Or perhaps the real question is, how often should you self-publish a book? If you’re like me, you use to think of book releases as these nebulous, once-in-a-blue-moon happenings (when the stars aligned and the book publishers were feeling frisky). But now, if you’re a self-published author, you are only constrained by how fast you can type and how many books your readers want to buy. A lot of people believe every six months is a good time frame, but it differs according to many factors. So here are five things to keep in mind as you get serious and start lining up a release schedule —
- What kind of books do you write? Nonfiction (especially a series) can be released pretty often. Imagine releasing a book about cupcakes in September and then one about Christmas cupcakes in November — fans of the first one might leap at the chance to own the themed one. The same is true for a series of short fiction books (mysteries, erotica etc) — six months might be a good time frame. On the other hand, readers of an epic fantasy series expect to wait longer for (and get more from) each book in a series.
- Don’t run out of books to release. This tip comes from the awesome Catherine Ryan Howard. It’s not a concern if you just have one book you want the world to know about, but if you’re planning a career you don’t want to release three books in 2013 and then nothing till 2017. Especially for a series. If you have books 1 and 2 written and book 3 won’t be done till end of 2015, release one in the fall of each year and then your readers won’t have a horribly long wait to get to your exciting conclusion.
- Release a book ONLY when it’s the best you can make it. If it needs three more weeks, guess what? Ask the publisher (that’s you!) for an extension. You don’t want to blow a release date, but honestly, in the beginning you are the only one who is super-focused on that date anyway. And it will feel much better to release the best book you can make.
- Don’t die. Just checking to see if you’re still alive and with us. But honestly what I mean is, don’t create a publishing (and publicizing) schedule that will kill you. There will be a ton of work required to make each new release a success and you want to allow yourself time to write the next book as well.
- Think like a publishing house. Is there a time of the year that works best for your book’s release? Is it tied to a holiday? Or does your novel have a theme like ‘love’ that would be great to sell near Valentine’s Day? Is it about frogs and would be perfect to release on May 13th (National Frog Jumping Day — I kid you not)? Even non-holiday books may have a better season to release them in. Just remember — in general you should plan your release one to one-and-a-half months before the holiday you’re tied to (‘Free Birds’ releases Nov. 1st and is about Thanksgiving turkeys). And, unless you’re selling self-help or fitness books, right after Christmas is not a great time to launch a new book into the world.
Good luck! And remember, what you publish (great books) is always more important than when you publish.