Pre-orders, Placeholders and Final Book Files

I’ve decided to make some changes in how I work, which will be mostly invisible to you. The one thing you’re going to notice is a little gap in new books being released. What’s happening is that I’m switching the order around.

Here’s why.

To date, I’ve listed books for pre-order (and shown you the covers) when they were still being finished. The idea is that when you finish book #1, you might like to order book #2, so I’ve made those links available for you. Even though I leave what seems to be enough time, plus a buffer, schedules have been getting tighter and tighter over the past year. The reason for this is pretty simple. The vendors I use are very good, which means they’re getting busier. They have more clients and tighter schedules. Everything works as long as everyone keeps to deadline—not just me, but ALL of each vendor’s clients. If someone gets sick, or there’s an unexpected development in their personal life, the domino effect kicks in. When vendors are less busy, they can move things around, but I’ve noticed in this past year that it’s become much harder for everyone to be flexible.

In a way, indie publishing is becoming like traditional publishing: when one deadline is missed in the production schedule, the domino effect might mean that the book’s publication date has to be moved. Each step in the production process is scheduled for a certain date, and the book can’t just move a week down the schedule because there’s another book scheduled for that time.

The Crusader's Vow by Claire Delacroix, book #4 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances.Another thing that’s been happening this year is that portals have been delivering the wrong file to readers. How can this be? At some portals, a pre-order can only be made available with a book file. Of course, if the book isn’t done, the correct book file isn’t available. The best solution is at iBooks, which doesn’t require a placeholder file at all. There’s no chance of confusion there. (This is called an asset-less pre-order.) At other portals, it’s common to use a placeholder file—for example, the placeholder file for The Crusader’s Vow at Kobo is a single page, which says that if you receive this file instead of the book, you should contact Kobo customer service. I like this solution, as there’s no chance of confusion, but it doesn’t work elsewhere. At Amazon, for example, the page count displayed on the product page is derived from the book file—if I upload a single page like the one at Kobo, the book will be listed as having one page and I will receive many emails complaining that a single page book shouldn’t be priced so high. (I know, because I’ve done this before!) The book will also automatically appear in a lot of quick read categories based on the size of that file, which would be wrong. So, the placeholder file for The Crusader’s Vow at Amazon is the final file of The Crusader’s Kiss. I had expected the two books to be about the same length (but actually Vow is longer). The benefit of this strategy is that it will be immediately obvious to a reader if the wrong file is delivered to them. Since B&N requires a book file and has been delivering the wrong file a lot this year, there has been no pre-order or placeholder file for The Crusader’s Vow there. The book will be listed for pre-order only when the final file can be uploaded.

There’s a deadline, of course, for providing the final file at each portal. Once the final file is uploaded (and uploaded on time) the portal should deliver it to the customer on the on-sale date. What’s been happening this year is that the placeholder file is being delivered instead. As you can imagine, this creates a huge mess. (If this happens to you, btw, please contact customer service at the portal in question. Please do not leave one-star reviews for the book or send hate mail to the author. Neither of these actions will get you the right book file. Of course, it’s frustrating, but only the portal can deliver the book you’ve paid them to receive.)

I’ve been thinking for a while that the best strategy is to only ever upload one book file.

Something Wicked This Way Comes, a Regency romance novella by Claire Delacroix and #1 of the Brides of North BarrowsTo give it a try, this year I set up a pre-order for a book that was already done. Something Wicked This Way Comes was written last summer and published in the Spellbound anthology last fall. I have the right to publish it on its own in March, so in December, I put it up for pre-order. I had the final book file, commissioned a cover, had it formatted and put it up for pre-order with the final book file. This has been a wonderful experience. Not only does the book have a nice volume of pre-orders because it’s been available longer as a pre-order, but its publication has been completely stress-free. I’ve even forgotten about it a couple of times, then remembered that I should make some memes. I want all of my book publications to be this easy!

Addicted to Love, a contemporary romance by Deborah CookeSo, my strategy going forward is going to be listing the book for sale only after it’s done, when the final file can be uploaded.

There’s one last asset-less pre-order out there—it’s for Kyle’s book, Addicted to Love, and is only at Kobo and iBooks. I’m going to write that book next and get it all loaded up early. When you see the Amazon pre-order, you’ll know Kyle’s book is done!

It will look to you as if I’m not writing much for a bit, but things will be busy behind the scenes. Once we make the transition, the publication schedule will look as busy as ever and ALL pre-orders will be for completed books.

I’m looking forward to it.

3 thoughts on “Pre-orders, Placeholders and Final Book Files

  1. There sure is a lot of fussing behind the scenes. I think being a writer and author has gotten insane. You are an administrator, too. In the old days it was so much different. Question: Did you enjoy writing more back then?

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    • It was a lot less stressful, I think, Eileen! Back in the day, I used to take a week off between projects and go do something fun. This week, however, it’s all file management, admin and promotion for me. 😦 I’ll still be back making up stories again next week, but there won’t have been a break in between.

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