Before last year I couldn't actually let you pre-order even if I wanted, but now that Amazon is allowing it, I'm still not giving you fans the chance. So, why?
There are lots of small reasons but only one main reason and it all comes down to one word: Algorithm.
For digitally published authors, the Amazon ranking algorithms and how to manipulate these algorithms and how to use these algorithms to your advantage take up a great deal of your thoughts and planning and even hopes and dreams. Everything on Amazon is driven by numbers and every one of those numbers are connected. Bigger number, more connection. More connection, more eyes on your product. More eyes on your product, more sales. More sales, more fans.
You've no doubt noticed that every product on Amazon has a sales rank and that many categories have hot sales lists. But there's also more. The product emails Amazon sends to you, the "Also Bought" list under products, the "you might try" suggestions you get after finishing a book on your Kindle to name a few. All of this is free advertising for an author...we like it...a lot.
But what does it have to do with pre-ordering?
It has to do with pre-ordering because magnitude matters in getting on these hot lists. Which is why book releases are such a big deal for me. 50% of what I earned off of my writing last year came in the 3 months after FM4 was released. Because of you fans. You all ran out and grabbed the new book, spiking FM4 up into the top 5k of all kindle books and spreading it all over Amazon's site, leading new people to try the series, which then spiked FM1 through FM3 up the lists as well. Incoming wave of fans.
BUT WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH PRE-ORDERING, RALEY?
Magnitude! Amazon for some strange reason has decided that your pre-order purchases don't accumulate as far as the algorithms are concerned. Instead they just happen as sold. Meaning instead of five hundred to a thousand of you super fans jumping at FM5 and buying it in the first week, I'd have some buy it over a three month period, then a smaller flash as the rest picked it up on release.
This is a horrible plan! I'd be sabotaging my own career if I let you pre-order. Those three months never seem to last long enough anyway! (Amazon has drop off points in the algorithms at 1 month, 3 months and also a penalty if you don't publish anything for an entire year--this last fact is the reason "Meet the Bonnies" was released just in case FM5 took until July)
So how can you be an awesome fan? Buy the book on release weekend. Make that release spike magnitude as large as possible. Then read the book, it's funny. Don't pee your pants. If you do pee your pants then change said pants before continuing to read said book. Also: adult diapers, you might need them.
Then, after you finish the book and you hate me because you want FM6 and I haven't even started it yet, review the book so all those new eyes know how you feel about it. Without all the hate and more with the "yay that was funny" though. Maybe don't mention that you peed your pants either.
Main Focus: Gush (Fantasy Action/Adventure) Novel, First Draft = 21k out of 100k estimate (21%)
Side Focus #1: Assault on Dread Fortress Paine (Post FM6 Novella?) = 44k out of 50k estimate (88%)
Side Focus #2: The Glassbreaker Goes Home (Post FM6 Novella) = 26k out of 50k estimate (51%)
Back Burner #1: FM7 School Story = 0k out of 80k estimate (0%)
Back Burner #2: Super Secret Awesome Project
Other Stuff I Need to Get To: FM3-FM6 concordance updates