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.

Until now, like Amazon, Smashwords required authors to upload the final version of their book, alongside the cover art. it allowed a writer to take advance orders while launching a publicity campaign.

It was an immediate hit with pre-orders accounting for 7 of the top 10 bestsellers and 67% of top 200 bestsellers.

Another benefit to writers is the advance titles, once approved by Smashwords will also be posted on iBooks, and within a couple days at the Nook bookstore and Kobo.

The company sees this change as a major expansion of its value proposition and invested unprecedented resources in developing it. “In total man and woman hours,” the spokesperson says, “it probably took us about five times as long to create this feature than it took to develop and launch the entire Smashwords platform in 2008!”