This is actually the second draft of a post I wrote three weeks ago, before the publication of my new book, Rise of the Wolf. I’ve had to completely change the post in the near-three weeks since Rise has been available as things didn’t quite go as I expected!
My previous book, The Wolf and the Raven, which came out in April 2014, was available for readers to pre-order which was excellent as – at that point – indie authors weren’t able to do that. Amazon allowed me to do it because I was going to be publishing the novel while I was part of their team at the London Book Fair. On day one, The Wolf and the Raven hit number 1 in the WAR chart while Wolf’s Head reached number 2. It was fantastic to see, as you can imagine.
So that was my prior experience of using the pre-order facility. It was exciting to see the book listed for people to buy before it was actually available, but when it came out and I thought about it, and spoke to a couple of other authors, it seemed to us like a pre-order might actually be counter-productive. The best promotion for your Kindle book is to get it as high in the charts as possible, right? Then the Amazon algorithms apparently start showing it to lots of readers, who in turn go and buy it, and it snowballs, we hope.
So, I thought it might perhaps be better to NOT do a pre-order for Rise of the Wolf, but instead to try and get as many people as possible to buy the book on the day it came out. THAT, I was sure, would fire it higher up the charts than sales coming in in dribs-and-drabs over a period of two weeks or whatever it might be before it was actually published.
Well, my plan didn’t quite come together, despite lots of my readers doing their bit by buying and sharing the news on social media etc.
You see, Amazon’s system, while being fantastic, doesn’t work instantly. When you hit the “publish” button on your book it doesn’t appear at that moment on Amazon, all nicely linked in to your paperback edition and your other books in the same series. All that takes a matter of hours or even days! Ditto your chart placing, and your author page and the various different international Amazon sites… The system takes a while to catch up and put it all together. In the end, although Rise of the Wolf has been sitting at number 1 in the “Historical biographical fiction” chart on Amazon UK for a few days now, it did NOT make that big, day one leap that I’d prayed for.
What I failed to realise is that Amazon has changed since I published The Wolf and the Raven a year ago. Now indies can do pre-orders. Just take a look at the WAR chart, “Hot New Releases” section. See a pattern? That’s right, none of the books are out yet. They are ALL pre-orders. It’s a whole chart promoting books that aren’t even available. And people are buying them in huge numbers.
When those books come out and are actually available to read they will have hundreds, thousands of people getting it straight to their Kindle and the reviews will start to flow in within a day or two. The paperback and ebook (or audio if it’s available – Rise of the Wolf is in production but won’t be ready until about September) editions will all link up, the series will show nice and neat on your author page and they are ALREADY in the charts so if you DO manage to get your most loyal readers to buy on day one you might just get that hoped-for spike that breaks the charts.
We’re continually being told the publishing business is constantly changing but I hadn’t really seen much evidence of it myself until now. I made an error by not using the pre-order facility, an error which I won’t make again when I put out my next novella, The Christmas Devil, this December.
I just hope the system doesn’t change again in the next couple of months wrecking my plans once more!
I’d be very interested to hear from other KDP authors who’ve recently used the pre-order system. How did you find it? Any tips you can share with the rest of us on how to use it effectively? Please leave your thoughts as a comment or email me!