Book Trends Blog

October 28, 2010

Timing is Everything by Bob Spear

This phrase is common to many aspects of business, which includes book publishing and marketing. There is a definite set of cycles in the book publishing world of which you need to be aware. The timing of release dates is critical. First, there is the copyright date listed on the copyright page. Many bookstores and librarians want the latest works. If you release your work during the last quarter of the calendar year, you would best be served by listing the copyright year as the following year. That gives you 15 months of exposure as a work for the next year and therefore the latest version. If you list the current year, you’re only getting 3 months of that exposure before you’re considered ancient history. That’s such a minor point you might say. You’d be very surprised.

The next big event in the industry is Book Expo America. This is a huge book marketing event of international proportions. Many major publishers time their releases for this late May event for that either advanced reading copies (ARCs), if not the actual books, are available to be given away and displayed at the show. Many book industry buyers go to this trade show specifically to see the latest offerings. Ordinarily following within a month of the BEA is the American Librarian Associations bi-annual trade show, although there have been rumors lately that these two trade shows may be combined.

The next important time frame is early fall when bookstores are making their final purchases for the upcoming holiday season, which is the busiest time of the year for bookstores. Tied to this are the regional bookseller associations’ trade shows in late September/early October. These are known as book buying shows, unlike the BEA, which can be too overwhelming in scope to provide much time for book ordering.

Finally, a relatively new event to consider is the American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute held in January. Of all the yearly events, this is one that has increasingly become the most important for our bookstore. It’s a traveling show, held in a different city each year. It comprises three days of intense seminars, workshops, and dinner speeches filled with the latest information and techniques independent bookstores need to survive and thrive. There are large displays of ARCs free for the asking. There are also sessions dedicated to publishers’ sales reps presenting their companies’ current and upcoming releases with info about targeted readerships, awards, and marketing aids. The audience is limited to 500 attendees and folks start reserving slots months in advance. This coming 2011 January Winter Institute (19-21 January) will be held at the Arlington, Virginia’s Crystal City Mariott, just down the road from the Pentagon. It is almost booked up already. Information about this, the BEA, and the regional trade shows can be found at for your information.

There you have the top American display and buying opportunities. In addition, there are other international trade shows such as London’s and Frankfurt, Germany’s that publishers either attend or pay to have the wares represented by various display companies. The primary purpose of these for publishers is foreign rights deals. In other words, there are major book events scattered throughout the year. This doesn’t count the many book fairs scattered around the country and throughout the year. The important lesson from this article is choose an event and/or a buying cycle and focus on it for your release It used to be spring and fall were the only buying cycle milestones one need consider. That has changed, as you can see from this posting. There are many more marketing opportunities throughout the year these days; however, it’s better to be selective as to when your target retail market’s buy to most and structure your marketing plan around that. You authors also need to be aware of these cycles so you’ll know when it is best to approach agents/publishers with your book, especially if it’s seasonal in nature.


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