Understanding the POD project timeline
No two book projects are the same. As a result, your book project timeline will be unique. Many factors go into how long it takes – especially the time it takes for authors to approve their book proofs. But here’s a rough timeline you can use as a guide. Again – your timing will vary.
Author uploads book and all metadata (author bio, description, pricing, etc.) to BookBaby system, pays and checks out.
Author receives book proof to review. (If author has ordered cover design or book formatting, allow an additional 10 days for this stage of the process at minimum.) At this point, the clock stops at BookBaby and starts with the author. It’s up to the author how quickly or slowly this process will go. Authors can approve their book proof in 1 day or 101 days. The average time for proof approval is approximately 7 days.
BookBaby finalizes files and sends them to online book stores.
Your book will begin to appear at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other stores in a pre-sales status. Customers can purchase your book online but it will not be shipped until after the book release date. (Note this could be on Day 14 or Day 28 based on seasonality and other factors.)
Your book has been ordered by Amazon and is ready to be shipped to customers. To gauge reader demand, Amazon requires a minimum of 28 days in pre-sale status for all new titles. This allows them to calculate a 2 week inventory forecast. Amazon's goal is to maintain 2 weeks’ worth of inventory of your title in their warehouse so they can display a stocking message of "In Stock. Ships Today." They use demand during the pre-sale to build this forecast and then they order the books from us towards the end of the pre-sale. (Note – this could be on Day 40 to Day 60 depending on seasonality and other factors.)
Promote your book like crazy during pre-sale — Pre-sale period is when your book is listed on Amazon and other stores prior to the published book launch date. After your book proof is approved we will send your POD files out to our entire retail store network. Your book will start appearing on the retail websites within 2 to 3 weeks. During this period of pre-sales status, your customers can order and pay for their book. Your readers’ credit cards won’t be charged until the book is actually released and shipped.
Many authors plan out a multi-week pre-order period, with a different promotion each week to build the buzz. Authors hold contests, do chapter reveals, conduct giveaways, and host their own blog tours. The bottom line: whatever you would do for a book launch, start doing it now while your book is in pre-order status on the retail stores.
Thanks to your book being in pre-order status, you can measure the effect of each of the tactics described above. Customer orders will come in during each weekly promotion. You can measure what works and what isn’t as effective. You’ll need to make sure you’re including the links to your book product page in each communication piece or web page. This makes it simple for your customers to order quickly.
Your pre-sales window is when you should build the excitement for your launch. The longer your book is available for pre-order, the more time you have to send your eager readers to Amazon and the other stores to accumulate orders. All these orders count as sales on your release date, giving you a good chance at cracking some top-100 best seller sub genre lists in sites like Barnes & Noble and Powell’s.