What’s not to love about pre-orders on Amazon? I can understand the appeal. Customers get their hands on the book early, the price is often reduced, and they also know that their favorite authors are getting a small plug every time someone places a pre-order. For a major publishing house, pre-orders are a valuable clue as to the size of the initial print run. And for an author, the pre-orders all register as sales on the day of publication, thus giving the first Amazon sales rating a boost that can carry the title to the top of the best-seller list, at least in its own category.
So why do I still have reservations about their value?
For those of you who will purchase the Kindle edition, the only advantage I see is a possible price reduction. Pre-orders and orders placed on the first day of publication go out at the same time. Electronic publishers have no need to know how many books to print because they don’t print—they just click and send. As for authors, I admit that first ratings boost is rewarding, but it doesn’t last beyond the first few days. For readers who purchase a trade paper edition of a new book, there are advantages. Price reductions are more important when the price is higher. If your author offers autographed pre-orders, that may clinch the argument.
But here are a couple of facts you may not know. Amazon does not allow independent writers and small publishers to offer pre-ordering of printed books. That privilege is reserved for the largest publishing houses, who may receive thousands of orders. And even their Kindle store has strict rules about who may and may not pre-order. For example, I was recently punished with a one-year suspension of my ability to offer pre-ordering. What was my sin? On my last pre-order, I submitted a typo that set my publishing date ahead by three months. I asked for a correction, which they granted. It was one number: change month 6 to month 9. It could have been done by any third grader I know. However, asking for a changed date is “against the rules,” so they suspended me.
And that, dear readers, is why there are no pre-orders for the Kindle version of my new edition of Beyond All Price. All is not lost, however. If you want to pre-order a new print copy of Beyond All Price—the one with Nellie Chase’s photograph and signature on the cover and my autograph on the title page, just visit the “Store” page on this website and order away. The offer there will be good from now until Monday, August 27, 2018.