Most people look forward to holiday season, but for indies, the price of advertising goes up and sales are harder to come by because the market is more competitive. But if you spend time building a sustainable business and reader-base then you can set yourself up for success. Partner member from Author Marketing Experts, Penny Sansevieri, talks us through a simple book marketing timeline.
A Simple Book Marketing Timeline
We all want to sell more books around the holidays, right? Whether it’s targeting events, Black Friday, Cyber Monday or the last-minute shoppers, this is one of the biggest times of the year for book sales and a great time to implement some fun and creative book marketing strategies.
Because with some smart planning, it’s actually quite easy!
If you’re eager and ready to sell more books during the holidays this year, I’ve outlined a super helpful simple book marketing timeline to follow that covers all your key book marketing strategies.
Book Marketing Strategies for 12 Weeks Out:
Get More Reviews: People like what other people like, so reviews always play an important role in convincing people to buy your book – but they carry even more weight during the holiday season when people are buying for others.
Remind your networks to post reviews. Most people mean well, but they get busy and they forget. Don’t be too proud to beg!
Pitch Holiday Gift Guides: If your book stands out as a good gift idea, be sure to contact as many bloggers as you can find that publish gift guides or that cater to your very specific audience.
Books are easy to add to the list because they’re straight forward and pretty much sell themselves. Brush up your elevator pitch so it fits the holiday sales angle and get to work!
Schedule e-Book Discounts: Pushing discount eBook promotions are a great idea leading up to the holidays AND for last minute shoppers, so this is a cornerstone strategy. You don’t have to do a freebie promotion, instead consider marking your book down by half.
It’s a great way to sell more books, and even if most people prefer your paperback to your eBook, eBook promotions are still a great way to drive consumers to all your book formats.
Dates go fast for paid sites so get to work ASAP, especially for Cyber Monday and Black Friday promotions. And as always, once you secure a paid site or two be sure you start submitting to all of the free sites.
No, the free sites aren’t guaranteed, but for each one you get, you increase your exposure by thousands of readers – so you really can’t justify not spending the time.
Get Local Shelf Space: Think outside the retail box. So, not only bookstores or gift stores per se.
If you’re a regular at a coffee shop, see if you can put a preview copy of your book at the counter with some of your business cards. Bonus if you create some holiday-themed business cards or bookmarks to put inside. Hint: these are pretty cheap on most printing sites these days and they quickly plant the idea in a potential buyer’s head.
Other places can include a local art store, brewery, sandwich shop, hair salon – there really are a lot of options. Just think of places where your book doesn’t compete with items or services they’re already selling.
And be sure to put a sticker of sorts on the cover that says “Preview Copy” so people don’t think it’s a freebie. Again, stickers are cheap to order and you can re-use these at other events you do. Another way to protect a preview copy is to sign it for the store owner or manager so they can keep it.
Book Marketing Strategies for 8 Weeks Out:
Promote to Your Current Contact List: It’s always easier to sell books to current contacts first, so start there and let them know of your planned discount days and ask them to share with their networks. If you have multiple books or a new book, you’ll most definitely want to let them know via your newsletter or other mailing list.
Get Local Media Coverage: Most cities have a lifestyle publication or two, a handful of A&E blogs, or freelance journalists and writers for the newspaper.
You likely know of, or can easily find, a few other local authors in your city or greater metropolitan area. And they don’t have to be in the same genre, in fact, it’s better if you have variety.
Contact the media people personally and suggest they do a holiday reading guide featuring local authors. Mention the names of other local authors and include links to their websites to make the media person’s job even easier. It may secure a pretty sweet write up!
Holiday Craft & Gift Events: These are popping up on event calendars already, so see if you can still get a booth or table space and maximize on local holiday sales.
But prepare to have special event pricing! If you don’t have enough print copies on hand, you can always gift them a copy via Amazon right then and there.
If you won’t be displaying lots of copies of your book, be sure to go above and beyond to make your table fun and festive and consider printing out poster-sized images of your covers.
Research Timely Hashtags: You definitely want to identify your keywords and hashtags, and start following and using them in all your posts leading up to Christmas and on major shopping holidays. Many times you’ll find trends like #HolidayRomance, if you’ve written a romance novel. If you write non-fiction, get creative with how your book would make a great gift, and for who, and find hashtags that compliment that message. Twitter and Instagram are great places to track what’s trending and you’ll always find standards like #christmasgift, #cybermonday, #holidaysavings and #stockingstuffer.
Book Marketing Strategies for 6 Weeks Out:
Enlist Your Website: Update your website with a call out to support your holiday sales. Consider changing up your banner image to something festive, and use language that reminds people that your book would make a great gift – or is just a great way to spend some downtime by the fire.
And remember that all online sales are competing with Amazon so things like offering free shipping for the holidays, a personalized card, or even gift wrapping, could really help boost exposure and help you sell more books. Also, autograph and personalize the books! Autographed copies make great gifts and people love that personal touch!
Make the Most of Amazon Author Central: Discount promotions and other sales and special holiday promotions can be listed on your book’s retail page by adding those details to Author Central. Consider using the From the Author section. You can also shamelessly plug why your book makes a great gift by updating your description with an opening line that really pulls in holiday shoppers.
Create a BOGO Offer: As an incentive to boost sales, offer a BOGO (buy one give one) on your books. Generally it’s less pricey to do this with eBooks, but print books are a great option too. Have buyers send you their receipt for a print book and offer to gift them or a friend the eBook for free! Book marketing wise, BOGO is a fun strategy that, if used correctly, can really help to sell more books and find new long-term fans.
Create a Gift with Purchase Offer: Offer free swag like a fun canvas tote bag or other bibliophile-centric token or small gift. You can often get these on sites like Zazzle for pretty cheap and customize them. Offer them for free with a purchase off of your website, or simply ask them to forward their receipt from Amazon. A free gift with purchase, if done right, can really help you sell more books – even outside of the holiday season!
Create Unique Promotions: Unique book marketing promotions can be a really fun way to engage your audience and sell more books during the holiday season. These will vary based on your genre and topic but they don’t have to be expensive.
Perhaps you can do 12 behind-the-scenes looks at your characters and their backstories? If you write non-fiction, maybe you can do 12 additional tips they can’t get in your book? These are just fun, holiday-themed excuses to stay in front of everyone consistently, reminding them what a good bet your books are.
Promote Your Series: If you already have a boxed set of eBooks, update the cover so it shows all the books wrapped up with a festive bow. You can do this simply on image editing sites like Canva. If you don’t have a boxed set, you can get this done in just a couple weeks and still have plenty of time to sell for the holidays and beyond!
Count On Social Media Sales: Typically I like to say social media is crucial for branding, but caution authors that want to assume it will directly sell you lots of books. Well, during the holidays, that changes. While many of us often feel the burden of social media overload, which involves keeping up with the various accounts and adding fresh content, this effort is definitely worth it because people tend to look to social media for gift ideas and recommendations. But remember book marketing 101: don’t take on more than you can handle. If that means just focusing on one social media site, the one that gets you the most engagement, then that’s what you should do.
Book Marketing Strategies for 4 Weeks Out:
Holiday-themed Social Images: Change up your social media banners and your profile picture to highlight the holiday season and remind people your book makes a great gift.
Holiday-themed Social Posts: The majority of people love the feeling they get around the holidays, so use this to your book marketing advantage on social media.
Share and ask your followers to share Christmas memories, photos, beautiful scenes, gift recommendations, holiday traditions – you have so many options for engaging your fans, don’t waste it. Engaged fans are more likely to recommend indie authors and support your future endeavors.
Be Ready for Cyber Monday and Black Friday: Remember, you ideally secured some paid discount eBook promotions awhile back, but if you didn’t snag these coveted spots there’s still a lot you can do! Discount your book anyway, and get the word out on your own. Send an email to your mailing list, post multiple times a day on social, ask friends to share your posts on their accounts to help you reach new potential buyers. This is not a time to be shy, it’s a time to be shameless – you’re competing with a huge world of products, but by enlisting the help of those closest to you, you have an edge.
Bonus Book Marketing Strategies to Plan for Between Christmas and New Years:
Don’t Ignore Post-Christmas Sales: Many shoppers love these after Christmas sales because they have gift cards to spend and many have time off work so they’re spending more time online, checking email and scrolling through social media. Don’t miss out on the sales you can capture during this lull.
Don’t Ignore the New Year’s Resolution Angle: If you write non-fiction, there’s a good chance you can come up with a creative angle that ties your topic or your area of expertise into a New Year’s resolution, or the idea of starting the next year off better than ever before. Plan out some smart, thoughtful messages and some creative images for this tie-in, and plan to start posting them right before the New Year’s holiday.
If you’re looking for an even longer list of promotional ideas, including a list of holiday hashtags, a more in-depth timeline, and really unique yet easy to execute holiday marketing strategies check out my book, 50 Ways to Sell a Sleigh-Load of Books!
Learn more about marketing books from Penny's latest book, 5 Minute Book Marketing for Authors.
OVER TO YOU
What tools and techniques do you use for seasonal marketing?
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