Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Importance of Release Dates...

So, I got a little heads up from someone about release dates and I thought I'd take a moment to talk about the importance of them. If you'd like to read the article, the link is at the bottom.

For those who don't know books have either a "soft release date" or a "hard release date". The hard release date is pretty simple - the book is released on that day, period. There is no early selling of it. Many big name authors have hard release dates. They're lucky. Most authors, however, don't have the privilege of that hard release date - they're stuck with soft release dates.

Soft release dates are more tricky. Basically, the book has a release date BUT the books are shipped to retailers sometimes weeks in advance, and its up to the retailer's discretion to follow the release date and not sell/distribute the book ahead of time.

You may be asking yourself, what's the importance of the release date? The answer is simple. A book has a release date which is effectively when the publisher begins to record the sales of that book. The first week of release is the MOST important number count. Why? If a book sells well in that first week, then the publisher is more likely to contract with the author to write more books. And if the book doesn't sell well, then the publisher might just look at future books that are contracted and cancel them. It can make or break an author.

Those numbers are, for many of them, their livelihood. It's what allows them to keep writing books in series that we, as readers, love. Can you imagine a series you love being cancelled because it didn't get the numbers in the first week? It happens.

When Borders was around, they were notorious for putting books out before their release date or forgetting to put them out on their release date. There were 6 Borders stores within 30 minutes of my home and believe me, I made myself a pain in their ass about this issue. Most of the employees were unaware the system existed. But once I explained it - most of the employees being avid readers themselves - they actually made an effort not to put books out in advance. (Or maybe they just started doing it because they got tired of me lecturing them - lol).

So, back to why I'm writing this. Apparently, Amazon is ignoring the release date of Seanan McGuire's newest book Discount Armageddon. In retaliation, B&N has also started selling it. This is going to screw up the sales numbers of that book & might screw up her chance to write sequels. And if you've read her Toby Daye books (or Feed & Deadline written under Mira Grant), you know that her losing a contract because Amazon and B&N are being DICKS (and having some sort of uber-cyber-bookseller pissing contest) is NOT FAIR. It's not fair to her and her career. And its not fair to any other author they're doing it to.

I was going to preorder Discount Armageddon next week (along with all the other books on that list), but after receiving this email, I'm going to hold off and order my stack of books on their release date. And I'm encouraging all of you to do the same. In fact, I'm asking you to pass on this information to anyone who reads. We want these authors to have their contracts. We want them to be able to keep writing. We have to do our part to ensure that it happens.

Seanan McGuire 

Go forth and spread the word.

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