Yesterday on YouTube Penny Brown asked a really good question, “Is there a best time of year to publish your book?”
It’s the third of January, and you’ve probably already broken out your shiny new calendar and are busy planning out the year to come, so it’s a good time to think about those book projects and just when you might want to publish them. So, when should you publish them?
Well, I did some internet sleuthing, and the short answer is that there is no one right time to publish your book, but depending on its topic there might be better times to publish than others.
In an article he wrote for the Alliance of Independent Authors Mick Rooney suggests authors follow the lead that has been set by traditionally published authors in determining the best time to publish their book. This makes sense since after all traditional publishers have been in this business awhile, and a lot of research has gone into determining the best times to launch books to achieve the most sales. Though it’s worth noting that traditional publishers usually have longer lead times, and in terms of e-book publishing haven’t always been ahead of the curve.
Rooney does point out that there are some seasonal trends that relate to book buying habits with the winter months being a better time for self-help and business books and summer being a better time for fun adventure reads and travel books.
I think genre will play a big part in determining your own “best” time to publish your book. Is your book a fun road trip novel or the sort of book that might be described as a beach read? Well, then you might want to shoot for releasing it in May or June to take advantage of people looking for lighter fare.
Does your book have a Christmas or holiday theme? You might be thinking December would be a good time to release it, but I would probably shoot for earlier. People grouch and grumble about stores putting out Christmas displays early, but they do it for a reason. Christmas shopping season really does begin in October, and if you’re hoping to take advantage of that for your sales, you should probably aim to get your book out before Halloween. Keep in mind, it might take your book some time to gain some traction, and it won’t do you much good if it’s mid-January when your Christmas-themed novel finally picks up steam.
According to an article Steven Spatz wrote for the BookBaby Blog, summer is actually the biggest shopping season for books. In this way, publishing seems to be aligned with Hollywood. Movie studios like to release their action blockbuster flicks during the summer, and book publishers know that action-packed reads are especially popular during the summer months.
Of course, this also means that if you’re an indie author trying to make a name for yourself, you may be competing with a more crowded playing field if you decide to release your spy thriller over the summer. Plus again, there’s the whole idea of gaining traction to consider.
One advantage that indie authors have over traditionally published authors, is that you aren’t under any kind of deadline when it comes to sales. While traditionally published books may only get six months or so before they get pulled from bookstore shelves, as an indie author you can continue to promote and push your book long after the marketing machine will be shut down for a trad book. So, you don’t really need to be a slave to the standard publishing calendar.
In their articles both Spatz and Rooney point out that while there might not be any one best time to publish a book, there definitely is a worst time to publish a book. No matter what your book’s topic, you should probably try to avoid releasing it anytime between American Thanksgiving and the end of the year.
Though this is the busiest shopping time of the year, it’s also a time when you’ll find yourself competing with a huge number of products and brands trying to grab their share of the lucrative Christmas shopping market. Trying to put out a new product at this time, means it will likely get lost in the sea of noise out there.
If your book has a seasonal theme, it’s not a bad idea to try to schedule a release date that fits the book, but otherwise the best time to publish your self-published book is probably whatever works best for your own schedule and to just avoid putting anything out in the latter half of November or December.