Smashwords has unveiled a bold new feature that will allow authors to start taking pre-orders without the need to upload a final manuscript or e-book cover art. This is a boon because an author can start earning money right away and help finance the actual writing.
Two years ago Smashwords initiated the first stage of their pre-order system, but it required authors to upload the final version of their book, alongside the cover art. This was great if an author had a few titles ready to go, but did not want to release them at the same time.
It is obvious that pre-orders for e-books has been a resounding success for Smashwords. “Despite the poor adoption, over the last 12 months Smashwords books born as preorders accounted for 7 of our top 10 bestsellers and 67% of our top 200 bestsellers. When you consider how such a small fraction of books accounted for an outsize percentage of bestsellers, you begin to realize something special is happening here.”
The obvious benefits of being able to list your book now, even if its not done yet is the ability to have 12 full months of marketing and hype. The book, once approved by Smashwords will also be posted on iBooks, and within a couple days at the Nook bookstore and Kobo.
I doubt that the vast majority of Smashwords authors will ever sell one copy of their book, much less sell them in advance. Out of the 100,000 authors currently selling their books on the self-publishing platform, less than 5% will be able to make writing and selling books viable. I suppose these are the exact types who will take advantage of this successfully and everyone else will hope for the best.