Photo from Fylkesarkivet i Sogn og Fjordane (whatever that is). I would like this winter here now please.
We publish books in seasons.
There are three of them, and though they do bear some resemblance to the seasons of nature, it is not really an exact thing.
Winter: January through April
Spring: May through August
Fall: September through December
If you publish your book with a major publisher, your book will one day be assigned a season of its own.
Why is this? Can’t your book just be a special unique snowflake, with allegiance to no season under the sun?
To clear up the most important thing, clearly your book IS a special unique snowflake. There is no other one with the exact same words like it! We promise.
But like any snowflake, your book is more powerful combined with other snowflakes. When we have a whole set of books to present, booksellers and media and librarians sit up and say, ‘all this is worth paying attention to!’ With just a single snowflake, it is difficult to get the same reaction (unless it is a snowflake by Chris Ware).
Expanding on that, publishing seasons exist to solve the problem that years are very long and that months are very short.
A year is a really long period of time. There are twelve whole months in it! I mean, I could sit here today and talk to you about every single book that’s coming out from First Second in 2013 (all of which I have successfully read, thank you), but it’s December right now. Probably I should not have been waiting to confirm that we did receive our final art on those last fall titles to talk to you about our book coming out in January.
The solution? Divide the year up into more manageable parts where we can make sure to have the data on all the books in each part available at the same time.
A month seems like a reasonable part, but. There are some months that tend not to have a heavy publication schedule — like January. It doesn’t so much make sense as a company to be like, ‘okay, we have to put together a catalog and have strategy to get these books out to retailers, every month!’ and go from sixty-five books in September (where they would actually make a decent catalog) to fifteen in January (where not so much). (Numbers from our parent company’s publishing schedule for 2013.)
Because of the month-by-month variation in publishing schedules (which means: things like weather, holidays, school schedules, etc. affect how many books people are buying in a particular month, which means that publishers adjust their publishing schedules accordingly), it makes more sense for publishers to divide their publishing into seasons so that they are able to equally promote each balanced season.
A lot of this has to do with the way that books are sold to bookstores and distributors, too. Though our parent company can afford to have a sales rep who is around all the time to deal with B&N, with our field reps, who travel around the country to visit all the stores they sell to, it’s a different story. Imagine being the guy who covers Kansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Montana, and Arkansas — and then one month later, has to get on the road to visit all those stores again. I think that my head would explode (or more likely, I’d accidentally wreck the car).
In conclusion: seasons = us dividing the year into manageable chunks so that we can market and sell our books effectively as a unit as well as individually.