Seasonal Releases

When is the best time to release and promote your books? Usually, indie authors look at me and say “Uh, when they’re finished?” or they start thinking about staggered serial releases. But in our wonderful world of not planning releases a year out, there’s an interesting question: when do you release Holiday-themed or seasonal books? We all know the outcry when Christmas decorations appear in the store before Halloween, but is it better to release a Christmas romance before in early November, or early December?

If it’s horror, urban fantasy, or otherwise concerned with things that go bump in the night, when do you switch from general advertising to “a great Halloween read” or “An excellent book for the spooky season!”? (Like the book in featured image, Baptism by Fire by Dave Pascoe. Check it out!)

How about Easter, or 4th of July? Or other offbeat holidays – Talk Like A Pirate Day, or I even saw a promotion of “Escape Tax Season with this billionaire bad boy romance” (I remember that because it made me laugh, but not the name of the book or author, sadly). I’ve also seen college-aimed promotions: (You think midterms are bad? If Hero fails this test, the Kingdom will fall!)

The reason this came up, was Alma Boykin just released a new Familiars story! It’s just in time for Halloween (although these are awesome any time of the year, but it’s quite fun to read the goth perspective to Halloween runup as it happens.)

Ah, October, when the ghosts, and spirits walk, and the Off Ramp of Doom falls quiet. Too quiet…

Lelia Chan and her Familiar, Tay, continue learning about magic and what mages do. When a customer drops a strange silver disk in Belle, Book, and Blacklight, it starts a chain of events that pull Lelia deeper into shadow magic. André Lestrange and Rodney return to help sort out the off-ramp. Someone else returns, someone who wants to open doors best left closed. Lelia and Company have their hands and paws full dealing with the forces of darkness and bad jokes.

Evil walks on All Hallows Eve. It’s up to Lelia and Tay to send it back where it belongs. Or else.

Oddly Familiar, now at Amazon!


  1. When I was working closely with one author in particular we studied some on the subject of timed release, and discovered a few things.
    The major houses will schedule big releases for the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas to target holiday gift giving. A poor little indie imprint can get lost in the rush.
    We determined that it made far more sense to release in early January in an attempt to take advantage of all those shiny new Kindles and begging to be spent Amazon gift cards.
    Since we were trying for a release every three months our next target was early April. Big mistake that. Seems that by then those with early tax refunds have already spent or at least allocated their money, while anyone who owes tax is pinching pennies.
    Of course a holiday theme is best done by the calendar, but always give yourself a bit of cushion in anticipation of the inevitable delays that always manage to crop up in a time sensitive schedule.

    1. Between March 10 and April 30 seems to be a low-sales period. Health-insurance for those required to buy it, plus taxes, have clobbered sales during that period for the past four years.

      I know some people say that August-early September is also slow because of back-to-school, but I’ve found mid-summer to go slower for my books. YMMV, especially if you are aiming at the younger reader (and parents of younger readers).

    2. Yeah, we’ve made the mistake of releasing a book in Tax week. Not a good idea for sales!

  2. I will note, on a complete tangent, that Christmas stuff is fine in October in craft stores. You need some time to finish the stuff before the holiday or the (even earlier) craft sales.

    1. Yes – this. Especially in craft markets where people are shopping for gifts. My daughter does lovely origami paper earrings, and sells them for a rather modest price, and she cleans up from shoppers looking to buy unusual stocking stuffers.
      I have always done modestly well with books, in the same time frame, too; people shopping for gifts for grandchildren, spouses, friends. The one time of the year that my hard-copy books outsell the digital versions.

    1. Depends on whether you can churn out the books, to be sure. Failure to do that can throw the whole thing off. And, of course, robs you of one major advantage of indie: not having to wait to be slotted in.

  3. But “Every Day Is Halloween” the song says so!
    And this is (perhaps the) ONE time being early for Christmas isn’t a bad thing – it’s not the in-your-face display in the stores.. and a pre-read before possible gifting can happen.

    Of course my perspective might be ‘off’ as Ancient Creature that I am, one day runs into another and one season to another so timing is generally non-critical… to me. To others? Likely of some import.

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