Thursday, December 6, 2018

Does Your Release Date Impact Your Best-Seller Chances?

Book publishing loves a best-seller and all book publishers and authors seemingly cover the status on every book published.  So when is the best time to release a book to have the greatest chance of hitting a major best-seller list?

Well, you have several factors at play, including:

·         The book’s genre
·         The author
·         The publisher
·         Competing books/price
·         Media exposure
·         Social media coverage
·         Advertising

But one of the factors could be timing.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, based on NPD Book Scan sales of print books in 2017,  sales peak industry-wide every quarter -- in March, June, September, and December.  For the other eight months, some 45 million to 52 million books are sold per month.  sales in March, June, and September outnumber August by about 8 million units.  In December, they double the norm, topping out at 118,400,000 books sold.

Some of this has to do with shopping patterns of consumers, holidays, store discounts, and the release schedule of major books.

In a separate study quoted by the WSJ, where eight years’ worth of thousands of NYT bestsellers were examined, a pattern developed.

“Invariably,” says WSJ, “the best-sellers achieved peak sales soon after publication.  For fiction, that was in two to six weeks.  For nonfiction, the peak came during the first 15 weeks.”

The window of time for becoming a best-seller seems to have shrunk for most books. So many books become bestsellers in their launch week, in part, based on built-up pre-orders for weeks and months in advance of its official release.

Books don’t seem to last a long time on these lists, often getting knocked off by other, newer titles.  With over 3,500 new books released daily, including 1,000 from traditional publishers, competition is fierce for a handful of slots on any best-seller list.  Sometimes the difference of a few hundred copies sold in a given week can make the difference between getting on a list and falling short.

Theoretically, the best time to release a book could be in February or May or October, when sales are the lowest, meaning you have less competition to hit a list.  

December is clearly the worst month, simply because every book competes for holiday attention.  But whenever you release a book, the biggest factor to hitting a bestseller list may come down to your marketing efforts – or just luck.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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