Smashwords now Allows “Assetless” Pre-Orders

Image from blog.Smashwords.comIf you’ve used Smashwords pre-order function, you know that in order to set the book up you have to upload a version of the book. Mark Coker has strongly suggested uploading your final version, meaning that you’ve got your book completely edited and ready to go BEFORE you set your pre-order up. Organized authors might find this easy, but if you’re like me, you may find yourself finishing your final version at the very last minute. To  give authors wiggle room, Smashwords said you could upload a draft version, so long as your final version was uploaded at least ten days before your release date (that made sure that the final version arrived at all retailers in time). But it still meant formatting your book multiple times. For my last release I uploaded no less than five versions, including the final, meaning I formatted that sucker five times (I could have done it only twice, but being paranoid I kept uploading the “newest version” because of Smashwords’ preview function and the worry that the final might somehow get delayed and customers *might* end up with the unedited first version).

On the Smashwords blog, Mark Coker sites the need for a “final copy” as the reason only 10% of Smashwords books have taken advantage of pre-order:

This requirement created a dilemma for our authors.  If the book’s ready for release today, why should an author hold back the release for three or six months to gain the full advantage of a preorder?  You can’t blame these authors for deciding to release their book immediately, the day it’s ready for readers.

And he’s right. I’d have loved to take advantage of the three to six month pre-order period that industry leaders suggest, but because of that finished manuscript requirement I could only do one month, with the above multiple uploads.

No longer.

Today Mark has announced the “assetless” pre-order – authors don’t even need a cover to set up their book, only a title, description, category (such as romance, paranormal, sci-fi, etc.) and a release date up to twelve months in the future. That’s right. I’ve already given a release date of April 1, 2016 for my next book, and, as soon as I decide on a title for sure, I can set it up and start collecting pre-orders now. I’m free to make changes on it during that twelve month time and, if I have my next book titled (which I think I do) I can set it up and allow readers to pre-order book 9 the day they finish reading book 8! What a great way to take advantage of a reader’s urgency capture sales from people who have JUST finished your book and want to know what happens next RIGHT NOW instead of waiting six months to a year, and having to remind them why they wanted to order the next book in the first place.

Brilliant.

Amazon currently allows you to do pre-orders too, through their KDP (NOT KDP select, just the Kindle program in general), but they have a 90 day limit and they require a copy of the book. They do allow draft versions, but it still has to be formatted correctly and they want the actual book content (not a substitute place holder) so that they can “approve it”. Hopefully they will follow Smashwords lead again (Smashwords allowed indy authors to do pre-orders before Amazon did) and allow the assetless pre-orders soon.

You can check out Mark Coker’s announcement blog for details.

Have you ever done a pre-order book release? How did it work for you? Now that Smashwords allows assetless set up, does it make you more likely to set up a pre-order?

13 Comments

  1. roundheadlady says:

    I did one when Smashwords started this, but I only had about a week’s run-up and scored only 7 pre-orders. I’m reconsidering trying again with my WIP, now that I can get around six months worth of run-up.

    1. I’m looking forward to trying the several month run up, too!

  2. When I saw the blog post, I thought about it. More with the other pen name, though. I haven’t had anyone tell me yet that it’s been a big help, so I’m not sure.

    1. I did a little over a month last time and collected 54 pre-orders through smashwords (and 40-some on Amazon). I always have people ask if there are pre-order links when ever I start pre-publishing promotions, so I originally went for it on the book before last because everyone was asking me for it 🙂

  3. I LOVE this! I signed two books up as soon as I found out about it. I don’t notice big sales or anything from pre-orders, but what I love most is that my books will be available on the same day on all the channels. For me, that’s the big perk. After uploading to Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Amazon for a year, I want to go back to just uploading at Smashwords and Amazon again. I’m tired of formatting for different versions. It takes the whole day, and I end up with such a headache. LOL Now I can go back to doing it the old (and less stressful) way. I hear authors say they make more uploading directly. I haven’t noticed a difference either way. But for me, the time involved and hassle just isn’t worth it.

    I’m so excited. I’ll be entering more books in pre-orders in a couple months. I like being able to project far out and moving the release date up if I get it in ahead of time. That’s definitely a nice factor, too.

    1. Yes!!! I hated having to do different versions to get them there on time – or else making readers of one format wait. I’ve never noticed making more by going direct either, but to be honest I’ve never put a lot of effort into the research. In fact I’ve been thinking of unpublishing the Nook Press versions of my books and sticking to smashwords only to simplify tax time. They’d still be listed on B&N, just the smashwords versions which would mean one upload and one set of data figures. I think as soon as I suss out the book title for the next one (I have two titles and not sure which is going for which book) I’ll set mine up. Then I’ll have pre-order links for all the stages like sharing snippets, cover reveals, etc. I find that readers (myself included) will see a pre-lease promo, think “I’ll get that when it’s out” and then totally forget it, while if they could get it *right then* they would. I think in our instant gratification society that is going to increase, so having that pre-order ability is going to be a helpful tool.

      1. I’ve actually thought about taking my first book under the other pen name off of B & N and using Smashwords for that. That book took off like crazy on Amazon, but I think I have one sale of that book on B & N. So it wouldn’t be a big deal to take it off B &N. At the same time, since it DOESN’T do well at B & N, would it even be worth the effort? I could do the pre-order for the second in the series because of Kobo and Apple, which I do through Smashwords. I just wish Amazon would do it the same way. Can you even do pre-orders with Amazon if you’re not in the Select program?

        1. You can do pre-orders on Amazon without being in Select. I got this off Amazon’s page about pre-orders (https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AGSSZQVFKECO5): Only new KDP books are eligible for pre-order. Public domain books are not eligible for pre-order. You may list up to 10 titles at once for pre-order, with room for more pre-order listings as you release each title.

          So as long as it’s never been published before, you’re okay. 🙂

      2. I agree about the instant gratification thing. I need to get more on the ball with letting people know the pre-orders exist. I don’t expect it to lead to a lot of sales from it. I’ve never hit bestselling charts because of it, but since a couple readers want to know when a book is going to be out, it would be nice if I could give them a preorder link. That way, they don’t have to wait for it to come out to get it.

  4. Adan Ramie says:

    Joleene, I was just reading about the assetless pre-order system today, and it’s definitely something I’m going to try out. I have been working out the details in a new anthology recently, so as soon as I’m firm on the title, I’m going to put it up for pre-order.

    I think I want to do it more to see what happens than anything else, because it’s something that’s pretty unheard of in the publishing world. I’m excited to see what this new development brings!

    1. I actually saw your blog post about that and need to go vote on it 😉

      1. Adan Ramie says:

        I appreciate all the feedback I can get!

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