In case you haven’t noticed, the holiday season is starting earlier and earlier every year. Unfortunately, most of us don’t start thinking about making holidays sales for our books until it’s too late. As a marketing firm, we tend to get a lot of inquiries for a holiday push from our authors around Thanksgiving, which may seem like a good time to start, but is actually too late to ramp up your holiday promotion efforts. Let’s face it, promoting around the holidays can also be expensive if you’re looking at buying pricey ads, etc.
A serious holiday sale campaign starts weeks, if not months, before the actual push, and it doesn’t have to cost a bundle to do it!
Let’s take a look at some things you may want to consider doing during the holiday season:
- eBook promotions
- Dress Up Your Amazon Page with More Reviews
- Fine Tune Your Website
- Book events
All of these are fantastic promotion ideas, but each requires some advanced planning. First grab your calendar. Let’s say you want to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. How would you do that? Well, I’d suggest focusing online and doing eBook promos which will help to drive readers not only to your eBook, but also potentially to your print book, too.
If you can, I’d suggest doing more than one eBook promo per book and consider rotating between free and a discounted price. If you have several books, I’d put them all into a rotation from Thanksgiving through December, alternating free and lower price points. Keep in mind that free also helps to trigger the Amazon algorithm.
Here’s where your calendar comes in handy: ideally, you may want to kick off Black Friday/Cyber Monday with a free deal, schedule two sets of discount price promotions in early December, maybe one more freebie before Christmas and then drop the price of the book for the week prior to the holiday (for all those last minute shoppers). If you have just one book, then doing a free deal may seem counter intuitive but again, you can do one for a just a single day. The idea is to boost the book via the exposure it’ll get from this promo, as well as the algorithm spike that you’ll see on Amazon.
One final tip: eReaders are still a hot Christmas gift, so be sure to reserve some of your promotion dates for after Christmas, too.
Here’s your holiday promotion checklist:
-Determine your promotion budget
-Coordinate your calendar to schedule at least one freebie and one lower-priced promotion leading up to Christmas (ideally a week apart).
-Research which online venues still have open spots for online promotion (a list of eBook free/discount promotion sites is below)
-Book these dates asap.
Here are some great places I have used and can recommend!
- BookGorilla - Their paid services have a far reach, and won’t break the bank
- BookLemur – Fair prices and an easy process
- GoodKindles – Great options and flexibility with their packages
- Ignite Your Book – They have free and paid options. Their affordable paid option will get you in front of all of their newsletter subscribers
- Read Free.ly – Great books, no middleman
- StoryFinds – Tons of options to give your book the exposure it needs
- BookBub – Their packages are on the more expensive side, but the average downloads are very impressive
- Find more here!
Dress Up Your Amazon Page with More Reviews
When it comes to marketing, the old adage of “People like what other people like” is so true, and even truer when it comes to holiday sales. When we’re buying Christmas gifts, we want to know we’re getting the right thing – something the recipient will love. So what can you do to help convince a buyer that you’ve got the best possible gift for their recipient? Well, reviews are a good start.
In the past, if you had twenty reviews on Amazon you were doing great, if you had fifty reviews you were really shaking things up. But now things have changed, and in order to tip the scales and gain more traction for your book, you need to get that number close to one hundred or above. We’ll look at how to do that in a minute.
But what if your book is older, is it still saleable? I’d say yes, as long as it’s not outdated in terms of topic. There’s something called the Netflix effect, where older shows surge again in popularity, because newer viewers are taking time to post reviews. The same can apply to your book. New reviews on an older book are fantastic! Why? It means people are still reading it.
So what’s an author to do to capture more reviews? Well, consider these ideas:
- Have you asked your readers for reviews? Surprisingly, I find that many authors don’t do this and I don’t know why. If you have a mailing list and/or blog, get the word out there that a review would be so helpful. In one case, one of our authors offered a tote bag in exchange for a review (good or bad), just as a thank you for taking time to review the book. In another instance, the author gave away the book for free to her readers in exchange for an honest review.
- Plan some online promotion: if you haven’t done much in the way of a blog tour or review tour, then now is the time. Whether you want to plan this out on your own or hire someone to pitch you, get out there and start planning your online promotion to start either right away, or in December. If you’re starting this in December, don’t worry about the distraction factor. We find that December book tours are as successful as any other time of the year, provided they are planned right. For example, posts on December 25th won’t gain a lot of traction, but anything before then could see a lot of bounce with your last minute shoppers.
- Goodreads: If you haven’t done a lot on this site, you may want to reconsider. Goodreads has told us that their recommendation newsletter is all review based. So if you’re getting a lot of reviews on Goodreads, you could wind up being blasted out to their thousands of readers. How do you get reviews there? Well by doing giveaways, and I’d recommend doing a few of them. So, for example do one for 5 books and then a week or so later run another one for 5 books (or a smaller number of books works, too).
Studies have shown that consumers are 68% more likely to buy something, or engage with you based on reviews so it’s a crucial, if not critical, part to your marketing – especially if you’re going after holiday sales!
Fine Tune Your Website
Next, cast a critical eye at your website, and make sure it’s holiday sale ready. Do all the buttons work? If you’re selling off of your site, is the shopping cart easy to access and find? Take those new reviews you gained, and make sure to add them on your site. Remember: people like what other people like.
Doing Book Events
Sometimes getting in front of your buyer may be the best way to make a sale, and it’s easier than ever to do it this time of year.
- Craft & Holiday Fairs: Between Harvest Festivals and Holiday Festivals, regional calendars listing craft and gift fairs really do fill up this time of year. Many of these places don’t book up the way they used to, so if you’re just now considering this, it could be a great time to check on pricing of these events. Check your local calendar to see what’s happening in your area and what you can piggy-back on.
- Airports: Last year as I had family coming into the San Diego airport, I noticed several book signings going on in baggage claim. It’s really quite smart. You land at your destination and realize you forgot to get a gift for someone, what better gift than a signed book, right? The author even had a fun sign that read: Did you forget a gift for someone special? Autographed books make great presents! And he even had inexpensive gift bags in case the person needed one, too. Not all airports do this, so contact your local airport and see what their rules are regarding this. There may be a small fee associated with it, and in some cases (if you do a book signing inside the airport i.e. by the departure gates) they may tell you that they only do events with authors carried in the airport book stores.
- Events in specialty stores: When I was first in business, it was nearly impossible to get authors into Barnes & Noble, let alone get them invited to do a book signing. Sadly, not much has changed in that regard. At that time I had several authors that I was working with who needed events, so I decided to venture out and try something new. I planned events in specialty stores, coffee shops (yes, even Starbucks) and Hallmark. Hallmark in particular is a fantastic store, because folks shopping there are often looking for a gift (and often last minute). I once did a signing at a Hallmark for my own book and sold out within an hour. You may have to work out a consignment deal with them, meaning they don’t buy books from your publisher, but simply pay you for what’s sold. If you can pull it off, it’s well worth the effort to do so. The great thing about specialty stores is that you often have no competition with other authors – unlike in a bookstore, and the only barrier to this is helping the store understand how it will benefit them. Remind them that you’ll be doing some promotion around this to your local area, too.
A holiday ramp up doesn’t have to cost you a bundle, in fact if you plan far enough out and space your promotions they can build off one another in a way that pricey ads never seem to. Also keep in mind that while holiday sales are always the goal, a campaign like this, which is essentially an ongoing rotation will really help you draw in more readers – which in the end is always the goal!
I’d love to hear about your holiday activities – what do you plan to do to promote your book to eager holiday shoppers, or what have you done in the past that’s been successful?
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
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