One of the things you have to consider when you enter your publishing career is when you’re going to put out your books. It’s a good idea to pick a release date early so you can start prepping for your release with advanced reviews, preorders, scheduled promos, and an effective launch.
Some authors have success publishing whenever they’re done with their work in progress (WIP), so their publishing schedule is pretty willy-nilly. Some years they publish five books, other years they only manage to finish one. The result is that your readers are less likely to stick with you because it doesn’t seem like you’re as devoted. On the flip side, they might also be too consumed with new material that they want to take a break from buying books in order to work on the to-be-read (TBR) lists.
It’s important to determine a standardized publishing schedule for a few reasons:
- It will keep you on track. A deadline you set for yourself is still a deadline. Treat it as such. It will kick you into gear on the days you want to be lazy and it’ll slow you down on the days you want to rush to put out your next release.
- It will give a chance for your readers to anticipate your next release. Give them time to read your last book and start to miss you a bit. Stay active on social media to make sure they don’t completely forget you, but they need to be excited for your next book. It’s like music. The songs overplayed on the radio make you want to skip their concert, but when a brand new song is released after a few months without new music, you want to crank the radio up and sing at the top of your lungs.
- It allows you to watch trends. When do people typically buy your book? When do sales start to die off? How did this book fare compare to the last one? This will help you plan future books and their releases. What genres sold best and what didn’t.
Your publishing schedule needs to fit your writing capabilities and the best time to hit the market. Don’t plan for ten books a year if it takes you six months to write one book. If you can only manage to put out one book a year, awesome. Keep working at it and eventually your writing speed will increase and you can push for two books a year.
The key is to not tell your readers what your publishing schedule is. Or at least don’t make any promises until the book is 100% written and maybe has already gone through 1-2 rounds of edits and you’re putting it up for preorder. You don’t want to get readers excited and then let them down when you missed your deadline and push back the release date. That will decrease your first week sales significantly and may even cause you lose readers long-term. Keep it to yourself until you’re positive you can release by a certain date.
I have a tentative publishing schedule planned out and I have constructed what I believe to be very optimistic goals. I’m planning on putting out two novels a year and two short stories in between. I know the more frequent you publish the better chances you have at success (success=sales), but I just can’t keep up with an “every six weeks” schedule like some people can. I just don’t work that way.
I plan on putting out a book at the beginning of February, May, August, and November of each year. Three months apart. In that time I’m going to be blogging like crazy and updating and teasing my readers with new bits of the next release. Giving myself three months between each title will give me time to focus on each book and perfect it as much as possible. Also, my thought is that if I write quality books, readers will be more willing to wait the three months before the next book. The short stories will obviously take less time and eventually I’ll be able to compile them together to make another title under my belt.
With the shorts, I plan on expanding the world of my series a bit more. Tell more of a back story of certain characters. I also want to write a couple Christmas-themed stories around the holidays and the shorts would be the best way to do it. The shorts would also be a good way to test out different styles of writing. My main series will be urban fantasy and, for the most part, that’s what I write. But I have a couple ideas that are more contemporary fiction that aren’t related to urban fantasy at all. I think using shorts would be the best way to test the waters and see which direction I should go in for my next book.
Shorts are cheaper and faster to produce and can have a larger return on investment (ROI) than novels. I know some writers make more money on their shorts than they do their novels so I think it would be ignorant to ignore them.
I thought about my publishing schedule for some time. I know July and August are slow for sales and some authors even said November and December are slow and January is usually when they see the post-Christmas push.
- Releasing a book in August will hopefully counter-act the summer slump. If it doesn’t, then the book will be out already by September and sales will pick up then. I think part of the reason the summer slump is so bad is because authors are afraid of it and avoid it. So when you look at the year as a whole, the end of July and the beginning of August has a dark cloud over it because nobody is releasing anything new.
- I chose November as the next month not only because it was three months later, but that way I could take advantage of the holidays. Like I said, it might not work the way I want it to, but I plan on releasing a few Christmas-themed books and obviously November makes the most sense.
- February is next because it gives people a chance to recoup from the post-Christmas financial shock. I know major publishing houses and music labels and such don’t begin their post-Christmas campaigns until March, so by releasing at the beginning of February will allow me to take advantage of the tail-end of the post-Christmas gift card sales while still beating the major company’s spring releases.
- May was chosen a bit haphazardly to be quite honest…I mostly chose it because of the three-month difference between February and August. However, most of my work is deemed “young adult” or “new adult,” so it would be read by readers in their late teens and early twenties (in theory, that’s the golden demographic that everyone in the world is after…). My thought is that by the beginning of May, these college students are wrapping up their semesters for the summer and are looking for good summer reads.
Those are my thoughts behind the months. I haven’t started publishing yet so things could change, but I think this is a manageable and doable publishing schedule. My promos might be placed differently to take advantage of peak-spending periods, but I’m pretty confident in this schedule.
As you can see from my tentative schedule, I thought about how often I want to publish, when I should publish, and what sort of push-periods I’m going to take advantage of or lose out on as a result of my schedule. Four titles a year will be a stretch for me at first, but eventually it will be a nice, comfortable routine that I’ll be able to manage perfectly. Sometimes I may be waiting for the release month, but it’ll give me time to work on the follow-up and develop more promotions.