So I’ve been a bit quiet online of late as I’ve spent the past seven weeks buried in edits on my historical fiction novel. But I’m about to embark on my final read through which means – eek! – I’m getting quite close to setting a publication date!
Naturally, as a self-publisher I want to do everything as well as I can and operate as close to the professional standards of a traditional publisher in every way possible. Therefore one question on my mind has been timing: WHEN should I do this? I really need to get this part right because once the book is released there is no going back.
I have consulted two self-publishing books which mention this issue: Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran and Self-Printed by Catherine Ryan Howard. Each takes a different standpoint. David advocates publishing your book straight away if it’s ready; he asserts that waiting one day longer means one day less with an opportunity to make a sale. On the other hand, Catherine advises establishing a specific date for your book launch and putting a lot of energy and resources into it, with the idea that a big splash might gain momentum from there.
I’m inclined to lean towards Catherine’s recommendation. It makes sense to drum up some anticipation in advance, especially when mine is a debut novel without any kind of established readership. Aiming for a fixed release date and focusing on promotional efforts in the run-up to that date just might generate enough interest to get the ball rolling.
So when should that date be?
I did some research online with regard to the optimal time to send a book out into the world. It seems there are a lot of permutations to consider! One great tactic, if it’s suitable, is to tie in your release with a relevant date in the calendar, like a national campaign or the anniversary of a famous event. For example, Hazel Gaynor self-published her novel The Girl Who Came Home in 2012 to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic – if she had waited any longer to snag a traditional publisher for the book, then that timely window would have passed. Unfortunately, although my own novel, A Class Apart, is set in the past, it doesn’t revolve around any particular historical figures or events so I can’t avail of this strategy myself.
The month of the year is important – there are some months that really suit certain genres and other months where you should avoid publishing altogether. I fully intend to stay away from December as it will be saturated with the biggest titles from the most famous authors, all clamouring for Christmas sales. This article provides a detailed breakdown of which types of books suit which months, including:
- January: self-help books about dieting, exercise, etc.
- February: romances for Valentine’s Day
- July/August: summer reading, can be light romances or epic science fiction
- October: horror, to tie in with Halloween
You can find further corroboration of these here. Considering all this in the light of my own book, I’m looking at a release date in the summer. One of my early readers has described it as a good holiday read so I think the romance element of it might be suitable for enjoying it on a beach or in a sunny back garden. I’ll probably aim for June or July to catch people before or as they head off on their holidays.
So that’s the month sorted! Now what about the day?
It appears that Tuesday is the official day for new releases in the publishing calendar. Should I align myself with that in order to copy the traditional format as much as possible? Or should I steer clear of a day where A Class Apart could be competing with so many others?
And why is it Tuesday anyway? You’d imagine that most people would be browsing for new books at the weekend when they have more free time. I gather from this article that releasing on a Tuesday allows plenty of steam to build up during the week with the publisher’s promotional efforts before activity quietens down at the weekend. That’s not necessarily a problem for a self-publisher who will be working every day of the week to promote anyway. However, it’s possible that potential consumers may be less active on social media at the weekend, and the online world is where most of a self-publisher’s sales are made, not in brick-and-mortar bookshops. So if social media is more active midweek, then that’s when the push for a new release should happen too. Perhaps a Monday then, or even a Wednesday.
It’s hard to know exactly how much this decision will impact on my book’s success. Some argue that there’s never really a bad day to release a book. For A Class Apart I’ve decided the answer is: when it’s ready. Which should be in the very near future, once I’ve completed that final read through (and hopefully don’t come across any glaring plot holes…).
So keep an eye out as I’ll be announcing a date very soon!