When it’s time to really get your holiday book marketing and sales going, steps 7-9 in our holiday book sales guide can help you get the word out during the prime gift-shopping season.
As the holidays approach, you’ll be competing with so much marketing – TV ads, radio blitzes, triple the amount of emails landing in your in-box – but there are still plenty of opportunities to have your voice heard and your message received. As a self-published author you just have to think a little differently and take advantage of a few tried-and-true book selling tactics.
#7: Use social media
On the seventh day of selling, it’s time to utilize social media. Just so we’re on the same page, let’s review: Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. It’s comprised of different channels like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and others that seem to pop up daily.
Each platform works in different ways to connect people, and each caters to its own unique audience that can be matched to the type of book you’ve written. Facebook is a great relationship and website-hits builder, Twitter reaches new readers if you follow people regularly, Instagram and Pinterest are good for brand building, and Goodreads can build community (if you have time to invest in it).
Of course, these popularity-driven systems can change almost daily. What works today might not work tomorrow given the fast-paced tech environment. Despite these hazards, social media can be an incredibly effective way to get the word out about you, your books, and all your literary pursuits, and the holidays are a perfect time to put that plan into action. But remember this one tip: Don’t take on more than you can handle. If that means just having one social media profile, then that’s what you should do. I advise authors new to social media to pick one social media platform, conquer it, and then select another network. Find time to learn about one or two platforms your readers use and start posting information.
Many of us feel the strain of social media overload, especially during December, but studies show that all the effort is worth it. Your readers are on social media: recent Pew Research shows 74% of Internet users are active social media users. If you aren’t promoting on social media, you are missing potential opportunities.
Chances are your audience will be on social media during the holidays, often taking part in several social activities when they shop online. They review products, look for gift ideas on Pinterest, seek product referrals from friends, and more.
Writing content that attracts readers to your blog is a strategy for selling books all year round. During the holidays, readers will be attracted by content related to the season. Book advertising and social media should seek to enlighten and entertain first, sell second. Write several tweets about the holidays and then work in a link to the book-sale page.
How can you best use social media?
- Focus. Focus your holiday efforts by identifying your ideal reader – and gift buyer. What’s your demographic? Who are they? What do they read? Age? Income? Write it all out.
- Sell, but don’t be salesy. I see a lot of authors jump into Twitter and immediately start pushing their book. They haven’t earned the right to market their products, and all they do is turn people off. Here’s a better way to attract readers: Write out five or so keywords that connect your book with topics you are interested in or passionate about. Blend the two and it will help you connect and interact with those readers.
- Give and you’ll receive. Share, retweet, and give back to the community in ways that you enjoy. Find a blog post you love? Share it. Ask questions (people love to give opinions and talk about themselves), share quotes or visuals. Be interesting! Tag people you talk about in your posts. It helps people to discover your posts. But do so wisely. I’ve heard of authors who are sometimes pressured into sharing something they aren’t comfortable with. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
- Be consistent. This is important during the holidays: Tweet, share, or pin a few times daily. Consistency in your activity helps your overall social media presence, and that will help your SEO ranking on Google.
- Make it easy to find you. Be sure to have all your social media icons in a prominent place on your website and linked (typically, top right).
- Follow trends and use hashtags. Spend some time studying up on the best way to use keywords and hashtags and how they can work with social media trends. You might find trends like #HolidayMystery if you’ve written a murder mystery, whether or not it relates to a holiday. Or it might be a newsworthy event if your book is nonfiction. Trending topics on Twitter can be a great way to push your message out to a new audience and gather more book sales.
- Build relationships. Social media is all about building relationships, and people will be more likely to purchase your work if they like you — humans are funny that way.
Social media is one small part of your author platform. It’s a great way of driving awareness of books, and a must for a comprehensive marketing plan, but if that’s all you’re using to sell your books, you probably won’t sell much. Social media needs to be one part of a coordinated sales platform.
#8: Use email marketing
On the eighth day of selling, remember the very best sales medium of the digital age: email.
In 2014, McKinsey Consulting released a surprising study that found email is 40 times better than all social media combined at acquiring customers. While social media may be good at driving awareness, email is superior at driving sales. This is a cornerstone marketing truth that applies beyond the holiday season. Consider shifting your focus to building a bigger email list and developing effective email campaigns on a regular basis.
Email marketing becomes more effective during the holidays because shoppers are looking for deals in their inbox. Smart retailers know this and use email as a primary marketing channel during the holidays.
The bottom line: consumers expect to receive more email during the Holidays and they use email to make purchase decisions. Here’s your game plan:
- Increase frequency. Don’t be afraid to send more emails over the holiday. If you currently send one email a month, you can safely send two emails a month in November and December.
- It’s all about your book. Focus your emails on your products (your books!). Readers are looking for ideas on what to buy and now is the time to put your books front and center.
- Expand your reach. If you have the budget, use book promotion services that leverage email marketing. BookBub is the gold standard of these services, though it is difficult to gain placement. There are others including BookLemur, Freebooksy, Bargain Booksy, and many others that capitalize on customers’ receptiveness to emails.
- Get your timing right. Shoppers wait until the last-minute: they’re busy, and they also know the best deals often happen in the days leading up to Christmas. Market most to your current buyers. It’s always easier to sell more books to current readers who know and appreciate your books. If you have multiple books, or a new book – you’ll most definitely want to let them know via your mailing list.
Here are a few other email musts to consider
Never buy lists. If a list is for sale, it is most certainly not going to be good quality. The most active and engaged subscribers will be the ones who personally opt in to your emails. Prioritize your time and money on acquiring readers who care.
Never send to people who haven’t given you permission. Sending emails to people who haven’t opted in to your list is a sure-fire way to get flagged as spam and generate complaints. Most email service providers have systems built in that record the number of complaints a sender gets and if the percentage is too high, they will disable your account.
#9: Make a deal
On the ninth day of selling, let’s explore some tried-and-true book marketing tactics. There’s a reason why they’re familiar: they work! Pick something that suits your fancy and push your books out.
- Holiday bundle. Buyers love packages, and book buyers are no different. Less shopping, more gifts, right? Create fun packages including your paperback, such as:
- Holiday discounts. With so many gift options available, it’s a good idea for new, relatively unknown authors to offer some inexpensive choices so readers can get to know you. Pushing your eBook price down to $.99 for a limited time is an established winner (your opportunities will be more limited for print-on-demand titles). You don’t have to discount your entire catalog: by offering one or more discounted options, you don’t have to discount your latest, or even your best-selling books. Although discounting existing books can be a great strategy, a lot of authors we know think it has an adverse impact on their year-round sales.
- Post-holiday sale. Capture the attention of last-minute buyers with special-themed sales and pricing. You can also think beyond the holiday and lower the price of your eBooks right after Christmas to catch all those readers who got a new eReader.
- Copycat the retailers. Consider what key retailers offer their customers this time of year: gift certificates, buy-one get-one offers, loyalty or point programs, and special shopping days for loyalty or point members. Free shipping is always a winner for printed books.
– Discounts for buying multiple copies (2 for $15, 4 for $20)
– Bundling multiple books together (2-for-1, 3-for-2)
– Buy one, share one (one book for you, one for a friend!)
Read Part 1: How to Get Holiday Book Sales: Steps 1-3
Read Part 2: Holiday Book Sales: Steps 4-6
Holiday Book Sales: Steps 4-6
How to Get Holiday Book Sales: Steps 1-3
Six Social Media Marketing Tips For First-Time Authors
Social Media For Authors
Book Discovery Sites Can Help You Find More Readers