All books have a launch date. But you could also have multiple launch dates with several book formats!

I thought I was an anomaly when launched my second book in two waves: ebook on August 1, 2022, and paperback + audio on November 1, 2022 (World Vegan Day).

I blogged that year that because I launched both my ebook and paperback files simultaneously on Lulu and thought I approved only ebook distribution on August 1, both went live online. Oops!

But I wasn’t completely wrong. To publish an audiobook on Audible, you must have it up on Amazon first. It was actually a miracle that my audiobook went up the morning I announced my paperback was available on November 1, because you don’t have control over your audiobook’s go live date.

I’ve been listening to Lulu’s podcast, Publish & Prosper, and they put out a great episode titled “Marketing Your Book Pre-Launch, At-Launch, and Post-Launch.” Here’s that episode on YouTube:

How and why to stagger your book formats

Podcast hosts Matt Briel and Lauren Vassallo talk at length about the importance of pre-launch marketing. Which means, yes, you must set a launch date. If you wait until your book is out before you start marketing, it may take more time for people to buy, and media/podcasts you pitch to won’t publish until after that date. So you must talk about your book before it comes out.

And after! Your post-launch period can be as long as a year after book launch, even (in my case) more.

At around the 46:00 mark, Lauren says: “…don’t release all the formats of a book at once. Usually it’ll be a hardcover copy first, and then usually it’s a year after the publication date—unless either the hardcover is selling really poorly, then they [a traditional publisher] might push up the paperback release date, or if it’s selling really well, they might prolong the hardcover edition for an extended period of time, but they usually don’t release the paperback and hardcover at the same time.

Matt chimes in later: “Their model is based on maximizing revenue and sales, and so by putting that hard copy out there first, obviously that’s drawing financially more money in and then releasing the paperback a year later. Sometimes, like you said, six months later depending on [if your] sales are waning off. But for your audience, I would suggest not taking a ‘let’s get every dollar we can’ approach like the traditional publishers do.”

As an author who did not do a hardcover version (more trees don’t need to die for my book), I did not know this. However, it shows that you could follow the traditional model if you’re doing both a hardcover and paperback. Buuuut, I honestly think readers who want paperbacks (which are cheaper) might ask for that format sooner. A year is a LONG time to wait for a paperback.

Lauren continues: “…at the three months, six month mark, release an alternative format, that’s a great way to do it.”

So, if I were to do what I did again, I would have done paperback August 1, ebook November 1, and then audio whenever afterwards.

Staggering your formats defeats the purpose of choosing a holiday as your launch day (like I did with World Vegan Day November 1), BUT if you do it this way, you’ll have up to 6 months between the release of the paperback, ebook, and audio; 9 months if you also do a hardcover, or you can do what Matt suggests and do paperback + hardcover together.

Other great ideas Lauren mentions (paraphrased):

  • special edition with an exclusive cover
  • bonus chapter from another character’s point of view (fiction)
  • news relevant to the information that you’ve provided in the book (nonfiction)
  • additional content based on people asking questions about something in the book or more details

Matt agreed with me: “I would flip that and I would put out, if you’re doing a paperback, I would put the paperback out first, right? And I would gauge response to that paperback edition. If you want to offer a hardcover at the same time, fine. But otherwise I would reserve a hardcover for a special edition, like Lauren was referring to. And I also would not release an ebook until later. And I know I’m going to get a lot of boo and hate for that too, but put that paperback out first, have everybody buy it directly from you, maximize your sales, collect all that customer data you can, and then when you absolutely feel like you have to, release that ebook to all the cheapos out there and get all the freebies that are going to come in and deal with that ebook stuff.”

I am definitely a cheapo who is very picky about the physical books I put on my shelf and therefore I like buying ebooks first ?

Matt continues: “having a long-tail plan six, eight, twelve months out and knowing, okay, I’m going to drop the paperback first. Then I’m going to do ebook, and then I’m going to release hardcover as a limited edition for all the true diehard fans. By the way, anybody’s gonna come back and buy a hardcover from you after they’ve already read the paperback, which people will.”

A year goes by FAST when you launch a book. So if you don’t initially put out a hardcover and want to put out a hardcover edition a year or two later (with the seals of any awards you may have won since), that sounds totally reasonable. So really, you’ve got 3 book launch dates within 6 or fewer months of each other (paperback, ebook, audio), and then potentially a hardcover a year or two later. What a book launch!

Lauren makes an important point about genres: “…as somebody who’s primarily a romance reader, romance tends to be paperback first.” She mentions if it hits The New York Times‘ bestseller list, the publisher will put out a limited edition hardcover version of it.

I learned a lot from this podcast about staggering book formats, and I don’t think I’d ever do a hardcover unless a company sponsored me and it was paying me and wanted that format. I’ve thought of publishing an updated edition of Vegan Marketing Success Stories in the future, but I still think I’d only put out a paperback. Marketing books just don’t seem evergreen enough to me to warrant hardcover!

If you’re an author or aspiring author, definitely add Publish & Prosper to your podcast list. You can also view the transcript of the podcast episode above, here.


Need a book coach, ghostwriter, editor, formatter, or book marketer to help you write or publish your book so you can get it in the hands of readers? Read more about my services here and contact me if you’re ready to begin!

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