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Traveling in Books: Street Date

What’s a Street Date?

by M Carroll

An area of confusion for many authors surrounds the publication date of their book. After receiving their first box of beautifully bound books, authors often ask, “Is it released now?” and hear, “No. The street date is a long way off.”

What’s does “street date” mean?

A street date is the date a book is for sale and delivered to the reader.

It is the date that books that have been pre-ordered will make it through the distribution stream to the end retailer.

It is when your book says, “Hello, world!”

Before then your book is just a beautiful gift you distribute widely to prospective reviewers.

Retailers may receive a book prior to the street date in order to prep for display. Pre-order boxes come marked with a “do not sell before release date” label designating the book’s street date. Shipments might arrive up to three weeks in advance. Retail outlets can be penalized for unauthorized distribution of a book before the street date. Called, “breaking street” – it is not cool.

The aim of publishers and authors is to provide bookstores with copies about 10 days to two weeks before the book’s publication — or street, or release — date. Too early placement causes problems. For example, placement in bookstores too far in advance could lead to returns if they don’t sell the books within their window, often as little as six to 10 weeks.

Publish Six Months Out

The street date is when your book should receive its major publicity push, including advertising and distribution to bookstores. If you want to do a release event at a bookstore or library, those venues often require booking six months to 2 years in advance. If you want publicity in national magazines and online zines, you’ll have to set a publication date that is at least six months from the time you send them review copies.

Setting your street date six months ahead doesn’t mean you can’t do local author events, sell through local bookstores, or do direct mail campaigns to targeted folks beforehand. It is good to build buzz months before the book arrives. It increases anticipation, you know?

Your street date is like a birthday for your book. It is a marker in time. In fact, a clock does start ticking when Amazon posts the publication date of your book, and you cannot go back.

Use this publication date as a focal point for all your marketing efforts to give your book a good launch. Then, after that, ignore the publication date and continue to promote it for years to come. Books that become bestsellers do so primarily because of on-going promotional efforts from their authors and publishers and good word of mouth. And many achieve this status years after the publication date.

Keep scratchin’!

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso