatted that sucker five times (I could have done it only twice, but being paranoid I kept uploading the “newest version” because of Smashwords’ preview function and the worry that the final might somehow get delayed and customers *might* end up with the unedited first version).
On the Smashwords blog, Mark Coker sites the need for a “final copy” as the reason only 10% of Smashwords books have taken advantage of pre-order:
This requirement created a dilemma for our authors. If the book’s ready for release today, why should an author hold back the release for three or six months to gain the full advantage of a preorder? You can’t blame these authors for deciding to release their book immediately, the day it’s ready for readers.
And he’s right. I’d have loved to take advantage of the three to six month pre-order period that industry leaders suggest, but because of that finished manuscript requirement I could only do one month, with the above multiple uploads.
Today Mark has announced the “assetless” pre-order – authors don’t even need a cover to set up their book, only a title, description, category (such as romance, paranormal, sci-fi, etc.) and a release date up to twelve months in the future. That’s right. I’ve already given a release date of April 1, 2016 for my next book, and, as soon as I decide on a title for sure, I can set it up and start collecting pre-orders now. I’m free to make changes on it during that twelve month time and, if I have my next book titled (which I think I do) I can set it up and allow readers to pre-order book 9 the day they finish reading book 8! What a great way to take advantage of a reader’s urgency capture sales from people who have JUST finished your book and want to know what happens next RIGHT NOW instead of waiting six months to a year, and having to remind them why they wanted to order the next book in the first place.
Amazon currently allows you to do pre-orders too, through their KDP (NOT KDP select, just the Kindle program in general), but they have a 90 day limit and they require a copy of the book. They do allow draft versions, but it still has to be formatted correctly and they want the actual book content (not a substitute place holder) so that they can “approve it”. Hopefully they will follow Smashwords lead again (Smashwords allowed indy authors to do pre-orders before Amazon did) and allow the assetless pre-orders soon.
Have you ever done a pre-order book release? How did it work for you? Now that Smashwords allows assetless set up, does it make you more likely to set up a pre-order?