Should I Time My Novel’s Release to a Past Event?

Novelists often ask me about timing their stories to the anniversary of a significant historical event. As with most questions, no definitive right or wrong answer exists. Here are a few thoughts.

Does the event capture the public’s imagination?

Since most Americans make yearly plans for the July 4th holiday, that event can offer perennial plots for novelists. But to time a novel to celebrate the 250th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence in 2026? The novelist would be well advised to start writing now and be confident of a publisher’s support that the public will be excited enough about this milestone anniversary for the novel to succeed. In my view, a better idea would be to write the book and have your agent pitch it. Then the publisher can decide if the novel needs a 2026 release date to maximize sales.

Would the story be impressive even without being tied to an anniversary?

This site lists several notable events that took place in July: History Extra.

In the first example, Henry VIII married Catherine Howard on July 28, 1540, as Thomas Cromwell was beheaded. An author writing to bring these events to life can be successful without waiting for the 500th anniversary of these events to occur in 2040.

We also learn that the bikini first arrived in July 1946. While that item could be of passing interest to fashionistas, building a powerful novel around this factoid may not be impossible but would prove a struggle for most authors.

Is my novel compelling?

The story itself needs to be strong enough not to rely on an anniversary to sell books. A compelling tale is worth reading regardless of its release date. Rather than timing to an anniversary, write your best novel that makes your heart race, that likewise will capture the hearts and minds of your readers.

8 Responses to Should I Time My Novel’s Release to a Past Event?

  1. Denise July 1, 2021 at 6:09 am #

    I was thinking that the historical event would make for an excellent opportunity to begin a new marketing campaign to boost sales. Am I correct?

  2. Tamela Hancock Murray July 1, 2021 at 6:30 am #

    If that makes sense, sure, why not!

  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser July 1, 2021 at 6:57 am #

    Tamela, if I can borrow the mic, I’d like to thank those who have held me in prayer the last few days.

    The prayers were needed, because yesterday, when Barb stopped home for lunch, she did not think she’d see me in this world again. Temperature well past 104, and an almost complete inability to breathe past a ‘block’ in my chest. This had been going on since Saturday, and it reached a crisis point. Barb has worked as a nurse, and she can read the signs of death.

    And then everything changed, and when she came home at 6 I was sitting on the edge of the bed, fever broken, breathing normally.

    I don’t know what it was, or why the reprieve, especially since two wonderful people from Barb’s church are now fighting for their lives against COVID.

    But I am grateful, for God’s mysterious mercies, and for your prayers.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 1, 2021 at 10:07 am #

      Thank you for sharing, Andrew. I’m so glad that the Lord saw fit to take you past this scary incident. We’ll keep praying.

  4. Kristen Joy Wilks July 1, 2021 at 1:46 pm #

    Yes, I could see getting lost worrying about trying to get the book ready for such an anniversary and not taking the time that the books needs or making it so compelling that it doesn’t need an anniversary at all. Such a thing should be frosting, right? Concentrate on making a great cake and if there is frosting, all the better!

  5. Denise July 2, 2021 at 9:10 am #

    Very glad to hear that you are better, Andrew. Your poetry always blesses me when I read your comments. The Lord continue to bless you and keep you and give you his peace.

  6. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. July 7, 2021 at 2:58 pm #

    Just imagine writing a story on America’s birthday and having to wait until the 300th anniversary to get it published!

  7. Carol R Nicolet Loewen July 13, 2021 at 7:35 pm #

    Makes sense, Tamela. Write the story, make it strong but take the time to do the best you can on it rather than focusing on a specific release date – unless that happens to coincide with your marketing plan. Thanks!

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