Seasonal publishing involves publishing a book around a specific season, holiday, or event, and it can be an effective way to maximize the potential of a book. Seasonal publishing can target a specific substrata of readers, create interest and hype, and help you reach your distribution goals. In this article, we’ll delve more deeply into the benefits of seasonal publishing, define the different publishing seasons, and offer some tips for successful seasonal publishing.
WHAT IS SEASONAL PUBLISHING?
Seasonal publishing is the act of releasing a book or other publication around a theme associated with a particular season, holiday, or event. For example, a book about Christmas traditions would likely be published around the Christmas season, while a book about summer activities could be released in the summer. Seasonal publishing can be a strategic way to boost sales for a particular work and take advantage of people’s tendency to purchase and read certain types of literature during specific calendar seasons ( “beach reads,” for example).
Interestingly, in recent years many publishers have shifted away from seasonal publishing, though it was once the norm. One of the primary reasons is that the traditional publishing cycle is often too slow to keep up with the pace of change within the industry. Additionally, long-term costs of the traditional system can be prohibitively high. Publishers now have the option to create a personalized approach to publishing that can be more cost-effective and better suited to the modern market. This allows them to be more agile and responsive to changes in the industry and to take advantage of new trends and opportunities.
Furthermore, the traditional publishing cycle was not reliant on digital marketing, but instead counted on traditional book distribution channels to market and present books to readers. Once upon a time, this method was a cost-efficient and low-effort way to get books into the hands of readers. Seasonal book marketing is essentially targeted advertising that a publisher doesn’t have to foot the bill for. More recently, digital marketing has skewed the balance between large and small publishers by allowing more precise targeting for specific types of readers, which can be an invaluable asset for any publisher and is the primary driver of the dissociation from seasonal publishing for many presses. Who needs a season when you can push books to any demographic at any time you like?
Though many publishers and platforms have slowly distanced themselves from this practice, others continue to publish books seasonally as a way to push books that have more defined or classical themes or to capitalize on consumer purchasing during gift-giving seasons. Though there is a case for moving away from recursive sales tactics, the publishing industry as a whole continues to rely on seasonal sales cycles as a stable source of revenue.
WHAT ARE THE PUBLISHING SEASONS?
The publishing seasons are divided into four main categories: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Traditionally, each book to be published is assigned a season in which it is to be published. The typical seasons for themed books are as follows;
Spring: The spring season is typically from April to June. This is a popular season for publishing books about gardening, travel, and sports. Books slated for publication in the springtime should be pitched to distributors and the like by January.
Summer: The summer season is typically from July to September and is the season for publishing books about summer activities, such as beach trips and camping. Many romance novels (those “beach reads”) are also published during this time of year. Books that will eventually be published in summertime should be pitched by or during the month of March.
Fall: The fall season runs typically from October to December. During this season, you might see books with major holiday themes or settings, such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. Fall-themed literature should always be pitched from April to May. This season coincides with the gift-giving season in many countries.
In fact, let me start the ball rolling on this season by saying that HIP’s first traditionally published book, Soul to Soul: Tiny Stories of Hope and Resilience, will be published during the Fall season (big announcement of the publication date and cover reveal coming soon!). This very special book by Faye Rapoport DesPres includes tiny, beautifully-crafted, uplifting and hopeful stories that take place in a variety of times, places, and, yes, seasons—and it will illustrated by accomplished artist Anya Lauchlan. This is exactly the reason that Soul to Soul is a perfect fall release. We hope many bookstores, hospital gift shops, and mom-and-pop gift stores will stock the book so their customers can buy, share, and give the book as gifts during the holiday season. Whether you’re an individual reader or a bookseller, if you want to be one of the first to have access to the book upon publication, please join our mailing list now.
Winter: Now to winter. The winter season in publishing is typically from January to March. It is a popular season for publishing books about winter activities, such as skiing and snowboarding. Additionally, winter is the publishing season for self-improvement books, particularly those relating to the New Year holiday. To ensure the successful distribution of your books in this season, be sure to pitch them in July or August at the latest.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE RIGHT SEASON FOR YOUR BOOK
Often, a book can be easily sorted into its proper season at a glance. Books may have fairly obvious themes, which makes it easy to determine which season they belong to. Other times however, a book will be more difficult to place. In these cases, an author or publisher may simply choose to forgo its association with one particular season, circumventing that traditional custom in favor of a cover-all approach. A book might be published at any given time to be chosen by the publishing entity.
If you have difficulties figuring out which season your book belongs to, I recommend examining other books in the same category or with similar themes to see if there is a pattern in the publishing dates. For example, if many books like yours are published in the month of January, it’s a good bet that your title is a good fit for the winter season, even if the theme isn’t immediately conspicuous.
PREPARING FOR THE DIFFERENT PUBLISHING SEASONS
Once you’ve determined the right season for your book, it’s important to start preparing for the season. In order to make the most of your seasonal opportunities, it is necessary to do some pre-planning. This is relevant for both publishing entities and those with self-published titles. Researching your target audience and developing a marketing plan are vital steps in the process. Additionally, creating promotional materials and utilizing social media are excellent ways to maximize visibility and reach higher exposure to potential readers. By taking the time to properly prepare for the different publishing seasons, you can increase book awareness and bolster sales for your works.
This week, I wanted to cover a topic that isn’t often described in a way that’s easy to understand. Information for new authors and publishers is hard to come by, especially for those who may not have worked in publishing in the past. The seasonal publishing cycle has long been an integral part of the book publishing process and has been used religiously for many, many decades, yet we don’t see a lot of people explaining how it works. The publication of a book around a particular time of year can still be a monumentally profitable strategy that should be applied wherever possible to ensure that maximum exposure is generated for your audience.
Hopefully you were able to take something of value from this week’s article here on the HIP Weekly. We look forward to seeing you again next Sunday. In the meantime, as we always say: Have a positive and productive week!
Huntsville Independent Press
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Huntsville Independent Press is the premiere publishing imprint of the Southeast United States, and we want to help you, the author. HIP provides, at no cost to our signed authors, a better solution for the publication of your story. Our contracts are non-restrictive and offer higher royalties for our authors. No HIP advance is taken out of royalties. Your advance from us is a one-time payment for the privilege to publish your book and is not a loan. Our passionate team of editors work diligently to ensure that the uniqueness of your story is preserved through the editing process. While you’re here, feel free to look around to see if Huntsville Independent Press is the right home for your work. We are always happy to have talented authors find a publishing home here with us.