The holidays are an opportune time to increase your book sales and generate more excitement for your next one. People are out looking for the perfect gift- for others and themselves! The great news is that books make excellent gifts. Now it's up to you to make the sale. Boosting your promotional efforts and getting more eyes on your novel are exactly what's in order for this season. Here are a list of ways that you can gain more out of this holiday season.
A key point to remember is that this opportunity isn't just the week before Christmas. The gift-buying season starts mid-November up until Christmas Day. That means that to make the most out of your sales, you really should start your promotions at the beginning of November rather than at the beginning of December.
Here are 8 ideas to help you sell more books over Christmas.
Design A Festive Cover
Writing a holiday-themed novel is an excellent way to generate more income as an author. Creating a festive cover can help boost those sales. When these types of books are released, they attract attention because they feel exclusive, exciting, and time sensitive. It works exceptionally well when it comes to self-help, cooking, health, and romance novels, but can be applied elsewhere with similar success. They also tend to sell well when promoted on places like BookBub and Goodreads. When creating your cover remember to bring in the festive elements: wreaths, lights, decorated trees, festive lights, snow-covered landscapes, and roaring fires.
Here are some awesome examples from various genres. I'll be linking them below in case you want to read more about them.
For more examples check out 68 Holiday-Themed Book Covers We Love
Publish A Holiday Short Story
Don't have a book ready but still want a piece of the action? Don't worry. A simpler alternative is to write a short story that takes place during the holidays. You can use it as a marketing incentive or list it for sale, either way the benefits are all good. You can write a story relating to a holiday event, theme, legend, etc. Incorporate all the holiday goodness including a specially designed cover.
Debbie Macomber's Let It Snow is a good example. She released copies of this short story as an Ebook, making use of her print backlist. She replaced the cover and listed it for sale on Amazon and other retailers for $.99 as a cheap but satisfying holiday indulgence.
Launch A Holiday Anthology
Looking to do a short story but want more exposure? You can join together with other writers in your genre to publish a limited edition anthology. Using your co-joined audiences and promotional efforts can pay off in a big way, leading to more sales than if you published alone. How it works: Each writer contributes a holiday-themed short story to be bundled into a book.
An example is Naughty or Nice: A Collection of Red Hot Christmas Stories which features eight steamy romance short stories.
Send A Holiday Email or Newsletter
On the marketing front, using emails and newsletters to keep your readers informed and updated is the perfect opportunity to bring some holiday cheer. Using your emails to promote sales to your audience can help you boost your engagement amongst readers looking for gifts. You can also use this method for non-sales. If you're looking to gain subscribers, promote excitement for an upcoming book-launch, or simply want to interact with your fans, using an email campaign can be effective and fun.
When you get ready to send out your emails, consider the following ideas:
The gift of reading- offering your books, courses, and merchandise at a price range and marketing it as gifts for every budget
Offering a free gift as a subscription incentive- this can be something holiday-themed like a short story, bookmark or other merchandise, a free ebook or discounted access to a membership page.
Using your email campaign to gain more exposure by offering a free ebook version in exchange for a optional review.
Send Readers A Bundle Gift
Teaming up with a group of writers to offer free copies of each of your books can lead to wonderful new opportunities for each of you. These don't have to be holiday-centric novels. The goal here is to gain access to new audiences (and maybe gain some new fans) while giving those who already support you more incentive to continue.
Check out these book bundles as inspiration:
A Justified Murder by Jude Deveraux
When the sleepy town of Lachlan, Florida was rocked by a gruesome murder, Sara Medlar; her niece, Kate; and Jack Wyatt found themselves at the center of the mystery. Working together they uncovered the truth behind a decades-old secret. But, after a narrow escape, they vowed to never again involve themselves in something so dangerous—until there is another murder.
The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd
You Love Him. You Trust Him. So Why Are You So Scared?
Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for murder. Now he’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that claims he’s been wrongfully convicted, whipping up an online frenzy to uncover the truth.
A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’s case. They exchange letters and she is won over by his apparent charm. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release.
When Dennis is freed, Samantha should be overjoyed. After all, he’s innocent… isn’t he?
Now with glorious new cover art and packaged with a special poster, this value-priced set includes the best-selling The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian. Accompany the son of the sea god Poseidon and his other demigod friends as they go on a series of quests that will have them facing monsters, gods, and conniving figures from Greek mythology. Do they have what it takes to save the Olympians from an ancient enemy? Whether it is for readers who are experiencing Percy's funny and thrilling adventures for the first time, or for fans who want to devour the saga again, this gift will be prized by readers aged 8-80.
Another idea stemming along the same lines is to reach out to websites that sell book boxes. Here you can pitch your novel and give your readers the ultimate reader experience as these typically come with bookish merchandise along with novels to read. If you're feeling crafty and have a larger budget to work with, you can also put one together for yourself and offer it as a freebie or incentive to join a giveaway. Check out this Romance Reveal Book Box- The #1 Subscription Box for Romance Readers as an example.
Host Holiday Giveaways
Another effective (and exciting) way to promote yourself as an author this season is by hosting a holiday giveaway. The prize offered should be a bundle of your books, merchandise, courses, etc. Anything of significant value to the reader will work. Hosting a giveaway that's holiday themed is festive and can attract new readers to your author site.
You can run these alone or get together with other authors for even greater results. Running a giveaway together guarantees that each author gets cross-promotion exposure to the other authors’ audiences, since each author promotes the giveaway to their own followers. A larger prize also generates a larger buzz in the online community overall which means more of a participating crowd that can then be convinced to return or purchase your books via an email list.
Image credit: The Children's Book Review, Win a Clever Holiday Gift Package and a Holiday e-Book! article, 2018, accessed 11/9/2020.
In 2018, The Children's Book Review hosted the above giveaway and offered readers a free gift package and Ebook worth $50 as a way to promote books published by Clever Publishing. They kept it simple and had participants fill out a simple entry form to be entered and allowed multiple entries.
Create A Holiday Gift Guide
Image credit: Barnes and Noble, Holiday Gift Guide website page, accessed 11/9/2020.
'Tis the season of giving, but also keep in mind that giving can also mean helping out your readers.
Think outside the box about what might best benefit your readers and turn those ideas into a marketing plan. For instance, creating a holiday gift guide as a free email incentive can help turn social media followers into subscribers.
If you don't want to create one of your own, another option is to pitch your novel to magazines and online websites/blogs to be included in gift guides that they will be publishing. Tapping into larger resources is not only smart, but can also prove quite fruitful.
An example of where you can find a book gift guide is on the Barnes and Noble's website. They have lists in each genre category that recommends books that would make fantastic gifts suitable for any holiday gift-swap. Click on this gift guide link to view it.
Run A Lengthy Promotion
Last but not least, remember that this is the time to run lengthier promotions. While short ones or flash sales can provide extra sales throughout the year, the holidays present a unique selling environment suited towards long-term marketing campaigns. This is because you can target every type of holiday buyer (because literally everyone will be buying gifts during this time). There's the early bird, the month-longer browser, the I-have-to-find-the-perfect-gift buyer, the confused and indecisive, the strategic, the budget buyer, and of course the last-minute free-for-all. What better way to capture the attention of all of these people then to have promotions running for a longer period of time? Casting a wider net may be more work, but it will certainly pay off at the end of the season. Best yet, it's an opportunity to turn one-time shoppers into loyal fans and repeat customers.
Whether you're promoting a book you've already published or are looking to boost engagement for a holiday-themed novel, knowing how to boost your book sales during the holidays is important. As the season of gift-giving sales, email campaigns, freebies, and smart sales tactics can help you gain more exposure, new work relationships, and higher sales.
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