Paperback pre-orders on Amazon and Barnes& Noble with IngramSpark
If you have been planning your book launch for a while, you probably have come across an idea of collecting pre-orders for your book. This strategy allows you to capture reader’s excitement prior to book’s release and make a sale at the exact time they are interested in your book. It also allows you to gain better sales rank on retailers who count all copies sold during pre-order period towards sales rank on release date. If you are able to gather a good amount of pre-orders, this will land your book higher in category lists and even in store-wide bestseller lists, exposing your book to a wider audience.
Now, setting up eBook pre-order is easy: you simply upload it to Amazon, Smashwords or another distributor of your choice, select future release date and it’s done: your eBook can be pre-ordered on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo. The only thing to remember with eBook pre-order is to upload the final interior file at least 72 hours before the release date.
Doing the same with paperbacks is much harder if you want to use Amazon's own printing facilities to fulfill your orders (which is made possible via KDP and formerly by Amazon-owned CreateSpace). You might have come across a process of setting up pre-order on Amazon using Amazon Advantage program that some authors used in the past. IngramSpark allows you to set up paperback (or hardcover) pre-order on Amazon without the complexity of using Amazon Advantage to make it possible. And, unlike with Amazon Advantage, readers will be able to pre-order your book not only on Amazon but also on major retailers beyond Amazon in US, UK, other European countries, Australia and New Zealand: Barnes&Noble, Book Depository, Chapters/Indigo, Fishpond, Booktopia, Adlibris and several other sellers.
At the time of this article's original publication distributing paperback pre-orders to Amazon.com via Ingram, earned you more per copy than you would with KDP printing these orders but due to IngramSpark minimum wholesale discount changes, as of August 31, 2023 that's no longer the case for US sales.Okay, so how does the process look like? It's simple: simply start a new book project on IngramSpark by clicking “Add a New Title”, enter your metadata and upload book files. When you reach the screen where you will be asked to enter pricing and publishing dates, make sure to enter your intended, future release date in the “Publication Date” field and leave the “On Sale Date” field blank. Don’t forget to enter pricing and discount information for all markets where you want to make your book available for sale. As for best settings, we recommend to use “Returnable: No” and entering lowest possible “Wholesale Discount” allowed for each market, which is 30% for US, Canada and “Global Connect Program”, and 35% for the United Kingdom, European Union, and Australia. Then you need to submit the book for Ingram’s acceptance. Once they send you an email asking you to approve your eProof, log in to your IngramSpark account, review digital proof and accept it while enabling distribution at the same time. That’s it: information about your upcoming book will be sent to Ingram’s retail partners (including Amazon) and your paperback will be available for pre-order within few days to a couple of weeks.
IngramSpark marketing services
Right after you accept proof copy and enable distribution, IngramSpark will try to cross-sell you “marketing” services.
They will ask you following question: “Do you want to promote your title?”. This is not required for a distribution through Ingram network and is a completely optional service. The asserted benefit of this offering is to help you sell more books. However, please note that this “promotion” is, in fact, a listing (ad) in Ingram’s printed and digital catalogs which are sent to book retailers and libraries.
Using this option will not get your book in front of your readers and so, in our opinion, such promotion is unlikely to influence your sales in any way. We feel that the “value” (or lack of thereof) you get from such promotion is similar to value you get from book promotion on publishing service provider website and their social media accounts.
We advise that you opt out of such “promotion” and spend your marketing budget on paid ads and other activities that can actually bring you sales. If you feel differently and can see, or have actually experienced, tangible benefits from using any of Ingram’s marketing offerings, please share your experience with us.
Wait, but shouldn’t you order physical proof copy first to make sure your paperback is perfect? If you were releasing book immediately upon accepting it for distribution, then yes: you should order and review physical proof copy before making the book available for readers.
But with pre-orders, it is a little different. Why? With pre-order, release date away in the future, making the book available for distribution won’t result in the book being printed and delivered to your reader right away, so you have time to review physical proof copy and do any revisions necessary, while readers pre-order your book. Unlike with revisions done on regular, non-pre-order book, revisions during pre-order period won’t affect your book listing on retailers and readers’ ability to pre-order it.
As far as deadlines go, you only need to make sure that the final version of your book is uploaded and accepted on your IngramSpark account 10 days prior to release date because that’s when Ingram will start printing copies to allow retailers (including Amazon) to fulfill all orders on time. If you do any revision after accepting a digital proof for the first time, you will need to approve it again.
Paperback pre-order step-by-step:
Log in to your IngramSpark account
Click “Add a New Title” and fill in your book information
Enter your release date into “Publication Date” field and leave “On Sale Date” field blank
Upload your interior and cover files, submit files for IngramSpark approval
Accept eProof (digital proof) and enable distribution
Order your physical proof copy from IngramSpark and make sure to also order a copy from KDP Print at the same time, so you can review both at the same time.
Review both proof copies and make any corrections necessary no later than 10 days prior to release date.
Don't forget about entering pricing information on KDP and IngramSpark and selecting "All territories (worldwide rights)"* option, but be sure NOT to click "Publish" button on KDP, as that would make your paperback available on Amazon very shorthly.
[*] *You can choose to select "Individual teritories" option on KDP and then mark "United Kingdom", "Germany", "France", "Italy" and "Spain" (you can also add "Japan"). This can significantly increase your income from book sales on Amazon.com.
Pre-order sales reporting
IngramSpark won't show you how many pre-orders were placed for your paperback on any given day. They show the sales, including pre-orders, with several days of delay. This fact is the only downside of using IngramSpark for pre-orders, as compared to Amazon Advantage process. The other method would provide you with almost real-time information about orders placed and hence allow you to better evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing activities than seeing the same sales information a couple of days later.
Okay, so now comes your day of glory: the release day. What should you do now? Go to your KDP account and click “Publish Your Paperback Book” button at the bottom of the last page of your paperback set up.
If you have chosen to use KDP Print, this is the time to upload paperback to KDP (as a paperback from KDP will become available for sale as soon as Amazon accepts it, so you can't upload it beforehand, as you can with CreateSpace).
KDP copy will become available on Amazon.co.uk and European Amazon Stores within an hour or so. Amazon.com will follow within few hours. From now on, all Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon Europe (.de, .fr, .es, .it) paperback orders will be printed by KDP.
Next, you should consider using IngramSpark for Amazon.com paperback even after the release date. And if you are curious about a popular, half-true myth that goes along the lines of: “Amazon is discriminating against other Print-on-Demand distributors (IngramSpark) and forces me to use KDP (formerly CreateSpace) instead”, you can read about it here.
This article is work-in-progress. It is published in hopes of being useful, but it is not as comprehensive as our finalized articles, may be slightly outdated and contain small errors. Subscribe for updates.
Read our other article to learn more about Print-on-Demand distribution strategy.
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