It used to take nine months to a year to get a book into print – and that is still the case with some traditional publishing options. Many authors put up with the wait, reasoning that it is worth working with one of the big publishers and hopefully taking advantage of the extra marketing, promotion and exposue that should bring.
However, another trend has crept up on us over the past year or so, and that is the nearly instantaneous process of self-publishing, especially online. Not only do aspiring authors want to see their books out quickly, they want to see them out NOW. And online publishing platforms actually make that possible.
If you are familiar with my material, you will know that I have strong concerns about people slapping books together and putting them into the market before they are ready. There are advantages to getting a book out quickly and there are disadvantages too. Let’s look at the launch date implications.
Traditionally, there has been a massive focus on the launch date, or publication date, and an assumption that the author needs to get most of their sales in the first few weeks following launch. This is the legacy of the big publishers who put most of their emphasis and efforts into those first few weeks, and then not always very much after that. Most books do not achieve bestseller status in their first week. Who cares?
There is no good reason to follow this policy anymore. Modern publishing requires us to take a longer term view. Popularity and sales for a book can and usually do build over time. A slow burn. The book can become a bestseller at any time, not just during launch week. So the pressure is off, in terms of having to make the book a bestseller on Day One.
At my publishing company, Anoma Press, we have helped many of our authors’ books generate more and more sales over time, not fewer and fewer. We are always looking for more sales and distribution opportunities for our authors, such as the 12 country deals we signed at a recent book fair, and promoting our books in special apps, TV ads and other campaigns this quarter.
If you have a committed publisher who understands this, they see the author as a partner and value the long term relationship with the author and potential of the book.
On the other hand, you don’t want to rush a book out because then you are on the back foot in terms of marketing. I see so many books launched with incorrect data on Amazon, missing information and photos, no reviews, and this can make the author look unprofessional. Many media publications are only interested in new books so you will miss out if you do not have things lined up and ready for launch day. You can do a lot of platform-building leading up to publication, and set things up properly if you have a few months to plan things.
So, what is the answer? It depends on the book, the topic and the urgency, the window of opportunity (tying in with current events and news etc) but mostly it depends on how you view your book marketing campaign – long-term or short-term. I would never advise an author to delay a book that is ready and timely, just for marketing purposes, but at the same time. that book will benefit from doing the essential preparation for the launch.