If you're a self-publisher and you like selling your work, there's one date in particular you need to circle on your calendar: January 1st. The start of the peak ebook buying season.
Technically, the first isn't such a good day--readers can be hungover from the previous evening's festivities. But the first Monday or Tuesday following the first... that's the magic day. The day when your sales start to go up... assuming a few things...
First off, you need to have a new release within a few weeks of January 1. That way when people browse Kindle's offerings, they see you. Kindle? Well, of course Kindle. Yes, there are lots of other epublishers, but in the same way that there are other burger joints but McDonald's is the biggest, Amazon has fairly well cornered the ebook market.
Why ebooks, you ask... Well, while it's true shoppers may pick up a hardback book or paperback here and there for that someone special for Christmas, they are likely going to buy those dead trees in a bookstore or major retailer. If you've got your book there, you needn't worry about what time of year it is. If you're like the rest of us, ebooks are your main revenue stream and Amazon always manages some super deal before Christmas to entice shoppers to try out the Kindle platform. That means that starting December 26th, many new folks will begin their journey through the Kindle store.
It's important to remember that those gifted with Kindles in honor of Jesus won't immediately begin buying everything they can find. At first it will be a slow, steady perusal of Kindle's offerings. But once bitten by the ebook bug, they'll begin purchasing more and more. January's sales are eclipsed by February's and then February's are eclipsed by March. Assuming you keep releasing new content. You have to stay on those new release pages. Even if it means putting out short stories. SOMETHING to bring your name (and catalog) to the tippy top of the millions of books in Amazon's online store.
January through March aren't just big because of Christmas. They're also big because here in the Northern Hemisphere, people are closed up in their homes for Winter. They can't go outside and enjoy the weather. Yes, new TV shows start returning in January, but some folks like reading. This also explains the dreaded decline in sales that starts in April--when the weather begins to change.
Spring is when people want to get out and enjoy the warmth. They might take a book with them, but the biggest complaint about ebooks is that they're hard to read outside (not everyone has tried a Paperwhite for some reason). And since Spring Break is so short, you probably won't see that many sales then anyways.
If you attract readers in Summer, you may see a spike in sales. I'm told the Big Five like to release new books in summer, taking advantage of people who have now grown numb to the weather and are reader to sit around with their noses buried in stories.
Fall isn't so great for sales either. With kids returning to school, they, and their harried parents, may not have as much time to read. Plus, favorite TV shows are returning, or just starting, after a summer of reruns.
What does this all mean for the Indie? It means you need to plan your releases carefully. If you can't churn out new content year round, you may want to create a release schedule so you have content in the months of January, February and March. That doesn't mean putting all your eggs in that one basket. If, for example, you have an epic Zombie vs. Princess novel, put that sucker out for Halloween, when it's most likely to garner some attention. Similarly, a tale of a vengeful Santa, back from the grave and eager to drive ISIS out of his native Turkey (he's from Myra, FYI), is probably best released in the build up to Christmas.
No, what I'm talking about isn't sitting on a completed project--querying will do that for you. No, I mean you should figure out how long it takes you to complete a project, then count backwards from January. Mark your calendar, get whatever chores, trips or whatevers out of the way, then sit down and hammer out some gold--or shiny tin, at least. Be ready for the peak e-Book season. Do not wait until November to start looking for something to write about. By November, you should be hip deep in your story, have reviewed cover choices and have some proofreaders lined up.
Do not let the January season pass you by. Take it from me, January to March has always been my best time of year.