Last edited November, 2022
Amazon says it can take up to six weeks after distributing for your book page to properly populate. Read this article to find out what’s going on and what you can do about it.
I work as an executive project manager for MindStir Media, a hybrid publishing company that helps authors self-publish and acts as the publisher. We use Ingram as our printer and wholesale distributor. Ingram is one of the largest book distributors in the US and the world. Its distribution network includes more than 40,000 retailers.
How It Works From Our End
Your book’s metadata as well as the interior and exterior files are sent to Ingram, which then sends them to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The end distributors can do whatever they want with the metadata.
We submit the files to the distributors then it is up to them what happens next. Your printed book and ebook will probably be up on Barnes and Noble with the changes in a couple of weeks.
However, Amazon takes a long time to make changes – they say it can be up to six weeks. Right now, the printed books are taking about four weeks to go up on Amazon – until then, they will look funny in ways you can’t imagine – don’t worry about it! Your Amazon page is going to look weird for a while, but it WILL properly populate.
Why Does It Take So Long?
Amazon takes longer to stock books than other companies because they run things differently than most distributors. Amazon has Prime, so they have to be able to deliver books in extremely ridiculous timeframes. No other distributors do that.
In addition, Amazon has to physically stock books in its warehouse, and most of the time, they underestimate the demand, so they order like 10 books. In fairness, I would do this as well if I were Amazon because it’s hard to tell what will sell before it goes to market. They sell out, and they have to reorder. It takes time to reorder, even with print-on-demand.
If the book is out of stock and people bought it, then Amazon needs to reorder. Tickets for this issue aren’t supposed to be sent for six weeks. After that, if the book is still out of stock, then a ticket can be submitted.
“How Amazon lists a title and availability status on its website is ultimately up to them. Amazon’s purchasing decisions are supported by an algorithm that is proprietary to Amazon. In choosing to stock titles (or even show products as available on their sites), Amazon considers many pieces of information about your book. Factors that affect the decision to stock a book may include a discount (with a maximum trade discount being most favorable), whether a book is returnable, product page views, and sales history. Even print-on-demand books may not show an “in stock” message on Amazon’s website. Amazon may also list your title as available through third-party vendors. For additional information about Amazon’s availability messaging, please visit the Amazon website”. (Jennifer McNaby, 2022)
Click here to see MindStir’s terms and conditions about distributors.
We don’t have issues with Barnes and Noble, even though they print on demand. As a matter of fact, Ingram has boxes that are specifically designed to ship Barnes and Noble books. It prints and ships to Barnes and Noble without the aforementioned issues.
Some Ways That Your Book Page May Look Wrong
To expand on my earlier comment about the Amazon page looking funny…
Its distribution process can be tedious and frustrating for authors, and there’s nothing we can do about it. When your book initially appears on Amazon, the page won’t look like you want it. Alternatively, it may look great on day one but get wacky by day two. Or some variation of that for six weeks.
I’ve seen the following things that look wrong, but all these things will resolve themselves without us doing anything, nor can we do anything as a publisher for six weeks. In the first few weeks, your Amazon page may say:
A) Your book is not available for six months.
B) Your book was published on an earlier date than it was.
C) It’s more expensive than you put as the retail price.
D) The ebook isn’t linked to the print book.
These things will all turn out correctly without us doing anything, nor can we for six weeks. So it’s best not to worry about it.
What You Can Do About It
I work as a project manager for MindStir Media, and I can only submit a ticket to Amazon six weeks or longer after the book has been distributed. If it falls out of stock or still has issues after six weeks, then I need to submit a ticket.
Selling the first book is a slow build unless you already have a huge audience, so you can and should be focusing many of your efforts on growing your email list for the book and getting people aware of your book. While you’re waiting, there’s a lot you can do to market your book, so it’s silly to worry about it.
When you hear of a new author having an “immediate New York Times bestseller” that means that people put a ton of money into marketing the book – probably over $100k. And they don’t spend that unless they are planning on selling over 100 books, so the author probably had a big audience, to begin with.
Ultimately, marketing your book will take time, work, and/or money, so try not to get caught up in Amazon’s distribution delays because it won’t matter in the long run.
In the meantime, focus on marketing your book using your website!
I’m ending with some suggestions of what you can do while waiting for Amazon to sort the page out. Anyone can buy the book at Barnes and Noble, so that’s the best place to send people if the book is showing as not available on Amazon.
Focus on sending people to your website. That is the best practice to use anyway. If you send people to your website, you can get their email addresses even if they don’t immediately buy your book.
On your website, link to Barnes and Noble until you are happy with your Amazon page. There are tons of great resources on building an email list, segmenting it, and sending emails that help you get what you want.
People don’t generally learn about a book once, then buy it. You have to send people through a customer journey. I am working on a guide that goes into marketing strategies and tactics. While it’s not yet finished, this marketing guide offers some good suggestions you can focus on.
Overall, it’s important to develop a marketing mix to help you market the book consistently over time. As this requires real skill, either hire a marketing company long-term or become a marketing expert yourself. The latter is the hardest and most unrealistic option – but there are many things you can do as a scrappy go-getter that could create long-term growth.
And you know who can put together a marketing mix of projects that pack a big punch up front?
The Easy Way
We offer these marketing services that make sense even if your print book is not available on Amazon:
- Website design
- Bestseller campaign
- Goodreads giveaway
- Author book tour
- Podcast interview appearances
- Book trailer
Ami Mariscal is the founder of Stories That Lift and the executive project manager at MindStir Media publishing company. With an MBA and over 15 years of experience in media, entertainment, and art, Ami produces content that helps storytellers and also produces transmedia stories that help their audiences live more fulfilling lives.
Ami has read over 1000 books (about a book a week) and at MindStir Media she helps many authors publish and market their books and become bestselling authors. Ami considers it her mission to lift humanity with stories.
Additional reading and references
Metadata Checklist by Ingram in this folder:
Ingram is one of the largest book distributors in the US and the world. I call them a wholesale distributor because they distribute to more than 40,000 retailers. (https://selfpublishedwhiz.com/who-does-ingramspark-distribute-to/)
Reference To Consider
References To Consider
The course in here:
How to Create Good Book Metadata
What the metadata includes [ ] Use the words from the Metadata Checklist in this folder:
They start with Title. List the words in that column ending in Age & Grade (Ingram, Metadata Checklist)