Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Understanding Release Dates For Publishers

One of the draws of self-publishing is that authors get to control their own release dates. I am not going to deny this is a fantastic benefit. But, if an author wants to go through traditional publishing routes, release dates are dictated by the publishers. But how do they do this and why do they take the approaches that they do?

It is important to note that publishers are very clear that the more visibility an author has is correlated to the success the author has in the bookstore. Buyers remember seeing the same names over and over again. It is that exposure that drives sales. You have probably experienced this for yourself. The authors you tend to go back to, over and over again, are not just the authors you like, but these are the authors you remember.

Publishers are not "playing favorites" when they select release dates for their books. All of the editors, on a regular basis, sit down with a huge calendar and decide who they are going to release each month. The goal is to spread out the authors throughout the year, providing the reader a good mix of genres and voices. At the same time, the publishers want to insure that maximum exposure, as well as making sure the authors have time to complete projects.

Another factor that comes into play here would be the time it takes for authors to complete books. I have some authors who are really fast with books and can complete 4+ novels a year. Others, the production is closer to 2. Now, does this mean those who produce faster should get all of the exposure. No. That element of spreading out the work and the voices during the year are considerations of the publisher.

Now, if an author wants even more exposure, this is where you see authors maximizing their writing for other publishers, re-releasing books, or even self-publishing. But there is something to consider here.

I remember one editor I work with responded to this type of question at a conference. How do publishers feel about authors self-publishing as well as writing traditionally. I really liked her comment. As long as the work was quality, she had no problem with it. The problem, however, is that far too many authors also put out garbage on their own. Because of that name recognition, the garbage writing starts getting clumped in with the work being done by the publisher. Not good.

Although you might want to have your books released on your own terms, remember that publishers are also working with other people and those books also need to be put on the schedules. It all comes down to balance.

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