If you’re anything like I was when I started out on my self-publishing adventure – six years ago now – you’ve been reading a ton of blogs, message boards and social media threads, trying to get as much good information from as many people as possible. You might be overwhelmed, you might be confused, you might feel like you will never take in all of this information. And you might still have a million questions...
One question that you would think has a simple answer:
‘When is the best time to publish my book?’
Well, just as with so many simple questions there isn’t one easy answer. At least, not if you read through all of those blogs, boards, and threads.
There are – without doubt – good times and bad times to sell books. If you read enough posts from established authors you will become familiar with two phrases, one being ‘summer slump’, the other being ‘Kindlemas’. Let’s take a couple of minutes to discuss each of these.
Summer slump is the idea that sales in the summer months are lower than at other times of the year. This is often the case, and is due to a number of factors. In the summer, a lot of your potential readers may be on vacation, they may be looking after their children who are off school, they may be spending more time outside and less time curled up at home with a good book. While many people may be lying on a beach with their e-readers, the generally accepted truth is that these readers don’t buy enough books to account for those lost to the nice weather.
Kindlemas on the other hand, is thought of as a boon time for ebook sales. A combination of KIndle and Christmas, this refers to a time period falling immediately after Christmas when many of your readers may have received Amazon gift cards or new Kindles, and many of them may be staying indoors due to the winter weather (at least for the US and Europe markets, which are likely to be your largest markets).
So, it’s obvious - right? Don’t publish in the summer, publish in the winter!
Well, to me - it’s not that simple. I've seen authors terrified of the summer slump, to the point that many of them will stop writing, stop publishing, stop paying for ads and stop trying. This creates a lack of new books for those readers who are still in the market for a good read. My experience has shown that a push for publishing in the summer can actually lead to some very strong results - I’m seeing this right now, in fact.
Publishing in the lead up to Christmas, however, can be much tougher. Those authors who were scared of the summer slump are suddenly jumping back into the pool - they’re targeting their mailing lists and they are putting in strong efforts to grab as much of that Kindlemas pie as possible. Add to this the number of authors who participated in NaNoWriMo, and you might find that your book is facing a lot more competition.
That’s not to say that I haven’t had some very successful winter sales periods, I have. But I have noticed that the competition can be fierce.
Choosing the right time to publish your book might depend on a lot of factors such as your target market (young adult? Romance readers?) and your marketing strategy, and when you think you’re most likely to get the biggest bounce, but don’t tie yourself in knots reading advice online and trying to find the “perfect” time.
Because there really is a simple answer to this question. Honest.
The single best time to publish your book is yesterday. If that’s not possible, do it today.
It sounds hokey, but it's the best advice I can give! Publish your book, promote your book, start working on your next book. If you’re serious about writing and want to turn writing into your career, don’t let fear and indecision hold you back. Get out there and publish!