How do I set up preorders for paperbacks?

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If you’re new to the writing scene (or even relatively new) you may have seen indie authors with books set up for pre-order purchase and for both ebook and paperback. For authors who use KDPprint (Amazon’s publishing service) this seems like a mystery. (If you need an example, here is an amazon link to my upcoming Oct 2022 release, Sell More Books at Live Events.)

How does an author do that? KDPprint does not allow a paperback to collect presales, only ebook versions. There are reasons why which we could spend time speculating on, but that would be a waste. The big question is: how can an indie set that up?

Quite some time back on my blog, and also in my book The Indie Author’s Bible, I advocated for a publishing model that does not rely exclusively on KDPprint for publishing needs. Here’s a link to that article. But to sum it up, you get better treatment for your book at certain stores and distribution models if you also publish through IngramSpark.

The ability to presale your paperbacks is another reason to do that. The ebook version can even be exclusive to Amazon/KU and this will not affect the ability to do this. Ebook and print book models are completely different and unaffected by each other.

The way to set up presales is to create your book in Ingramspark and set your publication date for the future release after you have already set up your ebook prerelease in your KDP dashboard. Your Ingramspark version will need an ISBN that you purchased and own (through Bowker in the US.) Using a free ISBN through Ingramspark is not likely to work well with setting this up for prerelease on Amazon’s systems.

You have to complete the publication process through Ingramspark in order to have your prerelease go live. That means you have to have a manuscript uploaded and there may be a fee unless you have a membership at partnering organizations such as the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). If you are sure your book is ready, there are many places you can get a free publishing code to waive the setup fee, but there will be a fee to make any edits/revisions. (I often find the need to make tweaks, and so I joined ALLi for this reason since members get free revisions, click to check it out.)

If your pre-order ebook does not automatically add the paperback option for preorders (which would be routed through Ingramspark,) you may need to begin setting up a paperback version in your KDP dashboard, but do not click to publish! Using your ISBN which we also used in the above step to create the book at Ingramspark ought to be enough to make the Amazon system recognize that these are the same book, though it will not sell them through your KDP sales dashboard and they will go through Ingramspark’s instead since the book is not completed and published by KDPprint. (You should complete the publishing process at KDP once the release date has arrived for the paperback to maximize your income on sales through the amazon systems; Amazon will put the KDPprint version in the primary position to sell once you do and you will make more money off that version since it will have a lower print cost and a slightly higher royalty rate in-house).

If the Amazon system still does not link your physical preorder to the amazon listing, contact KDP’s customer support through your KDP dashboard and ask them to link the items.

That’s it! If you’re already using both systems, it’s super easy and only requires a few extra steps to be taken, and earlier than you might otherwise, in order to get the pre-order live.

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