When the festive feeling is all around and you hear Christmas jingles everywhere, you’re more than likely to see new books on the shelves that capture the holiday spirit. Or when Halloween is encouraging all the ghouls to come out, horror and thrillers are released to capitalise on the spooky vibes of the season. This is the result of seasonal writing.
During these times, it becomes easy for our WIPs to take on a slight ‘flavour’ of the season. But you must take care not to let the time of year taint your work too much.
Instead, you could write for a chosen time of year and release your novel for a targeted marketing advantage.
But if you are going to write a Christmas novel, Halloween horror, or a Romance for Valentine’s Day, it might be wise to draw up your plan several months before.
To help you target a specific period, you will need to reverse engineer your writing habits. Identify when your first words need to go onto paper by drawing up a timetable.
This will serve to guide you to each milestone.
The allocated times in the following charts are subjective.
These timeframes might not suit everyone. Please ensure you give yourself enough time to complete each phase of the publishing process.
Also, the assumed novel length is 80k words at a rate of 10k words per week in the drafting stage.
Seasonal writing and the Christmas Spirit
I’ll start with Christmas because it’s the biggest commercial holiday (or so I believe).
If you are planning on writing a book with a Christmas theme (and by the way- Die Hard IS a Christmas movie!), I’m sure many will say it’s worth drumming up some hype at the start of November – the second Halloween is over.
This will give you around six or seven weeks to stir up some excitement and give your readers something to look forward to.
I’m sure you would’ve noticed by now that the commercial world doesn’t stand still for very long. As soon as one theme is finished with, the next one is advertised.
In the first week of November, engage with ONLINE INFLUENCERS as described in the link and begin setting the foundations for your new book.
If you’ve been cultivating good relationships with people on social media throughout the year, you will benefit from those friendships in this phase.
Now, let’s take a look at how this timetable will look.
Since most of us self-publishing authors have full-time jobs, the target of 10k words per week might be a bit optimistic. But a productive planning phase and good writing routine will help hit this figure.
Breaking each week down (Monday – Friday), we will need to be reaching around two-thousand words per day. Maybe, 1k in the morning before work, and 1k in the evening?
Please, don’t let this put you off. If you planned your story well and ponder on it over the weekends, you should be able to write this amount with ease.
Some days, you will overshoot the mark which will grant you some flexibility on tougher days.
But, if two-thousand words a day sounds like a bit much, tailor the table to suit your goals.
To hit the shelves in time for a Halloween release, you can use the same table with only a few revisions to the target months.
This is an ideal ‘new year’ project that can see you keeping busy from new the beginning of January.
The key here is to hit each objective so you can begin marketing in the second week of September. But really ramp it up when the first of October comes around.
Horror and thriller fans love their genre all year around. But when the days are getting shorter and nights get colder, they love nothing more than a good book to keep them company.
And when the shops are stocking and advertising their Halloween goods, your book could be the very thing a reader will grab to see them through a few long nights.
To meet a Valentine’s Day release, you will need to take the Christmas holidays into account. After all, most professionals are going to enjoy a well-earned break away from work. And this includes editing, proofreading, or formatting your novel.
However, with this timetable, your book should be with your proof readers over the Christmas/ New year period. And who doesn’t enjoy a good book over the holidays?
Engage with them early to ensure their availability to read and provide feedback over this period. If they cannot, adjust your calendar accordingly.
Also, another thing to consider is, how and when to get your ARCs to your reviewers. Again, engage with them early to make sure they’re happy to receive your novel so close to the new year.
I’d wager that most will be receptive, but they might not be too impressed if you don’t check first.
An interesting sidenote – any genre is suitable for Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t have to be a romance novel.
Even though all the shops are bursting with love-hearts and cuddling teddy bears, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
For instance, my wife loves a good thriller and doesn’t much like chocolate. It makes sense to get her a new book along with some flowers. However, in twenty years, she’s not bought me a present for Valentine’s Day. (Curious how it’s taken me more than two decades to realise this).
Targeting a holiday to release your novel is a great way to boost sales out of the gate. And this will be compounded if you take advantage of the marketing process in the run-up to launch day.
For self-publishing authors, it can be tricky to set and achieve the mile-stones along the way.
Our lives are busy enough with things like work, and work, and more work. You are the focal point for every step of this process, whereas a traditionally published author will have a team guiding them.
If you do aim to take advantage of a certain holiday or festival throughout the year, be sure to draft a chart like the ones above and give yourself plenty of time for each stage.
Optimism is the pitfall of planning
Just because all is well when you draft your timetable, it doesn’t mean things will go off without a hitch. Things can build up and get out of hand, or you could end up dealing with things that you didn’t anticipate or expect.
Add a week or two here and there to give yourself a bit of flexibility. Writing and publishing a novel can be a demanding task. Adding unwanted pressure will not help.
By giving yourself a bit of latitude, you can enjoy the process. And this means you will enjoy the results because publishing your novel is without doubt, a tremendous achievement.