Posted in Self-publishing, Writing

Why I Publish Books on Special Days

A post about how I choose launch dates for my novels plus a quick survey of other authors’ preferences

While I don’t consider myself to be superstitious, I’ve got into the habit of publishing each new book on a date that is personally significant to me.

Choice of publishing date is a luxury that only independent authors can enjoy:

We call the shots ourselves, rather than being dependent on the huge engines of trade publishing companies, which typically take a year or more to launch a book from the date the author delivers the final manuscript.

My first novel, Best Murder in Show, was launched on 1st April, 2017 – not because I was staging it as a practical joke for April Fool’s Day, but because it happens to be the birthday of my good friend and mentor, Orna Ross, author, poet, and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, for which I’m the UK Ambassador.

Orna Ross, Debbie Young and Katie Fforde
Having fun with Orna Ross and Katie Fforde at the first Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival in 2015 (Photo by Clint Randall)

For my most recent novel, Murder Lost and Found,  I chose my daughter Laura’s 18th birthday. Not only was it of course Laura’s majority, but the novel marked a kind of coming of age for Sophie Sayers too, marking the end of her first year in her adopted village of Wendlebury Barrow and a new confidence and assurance for Sophie that has been developing throughout the series.

horizontal array of seven books in series

However, Murder Lost and Found won’t be the last you will hear of Sophie Sayers: I’m planning an eighth adventure for her, A Fling with Murder, for next year, and further spin-offs in my Tales from Wendlebury Barrow series of novelettes.

Which Dates Do Other Indie Authors Choose?

Being able to publish on dates that are important to me gives me great satisfaction – the icing on the cake of completing a project – but I wondered whether this habit was just personal whimsy or common practice. When I asked some author friends, I was gratified to find I’m not alone in my approach, as these examples show:

Historical novelist Clare Flynn, on her latest novel, Sisters at War, set in Liverpool during the Second World War:

“I chose May 1st 2021 to launch Sisters at War as it was the 80th anniversary of the terrible May Blitz on Liverpool in 1941.” 

(Find out more about that tragic event here:

Alison Morton, who writes alternative history and thrillers, decided to make her Roma Nova short story collection a gift to herself:

“This was the first time I’d dared to put together a collection of short stories, so I thought it would be fun to give birth to it on my own birthday on 19th October. The stories supplement, precede or follow the stories in the core Roma Nova novels – little episodes of their own. It was delightful to wake up to a mix of “Happy publication day” and “Happy birthday” greetings. I drank bubbly that evening in double celebration.”

Other author friends have published to honour family members – for example, Pauline Baird Jones will launch Cosmic Boom on her late mother’s birthday, 20th July, and Kristina Adams published her non-fiction book, Writing Myths, on her grandmother’s birthday the year she passed away.

Tom Evans has a very appropriate strategy for Soulwaves : A Future History and Soulwaves: Insertions, both of which feature the Moon almost as a character:

“I published on the first new moon of the year, this year and last, and then followed up with snippets of ancillary, augmenting content every subsequent new and full moon. My choice of date may have no significance, but it keeps me aiming at something – with a reminder in the sky when not cloudy!”

Cover of Leaning into the AbyssAmie McCracken had a very specific reason for fixing the launch date for her latest novella, which is set in the USA and Mexico:

“I chose the Day of the Dead for Leaning Into the Abyss because it features as the day my protagonist finally figures out her life! (And it’s a story about grieving for a lost loved one.)”

cover of Five Leaf Clover by Mark HaydenMark Hayden had a more pragmatic approach for the ninth in his King’s Watch fantasy series:

“Some indie authors are a lot more casual about publication. I adhere to the belief that the best day to publish a book is yesterday, and I put them out as soon as they’re ready. However, even I admit that I rushed out the ebook of Five Leaf Clover a good week ahead of the paperback because the UK bank holiday weekend was coming up and I wanted to give my readers an incentive to buy it. I also admit that my wife did once tell me that under no circumstances could I publish a book on her birthday. I know my priorities.”

Which Book Will I Publish Next?

So when will I be publishing my next book and what will it be?

  • Mrs Morris Changes Lanes, a new standalone novella – fingers crossed for 1st August (my maternal grandmother’s birthday)
  • Scandal at St Bride’s, the third St Bride’s School novel – before the end of the 2021 (exact date yet to be decided)

I’m also writing May Sayers Comes Home, a novella about Sophie Sayers’ aunt; a travel memoir, Travels with my Camper Van, and planning new additions to the Tales from Wendlebury Barrow series of novelettes.

So I’d better get off my blog now and get writing!

cover of Murder Lost and Found



Order the ebook from a choice of retailers here.

Order the paperback online here.

Or ask your local high street bookseller to order it for you, quoting ISBN 978 1911223719.

Posted in Self-publishing, Writing

Romancing the Romantic Novelists

Selfie of Debbie Young and Katie Fforde
Selfie with RNA President Katie Fforde

A post about my recent talk at the Romantic Novelists’ Association annual conference.

A couple of weekends ago, I had what you might call a novel experience: I went to give a talk to the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

How It Came About

The invitation arose from a chance meeting last autumn with the lovely Katie Fforde, the bestselling romantic novelist who happens to live not far from me. As local authors, we were both invited to join a discussion panel, broadcast last autumn from the Green Room of the Cheltenham Literature Festival by BBC Radio Gloucestershire. (You can listen to the broadcast here, if you like.)

BBC Radio Gloucestershire panel guests with DJ
Cheltenham Festival broadcast with Katie

With oodles of hugely popular titles to her credit, Katie is the current President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. The panel’s wide-ranging conversation touched on the subject of self-publishing, for which I’m an enthusiastic advocate. Afterwards Katie suggested I speak at the RNA’s annual conference to give them the low-down on what self-publishing has to offer romantic novelists and to explain how the Alliance of Independent Authors, of which I’m a member, could offer them.

Fast forward to 13th July, and there I was, addressing the RNA’s members in a lecture theatre that took me back to my university days.

Great Setting

Debbie Young speaking at the front of the lecture theatre
Caught in mid-flow by my friend the alternative history thriller writer Alison Morton

The setting was no ordinary university (not that I’d call my alma mater, the University of York, ordinary), but Harper Adams University.

Harper Adams is an agricultural college in rural Shropshire, complete with its own farm, in a pretty mock-Tudor complex not far from Newtown, a beguiling small market town with at least two bookshops. (Note to self: must take a trip there in our camper van one day.)

So far, so romantic, you might think – until I checked out the lunch menu and discovered that we were eating the animals raised by the farm. I dare not confess to my vegetarian daughter that the catering, by the way, was excellent.

Fun Talk

Selfie of Debbie Young with Alison Morton
I enjoyed Alison Morton’s talk about writing alternative history

My brief was to speak to the title “You Need Never Walk Alone”, identifying the misnomer that is the world of self-publishing: a more caring, sharing community than I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with before. My speech explained to them that the “self” in self-publishing was misplaced, because these days, any indie author worth reading employs professional-level tactics to ensure their books are the best they can be, from having their covers designed by a specialist to engaging editors and proofreaders on a par with those used by traditional publishing houses (very often the same people, in fact, operating as freelances).

I was unsure what to expect when I agreed to speak. Would the room be filled with women of a certain age in floral frocks? Would they lob rotten tomatoes at me for daring to speak of authors acting as their own publishers?

Selfie with Talli Roland and Joanne Phillips
With bestselling romantic novelists Talli Roland and Joanne Phillips

I’m pleased to report I was warmly welcomed and quickly made to feel at home, and that my talk was well received by all who attended. Self-publishing certainly offers many opportunities even for those who are comfortably ensconced with trade publishers, such as the chance to revive their out-of-print backlist and earn a much greater royalty than previously. (I was all wrong about the floral frocks too, by the way – not least because there were quite a few male writers in attendance.)

Welcoming Atmosphere

I also discovered a very sharing bunch of writers, enjoying the stimulus of each other’s company and of an impressively varied programme, covering everything from writing craft to yoga for writers (boy, I could do with some of that!)

RNA conference goody bag
Oh goody, a conference!

Summing up for me the generous spirit of the group was the nature of the goody bag. Well, don’t we all love conference goody bags? I’d been told in advance by author friends who are members of the RNA that the conference goody bag was not to be missed, and they were right. Not only did the bag itself look very pretty, sporting the RNA’s attractive log and smart strapline “Love Writing”, it was filled with all sorts of, er, goodies:

  • a fine collection of brand new paperbacks
  • practical items such as a manilla folder and an A4 notepad
  • sustaining treats in biscuit form
  • some super correspondence cards on the theme of romantic novels
  • some slick promotional freebies for specific novels: a smartly packaged teabag promising “the perfect cup of tea” to promote the novel Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons, a gorgeous metal bookmark attached to a bookmark for Victoria Howard’s Ring of Lies; a foil-wrapped chocolate coin promoting another book and a bag of chocolate buttons stapled to a business card (sorry, my daughter’s eaten the evidence for both of those)

Great Souvenirs

Bookmark shaped like a fan
Fabulous bookmark is enough to make me a fan of Christina Courtenay

My favourites were, by chance, two items promoting books by the RNA’s current chairman, Christina Courtenay: a tiny bookmark in the shape of a fan (book title: The Gilded Fan), which was actively useful on that very hot weekend, and an ingenious dolls’-house sized crystal ball (in fact a glass marble stuck to a silver ring), as featured on the cover of The Secret Kiss of Darkness.The latter now has pride of place in my daughter’s dolls’ house.


Promotional card showing cover of novel with tiny crystal ball attached
So simple, yet so clever – Christina Courtenay’s crystal ball made from a marble (top left)

I may only have been at the conference for the last day (it ran Friday to Sunday), but I enjoyed it so much that I’m rather hoping I’ll be invited back next year. It was almost enough to make me want to write a romantic novel – something that hadn’t as yet been on my to-do list. But, as my author friend Orna Ross said to me the other day, “Never say never.” And if I ever do, it won’t just be because of the goody bag, honest.

For more information about the RNA, which welcomes aspiring writers as well as already-published authors, visit their website: 

Or follow them on Twitter at @RNATweets.

NB The RNA doesn’t yet admit self-published authors other than as associate members, but they’re actively reviewing that situation, which is greatly to their credit.