Even during a pandemic, we can be sure of one thing: the holidays will be here before you know it! Now that kids are back in school (either virtually and/or in person), authors looking to boost book sales should clear their desks, pull out calendars and favorite planning tools, and get down to business.
In addition to Christmas, a few of the dates you may want to note include Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings Day. All of these holidays can have a gift-giving component in some families — and books are always a perfect gift! All too often, authors seek out my company in November, hoping to use the holiday shopping season to promote a book. But November is too late. A successful holiday sales season takes weeks of planning and preparation. Any retailer will agree with me here.
So let’s get into this now, while you still have some time to do the work involved. But before we get to the work you’ll need to do, it’s important to think about whether your book is right for this type of promotion: some books are better equipped than others to pull off a holiday book sales haul.
Is Your Book A Good Fit?
The most vital thing to consider is the actual book itself. If you’ve experienced low sales or if your book hasn’t received an abundance of attention, you should investigate why before jumping into the holiday sales market. Consider the possible causes that audience responses aren’t so strong, and then take some actions such as revising the book cover, improving your book description, or obtaining a better blurb.
In preparation for the holiday shopping season, stores review all aspects of their bookselling platforms — from stock to product placement to detailed product info — in order to make sure everything is optimal. You should do the same for your book, so let’s make sure that you’re prepared!
Get the Timing Right
At first, I was amused by Christmas in July advertisements. That is, I was until I began promoting my first holiday-related book. I started promoting in July, which turned out to be the ideal timeframe. You may ask why. Well, most people don’t even consider or make December purchases in July, but it’s important to start early by becoming visible to shoppers since holiday buying is very competitive. Consumers, especially ones who do like to get a jump-start on the season, quickly start planning their shopping when they hear or see Christmas in July radio, television, and email ads.
What are the appropriate timeframes to prepare for the holiday book sales market? November is much too late. October can be uncertain. September is still an option if you haven’t started yet but you’re motivated. Examining the timelines, especially media schedules, is essential when determining when to start media pitching, initiating promotions, and strategizing. Planning for eBook promotions should also be done in advance.
Tying Your Book to the Holiday Sales Market
There’s nothing ordinary about the holiday sales market. While it’s important to highlight your book as a gift or novelty, you should also find a tie-in between your book and the holidays. For example, you might revise your Amazon book page to say something like, “A Perfect Gift for Mom This Holiday Season!” or “A Novel Gift for a Young Reader!”
There’s a lot of competition during the holidays, and retailers don’t magically make sales appear — it takes dedication, hard work, and a presentation that makes clear that your book is unique. Holiday book sales require packaging, strategizing, and knowing your audience, which is something I stress in my book 50 Ways to Sell a Sleigh-Load of Books: Proven Marketing Strategies to Sell More Books for the Holidays.
Here are five of my top tips that you can use to start early and slice yourself a bigger piece of the holiday book sales pie!
1. Capture Your Reader with an Irresistible Cover
We see book covers in all forms, designs, colors, and presentations daily. Most of these are bland and unappealing, while others need a few tweaks for better enhancement. Compare your cover to bestsellers in your category/genre to gain perspective about your target audience. When you evaluate your cover, ask yourself if it assists in increasing sales and pertains to your category/genre. You should start your assessment early because even minor changes will take time to be completed. Whether you need a brand new cover, a few revisions to spruce it up, or some other change to counter disappointing comments about its effectiveness, it’s beneficial to leave yourself enough time.
2. Ask for Reviews of Your Book
In an article by SquareUp, a staggering 96 percent of holiday shoppers researched reviews (sometimes from multiple sources) before deciding to buy a particular book. The moral here is that reviews are essential for securing holiday book sales. It can be frustrating for many authors to obtain reviews for their book, and recently, Amazon has removed contact info for top reviewers, making the process even more difficult. Receiving praise from multiple bloggers is excellent, and a great place to begin your search is with bloggers who already love the genres or topics about which you are writing.
3. Prepare Your Website
The next step is to ensure your website is ready for holiday sales, from checking that all the buttons work correctly to placing your shopping cart in an easy, accessible spot. Regardless of how long you’ve been marketing your book, an informative or entertaining website will keep your visitors interested not only during the holiday season but throughout all of the other months of the year as well.
What are you trying to achieve with your website? Obviously, you’ll use this medium for raising your awareness and strengthening your brand, but the ultimate goal should be selling your book. To increase holiday sales, you should create images and announcements that alert readers to any sales. Maybe you’re offering BOGO (a buy-one, get-one deal) or free shipping. Make any offers, sales, etc. about your book easy to find on your landing page.
4. Schedule and Write Your Blog Posts
Once the holiday shopping and sales season begin, it’s easy to neglect your blog posts. Planning your blog posts to promote eBook discounts or BOGOs will keep you one step ahead of your readers. Establish a promotional calendar and then you can get the blogs ready for scheduled posting.
5. Make the Most of a Mailing List
Newsletters are especially important and scheduling them regularly, even if it’s only once a month, is key to keeping your name fresh in the minds of your audience. Sending a newsletter is extremely valuable in securing holiday sales, and you’ll need to make yours unique in order to stand out from the numerous other types of newsletters people receive.
Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to sell more books! If you want to raise your holiday book sales, it’s important to work hard, start a few months early, and stand apart from the competition. By planning accordingly, you can be a part of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday craze.
Looking for 45 additional methods to increase your sales? You’ll find them in 50 Ways to Sell a Sleigh-Load of Books: Proven Marketing Strategies to Sell More Books for the Holidays.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.