If you don’t have the time or aren’t prepared to promote your book this holiday season, don’t worry. There are plenty of great (maybe better!) opportunities for book sales throughout the year.
Can you hear those sleigh bells? The holidays are coming up fast, but I still have a few more ideas for you to try to wring out some yuletide sales — plus some encouragement for you to look beyond the holidays.
Step 10: Get tribal
You are one of dozens — maybe hundreds — of authors in your local area trying to sell books as holiday gifts. This is the time to reach out and get creative. You can find these local authors through social media or local authors’ groups.
Why? First, you need to recognize you’re not in competition with every author. Yes, you’re all trying to sell books now, but I don’t know any reader who only reads books from one single author. Your book is going to attract its own unique audience, and joining forces with others in your situation can be a true win-win.
Join online groups, go to writer events, or join local author groups. Networking with other, similar authors is not just good business, it can help you brainstorm new ideas. Plus, you’ll get a chance to see what others are doing that is working (and not working) and expand your knowledge about book marketing and promotion.
You might find authors who will partner with you to promote your respective books with a special e-message to your lists, giving each of you added exposure. You both get to market to completely new fan bases and give readers lots of options for holiday gifts. Be sure to include a “gift guide” so readers know exactly who on their shopping list would love each book!
A longer term, even more ambitious idea would be to create a book series with another author. It’s a massive undertaking, but combining your talents — and reader base — with others promoting the same series can be a great way to generate buzz and sales.
A few years ago, seven romance authors joined forces to create the seven-book series, Return to Christmas Falls. Their shared vision was to provide a sweet holiday romance series where readers could spend time with the same characters throughout seven full-length novels. Since the books were released simultaneously, readers didn’t have to wait to find out what happened next. This sort of cross-promotion effort provides a great way for each author to gain exposure to new readers.
Step 11: Try something new
Some of the most successful BookBaby authors are the ones who truly get creative. Everybody needs last minute gifts — and that could be your book.
Try these on for size…
- Bundle your book. Combine your book with something else so the book is one part of a gift bundle. This works well if it’s a printed softcover book to keep costs low. Perhaps add a pair of tickets to a national movie chain or restaurant. If it’s a children’s book, how about a stuffed animal? If it’s a book on how to write better or how to get published, what about including a nice pen or notebook? Let your imagination run wild.
- Put your book in someone else’s package. Perhaps you know a local vendor who offers gift baskets that would include your book in their holiday packages. Local florists or gift retailers might be the best targets.
- Wrap it up. Offer free gift-wrapping for any books sold from your website. Offer to sign your book and provide a personal message to the gift recipient.
- Give and receive. Link up with your favorite charity and give a portion of your proceeds for every book sold. If the charity is local and your donation percentage is big enough, ask if they will promote it to their list. You can announce the news via an online news release, your website, and social media. Your book genre or topic might lend itself to some natural tie-ins. For example, women’s fiction books could support a local women’s shelter; YA writers can promote a teen center; writers with animal-themed stories can back the local pet rescue; those writing about war may want to support local veterans. One of my favorite causes is to promote literacy and every book can have a tie-in. Offer a copy of your book, and a reading if applicable, to your local library, and blog about it. Partnering with a charity sells books, but it also fuels the holiday spirit of everyone you touch and can draw even more positive attention for your favorite cause, something that will make you feel great all season long (and isn’t that what the holiday season really IS all about?).
- Have a murderously good holiday. By now you’re filled with the holiday spirit and motivated to sell. But what if you only sell dark romances or bloody detective novels? You can use this time of year to promote those “dark” alternatives to the cheer of the season. Some people aren’t in the mood for Rudolph and want something different. You’ll want to appeal to those people in your Twitter feed, Facebook page, and other promotions for these books. Emphasize the dark side of Christmas: the long nights and the cold days. To be sure, it’s a smaller audience than those who want holly and mistletoe, but it’s one that shouldn’t be ignored.
- Give unto others. Why not give your book to someone you think will enjoy it as a Christmas present? Who knows, they may tell a friend or two how great it is and encourage their friends to support you by buying a copy for themselves. People who love your book may also think it’s a great gift for their family and friends.
Step 12: Get ready for next year
On the twelfth day of Christmas… well it’s not a holiday tip at all. This is about planning for the future and how the holidays are not always the best time to be promoting your book.
The days before and after Christmas are slow news days, and those who are left running the paper or website will be more likely to give your book a plug if you can tie it into the season. Send out a news release about your book, and if you can tie it into local interest, the season, or tips for holiday shoppers, it might catch the local media’s attention.
I use the time between holidays to plan out the next year for my work, home life, and writing. I encourage authors to start their book marketing efforts for the new year by investing time into looking for publicity opportunities. Here are some great sources:
- Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Sign up for HARO‘s three-times-a-day free newsletter. Check it over for publicity opportunities that are right for you and your book. Even if it’s not holiday-related, if the online or print newspaper article quoting you or mentioning your book is published before the holidays, the added publicity might help inspire more holiday book sales. But you need to jump when the opportunity presents itself. Competition in every HARO media inquiry is fierce. Dozens of pitches are usually received for each media request, so this is a long shot, but it could still be worth a try if you’re quoted.
- Pitchrate. You can pitch your book to bloggers and media looking for books to feature for the holidays through pitchrate.com. Sign up for the free newsletter and you’ll get a daily email of the new media requests about interview opportunities as well as requests for books to be sent for holiday roundups that are still being finalized by bloggers, newspapers, and other media. Once you sign up, you can also go to the website and do a search of your own.
- There are plenty of others including Sourcebottle, Profnet, and JustReachOut.
These sources may not lead to sales right away, but can make a difference if you start planning your promotional activities for next year right now. Being proactive rather than reactive is sure to pay off.
It’s not all about the holidays
Make a list of all the events you’d like to participate in throughout 2022. Start gathering contact information for the event organizers. Now is the time to secure a table at the big book fair in town and any other events you think will be good places to showcase your book. Many of the more popular events actually start booking a year in advance, so get your place in line.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece for the BookBaby Blog where I quizzed readers: What’s the biggest selling season for books? Most people will say “Christmas,” and sure, the holiday season is important for every retailer, including book merchants.
But self-published authors need to think beyond snowflakes and Santa. There are many other great times to market and sell books. The summertime reading season is the top selling season for books — in recent years, $3.5 billion in sales are made every summer, according to industry sources. That compares with about $2.9 billion spent for holiday gift giving. And as I’ve pointed out in a recent blog post, strong book sales in the first half of 2021 set the stage for what should be a great holiday season and the trend will hopefully continue into 2022.
It’s A Good Time To Be A Published Author
Harness Social Media To Sell Books
Test Marketing Your Book Can Help You Avoid Costly Mistakes
Summer Readers Are A Key Market For Booksellers (And Self-Published Authors)
Your Publishing Timeline For Holiday Book Sales