Valentine’s Day is behind us, and soon comes Mother’s Day, International Women’s Day, Easter, the Summer Solstice, etc. Plenty of public and bank holidays – plenty of opportunities to get your book out and marketed. But how to go about it? Take a sift through our tips and see if you can boost your sales this year.
YOUR TO-DO LIST
Get an up-to-date calendar of public holidays for the year and work out how your book(s) relate to each of them. Books celebrate life in all its aspects, so you can be sure that there will be always something in your book – a character, a scene, an event, a trip – that relates to any one holiday or celebration. Make lists of these and keep updating them year to year.
Share as you’re writing. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, wherever your audience is and keep them updated on your progress. Authors don’t like distractions – we know – but adding a seasonal vibe can be fun and gives you relatability. For example, you might snap a pic of yourself having a mug of mulled wine at the computer over Christmas, while you’re doing edits – or, if you’re away from the desk, you might take pictures of some of the locations in the book. Throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, when people might browse their social media more often, a tweet a day would not go amiss. Post to Facebook 1-2 times a week, and try to write a blogpost on your personal/author site at least once a month.
Be a blogstar: use personal anecdotes (that Christmas ten years ago when you got an awful present, which somehow made it into your book?), and share intimate details of your writing process with your readers – they always want to know how a book comes about. Express yourself and bring your followers on your writing journey with you. Here are some tips for successful blogposting for authors.
Get together with your readers on- and off-line. Make appearances at or organise book clubs, readings, reader events, author conferences. (Is your book about Aboriginal art? Book your local bookstore for a reading on Australia Day, for example.) Make sure to have some print copies ready to sell at all these events. Organise and host online reader events. Answer reader questions in a group chat, web conference call, etc. Get in touch with your mailing list. Give your e-mails a pretty seasonal finish and make them interactive. For example, ask your fans what gifts they think your characters would like. Get them engrossed in the world of your stories. Create someholiday short stories. These could be related to the book and sold as an e-book collection or sent free to your fans as a card for the holidays. (You wrote a travel book? Buy loads of actual postcards to give away at your book launch.)
Branch out and promote yourself alongside other authors, local bookstores, goods suppliers, charities.
Collaboration with other authors is key in the writing industries. Organize a book event with another author/other authors, and pitch your stories to the crowd, reading segments of the text, comment on one another’s work. Work together online as well, and bundle your books together into themed book hampers – readers love to buy packages. Offer the packages at reduced price, so readers can get a good deal, and generate repeat business and gain a whole new fanbase at the same time. Include a gift guide detailing the kinds of personalities of readers who would enjoy each book.
Join up with bookshops and libraries in your area and promote yourself as a local author. Who doesn’t love local? Offer a free reading, organise a book event, ask for a book launch, have a book club meeting there – you get more visibility (and sales), and the bookstore gets business (and sales). (Is there an event in your local maritime museum and your book is a memoir about your sailing trip around the world? The museum will be happy for you to have a reading there.)
Create packages for multiple buys. People are lazy. Wouldn’t it be much easier to get the one book for both mum and grandma on Mother’s Day? Bundle your books together for a holiday and offer a slight discount so readers can feel it’s a good-value gift.
Promote your book as part of a gift package. Choose items related to the book, its location or characters. Try a travel item, add in some seasonal recipes or give a link to a playlist that relate to your book. Go down to your florist and get a good deal for flower bouquets to sell with your book around Valentine’s, Mother’s, Women’s Day. Sell the book along with a voucher for the bouquet or get the florist to deliver the flowers with the book.
Work with charities – have a charity week, choose a cause to donate donate sales proceeds to, and ask the respective charity to promote your book for the week. Find a charity whose services relate to the theme of the book.
Have regular flash sales or free book events on sell sites like Amazon and get people to join a mailing list of your upcoming sale events. (Make sure to schedule your sale events for the year and tick all the gift-giving holidays when people are likely to buy books.)
THE BUSINESS STUFF
Do your market research, have a plan, execute it. Know your audience, seek out your ideal readership, make the right connections, engage with the publishing industry, go to events, get yourself a good PR, be social.
Utilise the printing down time. Printers are crazy busy in the August to November rush. Approach them in February and get the better rates.
Host an Amazon giftcard give-away. And if you’re planning on taking a break for the holiday, go out with a bang. Announce your last sale date in advance on your site and social media and plan a big promotion.
Have a competition section on your author site. Every month but especially around the holidays, give away one book or several (a package of your older unsold books and the latest coming out), organise reader review competitions (select five loyal fans/bloggers/reviewers and send them advanced review copies or samples), organise online reader events, seek out interviews with review sites, magazines, et al.
Always have business cards at the ready, stick one in every book you sell at events, say good-bye with a handshake and your business card, and always mention your online presence so readers/publisher people/agents can follow you. End a presentation, a reading, an event with: “If you want to know more about how this book came about… / More on this… / Details about my upcoming book… on my blog/Facebook page/follow me on Twitter/sign up for my newsletter…”
Self-promotion does not come easy to most people, especially some authors, but holidays are a great business opportunity, and, in order to sell books, you need to be and act like an entrepreneur.