In a move it calls its “most ambitious feature ever, the popular self-publishing platform Smashwords allows authors to begin selling preorders of their titles up to one year before uploading the final assets—a finished manuscript and cover image—to its system.
Smashwords has offered preordering capabilities for over two years, but so far only for titles whose files are ready and finalized.
“Ebook preorders are the single most important tool for indie authors,” a Smashwords spokesperson explains, since they “enable more effective advance marketing. Perhaps even more important, at iBooks, B&N and Kobo, all accumulated preorders credit toward the book’s first-day sales rank, causing a pop in sales rank.”
Smashwords says 67% of its top 200 best-selling titles began as preorders on the platform, yet less than a tenth of Smashwords’s more than 100,000 authors and indie publishers use preorders, largely because those final files weren’t available until shortly before their titles were ready to go on sale. The change is meant to help more Smashwords users begin earning revenue on their titles earlier.
The company sees this change as a major expansion of its value proposition and invested unprecedented resources in developing it. “In total man and woman hours,” the spokesperson says, “it probably took us about five times as long to create this feature than it took to develop and launch the entire Smashwords platform in 2008!”
More information is available on the Smashwords blog.