Titles can be set up in Lightning Source’s system to allow for retailers to place pre-orders before the title has been published. The On-Sale Date and Publication Date are used to determine if a title will be available for pre-order.
How to Set up a New Print Title for Pre-order
If you would like your new PRINT book to be available for pre-ordering, it is important that a future publication date and on-sale date are used when setting up the title. Usually, you would set the publication date earlier than the on-sale date in order to have your book available for pre-ordering. However, not all retailers, such as Amazon, are able to agree to or abide by the contractual "rules" of the on-sale date and only recognize the publication date. It is recommended that the publication date and on-sale date are the same to avoid any problems with the availability status or listing of your book on some websites.
The On-Sale Date is the date upon which retailers are allowed to sell your book. You can set this date before your title’s publication date to allow pre-publication sales. However, not all retailers and bookstores recognize an On Sale Date and it can cause problems with the availability status of a title and fulfillment on some websites. For this reason, the On-Sale Date is optional when setting up your title and is not required.
If you feel you must have an On Sale Date, we suggest using the same date for the Publication Date and On Sale Date. However, the book will not be available for sale or delivery in the marketplace UNTIL the on-sale date is reached.
You will be able to set a publication date and an on-sale date for an ebook. However, our ebook retail partners only recognize the publication date. If the ebook retail partners pick up the ebook, they will accept preorders for the ebook if the publication date is set in the future.
The Publication Date is the official release date of your book. Be sure to make this date far enough in the future that you will have time to order a printed copy or proof, apply any revisions that arise from the proofing process, and have your first print run produced at least a month before your publication date. Publishing a book can be a chaotic process, and should any unexpected delays occur, a cushion of extra time will be your best friend. In the traditional publishing world, new books are typically released on Tuesdays.
Important things for you to know if you decide to use a future on-sale date for pre-ordering of your book
Retailers & Distribution Partners- Availability Messaging
Ingram sends out the metadata feed with all the information for your book, including on-sale and publication dates, to the distribution partners and retailers for them to post on their website. We cannot guarantee how retailers will list titles. Some retailers only recognize publication dates and do not recognize on-sale dates, which can cause problems with the availability messaging for the book.
You may see retailer websites list your title as available for ordering with no mention of pre-order. As long as your on-sale date is in the future, we will hold all the pre-ordered books to be printed and shipped so the books reach all retailers by the on-sale date.
Printing and Shipping Timeline for Books with an On-Sale Date
Ingram/Lightning Source uses the on-sale date to determine when to print and ship books to our global distribution network. Pre-ordered books are printed and shipped up to 10 business days before the on-sale date is reached.
It is normal to see the pre-order status removed within the 10 business days before the on-sale date, as Ingram/Lightning Source has already started printing and shipping orders received from our distribution partners.
Changes to Files- Uploading Revised Files
If you decide to upload revised files for your book, please ensure your finalized files are uploaded before you add/enable distribution services. If the book is available for sale through the distribution network and you upload revised files, the book is pulled from production for processing of the new files, which means it is no longer available for sale through our distribution network.
Uploading revised files after a book has distribution services added can cause delays with the revision being processed if we have already received orders from our distribution partners and are printing the book to ship before the on-sale date. The revision will not be processed until all of the orders are printed and shipped. If orders continue to come in every day, the revision is not processed until we stop receiving orders. Please contact support if you need further information.
If the book is already in production and available for sale through our distribution network, and you upload revised files too many times, too often, some retailers may give an incorrect available status on their website. In this situation, you may need to contact the support team to help resolve this.
Changes to the On-Sale Date
We use the on-sale date that is listed for a book at the time distribution services are added/enabled. If you attempt to change the on-sale date during the 10 business days/2 weeks prior to the original on-sale date you selected, the book may already be printing and shipping. We are unable to guarantee pre-orders will be printed and shipped 10 business days prior to the newly updated on-sale date and will refer to the original on-sale date.
We ship books 10 business days prior to the on-sale date.
Why is There an Option to Use an On-Sale Date?
Many years ago, larger chain bookstores sometimes ordered new books with expected high demand directly from publishers. Smaller independent bookstores usually ordered from a wholesaler or sometimes a publisher, if they could. Some bookstores received the books before other bookstores, causing some to miss out on big sales. Then, the "street smart" date (same as the on-sale date) was created and used by Ingram. Retailers had to sign an agreement stating they would not sell the book before the "street smart" date (AKA On-sale date) and would usually receive their stock before the on-sale date, which gave all retailers the same advantage with a hot new book. There are retailers, who either have not signed the agreement or their systems are not set up to recognize an on-sale date and they only recognize a publication date. Because of this, we suggest using the same date for the on-sale date and publication date.