Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Circle the bandwagons--here we go again!

How are book release dates like stop signs for bicyclists?

Answer: Both are frequently ignored--albeit with differing results. A stop sign is disregarded to the detriment of the cyclist (think human hood ornament here) and a release date to the detriment of the author.

Here’s the deal. The ‘official’ release date for my fifth Calamity Jayne caper, Calamity Jayne Heads West, is October 2nd. You know. As in approximately a week from now. ‘Officially.’ Unofficially, however, the book has been available for purchase on-line for two weeks. While this appears to be pretty much business as usual it’s got me to wondering if this practice can negatively impact an author and, if so, in what ways? Hmm. Let’s think about that.

Correct me if I’m wrong (and, believe me, my children assure me this happens routinely) but don’t sales from that crucial week or two of a title’s release count heavily towards various bestseller lists? Therefore, if outlets make a title available well in advance of the release date, won’t those sales tend to reduce a title’s chance of making bestseller lists much the same way as a delay in ‘lay down’ of a title can impact those numbers? And with two or so chances to achieve a ‘bestseller’ status each year (unless your name is Nora, of course) you want the best odds going in.

And then there’s promotion to consider. I send an e:newsletter to readers to remind them of the release date of my upcoming title. It can be confusing when I tell them a title will go on sale on such and such date and it’s actually available two to three weeks prior to that. The same holds true for advertising. One carefully times an ad to coincide nicely with the book’s release. The ad tells when the book will be available. And what happens? The book beats the ad out, diminishing the effectiveness of said pricey ad. I gotta tell you. It makes me wonder if folks think I’ve put an overworked Tressa Jayne in charge of my P.R.

So, why are on-line purchases possible so far in advance of a book’s supposed release date? What can you do--or what do you do--to offset difficulties related to willy-nilly release dates? Pray you become the next J.K. Rowling and your books are kept under lock and key until the stroke of midnight when revelry and merry-making ensue as the boxes are opened and your books brought forth to the masses? Suck it up and just be thankful you have a book out and it’s available?

A friend just emailed to say she received her copy of Calamity Jayne Heads West from Amazon so I’ll close this week simply by letting you know Calamity Jayne Heads West is available NOW even though the official release date is October 2nd. (Either way, folks, it’s another ‘Calamity Classic.’)

And me?

I’m still waiting for my author copies…!

Have a great rest of the week and a super weekend. See you next Thursday .

‘Bullet Hole’ Bacus


Hellie Sinclair said...

As an avid reader, I must say if I find a book I've been waiting for with bated breath--such as Calamity Jane Goes West, obviously--I will buy it--and possibly an extra copy for my friend, since I know she'll love it, if I'm feeling generous and unbroke. I will do this, even though as an amateur writer, I hear that this negates the sales that are posted on the LIST and that publishers use as their guide of what was popular and what was not.

Because I can't help myself. It's too good to pass up. Like chocolate. Or sex with George Clooney. (Or so I imagine.)

So do you want us bated-breath readers to wait? Does it affect sales and such that much?? I would not want to feel guilty for killing off an author because I didn't buy her book during the right period...

P.S. WHY is it that bicyclists don't stop at stop signs? It drives me crazy. They're not pedestrians, since pedestrians are defined as people WALKING--and clearly if you have a bicycle, you have a vehicle of a bi-wheel variety and therefore should be abiding by the rules of the road, such as STOPPING at stop signs like the rest of us and waiting your bloody turn.

Stacy S said...

Looking forward to getting the new book. I've seen some authors ask you to not buy their book before the release date to not hurt their book sales. I had never thought about that before though.

Christie Craig said...


Hmmm...I was just told by a friend who preordered my book for Amazon that it would be shipped the first week of November.

Crazy business we're in. But like you said...we still have to be overjoyed that we have a book out.

Thanks for the post.

Crime Scene Christie

Kathy Bacus said...

I must confess I preorder books that I've been waiting to read, too, mshellion, but I do wonder if those sales are counted towards the author's debut week numbers if I get the book ten days prior to the title's release date. But yeah, I can't help myself either. And I figure a sale is a sale. That doesn't bother me as much as trying to place timely ads and send out newsletters with the correct release info.

Switching gears here, (no pun intended) it drives me nuts when I'm driving and plan to make a right hand turn at an intersection and a cyclist comes up on my right and goes right through the intersection. The same is true of skateboarders, too. And the majority of them aren't wearing helmets...


Kathy Bacus said...

I'd never tell a reader to hold off buying my book, Stacy. But it does make me curious as to why books are made available for sale on-line so much prior to the release date. I had pre-ordered copies of Calamity Jayne (buying your own books is a thrill that never goes away) and they arrived the same day as my author copies and a week before the release date. I routinely preorder books and in each case I've received them before the 'official' release date.



Kathy Bacus said...

I betcha your friend receives her books before the listed release date, Christie. If they have them in stock, they send them out, regardless of whether they are officially scheduled for release.

And you're right--it's just a thrill to have a book out!!! This is book five for me and I still get teary-eyed when I hold my first copy. Sniff. Sniff.


Colleen Thompson said...

Congratulations on the new release, Kathy! Whenever it comes, it's welcome!

Jana DeLeon said...

Unless you get a strict lay-down date from the publisher, everyone puts things out when they feel like it.

And ABSOLUTELY it effects the author's ability to hit a bestseller list. I've talked about this often with my other writer friend - but then what do you do about it??????

Angie Fox said...

This happened so often to a good friend of mine that she started moving up some of her promotions a few weeks ahead. Then Amazon shipped her latest book almost a full month early! It's like they knew Candy was onto them.

Angie Fox said...

Oh and - of course - CONGRATULATIONS!!! I can just imagine the trouble Calamity Jane will find out west. :)

Unknown said...

I preordered the book from our local bookstore and was surprised when they called yesterday and said my "special order" had arrived. Needless to say I'd hate to mess up your first week sales, but I have no patience and can't wait to go pick it up!! I do however feel a tiny bit quilty getting it before the general public. Keep up the great work. I'll try and savor the book. I tend to read it all in one sitting and them I'm sad because I have to wait 6 more months for the next book!!

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Kathy! Enjoy your release day ("official" or otherwise. *s*)


Lucy said...

I'm sorry, I got lost with "sex with George Clooney"...what was the topic again?

Seriously, I'm like mshellion, I buy my friend's books as soon as they're available. I never considered the negative impact of doing that. I'm glad you posted this because now I know.

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks for the congrats, Colleen, and I absolutely agree, it's a rush when the books are finally out. We generally have to wait so long between books. I was spoiled my first year--I had three books out in ten month's time. Now I'm having to wait six months between books. Arrgh!

BTW, when I got home from work today, I had a big box of HEADS WEST waiting for me. And yep, I screamed and opened the box like a kid does an extra special gift at Christmas! Whoo hoo!


Kathy Bacus said...

I think this is one of those issues that pretty much fall under the 'sucky but stuck' category, Jana. And a 'jump the gun' release is better than a late lay down, that's for sure. (Sounds like something from a old B western, doesn't it?)

Guess we'll all just have to become famous literary giants and nab those strict lay-down rules. Hey, it could happen!!!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

I can understand your friend's frustration, Angie. I think the earliest I've purchased a book prior to the official release date was three weeks early and that seemed crazy. Four weeks early is ridiculous.

And thanks for the congrats. I think you'll like Tressa's southwest misadventure. I keep telling myself it's naughty to get paid for writing these books when I have so much fun. :)

BTW, I'm ready to post a certain first sale story whenever you're ready!


Kathy Bacus said...

My daughter refuses to read my latest book until I have the next one written, Brenda. She says it's too depressing knowing there isn't a next one ready to read. Isn't that sweet?

Drop me a post or an email when you finish, would you, Brenda, and let me know what you think of the book. So far, so good on the reviews for this one. My next book is a romantic comedy with a 'divine' touch. I'll be anxious to see what the readers think of it, too.


Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Faye, I plan to enjoy every moment. I'm livin' the dream, you know!


Kathy Bacus said...

The most important thing is that a reader can find the book when they want to buy it, Lucy. Anytime that happens, it's a very good thing.

Thanks for posting!


danetteb said...

Congrats on the new release Kathy!

I used to be really bad about buying books right when I see them on the shelf,street date or not. Now, if I know one of my must buys are coming out, I stay away from the bookstore to avoid the temptation.

Estella said...

Am looking forward to reading your book. I have received notices from author asking readers not to buy before the release date as not to hurt the first week sales.

Nathalie said...

It must be a great feeling when you receive these author copies.

Anonymous said...

Pre-order hurts the numbers... I didn't know that, though I never do that. I like to go to the bookstore. I am quite old-fashionned.

ellie said...

I will definitely wait to buy the book when it is the right time for the author to benefit. Best of luck and congrats on the release.

RudyRoo! said...

You know, I wondered about this when I bought Calamity's last adventure, because I was able to purchase it at the bookstore (off the shelf, no pre-ordering) the weekend before the Tuesday release. Honestly, I wondered if buying it early would negatively impact your sales numbers, but my excitement at learning what Tressa and Ranger Rick would be up to next won out over my concerns about buying before the official release date.

It seems to my egalitarian mind that all authors deserve the same lock-and-key treatment that good ol' J.K. gets, because having a book published would be the MOST EXCITING THING EVER! Certainly worthy of release day parties and other brouhaha!

Regardless of when it arrives in my hot little hands, I'll devour the new Calamity Jayne adventures and keep telling others about how funny you are! Keep up the great work!


Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Danette! I'm really excited about this book. It's dedicated to my dad. I'm know the authors appreciate you holding off on buying until the week of release but I honestly think it's neat that folks are so excited about a book they don't want to wait. How cool is that???

Oh my. I didn't realize authors sent out notices to readers asking them to hold off buying the book until the first week, Estella. I don't think I could do that. It just feels icky to me. But I do understand the rationale behind the request. I hope you enjoy the next Calamity caper when you do read it!

Yep, it's always a thrill to open any box of books, Nathalie, especially your own. I also love to make trips to the bookstores and see the books on the shelves. I've even taken pictures of them in the stores. Corny, but there you are. :)

I've heard it both ways when it comes to pre-orders, Lily. Good pre-order numbers can boost a print run on the publisher's end so that is a good thing. As to whether they count towards first week's sales numbers, it's really unclear.

Thanks for the good wishes, Elle! And for timing your purchase to help the first week's numbers!

Thank you soooo much, Kate, for your support! You're a sweetie! BTW, if you don't mind saying, where did you buy my last book? My first book was released January 2, 2006, and, due to the holidays, many brick and mortar stores were late putting it out. There was some serious nail-biting going on at this end, I can tell you. I much prefer an early lay-down to a late one, that's for sure.

I really hope you enjoy Tressa's southwestern screwball adventure--whenever you buy it!!! Thanks again, Kate!

~Kathy a/k/a 'Bullet Hole'

RudyRoo! said...


I bought Calamity Jayne Goes to College at the B&N on University in West Des Moines last spring.


Kathy Bacus said...

They're good to me at B&N on University. I'm trying to set up a signing there for October 20th. Thanks for the info.