Pre-orders are the new black. At least that’s what Mark Coker at Smashwords keeps telling me. Not just any preorders though, it has to be pre-orders with Smashwords. I’ll give his reasoning in a bit, but some new changes in the rules mean I am able to put Fox Hunt out for pre-order, thought Smashwords to Apple iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.
If you buy my stuff from any of the above, here’s your chance to get in an early order. You’ve got two months, there’s no hurry. Any orders placed before the release date (August 31st) will be counted as sales on release day, plus the book will be available on those stores on release day, which is a plus since there’s usually a delay. That could mean the book pops into the top sales lists on those retailers, and that could mean more people see it and buy it. That’s the logic behind pre-order system.
Here the logic behind me never doing this before. Essentially, to do a pre-order on any retailer up to this point, I had to write the book, edit the book, have the book proofread and edited, do the cover, and make all the final edits. I needed to have a finished book which I could hand to Smashwords/Amazon months before my intended release date. That might make sense to a large publisher who has an entire anticipatory marketing machine to get up to speed, and has lots of money to keep them going while they aren’t selling books to anyone. It might make sense to an author with a bestselling back-catalogue who’s still living off their last advance payment. To those of us who self-publish it’s downright dumb.
Smashwords have apparently worked out that this is kind of silly for most of the people who actually publish material through their service, and they now have what’s called “assetless per-orders.” It means that I can cut out the need for a finished manuscript, and even a cover, and still make a pre-order available for sale. They’d like me to do it a lot further in advance of the release date, but I still want to have a finished first draft (my first drafts are maybe more finished than some people’s, who will go through a dozen drafts before release) before I commit to a release date, so I’m not going to do pre-orders more than 3 months ahead, at maximum (2 months is far more likely).
So, if you read on an IPad or IPhone, or you try to avoid buying from Amazon, go take a look on your favourite retailer and consider a pre-order of Fox Hunt. And just remember, watch out for the fox.