Monday, 22 September 2014

Pre-Order Fiasco

I recently published my debut novel, Fate's Exchange (Twisted Fate, #1), via Amazon's KDP Select. Initially, I was leery about their exclusivity clause, but after the free promotion, was happy with the sales. So I decided that since I would be publishing Fate's Return (Twisted Fate, #2), on October 27, 2014, I would release the novella, Pulled Away (Twisted Fate, #1.5), between the two novels to gain interest and maintain momentum.
Pulled Away Available for Purchase
As you may know, in order to qualify for pre-orders through Amazon and avoid having a year-long restriction barring you from future pre-orders, authors must have the final manuscript uploaded for review ten days before their date of publication. Now, I chose September 19, 2014, as my release day, which means I had to submit the manuscript by September 9th - I made sure it was in by the 8th. During this time (8th to approx. 17th), I promoted Pulled Away, though not as much as I plan to do with Fate's Return (thankfully).

Two days before the publication, I went onto Amazon to see what the status of the pre-orders were i.e. how many had been made. At this time, I noticed that the novel was yellowed-out on my bookshelf, and the label, "Cancelled Pre-Order" had been placed on it. After reading the "What's this?" pop-up, I was confused. Failed to finalize manuscript? No . . . I did it a day early! WTF?

Using the Contact Page on Amazon, I inquired about this, asking for an explanation i.e. how long had it been this way? Why was it like this when I followed the rules to a T? On September 18, 2014, a KDP Select representative emailed me and apologized as it had been a system error. My novel was being rescheduled for release as per my settings for September 19th. So I waited . . . and waited . . . and on the morning of the 19th, when it was still yellowed-out--uneditable--I email KDP Select once more. Their response?

Start from scratch.

I had to go back, uploading Pulled Away from scratch, and even though I asked to keep the ASIN number, they didn't reply. Since it was already supposed to have been released at this point, I couldn't wait - why should I be made to look disorganized to anyone looking forward to its release? Then I had to go back to ALL the sites that I had submitted the pre-order and ASIN on, and ask for changes to be made, which made me feel very . . . unprepared. If this had been a full-length novel instead of a novella, and I had promoted it as much as I did Fate's Exchange, I would have been *beeped*.

Adding fuel to my fire, KDP emailed me back 'after' I had submitted the new publication to tell me to submit it - like they didn't know it was being done. I also had to inquire about the penalty to ensure I could try again . . . they said I would be fine, but we'll see. My biggest problem is that I had to change everything and obtain a new ASIN. As a single mother with a full-time day job, I don't have time to waste correcting "system errors" - maybe that's just me. Now I have two books with the same name which I will have to sort through (another thing Amazon couldn't help me with by removing from my bookshelf, and then told me it was changed so I could edit its title, and I still can't) in order to generate the correct reports - another waste of my time.

Be Prepared . . .

There are many tools on the internet that can be downloaded to help you track submissions of your books to the various promotional sites on the internet. Ditto for review requests you make to bloggers/beta readers, etc. My advice to anyone considering preparing a pre-order, whether via Amazon or another publishing service, is to make sure you have what you need in case a system error occurs and you find yourself having to backtrack to make changes. Personally, I created an Excel Spreadsheet for this, with promotions, reviews, and interviews on tabs of their own.

Has this ever happened to you? Do you have any suggestions for how to avoid the confusion of having to backtrack your submissions or maintain order throughout the process of submitting?

Let me know! :)

Sasha Leigh