Wed 09

How do they choose book launch dates?

The 22 Murders of Madison May

At this point, “22 Murders” comes out a month from now. Does that mean the book is completely finished, and the publisher is simply waiting for the optimal time to release it, or there’s still some work to be done on it?

Basically, I’m asking how does a book’s release date get determined, and how far in advance?


It’s totally finished. Publishers usually schedule about ten months in advance, in my experience. About half of that is for editorial things like rewrites and copyediting. But that leaves a big chunk of time when the manuscript is done but there’s no published book yet. They figure out the release date like this:

  1. It has to be on a Tuesday. No-one knows why. But everyone expects books to be published on Tuesdays, so, what, you’re going to be the maverick coming out on a Thursday? Come on.

  2. It has to be in the summer (northern hemisphere), because I am a summer author. I’m not totally sure what this means, but I’ve heard it said. Most of my novels have been published in the summer. Providence wasn’t, and look what happened. That’s right: a global pandemic. Luckily The 22 Murders of Madison May is scheduled for July 6.

  3. It has to leave enough time for all this:

    • Cover design. I’m a fan of this cover. At first, I wasn’t sure about the running woman, because I was like, “Could that not be a little more subtle and intriguing?” So I mocked up a few ideas, which were way worse. It’s quite a static cover without the running woman. You need the running woman.

      The 22 Murders of Madison May

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    • Flap copy. My brilliant editor Mark came up with some really solid copy to put on the book flap, then at the last minute, I was like, “Hey, the first paragraph is about the Felicity character, but doesn’t it make more sense to start with Madison, since people will pick up the book wondering about her?” And Mark was like, “Good catch,” while wondering why I couldn’t have mentioned this before five minutes until deadline. Then it got changed. I like to be helpful.

    • Sending advance copies to authors so they can provide a juicy quote, like, “Better than the Bible,” or “Something something Harry Potter.”

    • Sending advance copies to reviewers so they can schedule their hit pieces to run at launch time.

    • Sending advance copies to influential readers so they’ll write GoodReads reviews and build up word-of-mouth. You can get a whole lot of free books by being a prolific GoodReads reviewer. You can be swimming in books. Then one day you wake up and wonder when reading became a chore, not a fun escape. Like when did THAT happen.

    • Booking online events. I will be doing a couple of these, and they are the closest you and I are going to get to being in the same room for a while, so look out for dates.

    • Creating the audio edition. I used to stay away from these, because listening to people read my books made me want to curl up and die. Not because of the narrator, you understand. Because of the words. But now I’m better and only get, like, slightly nauesous. Madison May will be read by Helen Laser, who I’m proud to say I hunted down personally, not literally, and I think she’ll be fantastic.

Aside from that, there’s marketing, which is trying to figure out how to make people notice you have a book out. It’s all fine and well to have a good book. You also have to make sure people notice it. This is a challenge for me at the moment, as I’m trapped on the other side of the world to most of my readers. I basically have to be extra obnoxious online. So apologies in advance for that.

Fun Fact: You can pre-order The 22 Murders of Madison May right now! And not just for yourself! You can give it to people! Like for birthdays! Or just because they’re special! Here are some links!

amazon.comBarnes &