Holiday Book Marketing Starts Now!

books tied in a holiday bow

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The holidays will be here before you know it, and now is the time for independent authors to start planning and preparing to take advantage of this busy book-selling season.

In the video below, Bookbaby Bookshop manager Joe Yamulla speaks with BookBaby president Jim Foley, on the topic of book sales during the holiday and things independent authors can do to spread the word and take advantage of this massive sales season.

Holiday book sales strategies

Joe Yamulla: The retail industry, and specifically the book retail industry, brings in billions of dollars in book sales every year, and there’s room at the table for every author. What would you say are some early strategies independent authors should consider when trying to take advantage of the holiday season and, specifically, Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Jim Foley: Having an effective marketing plan and making the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales really is the fuel that can make your book a holiday best-seller. We see it every year at BookBaby and that’s something they have in common: they planned a great promotion for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Whether you’re thinking about books or any other industry, the first thing that comes to mind is discounts and promotions — I’m thinking about people lining up outside Walmart at 3:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving. So how can an author use limited-time offers to optimize their holiday book marketing? Well, every Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale has a killer deal, and you can do that too when you sell through BookBaby’s Bookshop. To my knowledge, we are the only book-selling platform for independent authors that gives you the ability to create coupon codes, so if you’re a BookBaby author, you can generate a unique coupon code right from your author account.

Say you want to run a “50 percent off” promotion: justyou set up the coupon code and give it a relevant name, like 50OFFYOURTITLE, or something clever and memorable. Then, target your audience and tell them why your book makes the perfect holiday gift for somebody in their life. Tie it into the holiday, why you should buy this book on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. We’ve talked in the past about how important it is to know your audience, and when it comes to the holiday season, it’s all about packaging your book and positioning it as the perfect gift for someone. You can’t do that without having a strong understanding of who your audience is.

Who is your book going to be sold to?

Joe Yamulla: What are some ways an author can strategize and determine, Who this is going to be sold to? Who is my main target? Especially when a book could have multiple, different groups of people interested in it?

Jim Foley: You sit down with pen and paper and you write out who you think your book’s audience is. Start with the largest, broadest group and brainstorm as many cohorts of people — we call them “buyer personas” — you know will appreciate this book. They’re this kind of profession, they’re this age, they earn this kind of income, they live in this certain area, they’re interested in these certain things, — spell it all out. Then, rank them in the order of size, there’s the most of these kind of people, and then the next biggest group, all the way down the list.

Then, figure out where those people are and how you can get to them. Maybe they’re in this kind of Facebook group, so go there and become a member. And here’s a pro tip that’s amazing for authors to do with a Black Friday sale. Let’s say you and I both write books about sports. You’ve got an audience on social media that love your books, and I have a different audience on social media that love my books. I can create a coupon code, and I can reach out to you and say, “Joe, I love your books. We’re in the same genre, let’s make a deal where you promote my book and my discount deal to your social media audience leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and I’ll do the same thing for you.”

Then I post to my audience, “Hey! Check out Joe Yamulla’s great book about the Philadelphia Phillies and the history of the team. You’re going to love it! And guess what? Joe’s offering you an exclusive deal for Black Friday — you can get 20 percent off his book with the code 20FOLEY!” When you do these kinds of deals, it’s great, because you’re building relationships, you’re collaborating, and it’s an easy way to get yourself and your book in front of a whole new audience who might not know you. It doesn’t cost you anything — except the time it takes to make the connection and execute the promotion.

Increase sales with our extensive distribution 

Create urgency with your holiday book marketing

Joe Yamulla: That’s a great idea, and you could do this not only with different authors but with different businesses — bookstores, other local retailers… there are so many ways you can collaborate and reach new people with other partners.

So let’s say someone has a killer deal and they know their audience. What are some strategies they can use to get that message across and capitalize on their holiday book marketing?

Jim Foley: You want to create urgency in the message. Start your planning now — write out your marketing plan. First, start with, Here’s my killer offer. Here’s my coupon name. Here are my target audiences. Here are my different messages. Each target group might be motivated by a different benefit or angle, so your messaging is going to be a little different for each. Then, figure out all the communication channels you’re going to use to get this message across. Your email newsletter to the list you’ve built, your collaboration efforts, paid social ads…

Paid social ads are fantastic for this kind of thing because they create urgency. You may make a video that you put in your ad for social media — BookBaby can help you do that — and then start the campaign maybe 10–15 days leading up to the holidays. Build anticipation. You can also do other kinds of paid ads, depending on where you’re directing people. Maybe you’ll do some Amazon ads, maybe you’ll do a TikTok event. Do creative things, like a live Q&A on social media.

Your independent book is a business

Joe Yamulla: You mentioned the email newsletter. One thing I advise is to make sure you’re building a list and messaging your audience way before the book launches. You don’t want the first time your audience hears from you to be in November or December. You want to establish that growing relationship from before, establish that consistency, whether weekly, bi-weekly, monthly — whatever you choose, just be consistent.

Selling independent books is a business, so what are some ways an author can build their product page — whether it be on BookBaby Bookshop or Amazon or elsewhere — to be positioned for success?

Jim Foley: You want to emphasize the why. Put on your advertiser hat and get creative. Get on the Internet and see what other authors did in the past. What creative messages resonated? There are plenty of success stories to emulate. And the good news is, this cycle repeats every year. You have a book that’s an asset and in many cases that asset can live on.

We just met with our publishing specialist team and I learned about a gentleman who wrote a fantastic book that was a hit in the ‘60s. Used copies of this book — it’s no longer in publication — are selling for $80 on Amazon. He’s working with BookBaby right now to republish the book with a modern twist. It’s a reminder that a great story never dies — a great story 50 years ago can still be a great story today.

So you want to do this every year. When this season is over, write down how you did, what was good, what worked, how many copies you sold, what kind of web traffic you got… Look at all your data analytics and see how many people came to your Bookshop page — which is great because you can see where they came from and measure the impact of your specific marketing efforts. Then, take what you learned and refine it for the next time around.

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  1. Hi Joe,

    Since you love fiction so much, can I ask you to read my book, just out today!! Dream Me Home by Laurie Murphy. Book Baby has done a fantastic job both on the cover and the editing!!! As a magazine columnist, I am going to spotlight your company in one of my next articles!


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