As a self-published author, deciding when to release your book can feel secondary to the bigger concerns of writing, editing, and marketing your masterpiece. And it certainly is. However, giving some thought to the best time of year to release your baby into the great, wide world can yield significant value in terms of sales. The first 6-8 months after you release your book is the time when to make the biggest splash, and timing it for a season that best suits your needs can help you maximize your profits in those months.
After researching how my fellow self-published authors have fared in selling books, below are the trends that I’ve noticed.
Spring is an average time of the year in terms of book sales for most self-published authors. However, it could be a great season for you as a self-published author if you choose to do heavy local promotion of your book during this time. Farmer’s markets and outdoor events can gather large crowds when the weather is at its best. Publishing and promoting your novel in the spring months could be a differentiator for you, especially if you are hoping to cultivate a local readership. For more tips on locally promoting your book, check out my post on the subject here.
The summer months are the slowest time when it comes to selling books in most genres. Whether it’s going on vacation for adults or getting through the grind of required summer reading for kids and young adults, readers simply don’t buy as many books as they do at other times of the year. Self-published authors shouldn’t be alarmed if they see a dip in sales in the summer. Depending on how often you publish, you could always delay your release until September, when book sales start to pick up.
After the slow months of summer, fall brings a welcome rejuvenation to selling books. Many readers buy seasonal books at this time, whether it’s spooky stories to get in the mood for Halloween or nonfiction cookbooks for Thanksgiving dinner. Personally, in the fall I find myself downloading Christmas stories for my e-reader to get me ready for the holiday season. If you have written something that ties in well to a seasonal activity, make sure to have your book ready on virtual shelves and heavily promoted in September and October.
The winter season is a great time for selling books. Before the holidays, many people purchase books as gifts. This can be a good time to sell hard copies of your book, since it’s harder to give an e-book as a present. After the holidays, readers are stocking up their e-readers with the stories they want to read in the new year. And by the time February rolls around, romance authors often get a nice boost in readership. This is just speculation on my part, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the cold, wet weather also gives readers more time to search for and read books as well. This is an ideal time to get new readers hooked on your series.
The best option of all is to publish often. While there are seasonal fluctuations, successful self-published authors agree that publishing regularly is the key to a satisfied and growing fan base. If you can manage to publish 3-4 times a year, timing your releases based on seasonal fluctuations is secondary.
Do you have any successes or troubles that you think related to the time of year you published your book? If so, I’d love to hear what happened.