From our Ask Bethany House mail bag, someone is getting practical with this question: “How do you decide how many books to release in a certain month?”
At Bethany House, we release anywhere from two to seven novels per month. As to how we determine that, I wish I could give you a magical answer, like, “Our production team uses a multi-step algorithm based on page count, reading level, and the position of the North Star when the contract was signed,” but that’s not the case at all. It’s a very imprecise science, but here are a few factors that go into what month a book is being released:
- When can the author finish writing the book? (Obviously, this is the most important factor here so it has time to be edited. It’s where we start when creating a production schedule for the book.)
- Is there a special appeal for a certain season? (For novels, that includes Christmas-themed stories, but this applies even more to nonfiction with books aimed at graduates or gift books perfect for spring bridal showers.)
- Will this book get good placement in the stores at this time?
- Is there a similar book releasing that month? Better split them up so we don’t oversaturate the market.
- Is there a similar book releasing that month? Great, let’s keep it because we can place ads promoting both of them. (Yes, this is sort of a contradiction. It’s a case-by-case thing.)
- Does it fit with the authors’ writing schedule? (You may have noticed that some authors have books that release at the same time—or times—every year, while others move around more.)
- Is everyone going to be stressed and overworked because we scheduled too many books for the same month?
- Did we release another book by that author, like a novella collection, that same month? (We try to avoid that.)
- Was the manuscript completed on time so we could keep the scheduled release month? No other disasters that might delay the release?
Even though the process for determining a release month is going to be different for each book, the past several years, Bethany House has been consistent in the number of books we released in a year (around 49-53 titles). I always get excited about each month’s new round of books and hope you are too!
Speaking of months, it’s the time of year for the ACFW Conference! (No, that transition didn’t quite make sense, but go with it.) I’m headed there today, and our marketing manager, Noelle Chew, and I will be at the Bethany House spotlight to answer your questions, so if you’re an author who reads this blog, we’d love to see you there.