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Book Marketing: Seasonal Book Promotion Opportunities on Valentine’s Day

Cover of "Would You Marry a Farmer?"

Valentine’s Day provides the perfect excuse to market self-published books

Whether or not you write books specifically to market at certain times of year – Christmas time, Valentine’s Day, summer holidays, etc – it’s worth casting your eye over your catalogue to see whether any of your books offers the opportunity for some seasonal marketing spin. ALLi’s Author Advice Centre editor and indie author of fiction and non-fiction Debbie Young shares some lateral thinking about book promotion for all seasons.

I love seasonal marketing, and am one of the hordes of authors who have written a Christmas-specific book, Stocking Fillers. However, while spending most of Advent shouting about it, I was becoming increasingly wary that once Twelfth Night had passed (yes, I’m an old-fashioned girl about what constitutes Christmas), I’d be facing a lull.

All the more so because two of my three stand-alone short story ebooks are also on a December theme.

  • Lighting Up Time is set at the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (21st December)
  • The Owl and the Turkey is subtitled The Real Reason We Eat Turkey at Christmas (even though it isn’t – I made the story up)

I’m planning to write three companion stories to Lighting Up Time, set at the summer solstice and the spring and the autumn equinoxes, and boxed into a set called Four Seasons, to give that one more year-round appeal.

I Don’t Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day

Cover of Marry in Haste by Debbie Young

The antidote to romantic books?

Like many authors of Christmas stories, I find Stocking Fillers sells in small numbers all year round. I sold one only last weekend, in fact, to a lady who’d attended a talk I’d just given. She was apologetic for purchasing it in February, as if I might object! However, I still need to expand and diversify my range, not least to avoid looking like one of those eccentrics who loves Christmas so much they celebrate it every day of the year.

It was partly with this dilemma in mind that I set about writing a more spring-themed collection last summer. I felt like a fashion buyer, trying think what to bring to market several seasons ahead. (I already had another collection, Quick Change, whose cover had a look of high summer about it.) But stupidly, it wasn’t until late December that I realised that what I’d been picturing as a spring-wedding-themed collection, Marry in Haste, would be handy for Valentine’s Day too. (You know what they say about the cobbler’s children always being the worst shod…)

The Marketing Potential of Valentine’s Day

At first glance, Valentine’s may look like a one-day wonder of dubious value to people who are neither greetings card salesmen nor old-fashioned romantics, but it provides authors with another excuse to shout about a book via social media, to persuade bookstores to stock it, and generally to drop it into conversation, whether online or in real life. It may be only one day out of 365 (or 366 this year), but it still carries marketing weight. Four local shops – three bookstores and a gift shop – are displaying Marry in Haste prominently this week, and one even tweeted a picture of a display. (Shame my book was behind another one, but those who were familiar with it would have spotted my unhappy couple’s heads sticking out!)

Proposing by the Book

Irish author Lorna Sixsmith, author of Would You Marry A Farmer? and The Perfect Farm Wife, is not only running a price promotion until 15th February, she’s also writing a post on different types of farmers’ marriage proposals, including those that make it into papers such as cutting the words into a field of corn and bringing her up in a helicopter. “Apparently a guy did propose with my book and a bottle of champagne,” she reports, which strikes me as something of a responsibility! Presumably she’ll be able to give it a second airing around Leap Year Day on 29th February, when tradition has it that woman are allowed to propose to men. (Ha!)

Lateral Thoughts about Love

Cover of The Secret Rose by Orna Ross

“The greatest love story that never was”

Orna Ross has chosen Valentine’s Day to launch her novel Her Secret Rose, which she describes as the greatest love story that never was! Between the Irish poet WB Yeats and his muse, the British heiress turned Irish revolutionary, Maud Gonne”.

This love story with a difference is available to download free this Valentine's Day

This love story with a difference is available to download free this Valentine’s Day

Books don’t have to be specifically about love and marriage to work in Valentine’s Day promotions. Different things make different relationships tick.  I recently came across Chris West’s novella The Hillwalker, which he describes as “essentially a love story, though it’s a bit weird”! (It’s published under his alter ego, Lytchett Maltravers.) I had been thinking that as my husband is a hillwalker, and could also reasonably be described as a bit weird, this could be a great Valentine’s gift – but Chris has just told me he’ll be making the book free to download on Valentine’s Day, which is even better! (Interestingly, one of Chris’s other books, Hello Europe!, has a different seasonal promotional opportunity – it’s a history of Europe told through the Eurovision Song Contest, which of course gets a huge amount of media attention in its catchment area every year, and that’s when I cam across it.)

For the Love of Animals

Cover of Cat Facts by Amy Shojai

What’s not to love?

It’s not only books about human romance that are suitable for Valentine’s Day promotions. Don’t worry, this post isn’t about to veer away from the tasteful. Instead, I want to flag up Amy Shojai’s promotion of her non-fiction book Cat Facts. Amy writes about animals, and  says, “What better Valentine’s Day gift for a cat lover than something that benefits the cat?”

It’s All About the Heart

But to end on a more serious not, and following our previous posts about the health and well-being of authors, it seems appropriate to share a timely promotion of a different kind, shared by ALLi Partner member Kathy Meis of Bublish, earlier today: advice on how to look after your heart, as a sedentary author, in an era when it’s being claimed that ” sitting down is the new smoking.” Read more about that on the Bublish blog here. 

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our readers.

OVER TO YOU We’d love to hear about your favourite seasonal marketing tips, whether to do with Valentine’s Day or any other time of year.

#Bookmarketing tips that chime with seasons and special occasions by @DebbieYoungBN… Click To Tweet

 

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4 Responses to Book Marketing: Seasonal Book Promotion Opportunities on Valentine’s Day

  1. Marianne Sciucco February 13, 2016 at 5:52 pm #

    Setting can also be a selling point at different times of the year. My Alzheimer’s novel is set in romantic Cape Cod in summer. The off-season is a great time to promote it: “Love Cape Cod? Blue Hydrangeas will take you there.” The imagery of a Cape beach in blustery February is enticing. Also, the subject matter lends its own marketing opportunities. I run a collaboration with four other authors of Alzheimer’s books (#AlzAuthors) in June, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and November, National Alzheimers Disease Awareness Month, Caregiver Appreciation Month, and National Memory Screening week (the first week.) Opportunities to connect with readers are everywhere.

  2. Janet Hartman February 13, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

    My first publication outside of the boating market was in a 2010 Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas collection.

    When I first saw that submission call, I didn’t think I had a Christmas story and the deadline was too close for me to write one. I reviewed the unpublished stories waiting patiently in my computer and saw the true tale of two dogs running amuck in a department store at Christmas time. I’d always considered it a dog story, but it did include Santa, so I sent it in as a long shot and they bought it. I easily sold copies of the anthology.

    After that, I reviewed my other stories, published and unpublished, to see which ones could do double duty and made additional sales that way. Now I’m compiling stories with a similar theme into an eBook for publication later this year. I’m so glad I researched the business side of writing early on and reserved the rights to do this.

    Many of my writer friends are so gleeful to get a contract they willingly give away the store. I gave a talk on rights to a regional writer’s group in 2008 and at least some of them got the message.

  3. Lorna February 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

    I’d forgotten about 29th Feb being a day for women asking men to marry them 😉

    I find it is hard to think ahead for promotions though, and to get things into Christmas gift guides etc, I mean, you’re talking early October for some publications.

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