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if you're using timeline coding, typically your preloader only would be in frame 1 along with the code to animate your preloader display and furnish load-progress info to the user. nothing else should be in frame 1.
if you do that, your preloader will be displayed AFTER all assets marked for export in frame 1. ie, if you have embedded font(s), objects with classes etc
if you have a lot of assets exporting in frame 1, you will need to either change that export frame or make an external preloader (a main swf with preloader only that loads your current swf minus the preloader).
All that I have in frame 1 is the code for calculating the precentage loaded and a movieclip which displays this percentage. Shouldn't that be ready before the it is finished loading?
yes, it is but that's irrelevant.
the issue is what loads before your preloader and i listed those items in the 2nd paragraph in message 1. do those things apply?
Oh, yes what you said now makes since to me! It turns out my preloader was working out fine the whole time, I just didn't have anything to load! I feel so silly now
p.s. please mark helpful/correct responses, if there are any.