With book marketing consistently ranked as one of the top challenges for the self-publishing author, you might wonder whether paying to participate in book fairs is worth the money and the effort. Indie author and ALLi member Sue Rovens provides recommended do's and don't's for a successful book fair, based on her personal experience.
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
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!)