You see the Big 5 publishers do it all the time. Books in the bestseller lists on Amazon or Barnes and Noble are often preorders. You think it’s a pretty sweet deal to have people buying your book before its even done. You work better under pressure, right?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to preorder:
1. Preorders weaken a book launch and should be avoided except in the case of established series with a following.
2. Preorders can potentially keep you on the Hot New Releases list on Amazon longer than is typically accepted.
Those who say that a preorder weakens a book’s launch are likely looking for a big sales spike and review dump within the first week of a book’s availability. If that’s your strategy and you know what you’re doing, go for it. But keep in mind that sites like Amazon actually prefer there to be a steady build than a big spike in sales.
For instance, I ran a $0.99 sale on The Full Moon at the end of June and beginning of July. I sold 25 copies throughout the week, averaging about 5 copies a day. Naturally, the book jumped in ranking, but it stuck at its high ranking until a day or two of regular sales.
In other cases, I’ve run a “flash sale,” where a book is only available at a certain price for a short period of time and my ranking shot up and then quickly dropped.
Now, I’m a fan of preorders. I think it’s important to get your book’s link early so you can schedule promos ahead and put the link in the back matter of preceding books, but you can get in trouble with preorders. I only upload for preorder when the book is completely done. Now, I don’t have a large enough following and I have tried to promote a preorder through paid advertising, but an author could potentially get a lot of steady preorders leading up to launch and maintain a high ranking, thus putting them on the Hot New Releases list for not only 30 days but the length of their preorder plus 30 days.
You can see the appeal.
From my experience, getting people to preorder a book is difficult. Even your die hard fans will wait until its out to buy it, meaning releasing frequently is still key. But your results will vary.
Like all things in not only publishing, but business, you need to look at your goals and your resources and determine whether you’re better off having a “hard” launch without a preorder or a “soft” launch with. Nobody’s stopping you from experimenting with both types of launches for different books. Give it a shot and determine for yourself.