Sales of most print books peak in December because paperbacks and hardcovers make for great holiday gifts. Any book that would make a suitable gift tends to see a considerable improvement in sales frequency during December.
Up until Christmas Eve, that is. Then the happiest time of the year for print book sales is followed by the great paperback and hardcover hangover.
People are busy spending time with family, traveling for the holidays, checking out their new presents, and enjoying their vacations to buy books. Besides that, they’re broke from all the holiday shopping they just did. Therefore, few print books sell between December 23 and January 1. Sales may slowly build after that, but probably not like they were in mid-December, except for seasonable books that do well in January, like academic books.
CreateSpace authors are likely to see little activity between December 23 and January 1, and it’s not just from the lack of post-Christmas sales. This has to do with holiday returns.
More sales in December means more returns. It’s even worse since many people who receive gifts return or exchange them, or simply prefer or need the cash instead.
So even if a few books do sell shortly after Christmas, there is a good chance that they will be filled with returned books rather than by printing new ones, in which case no royalty will be reported.
This is a great time to focus on family, spend time writing, and avoid checking your stats for a week or two.
However, there may be good news if you sell e-books. While the sale of most print books drop off in late December, the sale of most e-books are on the rise. The effect is probably not as pronounced as it had been in recent years, but some people did receive new e-readers this holiday season and are looking for e-books. The residual of this effect may last as long as the end of February or so, though the most significant impact will likely be seen just thru January.
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Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers