The New York Times has an article about this fall's book season. The author, Julie Bosman, says: "Since the fall months see higher sales in stores and online, publishers purposely release big books during this season to maximize attention and sales." The higher sales are due to the holidays, by the way. Bosman also says, "For companies that choose fall publication dates, it means taking a risk that a book that might snatch a best-seller list spot in a quieter month will be muscled off by an even bigger book." Over the last decade I've heard a couple of different times about a publisher that didn't choose a fall publication date for a particular book for that very reason.
All this is enlightening for me because while I was reading the Sept./Oct. issue of The Horn Book (You hoped I was through talking about that, didn't you?), I couldn't help but notice that The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party", Sold, and The Rules of Survival were all reviewed. They all happen to be National Book Award nominees. They were all published in September. American Born Chinese, the fourth nominee, was also published in September. The fifth, Keturah and Lord Death, won't be published until November. (To be eligible for this year's award, books must be published betwen December 1, 2005 and November 30, 2006. Proofs and bound galleys are acceptable. See Entry Rules & Guidelines, below.)
Big books from the fall season?
According to the Entry Rules & Guidelines books are submitted by their publishers. There is a $125 entry fee. Publishers also have to agree "To contribute $1,000 toward a promotion campaign if the book becomes a shortlisted Finalist."
So, yeah, I can see where a publisher would want to submit its "big books," which often happen to be published in the fall to take advantage of the holiday shopping season.
ArtsJournal.com provided The New York Times link.