Thursday, September 18, 2014

More About Pre-Orders

Last month, I talked about Amazon narrowing the gap between indie and traditionally published authors by making its pre-order option available to indie authors as well. Since then, I've tried the system, not only at Amazon, but at Kobo and the iBook store. As far as I can tell, there's no way to track sales at iBooks, so it'll be a matter of watching the sales reports when the book goes live in late October. Kobo doesn't track sales, but it does record rankings, so you can get an idea if you've been selling books by watching the rankings.

Amazon reports pre-orders as a separate section of their dashboard. And, contrary to what I thought was their system, it turns out they regard these pre-orders as regular sales, so the book's ranking will reflect that.

I put my newest book, Windswept Danger, up for pre-order on September 1st at all 3 channels, at the special pre-order price of 99 cents. Because I wanted to make sure everything was uploaded and working properly, I didn't do any advertising until my newsletter went out on September 4th. I always promise my subscribers exclusive content, so they got to see it first.

I was out of town (at the fantastic Writers' Police Academy) until the 8th, and when I got home, I started doing some promotion on my blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages.

Results? I noticed a nice spike in sales and rankings when my newsletter went out. In fact, Windswept Danger hit the top 100 in its sub-genres at Amazon almost immediately:

#10,332 Paid in Kindle Store US
#48 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Romance
#94 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery
#95 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense

#7,361 Paid in UK Kindle Store
#18 in Kindle Store > Books > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Romance
#60 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Mystery > Action & Adventure

Results from the social media channels—not so much. Part of that is because of Facebook's policy of not feeding posts to all your contacts, so only a fraction saw the promotion.

But promoting without giving readers information about the book probably isn't going to sell copies. So, when my book went 'live' for pre-order, I made sure my website page for Windswept Danger was up and running.

I also promoted with a short blurb:

The Stepford Wives meet Hotel California
Can a feisty security agent who hates taking orders and a covert ops specialist who has some-thing to prove, put aside their own differences and their own agendas long enough to uncover the secrets of Windswept Heights?

Some said they want to read samples of the book before they buy, so I have the first chapter on my website.

Someone asked about getting reviews, saying they don't like to buy books until they've seen what others have to say. For indie authors, this can be a genuine struggle. I have ARC files in most formats which I'm happy to provide to people who want to review the book. For my last book, Dangerous Connections, I also created ARC 'proof' copies. These didn't even have the final cover—I thought I'd make them available to reviewers who want print version. I didn't end up with a lot of takers. Quite frankly, most of the advertising open to indie authors comes from newsletters like BookBub, The Fussy Librarian, eBookSoda, and others. What they look for is reader reviews on Amazon, not reviews from professional reviewers. I've stopped worrying about that. I write the book, I get it out there. (Of course there's a whole lot between those two steps.) There are also bloggers who review books. Most take digital copies, which makes it easy to get copies to them.

And, in case any readers here are interested in the book (or helping it rise in the rankings), you can pre-order it from Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes. You'll get it delivered to your e-reader on its release day. And you'll save $3.

I'll report again once the book is for sale 'live' to see how the entire process worked for me.

Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, mystery novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She’s the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists, the Pine Hills Police series, set in a small Oregon town, and the Mapleton Mystery series, featuring a reluctant police chief in a small Colorado town. To see all her books, visit her website. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.


  1. I put the third book in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series on pre-order too, Terry, and sales spiked almost immediately when Amazon sent out a notice about it. I got the email and so did lots of others, because they told me. Backlash has sold a bunch on pre-order at full price, and ranked in the 30s in Paranormal. It has since moved up. I arranged a Kindle Countdown, something I've never done before, for Mind Games, the first book in the series. One day at .99, one at 1.99, and one at 2.99. Hope your sales skyrocket on publication day. Hope mine do the same.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Polly. I've yet to succumb to Amazon's demand for exclusivity, so I'm not doing anything with Countdowns. Kobo has been far too good to me to leave them behind, but everyone does what works best. And we'll see what happens on the day it goes live (and I plan to have it live everywhere by then.)

    2. I tried my books on all the platforms for a year and really didn't do well. You're right. Whatever works. I know you've been loyal to B&N and Kobo. Wish they'd been as good to my books.

    3. For me, it's about the reader; as a Nook owner, I rarely buy content that's exclusive to Amazon, although I have both the Kobo and Kindle apps on my tablet. They just don't read as easily with the app. Plus, I'm the kind of person who wants to please everyone, so even if I have only a handful of readers using a platform, I want them to be able to find my books. The only platform I've stopped using is All Romance eBooks, but that's primarily because people who buy there usually want stuff much 'hotter' than what I write.

  2. You are right about Facebook not reaching people the way it used to. If you aren't interactive with people, you fall off their feed, they fall off yours. If you're posting but not interacting, you are probably wasting your time there. Author pages are not showing up on my feed even if I "like" them. You also cannot "tag" a page versus a profile. If I am friends with an author, I can mention them when I brag about their book and they see it. If they only have an author page, they won't see it. Which is a shame really. Who doesn't want to see raves about their book?

    1. I've yet to master even the most rudimentary Facebook skills, and if I do figure something out, they change it. I see they now have a choice on my Author Page so I can post as my author persona or my profile, but they don't have that option on the profile. What's up with that?

  3. Wow ... pretty impressive rankings there, Terry ... mine are all in the 7 figure bracket.

    1. Thanks, Christopher. I didn't start to see "decent" rankings until I had at least 5 books published. The best marketing is still "write the next book."

  4. This post is loaded with vital info that I really need. Obviously, I still have so much to learn...yikes!

    P.S. I'm always glad to do a review for you, Terry. Just contact me via e-mail.

  5. Glad there was something helpful in my post, Linda. And yes, I'd love a review. Will contact you.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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