This blog is designed to provide guidance for self-published authors on the optimal timing for promoting their new books, split into seasons and the most common genres. The key takeaway is the importance of planning ahead. If you intend to sell your book during a particular time of the year, proactive publicity efforts in the season beforehand is essential. To stand a chance of selling a book for Christmas, for instance, you’ll likely need to start promoting it in late October and carrying that publicity through to mid-December. If your genre isn’t on this list, its probably because it can be promoted year-round and tying it to a specific season or time of year won’t aid you in that process. It’s also worth noting that books of in any genre can be re-launched, or re-publicised, again and again throughout the year to make them more appealing to specific events, holidays or consumer trends.
Autumn is the time to start publicising books for the winter market. Unsurprisingly, this season tends to be the busiest as authors look to cash-in on Christmas sales. If your genre of book is on this list, or if it’s not but you’re 100% convinced it’s an ideal gift (which, by the way, not all books are) then September is the ideal time to get the publicity wheels in spin.
The festive season is most commonly associated with comfort and spending time indoors in a cosy, warm environment. It’s seen as the time of year for reflection and contemplation, for spiritual or religious introspection, and as a celebration of togetherness. Traditionally, these sentimental and nostalgic emotions are leveraged in book marketing campaigns to emphasise a book’s ability to capture the ‘holiday spirit.’ You might consider doing so, too. But authors who understand the less glamorous side of winter – being cold, feeling overworked and undervalued, or simply yearning for some sun – can tap into a different market; inspirational books tend to sell well during this time and, from a PR point of view, are normally fairly easy to publicise.
So let’s take a look at the main book genres that are most commonly launched and promoted in autumn for the winter/festive market.
Young Adult and Children’s Fiction. YA books and kids fiction are seen as easy gifts, so releasing them in Autumn – and emphasising their Christmas appeal – is normally straightforward, especially on radio. Now is the clearly the time to also release books that are specifically about Christmas (or about any other religious festival in the winter months, such as Hanukkah). Matt Lucas’ The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas, as one example, went on sale in late September, and publicity for it is still ongoing.
Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir. Biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs that are connected to special occasions, events or anniversaries obviously need to be promoted around those dates and/or relaunched (as was the case with Matthew Perry’s autobiography, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing following his tragic death last month). But in the absence of any specific date ties, autumn is generally a sound season for launching books – most commonly in the national newspapers and on TV – in these genres; beyond their thematic relevance, they are seen as convenient and thoughtful gifts, with particular appeal in categories like sports, politics, and celebrity.
Coffee Table Books. OK, coffee table books aren’t strictly a genre but you get the idea. Coffee tables books, which are generally non-fiction and pictorial, are usually beautiful and thoughtfully made. They make perfect (albeit quite expensive) gifts and a good proportion of those that hit the market are released in winter and promoted well in advance. Coffee table books tend to make great features,
Cookery Books. With people spending more time indoors, cookery books – especially those with comfort food recipes – are incredibly popular gifts and tend to do well in the media (including gift guides, like this one). However, the market is flooded with cookbooks and promoting a run-of-the-mill one in the build-up to Christmas won’t always be easy and you may need to think outside of the box to drum up significant column inches. Our book PR campaign for the late, great, nutritionist and cookbook author Gurpareet Bains is a case is point.
Thrillers and Mysteries. According to WH Smith, Richard Osman’s latest crime novel (and “other great titles”) boosted this year’s pre-Christmas sales. Thrillers are seen as ideal, easy festive gifts so it’s no surprise that key titles like Osman’s go on sale – and are heavily promoted – for the Christmas market. But promoting fiction by new or little-known authors isn’t easy at the best of times, and the sheer volume of thrillers that hit the market at this time of year makes the task even harder. Unless your thriller/mystery is specifically Christmas/festive period-focused – like Liz Fielding’s Murder under the Mistletoe – you might consider holding off and promoting it before or after the busy Christmas period.
General Non-Fiction: Toilet Books, Dictionaries, Quizzes, ‘Quirky’, and More. Winter is almost always the time to launch books like these and to tap into Christmas and stocking-filler sales. Amazon seems to be bursting at the seams with such titles, though, so if you want your work to stand any real chance of being seen then you’ll need to think creatively about how to promote it. Gift guides like this one might be an option, but note that many are compiled months in advance so do your homework if you don’t want to miss out.
“The marketplace is fierce and books that are released without adequate publicity can and do die a death.“
Winter is the season to promote books that are traditionally bought or associated with the New Year – a time that for many symbolises a fresh start and renewal. It’s the opportunity to leave behind the challenges and mistakes of the past, set new life goals, and embrace new possibilities. Unfortunately, the window of opportunity to publicise some books is small – typically between Christmas and the first week of January – and competition to secure column inches during these periods is fierce given the volume of PR-driven content that’s distributed in this period. Nonetheless, let’s look at some of the most commonly-promoted books in winter for New Year/early year sales success.
Business and Finance. It’s said that the festive holidays are a time for people to relax and forget everything to do with work and money – and we agree entirely. Promoting books in this genre over Christmas won’t be easy. But in the immediate weeks that follow, it’s almost certainly a great time to publicise business and finance titles, especially those that offer the layman advice about how to make or grow their money. To get column inches in early January, though, you’ll need to get everything lined up well in advance. And if you’re planning to promote a book like this in January 2024, you’ll need to get your skates on.
Self-Help/Motivation, How-To, Diet and Fitness Guides: We’ve all seen the ‘New Year, New You!’ headlines, so it will come as no surprise that consumers gobble-up books in these genres in the New Year. Books that offer a sensible solution – to jobs/escaping the rat race, to getting fitter, to “getting your life on track” – tend to be relatively easy to publicise if you plan in advance. If you can’t obtain exposure between the Christmas and New Year period, don’t worry; in our experience, consumer and media demand remains strong until late January and even into early February. If your book is relationship-focused, do bear in mind that competition for column inches before Valentine’s Day is especially fierce so creativity will be key.
Romance: This may not come as a shock, but early February is the ideal time to promote romance novels. Whilst sales of romance novels are strong throughout the year, publicising them at any other time of year won’t be easy. All main media outlets run Valentine’s Day-related content, so tapping into this demand could be key. As mentioned above, though, media outlets are inundated with PR-driven content at this time of year so you’ll either need to do something a bit different to promote a romance novel or, if you have any media connections, pull in a favour. Again, Valentine’s Day gift guides are ideal.
Spring is the season that is most often associated with renewal, growth, and a sense of freedom. As the warmer weather approaches (or so we hope), it’s a period of activity and planning and, for many, mood improvement. Generating column inches based on these emotions – and, of course, selling copies – is certainly easier at this time of year because the media will be looking for content that reflects the public’s frame of mind.
Travel/Adventure. The weather is still likely to be lousy (in Britain, at least) but most people will be thinking ahead to summer and planning a getaway/staycation of some kind. Early spring is therefore the opportune time to promote travel books (and, most especially, inspirational travel books that ignite wanderlust). Ideally, you’ll stagger the publicity into summer and keep the book fresh in consumers’ minds – an important consideration for general fiction, below. Note the publication date on this list of travel books by The Independent.
General Fiction. There’s generally no ‘best’ time to promote a work of general fiction, but if you think your book would sell best as a holiday read then spring is the time to make it shine. Recommended buying guides, like the one by The Independent, above, is an ideal way to promote general fiction at this time of year. Or you could think a little more creatively, like one of our book PR campaigns, here. Do bear in mind that most media outlets will compile these types of buying guides well in advance so make your approaches early.
Children’s Books and Activity Books: Parents and carers will be looking for things to keep their little ones entertained over school and Easter holidays, so children’s books (whether fiction or non-fiction) and activity books for youngsters tend to sell well at this time of year. Promoting them in early spring for this purpose would be a sensible choice. Radio tends to work well for promoting children’s books, so you might consider this for your own PR and marketing campaign.
Gardening/General Non-Fiction: Books about nature, gardening and growing/tending things are generally promoted at this time of year for obvious reasons. But you’ll probably find that promoting general non-fiction – in readiness for holidays and the summer – is easier at this time of year, too.
Diet and Fitness Guides. “Get Your Beach Body Ready in Just Six Weeks! Yep, now’s the time to promote any book that caters to people’s desire for a holiday-perfect body. Of course, it’s also the ideal time to relaunch or re-publicise books in this genre that were launched in the New Year, too.
Summer is the time of year to start thinking about autumn releases and getting the publicity for those titles lined up. But autumn is a mixed bag of a thing: for some, it’s a fresh and exciting start to the year with the return to school, college and university, but for others it’s the gradual loss of sunshine and the slow – often depressing – plod towards Christmas and the festive season. For self-published authors, autumn can be a good time of year to launch – and to re-publicise – works across a range of genres. For the purposes of this post, though, let’s look at three common genres that are more commonly publicised at this time of year.
Academic/Text Books/Popular-Science/Popular History. Educational books, whether for adults or for children, sell well at this time of year, for obvious reasons. For maximum effect, you might consider a two-pronged PR attack here with a view of obtaining media coverage before term starts and a second wave in the weeks (or even months) that follow. This is particularly effective for activity-type books which can help students to swat-up on a subject before term starts and, if they need some extra support, to learn at home.
Horror/Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Children’s Fiction/YA Fiction. As the nights draw-in, science-fiction and fantasy books – especially for adult audiences – sell well at this time of year. Promoting them in early Autumn will require a plan of action now. Children’s and YA fiction also sell well in early autumn thanks to Key Stage home reading requirements. Autumn is the time for Halloween, so authors of horror and the paranormal should strongly consider organising their promotional campaigns in late summer to coincide with mid-October headlines.
Whenever you choose to launch/release your book, ensure that you’ve left enough time to promote it beforehand. The marketplace is fierce and books that are released without adequate publicity can and do die a death.