The Problem With the Amazon Pre-Order Option

A short time ago, Amazon announced that self-published authors like myself, and I am sure a large number of you, could now make our books available for pre-order. Just like the established names, the big six writers. Our books could be ordered before their release date. Wow, what a great idea from Amazon. It really shows that they are focusing on the indie market… right?

While that may be true to a degree, having run my latest horror novel Blood of the Tainted through the Amazon Pre-Order service, and having watched as other friends have done the same, I find myself coming to a slightly different conclusion.

Pre-OrderThe benefits of the pre-order programme can, in my view, be broken down into two different areas, Royalties and Rankings.

For royalties it is nice and simple. All of the pre-order sales you make will be credited to your earnings on the day of the launch. This is nice because it means you can, if the pre-order runs well, have a number bumper to your month. It doesn’t really make a difference, the figure you earn is the same, but it is nice for you to see that sudden spike in sales and in earnings.

Rankings however are a different story.

I had Blood of the Tainted on pre-order for six weeks, and during this time is was pre-ordered 6 times. Now, when you get two or three pre-orders on the first day, it is only natural to get excited. You see your book climbing the charts before it is even available. However, you do not think of the other side of this.

If you books stops being picked up for Pre-order than you fall down the rankings. Trust me when I say you fall hard. After a few barren weeks of pre-ordering, Blood of the Tainted droped below the 500,000 rank, and by the time it actually launched it was in the lower depths of the 800,000 bracket. Not a very impressive launch day screenshot.

That being said, rank may or may not play an indluential big role in the launch or the continued sales of a book – that is a different topic altogether – but there is certainly something disheartening at logging on during the launch so see your books is falling closer towards the 1,000,000 rank that it is coming in at a more respectable level. A few sales and the normal top 100,000, and possible sub-genre rank (for British Horror this would get you around the Top 50 or so) is gone. Instead, a few sales and you climb to the 250,000 mark at best.

For those indie authors that are already big sellers with their other books, I can understand how the Amazon pre-order option can work, but for people like me, who sell a few copies here and there, the pre-orders are if anything, damaging to the end product.

It could even be speculated that this was Amazon’s intention all along. To give indie authors a level of false hope. Amazon want to earn money, and to do that they need to give the big sellers more room to grow while assisting in pushing the small fish out of the pond.

Have you used the pre-order option on Amazon yet? What was your experience with it?

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One thought on “The Problem With the Amazon Pre-Order Option

  1. Hmm… a sobering perspective to pre-orders. I haven’t used the facility as I have nothing ready to launch but now I think I might hang back. Thanks for the headsup Alex.

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