My latest novel, Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker, is arriving on virtual bookshelves today. It seems like the perfect moment to discuss timing and book launches. I never thought anything about the best time to publish a book before I released my first book. I released Unforeseen Consequences in August – smack dab in the middle of school vacations. I blamed the lackluster sales on the vacation season. I’ve since learned to be more honest with myself and admit that the lack of sales had little to do with the release date. And then I promptly forgot all about release dates and just went about publishing book after book. Until Molly’s Misadventures was released mid-January. I did everything right – cover reveals, blog tours, reviews, etc. – but the initial sales were extremely disappointing especially in comparison with my previous books.
Where did I go wrong? At first I worried about the general appeal of the book. Although the book got some great reviews (and even an awesome review or two), it wasn’t selling. I decided to market the daylights out of the book and signed up for several newsletter advertisements. And guess what? The book sells well (in comparison to my other books. It’s not like I’m a New York Times bestseller or anything.)
I came to the conclusion that mid-January is really not a good time to release a new book. But is that really the truth? I headed to the Internet to search the topic and got hit with a lot of conflicting advice. However, two themes appear to be generally accepted.
People don’t buy eBooks as presents. Although my books are also available in paperback, the vast majority of my sales are eBooks. In fact, I’m pretty sure only my family are buying the paperbacks (truth be told – I actually buy the paperbacks for my immediate family). If you’re also selling predominately eBooks, you may want to re-consider a December release date. People are busy being merry and drinking eggnog, not reading eBooks. And if they aren’t buying eBooks for presents, there’s no reason to release your book in the pre-Christmas season.
January sales slump. I’m well aware of this phenomena. I just didn’t think about it when figuring out when to release my book. When I finish a book, I’m excited to get that thing into readers’ hands. I calculate how much time my editor needs and when I can book marketing events like blog tours and pick my release date based on these calculations. I really have no reason to complain then when my book sales are less than stellar in January – the month known to all retailers as a slump month.
Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Does it matter if the sales come upon the initial release or two months later? Sales are sales, right? That’s true, but it’s very discouraging for an indie writer to produce a book and watch nothing happen. Even though I don’t make enough money to live on my writing, it’s still a punch to the gut to watch sales flat line.
What do other writers think? When’s the best time to release a new novel?