What’s the Perfect Time to Launch an Ebook?

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From Author Marketing Experts:

Are you wondering how to launch a self published book in 2021? If you’re planning to release a new book in the next few months, that question should be at the top of your book promotion list.

Often, authors use one factor to determine the best time to launch a book: the manuscript is finally complete and they’ve sent it off for publication. They’ll launch “whenever it’s ready.”

But timing is important, so you’ll want to take some ownership of that date instead of leaving it up to others.

Understanding Traditional Publisher Timelines

Publishing a book and the associated timelines for launching it used to be pretty simple: new releases came out in Spring, in Summer, or in Fall/Winter. These days, books are slotted into the areas that fit them best, rather than being put into a season to fill the publisher’s book list for that particular time of year.

If you’ve ever worked with a traditional publisher, you probably know that they plan far in advance. Mostly this is due to all of the pre-work that they need to do for a title, especially in terms of possible bookstore consideration.

Typically, publishers select and confirm titles 12 to 18 months ahead of their actual street date.

But traditional publishers also want to meet consumer demands – which is why books appear relatively quickly when they’re focused on hot topics (politics, for example), unexpected events (such as the death of a celebrity), or trends.

Remember the prevalence of books on hygge, succulents, and the Caveman Diet that flooded the shelves a few months (or years) back?

Publishers call books like these “drop in” titles because they “drop into” their list of releases with little or no advance warning.

This background knowledge about publishing is useful if you’re considering how to launch a self published book. If your topic isn’t tied to the news cycle or lifestyle trends, you can easily research your competition from traditional publishers.

Let’s say that you find out that Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, and Martha Beck are all publishing some sort of relationship/dating book in the same month you were planning to target major national media (national magazines and national broadcast media such as major morning shows or NPR) to launch your book.

What should you do? Well, I’d move my book launch to another month because big media is going to focus on big names. Better to give your book a less crowded playing field.

But if you aren’t targeting big media, I would honestly have no problem launching your book in the same month. Why? Because you aren’t competing for the same targets, and you just might benefit from the rising tide effect.

By this, I mean that the interest in the relationship market may surge with all of these hot titles coming out, so why not add yours as a possible choice for consumers?

How Can I Find Out What Books Are Launching and When?

That’s a great question and the easy answer is: read the trades. Publishers Weekly routinely offers advance publication information, and it’s a periodical you can find at many libraries.

Publishers Marketplace is a paid service that is super useful for those considering how to launch a self published book. For $25 a month you can sign up to get access to all sorts of publishing information and release dates. It’s well worth the money, even if you only use it for a month.

Link to the rest at Author Marketing Experts

As anyone who clicks through to the OP will discover, the unidentified author of the OP is someone who sells marketing assistance to authors.

There is nothing wrong with this way of making money and PG doesn’t recall (not the gold standard, but all PG has to work with) hearing or seeing anything negative about Author Marketing Experts.

However, as with a great many well-written online information pieces, this one provides some ideas, but not a complete solution or all the answers. PG wouldn’t have expected to do so. When he’s doing online research concerning a topic about which he doesn’t know very much about, he looks for a variety of pieces of information, sometimes clipping and saving various pieces into Evernote, Google Keep or a similar app so he builds a mini information repository.

Once he has made himself a bit knowledgeable about the topic, whatever it may be, if PG needs to hire someone to do something for him, he’s in a better position to know what he wants someone to do for a fee and what he thinks he can do for himself, in part because he has learned what some other people/organizations charge for this sort of thing.

Short Opinion Concerning Social Media Marketing

PG didn’t dig deeply enough into the Author Marketing Experts website to see whether or not they provide paid Social Media Marketing advice.

Some social media marketing consultants/services charge a great deal to help a newbie do social media marketing for a book (or anything else).

While PG has neve hired anyone to do this, he has heard some good and some bad stories about the experiences of others who venture into the social media marketing world with the help of others.

One alternative that PG doesn’t recall seeing anywhere that he thinks might be worth a try is to locate and hire one or more college students to help an author build a social media marketing platform and presence and to gain quality followers for the author’s various social media marketing accounts.

He suggests this for three primary reasons:

  1. As a rule, college students are willing to work on something that interests themwithout charging an arm and a leg for doing so. It’s way more fun than working in fast-food or the university bookstore.
  2. A great many college students are social media natives and have been active on a variety of major social media platforms for a long time (relatively speaking). They’re social media natives, the kind that PG sometimes observes in local restaurants sitting in a small group at a table, looking at their screens, thumb-typing madly and making occasional comments to their table-mates. A great many authors are not social media natives.
  3. The experience might be material for a student’s future resumé when it’s time to look for a job. “I created and managed the social media marketing program and platforms for a rising-star author. My strategy gained the author 250,000 new Instagram followers in the first six months and doubled monthly sales of her books during that same period.”

7 thoughts on “What’s the Perfect Time to Launch an Ebook?”

  1. I don’t worry about it (when to launch). At least for my fiction (the OP seems focused on nonfiction). I expect my stories to be around for at least 500 more years, so what’s a month—or year—one way or the other?

    • There are times that are best to launch a book, to get it “front and center” for more people.

      General times, such as just before Christmas – when a lot of people will receive a reader and a year’s subscription to KU (although this is fading away now, as the market saturates).

      Parenting books in July and August (more births in September than any other month).

      “Light summer reading” – which can be several different genres – in mid to late May.

      Etc. (Besides the “snap” releases as the OP notes – very hard to predict those and have something at hand, unless you’re a big publisher with several “possibles” hanging around.)

      Yours… Hmm. Possibly the holidays, although doing a release (and earlier book discount) in conjunction with Amazon’s Prime Days might uptick you a bit more. Neander Exploitation might have benefited from “riding the coattails” of Auel’s last Cave of the Clan Bear particularly if released just after – that was the last of her books, and “similar books” could have gotten you people wanting more of that time. (NO, I am NOT comparing yours to hers. Please don’t hunt me down…) I don’t recall right now just when last year you released Exploitation.

      • You’re not wrong, but…

        * Jean Auel’s last Clan of Cave Bear book was published in 2011. I didn’t start writing (and self-publishing) fiction until end of 2016 and didn’t get to Neanderthal fiction until 2019 with NEANDER #1.

        * I’m on a yearly release schedule and currently fighting the end of the year so I can get my progressing annual copyright/publishing dates (2018 > 2019 > 2020 > 2021). I want to see an orderly march of numbers. It’s the German in me 😉

        * I do the normal launch efforts, but I’m more interested in the long view. Like I said: 500 years or so!

        Thanks for the suggestions.

        — H

        • It’s one daughter that managed to finish the series, so I didn’t have a copy of the last one handy to check the publication history. Apparently what my search found was a May 2020 reprint. (It did seem rather late to me – as the first came out way back in my prehistoric college days…)

          I can understand the German, although mine is from the south and west regions, so is more suppressible.

          Living to be at least 425 sounds like a good plan!

  2. Author Marketing Experts is the company run by Penny Sansevieri, one of the most respected marketing experts in the book world. She’s also a professor of marketing at NYU. I’m surprised she’s not on your radar. She’s worked with well-known trad-pubbed authors as well as indies. https://www.amarketingexpert.com/penny-sansevieri/ She’s the author of a number of bestselling books on marketing. This article, from last January, has her byline right at the top under the title.

    • One would wonder how her long term and generalized expertise applies to specific niches, most notably the ebook and rental markets, which thrive off avid readers who don’t consume by date or bandwagons but by preference and need.

      I’m thinking that the divide created by KU in 2014 is a bit more significant than the 2007 and 2000 disruptions when it comes to book sales and time of year. In fact, I would posit that time of year has more impact on walk-ins and casual reader sales than on avid reader sales. Somehow I don’t think the book-a-week crowd is particularly swayed by the seasons. As suggested above, release date might have more of an impact on non-fiction and big name author tradpub releases expecting massive sales to casual readers than to Indies in the genres.

      My kneejerk reation to the OP title would be: “When it’s done and you’re ready to move on to the next. ” For a bit more nuance, I might add: “…in accordance to your personal release strategy.”

      I’m even tempted to suggest that the marketing expert isn’t familiar with pulp speed authors or even the four book a year professional writers who aren’t likely to sit on a finished product for months on end waiting for a slot that is “just right”. For many authors with established fanbases I would wonder just how big a swing might come from getting it “perfect”.

      But all that might be just my instinctive skepticism of received wisdom from veterans of the corporate tradpub world. (Shatzkin!)

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