One of the advantages of being a self-publishing author is greater flexibility in terms of writing, marketing and publishing your book. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you can ignore certain timelines or optimum publishing opportunities.

Much of the time your genre will influence when to best release your book. Some of it is common sense (for example, a book about gardening will not enjoy the same appeal in November as in May!) A lot will also depend on retail and trade calendars. Although there are no hard and fast rules, here are some factors to consider in choosing when to publish which may affect the outcome:

  • To avoid being lost in the crowd, try to steer clear of the October-December Christmas rush. If your book is seasonally related (Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah etc), then you will need to make sure your planning and marketing is spot on so it does not get buried in all the activity.
  • If you have written a book on exercise, health, business etc, then the end of January/beginning of February maybe a good time to release it when New Year’s resolutions are still fresh in people’s minds.
  • There are often good opportunities leading into the summer for books on travel, outdoor activities etc but don’t leave it too late or your target market may already be on vacation!
  • Try and tie-in with trade events/exhibitions or occasions that relate to your book.
  • Big sporting events such as the Olympics/World Cup etc can also help generate interest if your genre is sports related.  
  • Keep an eye on TV and film releases as well as what is coming out on Netflix. You may be able to jump on the bandwagon of a popular series or movie.
  • Check what is coming out on the big online retailing sites who often promote new publications up to a few months in advance. Competition from a big player may significantly reduce your chances of success. Be prepared to be flexible in your timing in that case. But if your book offers a complementary aspect you may wish to take advantage of this too.

As always – and this cannot be stressed enough – do your research and give yourself plenty of time to plan your marketing strategy leading up to your publishing date. Print and publishing consultants can provide valuable industry experience and can help point you in the right direction. Although there are no hard and fast rules, and no guarantees, getting your timing right can yield great results.  But if your timing is poor, then you may end up missing the boat and watching your chances of success sail away with it.

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Mary Vaux-ClarkMary Vaux-Clark is a freelance editor, proof-reader and writer. Her areas of interest include current affairs, travel, history and sport. She has travelled widely and worked in Hong Kong as an editor and ESL teacher for over ten years.