Among the many questions an indie author faces is when to release a book. Big publishing houses obviously select dates for their book releases to maximize marketing efforts and hence sales, and those of us who are self-publishing should do the same. If not, your book will be lost among the hundreds of others published that day, simply because the potential interest for your book’s topic isn’t peaking.
One way to approach a release date is to think in terms of when most book sales occur. Without a doubt, it’s during the Christmas holiday season, which now runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24. Well over a quarter and sometimes upwards to a third of a year’s book sales occur during this two-month period. Some writers prefer not to release their titles at this time, thinking there is too much competition, but the the sheer number of people purchasing books at this time of year as compared to any other week or month typically outweighs the downside of potentially being lost in the crowd.
Of course, some books simply wouldn’t sell as well at Christmas as during other times of the year, so you may want to approach your release date by thinking of seasonal tie-ins. The most obvious tie-ins center on holidays, such as books about ghosts for Halloween or love poetry for Valentine’s Day, but think beyond that. If writing a book about bipolar disorder, for example, why not time its release to May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month? Think also about the ebb and flow of people’s lives. Self-help books, for example, perform well in January as many try to fulfill their New Years’ Resolutions. In May and early June, many people pick up summer vacation reading.
Though less specific for a release date but useful in helping decide which book to write next, time your release date to an anniversary or other significant event. For example, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riot in Los Angeles, the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, and the debut of “Tom and Jerry” on television. Any of those topics would make for a great book…and you can bet that there will be books released in 2015 on each of them. Such dates as “one year”, “10 years”, “25 years”, “50 years” and “100 years” will attract media interest to recall and review a subject.
Remember that once you establish a release date based on a tie-in, you’ll need to ensure there’s plenty of lead-in time to generate interest about the book. For example, if writing a book about soldiers’ memories of war for a Veterans’ Day release, you’ll want to have the title up for sale about four weeks before them, or around Oct. 11. That will allow mainstream media and bloggers plenty of time to develop and schedule story ideas that include your book or an interview with you as the author in advance of Veterans’ Day. Don’t forget that often new stories are done about a holiday in advance of rather than just on its actual date. This lead-in time also allows those who wish to purchase such books as a gift or to feed their own interests to locate and purchase your book before Nov. 11.
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.