FIRST A DISCLAIMER: I have never used Amazon Pre-order because, honestly, if I have a book ready enough to make a pre-order page, then I’ve got a book ready enough to go on sale for realsies. So any discussion here is based on what I’ve witnessed from the experience of author friends who have used the pre-order system on Amazon and the research/reading I’ve done into it via author blogs and writing forums. And basically? I’ve realized that everything said by Renee Rose on her blog and quoted below via the Press This button appears to be 100% accurate. Most of my friends who have used pre-orders have seen zero help in their sales rankings on Amazon, no engagement of Amazon also-bought algorithms, and poor showing altogether for their books. In some cases, the worst showing of their careers.
Please read below to understand why the use of Amazon pre-orders may be linked to this potentially negative outcome, and then head on over to Renee Rose’s blog to see more. If you are having poor sales ever since you started using Amazon pre-orders, possibly consider not using the pre-orders for your next book. Amazon algorithm engagement is key to any sales success and if the pre-orders get effective algorithm engagement then the book is basically doomed.
From Renee Rose’s blog:
Don’t do it. That’s my expert advice. Here’s the scoop: unless you are close to reaching New York Times or USA Today’s Best Seller lists, it will only hurt you. Why? Because if you’re like me, you rely largely on the Amazon algorithm to sell your books for you. That means, Amazon’s recommendations that come in the form of “Customers who bought this book also bought… ”. No one but the programmers at Amazon know exactly what data goes into Amazon’s algorithm, but most of us agree it has to do with the number of sales you hit initially on your own. It’s generally accepted that the first 72 hours your book hits Amazon are crucial for getting the Amazon wheel turning in your favor.
So what happens when you put your book on pre-order? I had understood that the orders made in advance of the release date would count toward my opening day “ranking” on Amazon. Not True. I repeat: Not True. What it does count toward is books sold if you’re trying to hit the New York Times or USA Today list. While I wish I was in that camp, unfortunately, I am not.
So what happened when I set my latest book to pre-order? Amazon rank started immediately. So in the ten days before my book released I had some trickle sales (I think around 25 total) which gave me a lousy ranking, but I wasn’t worried, because I thought they would count on my opening day. Nope. On my opening day I had the worst ranking of my entire career. Talk about supreme disappointment. I had split my usual opening sales in half with the pre-order thing, and Amazon’s algorithm made a decision on my book based on that ranking. It seemed like my “also bought” recommendations took a long time to come in and sucked. So far the mistake seems to be unrecoverable, not that I’m giving up on my book baby.
The only benefit, I found, was having my links ahead of time for promotional purposes, but considering all the promo I did didn’t help my book, I don’t think that little bonus is worth it. Also, if your book happened to be tagged “adult” (since we are all sex writers here) you would know it ahead of time. But again, the clock has already begun ticking, so knowing it in the pre-order stage is hardly a boon unless, of course, you pull the book entirely and resubmit with a new title.”