Reader Question: I've enjoyed your book 1,001 Ways to Market Your Books, immensely. However, I'm a photographer and would like to self-publish a fine art calendar. I'm having difficulty finding the best route to go. Would I also hire distributors to get my product into bookstores? I plan to market the calendar primarily at art festivals, but I'm looking for other distribution channels. Any thoughts.
John's Answer: I rarely encourage anyone to self-publish a calendar. Calendar publishing is a high-risk proposition if you are marketing to the retail trade. Calendars are dead in December and are returned heavily very soon after that.
Calendars for the retail market must be ready by May/June of the prior year. Must be distributed over the summer. Die in December. Buried in January -- buried in your warehouse as they are returned.
That doesn't mean you can't sell a calendar via your website and art festivals. But note that calendars, because they are full-color, are also expensive to print. To find appropriate printers, check out some of the magazine/catalog printers who would probably also be competitive in printing a calendar: http://www.bookmarket.com/catprint.htm.
I would suggest you consider selling the rights to a good calendar publisher like Ronnie Sellers Productions out of Maine. I think they would like your work.