Everyone wants the best publication date for their books — including the publisher, of course.
So how do you determine what the best publication date is?
A lot of that depends on the circumstances! There aren’t a lot of hard-and-fast rules. And a lot of the circumstances depend on you, the author, so it’s important that you communicate with your publisher about your plans.
Generally, it’s best to publish a book when there can be the most possible things happening for it. That means what can be an opportunity for one book won’t work as well for another. So there’s no single date that is the best of all dates (sadly for us — it’d make scheduling a lot easier).
Here’s an example! Should you publish your book to coincide with San Diego Comic-Con? We did that last year, with Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew’s The Shadow Hero — a superhero-influenced graphic novel where the authors were going to be at the show, had a pre-established reputation, and had a specific book-related message about diversity to speak about at the show. That was great! It worked really well for us.
However, if your book is a kids science non-fiction graphic novel, and you’re not going to be in San Diego in July, probably publishing your graphic novel the week of SDCC isn’t the right choice for you.
So how do you tell when the ideal date for your book to be published is?
Here are some guidelines.
Are you doing events? It’d be good for your book to be published in time for you to have copies at your events. (Please note that this may not always be possible — if your publisher is calling to say, ‘hey, we’re planning to publish your book in October,’ coming back to say, ‘but I have something planned eight months before in February!’ is probably not going to be a doable date-change situation.)
Are you publishing a book for kids that you’d like to go speak about at schools? Most of the stuff that happens for a book will happen the month the book is published, so it would be ideal for your book to be published during the school year and not when people are taking final exams. There are very few school visits in July and August!
Are you creating a seasonally-related book? For example, is it about scary monsters (Halloween) or weddings (spring)? Then it would be good for your book to be published just before that season happens. Why before? Because people want to get ready for the upcoming season, so they want to talk about Halloween or weddings or school starting in the month or so before it happens, not just on the day of.
Are you planning a lot of book-related travel in very northerly parts of the US and Canada? Perhaps publishing your book in the winter is not the best way to go for weather reasons.
Not a lot of books get published at the very end of the year or at the beginning of the year. So it can be good to steer clear of that publishing period. However, we do find that because not a lot of books get published at that point, there may be more opportunities that the books which are being published can take over! So the scarcity of other books for people to fuss about can help your book.
If the publication date for your book is something that you’re concerned about, it’s best to check in with your publisher to find what they’re thinking. They may have other things that they’re taking into account on their end that an author wouldn’t necessarily know about. (For example, we try not to publish too many of our books on the same date.)
Publishing books takes a lot of work whatever date they get published on! But we do believe that you can create a promotional campaign that can succeed on any date. What the campaign is may change depending on what date your book is published, but you can publish a book well in January or in June or any time in between!