The Dos and Don’ts of a Book Launch During the End-of-the-Year Holidays

POSTED ON Oct 12, 2020

Keri-Rae Barnum

Written by Keri-Rae Barnum

Home > Blog > Marketing > The Dos and Don’ts of a Book Launch During the End-of-the-Year Holidays

At the end of the year, I receive a lot of emails from authors who want to know the best time to schedule their book launch. Book releases can be delayed for one reason or another, so by the end of the year, many authors are feeling the pressure to publish sooner rather than later.

I understand the temptation to go to print as soon as your book is ready. Nevertheless, my response is more often than not, a word of caution: Publishing a book at the end of the year may hurt you more than help you.

What we see in book marketing

If you launch a book in November 2020, many people will begin thinking of your book as a year old as soon as the calendar flips over to January 2021.

No, I’m not crazy; and yes, I just said that.

Logically speaking we know that a book published in November has barely been out three months by the time January of the following year rolls around. However, you will be marketing a book with a 2024 pub date in 2025. And books are a bit like toddlers in the sense that the only people counting by the month are the parents. The rest of the world is perfectly happy to round up to the nearest year. Hence, an end-of-year pub date means your book looks a bit dated before it has even hit full bloom.

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Holiday book launch exceptions

There are exceptions to the rule, of course.

  • If your book is holiday-themed – a Halloween-inspired horror novel or a Christmas-themed romance – the bulk of your online sales will happen within two months of the holiday. Launching the month before or the month of the holiday can pay off big.
  • If your book is likely to sell as a gift, a children’s picture book for example, publishing in October or November and cashing in on holiday sales can be a savvy move.
  • If the information in your book is vital and will “age” before the New Year, don’t delay.
  • Finally, if you have strategically tied your book launch date to a historical event or anniversary that falls at the end of the year but lends PR opportunities to your book, this is a calculated move that may be worth making.

It is important to note, however, that while publishing close to a holiday may result in online sales, bookstores and libraries typically order holiday-themed books 4-6 months in advance. A book you hope to have featured for Hannukah, Kwanza, or Christmas, may not be released until November, but would ideally be pitched to libraries and bookstores between June and August.

book launch - author signing books

Ask yourself these questions

  1. Who is my audience?
  2. Where do they shop (online, bookstores, library user, etc.)?
  3. When is my book most likely to be read?
  4. Is my book apt to be gifted to someone or bought for personal use?
  5. Is there a holiday or notable date I could use to tie my pub date to?
  6. How can I strategically plan my book launch for optimum interest and sales?

Taking the time to answer the questions above honestly may help you decide your launch date.

If your audience generally shops in bookstores and retail stores and you don’t have time to pitch those venues before your chosen launch day, it’s time to rethink your plan.

If you have a diet book, the week of Thanksgiving may not be the best time to put it on the market. (I don’t know about you, but I plan to eat enough pie this December to put Santa to shame. I’ll happily read your sensible meal plan and weight loss guide… in January.)

Final advice

Unless publishing after October 15th of any year is a strategic and well-thought-out plan, I urge you to wait. Publishing your book in January or even March can give you the extra time to plan, market and succeed.

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Photo: BigStockPhoto
Content update on 3/26/24 by The Book Designer Team

Keri-Rae Barnum

Written by
Keri-Rae Barnum

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