Friday, January 4, 2013

What is a Release Date Anyway?

Okay, if you are reading the title and thinking I've lost my mind, just hang in there for a second. Yes, I'm well aware that a release date is the day a book becomes available. But... I've learned a few things about release dates and I want to share them with you today.

First, don't get married to your release date. Touch of Death has always had a release date of 1/15/13, but... the ebook released early on December 23, 2012 and Amazon decided to release the paperback on December 30, 2012. Why? Um, your guess is as good as mine. Spencer Hill Press asked me about releasing the ebook in time for Christmas and I was all for it, so that was no surprise. Amazon, however, was. Still, I'm celebrating my book birthday on January 15, 2013.

Love All had a release date of 1/15/13 but it changed to 1/8/13 and now it changed again to 1/22/13. The next two novellas were scheduled to release in March and May but have been moved up to 2/5/13 (Serving Up Heartbreak) and 3/12/13 (Perfect Match).

I'm completely fine with all the changes. Why? In short, my books are still coming out. So what if it's not on the dates I originally thought? My point is, I've seen writers cry over changes in release dates. Don't. It happens all the time. And your books will still release. Celebrate and be happy about that.

What do you think about changes in release dates?

56 comments:

  1. With the release of my first book, I learned that release dates are flexible, and that Amazon does whatever it wants. Amazon started mailing my book out early, and even BN had the book on shelves a week in advance. The fact is: If you're not a super big best-seller, nobody sweats the release date.

    However, it does go the other way, too. I knew an author whose book was held up at the printer because of last minute changes to the cover illustration and did not release on time. I think it was almost a month late. That would be a real killer!

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    1. Yes! Dianne, Amazon shipped my books on December 31, 16 days early. It happens. We have to be flexible because we don't have control over what Amazon or B&N will do. And if a release date gets pushed back, it's okay. My MG series was moved from 2014 to 2016 and my thought was, "Yay! Now I have books coming out through 2017!" The publisher thought I'd be upset that they wanted to focus on my YA first. I wasn't at all. I guess my reaction wasn't typical though.

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    2. As for MG books they send to sell better in print format. So a publisher would prefer to do releases that have a stronger ebook sales presence in order to drive readership up prior to a MG release if possible. So they are trying to build your audience so your YA readers may give your MG a chance as well as you will gain some MG readers.

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  2. When the release date for my YA novel changed, I wasn't very pleased about it. I was quite upset, to be honest, since it was pushed back almost a year. I'm not quite over it yet, although I try to be, hah. But anyway, I understand things like that come up, but I'd rather it be pushed back a week or two, or a month, or pushed forward, than be pushed back for much longer.

    It's weird though that Amazon shipped your books out sooner. I mean, it probably happens a lot, but it shouldn't. They should wait till it's official release day to start shipping it.

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    1. Amazon does it all the time. I think they want to be the first one out of the gate, so to speak.

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  3. Release dates are moving targets for sure, but it's understandable based on sales projections and such. Publishers are in the business of selling books to make money and that's what drives the release dates. My release dates have changed greatly, but I'm aware of it (most times) and do it to improve sales and visibility.

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    1. LM, you are a wealth of knowledge. :) I agree. Publishers need to move release dates for lots of reasons and if it sells more books, then I'm all for it.

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  4. As an indie author, I'm in charge of my release dates. There are so many other details to consider when publishing that I am cool with adjusting the release. I want to be sure everything is in order and then relax and enjoy the launch ... before diving headfirst into the marketing madness! Good luck with all of those releases, Kelly. You are one busy writer!

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  5. What's to think other than the fact that it happens all the time? :)

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  6. I agree with Kelly that as long as the book's still coming out, it isn't that big a deal, and can give you more time to really iron out your marketing plans, even open up new possibilities not available to you in your book's original pub. date.
    From what I noticed, releases are more often pushed back instead of sped up when they change, whatever the reason(s) involved.

    Still, releases being pushed back can be a bit frustrating, especially with the first book, it's not like new authors are just twiddling their thumbs all this time...

    But I do think giving the author as early notice as possible is key.

    I've heard of some authors not being told about the date changes until days before the original launch date. In general, I think publishers should let authors know as soon as they can when dates change, since re-scheduling specific events for and/or around the new date, especially if they're at local bookstores, can be tricky.

    The old date for a signing or book talk at a local venue may have been almost perfect (In terms of time on their part and yours).

    But the new date your book comes out might coincide with a event with more well-known authors doing a reading, Q and A, and/or book talk, at that same venue you would've been at months earlier.

    While you can always create flexible marketing efforts online, rescheduling offline in-person affairs is inherently more challenging. Something editors at publishing houses should keep in mind when dates start getting changed.

    Just like things that take time on their end, it took lots of time and care (Not to mention travel expenses/time away from non-author responsibilites) for writers to book those offline gigs, often local events, and rescheduling them too many times can make writers look flaky, even though the publisher's making the call here.

    How adept you are with (tasteful) marketing/platform/self-promotion will also have a hand in how well you take release changes.

    As a reader, it'd be great if a book (I didn't write) came out sooner than planned, and still have the quality necessary to give me a solid reading experience, but a writer it can be a minefield in terms of ensuring the quality is where it should be. Especially if like me, you're the kind writer who revises and rewrites in stages, rather than a three-act only approach.

    Regarding online retailers who sell early, if nothing else, it might help generate some early reader buzz, Kelly.

    Once the flood gates "officially" open elsewhere, you might get increased sales because there was early word of mouth, like with the ARC giveaways you did for Touch of Death, only what they're reading is the endgame version.

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    1. Very true, Taurean. I think the early releases by Amazon can work in the author's favor. It gets the reviews in early, which is a good thing.

      As a reader, yes, I tend to want books immediately, so dates getting pushed back can be frustrating, but from an author's point of view, I'm okay with it.

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  7. I had the exact same thing happen with Amazon, and my publisher was baffled, because it happened to only two of the books on their list and not the others. They finally concluded that it had to do with a large number of pre-orders... So congrats, Kelly, on the good pre-order numbers for A Touch of Death.
    I no longer know if my book's BD is August 14 or September 4... Maybe I will celebrate both next year. Once with chocolate cake and another with Vanilla.

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  8. Since I'm self-publishing, I have a bit of control over the release date. Like Patricia said, there are other things that'll come up that will change the date but we gotta be flexible. The book will be released. That's what we should focus on.

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    1. Yes, the fact that it will come out is the important thing.

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  9. I don't worry about the dates because that's out of my control. It's great when a book comes out on the release date. Disappointing when it doesn't, but there are usually good reasons. Just smile and be thankful when it is published.

    Interesting topic.

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    1. Exactly, Beverly! Well said. :) And happy release day to you!

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  10. Congrats on all the releases... I know someone whose release date got pushed back twice and finally didn't release. I think things like that are why writers cry.

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    1. Oh, well that's different. Never released? That poor author!

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  11. As a reader release date changes get up my nose for pre-orders. I ordered a book last year and it was supposed to be released mid August, but then Amazon sent a message stating it would be delayed and the new date was end of October. I wasn't impressed.

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    1. Yeah, I think it's sometimes harder to take a reader. As an author, I want my book to be perfect and released at the right time for it. So I understand dates changing. But when it comes to a book I'm dying to read, I'm not quite as understanding about it. ;)

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  12. I think if my book(s) release early, I'll be fine with it. If it's late, I may just cry... And I feel the same way as a reader. If I get it early, it's like getting an unexpected present. If it's late, there had better be a VERY good reason!

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    1. Dates get pushed back all the time, Keshia. I actually think it's more common. Either way, you'll be fine. :)

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  13. This was something I was really surprised about with my first book--now I know what to expect and don't care so much. It certainly taught me how to be more flexible though, especially with blog tour stuff and whatnot!

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    1. We really have to be flexible because it's not something we can control.

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  14. I always consider anything Amazon says as just a general reference since they never do anything they say they will at the time they say, or at the price. I'm just glad to get my stuff out.

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  15. My books never even had release dates. I knew they were available when I got my author copies. No book birthdays. Things really are different.

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    1. Interesting! I guess you can't stress that way.

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  16. Still waiting for my pre-ordered copy of Touch of Death to arrive!!!

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    1. In the US, they started shipping them on December 31, but someone told me it might depend on the number of pre-orders. My UK pre-orders probably weren't as high. Maybe? I'm not sure if the pre-order numbers really are the answer, but maybe.

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  17. I agree, don't make a big deal out of it. Dates change along with the publishers' marketing schedule, or maybe it's something else (too many new books released on that day? a better date to coincide with a national tennis event/YA sports-romance drama?). Most importantly, the books will be released!

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    1. Exactly! No need to stress over something that's out of our control.

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  18. Guess I figured that with independent publishing such as CreateSpace or Smashwords the writer is in charge of the release date but maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Wouldn't be the first time. Happy New Year Kelly!

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    1. Not really, Diane. Amazon, including CreateSpace, kind of does its own thing. Someone said it has to do with pre-sales. I'd like to think that's what made my book release 16 days early on Amazon, but I don't really know if that's true.

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  19. Since I self-publish, I'm pretty much in charge of my release date. Although I don't fuss about them. I should do a big pre-release push, but I've been so worried and stressed just trying to get everything done I've been afraid to commit to a certain date! Need to change that in the future. :)

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    1. I've heard it can be tough to do pre-orders when you self-publish through CreateSpace. Many writers have said they won't let you. I don't know that from personal experience though. Just passing on what I've heard.

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  20. I would be ecstatic just getting a publisher. :D

    Release date doesn't mean much, but getting that contract would be thrilling in itself.

    Congrats, Kelly!

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    1. That's how I feel. I'm just so happy my books are getting published. When doesn't matter much to me.

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  21. Good thing I came on here today! I almost missed the kindle book release which I have been waiting for, just bought it with one click. I lLOVE "one click!"

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    1. Aw, thank you, Jodi! I hope you enjoy it!

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  22. Reading your book on Kindle and enjoying it. Here's to flexible release dates!

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  23. I love it when books are out earlier than expected since I eagerly await some of them.

    Someone told me that they start shipping whenever books become available in the warehouse.

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    1. That makes sense. It's funny that they don't have to honor publisher's release dates though. I don't mind, but I wonder if publishers do.

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  24. Thanks for sharing this post! I had no idea that release dates changed so much. I thought they might change a little- but it sounds like the date might just be a loose estimate of when it will be out. Congrats on the early release of Touch of Death! You have such a wonderful attitude.

    Wishing you a wonderful 2013!

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    1. Thanks, Stephanie! Happy to pass on what I learn.

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  25. I'd have no problem being flexible in regards to release dates.

    Good post, Kelly!

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  26. I like your attitude. It's not so much the date but the fact that your books are coming out that's important.

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  27. Sorry I'm late posting (I took a little vacay), but CONGRATULATIONS on the release of e-book and paperback! Woohoo! And good luck on the upcoming releases, too. :-D

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