(as featured on my weekly Huffington Post blog)
What to do if you're not JK Rowling, you don't have a big publishing house to promote you but you're determined to make your book a success?
Most traditional publishers will avoid launching new fiction from October - December because this is peak time for the Christmas market when they focus on their gift titles (although well established brand fiction may still be launched towards Christmas as they can count as gifts). So if you don't want to suffocate under piles of Nigella's Seasonal Sauces and Jamie's Turkey Treats, give it a miss.
Also the press, along with the book bloggers, who you really want to woo with a free e-book in return for an (honest) review, will be saturated (there'll be a separate post devoted to book bloggers in a few weeks).
The best time to publish also depends on the type of book. May and June is good for light summer reads (this includes narrative non-fiction, romance, chicklit etc). But remember that August is very quiet, because it's holiday time and everyone's away.
Longer/epic sagas/historical fiction/crime can slot in towards the end of summer as the nights draw in (i.e in September before the Christmas mayhem). January is good for books about self-help, changing careers, exercise, diets etc (yawn, yawn).
Depending on your subject matter, look out for timely tie-ins with your book which will help with publicity; Valentines Day, Fathers Day, World Lizard Day (yes, there really is such a thing), whatever your book is about, be it fiction or non-fiction, you can probably find something in the calendar to link it to.
And if you want to get ahead with the marketing, you can start connecting with those communities online via Twitter now. (There will be a blog post about best Twitter techniques in October). In the meantime, I can thoroughly recommend this blog for a novice's guide to Twitter.
It's also a good idea to check out what's coming out on Amazon the same week you intend to publish, so there's no big overlap if someone else is bringing out a very similar book, or if any back catalogue books are being re-released, to coincide with an anniversary. To see what's coming out on Amazon in next ninety days, click here
But - a huge plus of being a self-published author is that you are much more flexible (and speedy) than if you were being published traditionally. You can always shift your dates and if something comes up in the news, which is closely related to your book (and it's ready to go) then leap on that gravy train lickety split.
This week's advice came from Clare Christian, founder of RedDoor Publishing and Young Publisher of the Year. Since it was via email, there was no criss-crossing London and therefore no sneaky snacks en route. I was, however, sampling some savoury cheese twists at the time. Very tasty too.
Next week : Always Judge a Book by its Cover.