Strategic timing of a book’s publication date can give it a boost and have a major impact on its long-term success. Commercial publishers and booksellers have known this forever.
Are certain days, months, or dates better than others?
Well, it depends on the book.
January – March
The first quarter of the year is the perfect time of year for business, self-improvement, health, and writing craft books, as people are eager to stick to their New Year’s resolutions.
Genre fiction also does well in the first quarter. For many of us, the first quarter means terrible weather (I’m in New England). We’re looking for new books to pass the time while stuck indoors. Also, many readers received new tablets, e-readers, or gift cards for gifts. Shiny, new books become irresistible.
Peak reading and buying season are very much tied to the weather. February and March are generally good times to release a novel because the weather’s not great. Snow and ice forces readers to browse the web for their next adventure.
The exception is children’s books. If you’re a children’s book author, wait for the second quarter of the year. Kids received books during the holidays and parents feel they’ve spent enough already. Also, they’re back in school, which leaves less time for pleasure reading.
April – June
The second quarter is another perfect time to release genre fiction, as people are going on vacation and finally getting to that book they’ve been dying to read all year. It makes sense to release a genre novel in the spring, so momentum can carry over into the summer.
What about children’s books? Easter is the second busiest time of year for kids and gifts. Parents are looking for various things to occupy their kids’ time. Books offer a great way to keep kids learning and occupied. Activity books for kids also do well during this time.
July – September
In the third quarter, business books and self-help books become popular again. Releasing virtually any book ahead of the holiday season is a smart idea. August isn’t ideal for two reasons. First, readers are often away, and things are quiet. Vacationers have already purchased their beach reads. Second, media outlets are slower to respond in August, if you’d hoped to advertise or score a review.
October – December
October is a terrific month for horror, thrillers, and mysteries—these genres dominate the marketplace, the darker the better. A cozy mystery or HEA romance may not do well in October. Historical fiction, depending on the subject matter, or dark romance might be all right. Really think about your genre and when you tend to buy books. It will help you understand the best time of year to release your book.
If you wait until the latter half of November, you might be too late unless you’re targeting a niche market.
December is the worst month of the year for new books. Even if you’re releasing a Christmas-related title, you’re better off planning for Christmas in July (and use the hashtag!).
If this logic doesn’t make sense to you, consider this: When do stores change their seasonal displays? They don’t wait till December, do they? Nor should we. Even if you write a series with eager fans, try to hold off till after the new year. Your readers are too busy with the bustling holiday season to read and review a new release.
Whenever possible, try to find a niche for your new book baby. Consider the themes, locations, and plot of your book. Character flaws, race, worldviews, etc. can also fall into niche markets. Is there an element of your book that you can tie to a holiday or commonly known date? Think: Romance novels releasing near Valentine’s Day.
Dig deeper than the holidays. What if the protagonist is a 9/11 survivor? Or the heroine lost her life partner in the bombing? A September release makes sense, right? If your MC is a new bride, release during peak wedding season and show the connection in your marketing.
I found this calendar on Self-Publishing Review to help spark new ideas for you.
Does the Day of the Week Matter?
Big 5 publishers release on Tuesdays. Since major bestsellers are compiled on Tuesdays, some say a Tuesday release gives the title a full week to gain traction before the weekend. Readers and booksellers look forward to Tuesdays because of the hot-off-the-press releases. Why not take advantage of the buzz?
That’s up to you, of course, but let’s look at why the beginning of the week—Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday—tends to work better than the end.
In addition to the Big 5 releasing on Tuesdays, movies come out on DVD on that day as well. So, it’s a well-accepted day to release new material into the hands of eager readers. That said, many indie authors agree that Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday are all beneficial. While Tuesday may be more traditional, we don’t need to stick to tradition, do we? The beginning of the week works best because of the way Amazon records weekly sales. If you’re shooting for a bestseller category, you’ll want time to garner sales before the weekend.
The same holds true for monthly sales.
Releases in the first two weeks of the month gain better momentum than books released during the last two weeks because of how Amazon records sales. Also, readers are more willing to spend money at the beginning of a month. But again, if you’re releasing series novels and your readers are foaming at the mouth, you may want to publish as soon as they’re ready, regardless of the date.
Do you consider the date of book launches? What month/day/date worked well for your books, and why?
Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and Expertido.org named her Murder Blog as “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone (Writer’s Digest “101 Best Websites for Writers”) and Writers Helping Writers. Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Her backlist includes psychological thrillers, the Mayhem Series (books 1-3) and Grafton County Series, and true crime/narrative nonfiction. Now, she exclusively writes eco-thrillers, Mayhem Series (books 4-7 and continuing). Sue’s appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion, and three episodes of A Time to Kill on Investigation Discovery. Learn more about Sue and her books at www.suecoletta.com.