Obviously your book marketing plan plays a huge role in your long term success, but a lot of authors forget to make seasonal updates to support sales goals for specific holidays.
Yes, all retailers are vying for coveted “holiday shopper” attention, but with some strategic additions to your current book promotion efforts, you can easily grab your share of the holiday sales revenue.
Let’s start with some numbers!
We know that online shopping sales are big, but did you know that 69% of US consumers shop online at least once a year? And recent figures show that 80% of the world’s population shops online as well. These numbers are likely to only get bigger.
But the actual shopping season starts earlier and earlier each year as well, as was the case in 2020, because of supply chain problems, which we expect to see continue through this shopping season as well. We call it “Christmas Creep,” meaning the holiday positioning starts earlier and earlier each year.
So, let’s dig into some ways you can grab your share of holiday book sales!
Get Your Holiday Message Added to Your Book Marketing Plan
It’s a good idea to start your messaging now. Whether you’re planning a full campaign around holiday sales or you just want to update your website and run some ads, plan your unique messaging early. How are you going to pitch your book as a smart seasonal purchase? Your messaging goes everywhere from your Amazon page, to social media, to your website, and you want to be consistent and cover all the bases – make sure you don’t forget a critical opportunity.
Create Seasonal Advertising
Authors often like to run ads but as we get closer to big holiday shopping days like Black Friday, ad pricing can get extremely competitive. The least expensive ads can be placed for Christmas Day, the first Tuesday in December, the Monday before Thanksgiving, and the first week of November. The most expensive and competitive ads are for Cyber Monday, Black Friday, the seven days before Christmas, and Thanksgiving.
If you’re already running Amazon ads, you could start a seasonal batch of ads–and I just finished a blog post (which you can find below under the Resources and Free Downloads section) on running seasonal ads you can refer to as you begin to develop your ad plan.
Plan for Critical Shopping Dates ASAP
Yes, we all know Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big shopping days, but keep in mind that many consumers start much earlier than that, so plan ahead. Whether you’re needing to update your website/shopping cart experience, update your book copy on Amazon, or organize promotions for your mailing list, don’t wait till the last minute. Start planning now. There’s a reason retailers often refer to “Christmas in July”–that’s how long many of the bigger retailers need to pivot to the holiday season and plan out their promotions.
Create Special Book Promotions for Your Email List
If your book marketing plan includes an email list, but you don’t use it regularly, now is a good time to start “warming up your list.” And by that, I mean get your mailing list accustomed to hearing from you. Send one or two email blasts with helpful information and perhaps a nod to your upcoming holiday specials.
If you’ve already been emailing your list regularly, then it’s time to start plotting out any promotions that you might do specifically for your email list. Promos like BOGO “buy one, give one” or “buy one, get one” should be planned out early. And I love these types of promotions because you can encourage folks to buy your book and give a copy to someone else, which is a great holiday surprise, but also helps you widen your reader reach, too.
Get Your Website Ready to Handle Orders and Special Offers
If you’re planning to sell books from your website, then it’s time to make sure that your store is ready to go. Also, in your book marketing plan, consider doing special offers like gift-wrapping or free shipping. Free shipping is a big deal to consumers so it’s nice if you can offer it. Yes, it all costs money, but you’ll make more money selling direct anyway, so keep that in mind.
If you don’t want to ship your own books, then link to retailers–but you can still offer the BOGO by asking readers to send you a copy of the purchase receipt to participate in the special.
Create Special eBook Promotions
Discounted ebook promotions are a great addition to your holiday sales plan and if you have multiple books out, it’s really a fun way to drive more interest to your books. Pricing discounts don’t have to be huge, meaning you don’t need to price your book at .99 cents for it to be a deal. Marking a book down by 1 dollar or so can be a fun way to offer a holiday special and run an ebook promotion. But keep in mind that ebook promotions around key holiday shopping days fill up really early, so grab your spots sooner, rather than later.
Control the Sales Narrative
Book descriptions and marketing copy should always be updated to remind the customer why they should buy. If your book has won an award this year or has some other notable mention, be sure to add that to the copy. Does it make a great gift? Who is the perfect gift for? Answering these questions nudges your customer to make the purchase.
For example, you could say, “This is the perfect YA book for fans of [X] and [Y] titles,” or “This book is for people who love shows like …” Be direct about why your book is the right book for them, and update book descriptions for anything that might be holiday-specific or that has a gift element to it.
Reward Your Most Loyal Fans with Special Deals
Now, especially, is a great time to reward people who already know and like you. (Think: your newsletter subscribers and/or social media followers.) Offer them discounts or exclusive offers as a part of your book marketing plan that are just for them. Or consider running giveaways of books or a gift pack that includes your book.
Create Seasonal Blog Posts to Get Buyers in the Holiday Spirit
If you have a blog that you regularly update, create some holiday-themed posts around your offer or the specials you’re doing and share these on social media. Maybe even use a themed banner. When your book marketing plan directs customers to a single place that lists what you’re offering or sharing as a holiday special, it’s easier for buyers. A blog is a fantastic resource for doing this.
Your email marketing or social strategy shouldn’t be just a one-shot deal with a single message that goes out before Thanksgiving. Instead, market throughout the holiday season and, as I said, be mindful of folks who want to fill new devices with ebooks or audiobooks.
Another idea for your blog is to create a seasonal gift guide(s) recommending other books along with yours. Then, invite the other authors to share your post, as well. It’s a great way to get some additional traction.
You could also create gift ideas that don’t include books, say scented candles, and then recommend your romance novel to read when the candles are used. Or crafting supplies if you have a non-fiction crafting book. You get the idea!
Final Notes on Polishing Your Holiday Book Marketing Plan
Creating a holiday book marketing plan is easy and fun to do and you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it. Whatever you decide to do is great as long as it’s a push to get your book in front of more readers.
In terms of sales, it’s worth repeating: pace your social media posts so that you notify followers a few times before your special offer starts. Often, followers won’t see all of your posts right away, so sending notifications multiple times helps to ensure that they’ll catch it.
Keep in mind that even post-holiday pushes can be successful. People always look to fill up new devices post-holiday, so right after Christmas can actually be the best opportunity to push your ebook or audiobook, too!
And if you’re eager to get started, here is a list of some holidays you already know, and maybe a few you hadn’t considered: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Hanukkah, Green Monday, Free Shipping Day, Super Saturday, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s.
Good luck and happy holiday selling!
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