Because Apple’s iBooks platform has very little marketing behind it, you may not know that it is the second-largest ebook retailer in the world, and a very robust second at that.
Savvy authors know that having their ebooks available on multiple platforms will work to their advantage in wider distribution and more sales.
That’s one of the reasons I was excited to learn yesterday that Apple has expanded a powerful feature on iBooks so that all authors who upload directly to Apple can use it. Apple is officially “agnostic” about how you get your books onto their platform (i.e. they don’t favor books from one source over another).
Basically, this allows you to set up a book on iBooks for pre-order even if you don’t have a book cover or interior file, up to a year before your publication date. All you need is your metadata.
You can distribute to iBooks on your own or through an aggregator (kind of a distributor) like Smashwords.
Although some aggregators have been offering this service, it’s now available to any author who goes the direct upload route.
Here’s the information on how this works, directly from Apple: (Note that this information is not yet available anywhere on Apple’s sites or in their iBooks FAQs or instructions. But it comes directly from an iBooks source.)
“iBooks now allows providers the ability to upload pre-orders up to a year before a book’s release date without needing any finished assets (ie. cover or book file). All that’s required is basic metadata: title, author, book description, etc. And even these don’t need to be set in stone — you may change them prior to the release, as well as the release date itself.
“This presents a huge opportunity to build sales and buzz around a book, especially for authors with a fan base and writing books in series, because iBooks factors all pre-orders into first-day sales. So books will often hit the bestseller charts based on orders that have been accumulating for months.
“Additionally, you can add excerpts or chapters to your books in advance of the release date. Readers love to have access to early samples and will often share them with their friends and fans, helping you to grow your audience even more before your book releases.”
Here are the detailed instructions from Apple:
Setting Up Pre-Orders with Metadata Only
To offer your book for pre-order on iBooks without assets:
- Open iTunes Producer
- Enter the book’s metadata in the Details pane
- Click on the Price pane
- Enter a Pre-Order Start Date, a Sales Start Date (Release Date), and the rights and pricing details
- Select Save from the File menu
- Click Submit
IMPORTANT: Do not add any dummy or incomplete book files or covers to iTunes Producer during this process. Doing so will cause your book to be ticketed and to not go live on iBooks as a pre-order.
Once your files are ready:
- Search for your pre-order in iTunes Producer by typing the title or Apple ID in the “Search iTunes Connect” field
- Drag and drop the cover or screenshots in the Details pane
- Drag and drop the book file(s) in the Files pane
- Click Submit
Files must be submitted at least 10 business days prior to the scheduled release date to ensure they pass review and are available to customers on the expected date. If the final files are not submitted in time and the release date passes, your book will fall off iBooks. This may also prevent you from setting up pre-orders without files in the future.
If you need help during this process or have questions, you can contact the iBooks support team at (877) 206-2092 Mondays through Fridays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time. Or, click Contact Us under Resources and Help in iTunes Connect to send them an email.