Publication Date

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In this section:

    In itself, the publication date is not significant

    An exact date is only important for a relative handful of bestselling authors. For readers, it increasingly matters little, with all books becoming available for sale at different times in different parts of the world through online databases and retail. But the month is helpful to have something to hook the marketing systems around. We generally gear any publicity we do around the month of publication and the few months following, rather than a specific day. The book will be available for sale when it arrives at the warehouse.

    Why is my publication date set ten clear months after the files are finished?

    It takes ten months (sometimes more) for information about your book to circulate through the trade worldwide, and this is essential to maximize your prospects of long-term success. We are represented by companies that are generally reckoned to be amongst the best independent sales teams around the world – NBN in the USA, Quantum in the UK, and Durnell in Ireland and Europe – and they cannot start selling the book until they have the finished information.

    Budgets for buying in new titles in the chain retailers are set many months in advance – they will not look at titles coming out before then. Some key catalogues, like the NBN sales catalogue in North America, the bumper Bookseller Spring and Autumn editions in the UK, cover six months of titles; they need the information on ISBN, page extent, price, sales copy and cover three months before that, so ten months only just gives us enough time.


    • Scheduling publication: We do not schedule the publication date for the book until we have the text and cover files finished and it has been fully edited and proofed and ready for the printer. We give both files a final proofread after you see them in the Production Workflow stages. The following month, we set the publication date for ten clear months later (e.g. for a title finishing production in January, the information will go out in February for a December release), and send the information out. Please note that this time may be slightly extended depending on where we are in the annual buying cycle. More in the introduction to Chapter 9. We aim for the same publication date for ebook and paperback.
    • The exact date: We have a nominal publishing date of the last Friday in each month (except December, when it’s the second Friday). We aim to get copies of the book to the warehouses in the US/UK six weeks prior to publication, with advance copies usually coming a couple of weeks before that (which come to the office rather than the warehouse). NB. We put forward publication date by a couple of days to the 1st of the following month when sending metadata to our US distributor NBN (i.e. if publication date in the JHP database is 29 November, it will be listed in NBN as 1 December). This enables us to meet deadlines for getting new title information into the NBN sales catalogues, and we feel gives new books the best chance of success in the US trade. Books are printed and in stock ready from the same time in the US and the UK.
    • Variations: The book may be released earlier than that in some places, later in others. We cannot coordinate printings in the US and UK and other countries to arrive at the warehouse exactly at the same time, and there are large variations between how long it takes to get to particular accounts (more on ordering in Chapter 13). Books can sometimes take several weeks to get from our distributor NBN on the East Coast through customs at the border and on to Vancouver on the West Coast, if, as is usual, the store has requested lowest-cost delivery. This is something we have no control over. This does mean that you may see different release dates appear in different accounts. Amazon, for instance, will only show the book as published once they receive the stock. We can get the books to the distributors earlier, but if books arrive at the warehouse more than two months prior to publication date, the distributor will bring forward the publication date (e.g. if pub. date is 30 March, if it goes in before 1 February then the publication date changes), which then confuses everyone further.
    • The difficulties of this earlier release: You can sell your book at your own events/launches as far in advance of the publication date as you like, once there is stock in the warehouse. But there are disadvantages to this. Once the book gets to the warehouse, it is "released." We cannot supply you and hold it back from other accounts/readers. It will appear on Amazon and similar wholesalers as "published." Bookstores, who work to longer timescales, do not like to see potential sales "pre-empted". So they may cancel any orders they have placed.
    • Exceptions: We cannot comment on the optimum timing here for individual titles – there are too many variables. It's different in different parts of the world for different markets. In general, judge that the book will be available the month before publication, and that earlier releases than that may be counter-productive.
    • Amazon US: Amazon UK datafeed accepts two dates: availability and publication, but Amazon US accepts only one. To align the policy of making books available to trade and readers after they reach distributor warehouses, we have to make the publication date the first of the month on Amazon US.

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