Publishing your children's picture book is easily one of the most exciting parts of becoming an author, but lots of new authors don't realize just how important the strategy behind your book release is. And one huge part of that is picking your release date.
🛑 If you're wanting to pursue traditional publishing, this isn't the blog post for you. Your publisher will choose your publication date. Instead, learn more about getting a literary agent, querying, and building your portfolio.
In this blog post, we'll discuss five crucial things every self-published author should know about their release date in order to maximize its impact and ensure their book gets the attention it deserves.
What is a release date?
Your release date is the day that your book will be available to buyers worldwide.
You might also hear people refer to it as the publication date or the launch date. But no matter what it's called, it carries a lot of weight and excitement.
What about preorders?
Ah, I see a lot of confusion around this with first-time authors. By definition, a preorder is when people can pay money now to get the book on or around the release date. You can set up an ebook preorder on KDP or a paperback/hardcover preorder through IngramSpark if you're using print-on-demand. If you're doing offset printing, you can use Amazon Advantage.
It will look like this:
When setting up a preorder, you'll be entering the release date. I've seen people get confused and accidentally enter a different date, thinking they had to set a "preorder date" (That's not a thing), and then...whoops...the book is published now. 😬 Focus on the release date and this won't be an issue.
5 things you need to know about book release dates:
#1 Books Release on Tuesdays
I didn't know this myself when I first started out but if you look at traditionally published books, you'll notice that they release on Tuesdays!
This is a long standing fact which is why online algorithms actually favor Tuesdays for book releases as well. You can read more about this in this article from Books Forward.
#2 Time is key
When planning your release date, you need to give yourself time. Lots of new children's book authors make the mistake of publishing the moment they have their files in hand or they only give themselves a week or two.
To have a successful book launch, you need to give yourself enough time to implement many different marketing strategies to get you relevant traffic, visibility, and sales. Now, I recommend picking a publication date that is a minimum of 4-6+ months out from the time you receive your final files. Personally, I pick dates that are 6-9 months out.
While that may sound like a lot there are many reasons for this:
Setting up all your author profiles, accounts, website, etc can take a while
Gathering editorial reviews can take 1-2+ months
Preorders need weeks for the metadata to fully sync
Ordering offset print books can take 3-4 months or more
You want to grow your email list and your social media following before the book release
...and that's barely scratching the surface. Time is your friend!
#3 You need to consider your schedule
Sometimes, authors decide that they want to release a book on their birthday, anniversary, or other important event. But a book release is a LOT of work when done right!
If you are going to release on a holiday or a date that is special to you, you need to be okay with not celebrating that day. You are going to be spending your time answering emails, on social media, or taking orders. It gets CRAZY! On my book publication dates, I barely have time to go to the bathroom. 😂
So consider your own schedule carefully. Don't pick a book publication date too close to your vacation, special event, or busy work season.
#4 Avoid major holidays
If you have a holiday book (or a book you'd like published in time for a holiday) you typically want to pick a release date that is approximately 2-3 months before that holiday.
For example, if you have a Halloween book, releasing it on Halloween is too late for people to start purchasing. They wouldn’t get the book before Halloween! Most people start purchasing Halloween products around September. The same applies to Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, and other holidays.
One exception to this is Christmas. If you have a Christmas book or a book you want released for the Christmas season, you typically want to pick a publication date between August and mid-October. While that may feel a little bit strange to you, releasing any later than mid-October will actually hinder your momentum. Before you ask, yes, I have tested this with my own books, and I've seen the results from other authors as well.
Avoid releasing a book between mid-October and mid-January, no matter the niche. Books don't release during this time of year for a reason - this period is typically crowded with holiday-related events and festivities that can distract potential readers' attention from new book releases. Plus bookstores (even the online ones!) focus their efforts on promoting already published books during this time, so you'd have a difficult time gaining traction.
#5 You have to know your audience
Always consider your own audience in all your marketing efforts because what works for one person's customers may or may not work for yours.
Many of my books are geared toward music educators, so a great time for me to release a new book is July or August. This is when teachers are excited about prepping for the new school year. But if I were to release in May or June, I wouldn't have nearly the same momentum, sales, or visibility because that's when teachers are burnt out. They aren't thinking about next year's curriculum just yet.
This is also why my music education books don't typically sell well during Christmastime. While other books see a spike in sales during the holiday season, that's the time of year when teachers stop buying for their classrooms and start buying for their loved ones instead.
You need to know your own audience so you can figure out when the best time of year is to release your book. It will depend on who you are targeting, and what your subject is about.
Many new authors are so excited about getting their books published that they often forget to take the time to think and plan appropriately. But a little extra time, thought, and effort into planning your book release date can make all the difference.
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