In the fall, any indie author cannot fail to notice the flurry of seasonal books that start appearing from about Labor Day onwards, aimed at the Christmas market. Many follow the trend to write their own festive contribution to this mad rush, whether a short story, a novella, or a full-length novel. In late spring, beach reads proliferate, ready for the summer holiday market. But these are not the only seasons which can offer you a marketing advantage.
Debbie Young explains why she always has one eye on the calendar when writing her fiction books, and why she thinks its worth having books for all seasons in your back catalog.
One of the first books I self-published was a collection of short stories set at Christmas, which gave me plenty of marketing fodder until the new year dawned. Then it felt like a very long time until it would be worth promoting this book again.
But a glance at the nearest greeting card store reminded me that there are plenty of other annual events and seasonal occurrences that provide good book marketing angles:
- Valentine's Day is the obvious occasion to talk about romance.
(I also have a collection of wry romantic short stories called Marry in Haste)
- The first day of each season – spring, summer, fall, winter – always gets talked about on social media.
(Lighting Up Time, my stand-alone short story, is set at the winter solstice)
- Public holidays or remembrance days
Seasonal Hashtag Opportunities
If you have books that would be a good fit for these or any other annual occasions, then make sure you jump on the social media seasonal hashtag bandwagon. Devise something eye-catching and appropriate (not just another “buy my book” post) – a topical quote, an entertaining extract, or an intriguing anecdote about why you wrote it. Today (Good Friday), there are plenty of Easter-related hashtags about, for example.
Collaborate with Other Authors
- Run joint seasonal promotions with other authors.
Expand your reach by cross-promoting with other authors who have written about the same event. Lighting Up Time was originally written as my contribution to a winter solstice blog hop organised by Helen Hollick. Only afterwards did I realise that by publishing it as a standalone short story, it would provide an annual marketing opportunity for ever more.
- Combine forces to produce seasonal anthologies.
As each participating author promotes the anthology to their own audience, you'll reach new readers. I once gave permission for one of my Christmas short stories to be used in a free festive anthology ebook. For a couple of years it ranked high in the free Kindle charts in November and December, in return for next to no effort on my part, and included a link to my own festive story collection.
A Natural Course
For me, seasonal writing is fun – and a natural reflection on where I live. In a small village in rural England, I'm very conscious of the changing seasons, which are celebrated in a big way in my community – one of the many reasons I love living here.
When I started planning my first cozy mystery series, which was to run the course of the year from one summer to the next, it was inevitable that I'd include these various celebrations in my stories. The first five books in my planned series of seven (covers pictured below) include, respectively:
- the annual village horticultural show in high summer
- Guy Fawkes Night (a British tradition) and Halloween in the fall
- Remembrance Day and Christmas
Each book contains quotable quotes and evocative scenes, and Lawston Designs‘ covers evoke the feeling of being in the village at a distinct time of year.
The Impact on Paid Promotions
Although I've always focused my marketing, and in particular my advertising, on the first in series, for obvious reasons, I've always given a bit of a push to the one most in season at any given time of year. For example, in October I set up an AMS ad specific to Trick or Murder? with Halloween-related keywords.
Having scored my first Bookbub in March for Best Murder in Show, I thought long and hard about whether to invest in applying for a paid promotion in April with the most relevant book in the series, Springtime for Murder, which is set in the run-up to Easter. (You're allowed to apply to BookBub every four weeks, by the way.)
I went for it – and to my surprise and delight, the April BookBub sold many more copies than the first. I'm convinced this is because Springtime for Murder‘s title and cover image had more seasonal relevance than Best Murder in Show, set in the summer. It didn't do so well in Australia – and I only realised after the event that in the southern hemisphere, it's currently fall. Doh!
Over to You
So, is it worth writing with the seasons in mind, purely to give you a marketing angle?
Actually, you're probably already incorporating seasonal variety and noteworthy annual events in your books. Most fiction will at least mention the time of year in passing. Could you make more of it?
If you'd like to add examples of how marketing your books at specific seasons has worked well for you, I'd love to hear about them – please feel free to join the conversation!#Writing seasonal books isn't just fun - it has clear #bookmarketing advantages too, as #indieauthor @DebbieYoungBN explains Click To Tweet
OTHER GREAT BOOK MARKETING IDEAS
From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive