Does it Matter When You Release a New Book?

Strategic timing of a book’s publication date can give it a boost and have a major impact on its long-term success. Commercial publishers and booksellers have known this forever.

*Full disclosure: I wrote this post for Writers Helping Writers, but I thought you could also benefit from my research.

Are certain days, months, or dates better than others?

Well, it depends on the book.

January – March

The first quarter of the year is the perfect time of year for business, self-improvement, health, and writing craft books, as people are eager to stick to their New Year’s resolutions.

Genre fiction also does well in the first quarter. For many of us, the first quarter means terrible weather (I’m in New England). We’re looking for new books to pass the time while stuck indoors. Also, many readers received new tablets, e-readers, or gift cards for gifts. Shiny, new books become irresistible.

Peak reading and buying season are very much tied to the weather. February and March are generally good times to release a novel because the weather’s not great. Snow and ice forces readers to browse the web for their next adventure.

The exception is children’s books. If you’re a children’s book author, wait for the second quarter of the year. Kids received books during the holidays and parents feel they’ve spent enough already. Also, they’re back in school, which leaves less time for pleasure reading.

April – June

The second quarter is another perfect time to release genre fiction, as people are going on vacation and finally getting to that book they’ve been dying to read all year. It makes sense to release a genre novel in the spring, so momentum can carry over into the summer.

What about children’s books? Easter is the second busiest time of year for kids and gifts. Parents are looking for various things to occupy their kids’ time. Books offer a great way to keep children learning and occupied. Activity books for kids also do well during this time.

July – September

In the third quarter, business books and self-help books become popular again. Releasing virtually any book ahead of the holiday season is a smart idea. August isn’t ideal for two reasons. First, readers are often away, and things are quiet. Vacationers have already purchased their beach reads. Second, media outlets are slower to respond in August, if you’d hoped to advertise or score a review.

October – December

October is a terrific month for horror, thrillers, and mysteries—these genres dominate the marketplace, the darker the better. A cozy mystery or HEA romance may not do well in October. Historical fiction, depending on the subject matter, or dark romance might be all right. Really think about your genre and when you tend to buy books. It will help you understand the best time of year to release your book.

If you wait until the latter half of November, you might be too late unless you’re targeting a niche market.

December is the worst month of the year for new books. Even if you’re releasing a Christmas-related title, you’re better off planning for Christmas in July (and use the hashtag!).

If this logic doesn’t make sense to you, consider this: When do stores change their seasonal displays? They don’t wait till December, do they? Nor should we. Even if you write a series with eager fans, try to hold off till after the new year. Your readers are too busy with the bustling holiday season to read and review a new release.

Niche Markets

Whenever possible, try to find a niche for your new book baby. Consider the themes, locations, and plot of your book. Character flaws, race, worldviews, etc. can also fall into niche markets. Is there an element of your book that you can tie to a holiday or commonly known date? Think: Romance novels releasing near Valentine’s Day.

Dig deeper than the holidays. What if the protagonist is a 9/11 survivor? Or the heroine lost her life partner in the bombing? A September release makes sense, right? If your MC is a new bride, release during peak wedding season and show the connection in your marketing.

I found this calendar on Self-Publishing Review to help spark new ideas for you.

Does the Day of the Week Matter?

Big 5 publishers release on Tuesdays. Since major bestsellers are compiled on Tuesdays, some say a Tuesday release gives the title a full week to gain traction before the weekend. Readers and booksellers look forward to Tuesdays because of the hot-off-the-press releases. Why not take advantage of the buzz?

That’s up to you, of course, but let’s look at why the beginning of the week—Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday—tends to work better than the end.

In addition to the Big 5 releasing on Tuesdays, movies come out on DVD on that day as well. So, it’s a well-accepted day to release new material into the hands of eager readers. That said, many indie authors agree that Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday are all beneficial. While Tuesday may be more traditional, we don’t need to stick to tradition, do we?

The beginning of the week works best because of the way Amazon records weekly sales. If you’re shooting for a bestseller category, you’ll want time to garner sales before the weekend.

The same holds true for monthly sales.

Releases in the first two weeks of the month gain better traction than books released during the last two weeks because of how Amazon records sales (I learned this the hard way). Also, readers are more willing to spend money at the beginning of a month. But again, if you’re releasing series novels and your readers are foaming at the mouth, you may want to publish as soon as they’re ready, regardless of the date.

Do you consider the date of book launches? What month/day/date worked well for your books, and why?

Readers, does timing influence when you buy books?

Check out the amazing “Poe Pen” Steve created for monthly giveaways for my newsletter subscribers!

The wood dates back to 1850 (“1850 Antebellum Cherry”) and the rings are burned into the pen by wrapping copper wire halfway around the pen while the pen is turning, creating friction, and thus heat. They represent crow talons (like my imprint name), as if a crow picked up the pen. Love it! The crow “Poe” he branded into the wood.

Gorgeous, right?

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About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and named her Murder Blog as “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone (Writer's Digest "101 Best Websites for Writers") and Writers Helping Writers. Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Her backlist includes psychological thrillers, the Mayhem Series (books 1-3) and Grafton County Series, and true crime/narrative nonfiction. Now, she exclusively writes eco-thrillers, Mayhem Series (books 4-7 and continuing). Sue's appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion, and three episodes of A Time to Kill on Investigation Discovery. Learn more about Sue and her books at

31 thoughts on “Does it Matter When You Release a New Book?

  1. I haven’t considered which day of the week to release a book or the week of the month, but I’ll consider it now.
    Beautiful pen!

    • Thanks, Vera! I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.

      Until I researched this subject, I had no idea timing made such a difference other than the dip in sales of summer releases. For thrillers, July and August are terrible months.

  2. I agree about December, Sue. Makes sense.

    I wonder about the other considerations if your main launch pad is your own email list. If I’m remembering correctly, most of my books come out between March and October, whenever they’re ready to go. My release day is Sunday so I can talk about it in my weekly post.

  3. Honestly, I’d never thought much about when to release other than figuring it must be awkward to release around the holidays when things are even more hectic around Christmas than even the rest of the year. This post is full of good logical reasons for releases at various times.

    For myself personally as a reader, there is no rhyme or reason for when I purchase a book. Summer doesn’t suddenly increase my book shopping, nor does first of the year, though I like the logical point you bring up about people having received new devices or gift cards they want to use.

    All very helpful. I still have so much to learn! Thank you!

    • Don’t we all, Brenda? This biz is one long continual case study. Writers never stop learning new tricks of the trade.

      As a reader, I buy more books in the fall and winter, especially in snowy months when I’m stuck indoors.

  4. Thanks for your research, Sue. For a while, I was releasing books on my birthday and my anniversary, just for fun. The months, February and August worked out fine, although I never crunched the numbers to see whether those late-in-the-month dates were worse than books I released earlier in the month.

    I’m not looking for/expecting hitting any major lists, so it’s been more about my schedule than anything else.

    I’m taking a river cruise along the Danube in December, and have been toying with a book connected with all the Christmas markets we’ll be stopping at. Maybe I’ll shoot for a July release.

    • I think you’d do well with a Christmas in July release, Terry. Yes, I know what you mean about working around your schedule. I’ve done the same, but I plan to release my latest on my birthday (Oct. 4).

  5. Thanks for a great post, Sue. Very interesting.

    As a reader, I look for more books in the winter months. We don’t have as severe winter weather, here in the Midwest, as you do in New England, but I have more time for reading in the winter, with all the outside work done, or delayed until spring.

    I haven’t considered timing for release of books, but after reading this post I’ll will.

    And thanks for displaying the Poe Pen. It was an honor to design the pen for you.

    Happy Labor Day!

    • Same, Steve. Winters for me include much more reading, thus book buying.

      Aww, you’re too sweet! The Poe Pen is a huge hit on Facebook, too. 😉

      Happy Labor Day!

  6. Insightful post, Sue! Thank you so much for sharing it here. You really covered all the bases. Back in 2016, while I was writing my first two Empowered novels, I was researching self-publishing and looked at some of this, though not in this detail, but enough to shape my own release schedule. I agree about avoiding releases in July and August. Unless you have legions of rabid fans. September can be a good month.

    I’ve usually released late in the month—until today, I had no idea about that aspect of Amazon’s weighting of sales. Thanksgiving to Christmas is a no go.

    Most of my releases have been January through May, and then September. One of my writer’s group friends is writing a paranormal cozy series, so she times her annual release for right before Halloween, and that works well for her. Another example of being away of your niche, as you pointed out.

    Day of the week—I’ve done Monday-Wednesday and also Saturday, for my last release. I’ll go back to early week in future. I’m not sure in my case why early week does better—I’m guessing its for the reasons you mentioned.

    Thanks again for this bounty of information on book releasing. Lots of food for thought. If you haven’t already, I’d love to read your take on pre-orders, such as long vs short, the pros of doing them versus the less stress of not etc.

    Hope you have a wonderful Labor Day and a terrific week, my friend!

    • BTW, were you able to view last Wednesday’s Super Moon? We had a cloud break here, and I viewed it in several binoculars, and snapped a view photos through a mounted pair, which I shared online at the site formerly known as Twitter.

    • Dale, I was hoping you’d weigh in. Glad you found it insightful. Good question about preorders. Nowhere could I find solid answers about the ideal length.

      In my experience, I’ve had preorders that lasted eight weeks, others only two weeks, and everything in between. Six to eight weeks is too long, IMO. Readers don’t want to wait that long. It also puts added pressure on the author to keep up the excitement. Two weeks doesn’t allow ARC readers enough time to write reviews. Three to four weeks seems to be the sweet spot.

      Happy Labor Day!

      Btw, what was that gorgeous gold moon that just passed?

      • Thanks for you thoughts on pre-orders. I’ve usually done much longer ones, and find that there’s a burst at first, and then a very slow trickle until a month or less before the release date, when things pick up. I did leverage my first two BookBubs back in 2018 to ramp up interest in pre-orders for Empowered: Rebel, which launched in late May that year.

        Last week’s glorious super moon was a Blue Moon, since it was the second that month. The first full Moon, on August 1st, was the Sturgeon Moon.

        • Canada’s fire smoke concealed the Sturgeon Moon, which pissed me off, but the skies cleared for that glorious Blue Moon. Wow, what a stunner. Thanks for saving me a research trip to look it up. I knew you’d have the answer!

  7. Thanks, Sue, for this interesting info. I buy books in all seasons, and my reading habits don’t change month-to-month, but I can see it would be a good idea to understand the trends.

    One question: Why did you state “A cozy mystery or HEA romance may not do well in October.”? Since cozy readers are often not readers of horror or dark mystery, I wonder if it would make any difference.

    Have a great week!

    • Good question, Kay. Here’s where niche comes in. If a cozy had, say, a pumpkin spice theme where the characters meet a coffee shop to get their daily fix, an October release makes perfect sense. However you can link the book to the season is what matters.

      In general, the fall is reserved for thrillers, horror, and gritty mysteries, because even cozy readers like to dive into darker stories around Halloween. That said, if you have your next cozy ready, I wouldn’t hold off till January. Just try to link it to the season in your marketing, is all.

      Thank you, Kay! Wishing you a fab week as well. 😀

  8. Great post, chock full of info, Sue. Thanks!

    My new release, No Tomorrows, is a family-oriented, tension-filled story about Annie Lee, who is navigating what she is convinced is her last day on earth. The reader gets to ride along as her frightening past intersects with the now she has so carefully crafted for herself.

    My editor encouraged me to pick a release date which would be prior to the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. So, I chose Sunday, October 1.

    I’m comfortable with that. I’ll have time to get the word out, attend four upcoming author events, and SM post before the buying frenzies start.

    And, added perk: December has nothing scheduled. (So far!)

    • Sounds like your editor gave you good advice, Deb! Frightening and tension-filled is the theme of October.

      The holidays are crazy around here. All fun stuff, though. 😀

  9. I don’t usually buy books with a holiday theme in mind, and the few holiday books that I have, I didn’t purchase around the holiday for which they were written. I don’t find a Halloween theme to make a book more tense. The one exception to that is The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. The story begins just before Halloween, and I happened to be reading it the week of Halloween. It’s the one time I’ve had a season theme spook me out! It’s a terrific book, probably the scariest thing I’ve read in the past several years.

    In my own writing, the only time-related theme I’ve used was the anniversary of space shuttle Challenger’s explosion. My co-author and I were targeting a novella at Analog Science Fiction and Fact and hoped that the editor would think the work appropriate to be published on the 25th anniversary of the event. The main character names his spaceship the McAuliffe after Christa McAuliffe, the school teacher who died in the accident, as a tribute to her sacrifice. The editor bought the novella, but its publication missed our target date by several months.

    • Aw, that stinks, KS. I was hoping you’d say it landed on the exact date. Still, you could ramp up marketing around the anniversary.

      Adding Stranger Diaries to my TBR. Thanks!

  10. Thanks for this great analysis, Sue. It lines up with anecdotal research I’ve heard from seasoned authors, both trad and self-pub.

    Steve’s pen is gorgeous. What a talented artist!

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