It seems like just yesterday I was putting up then taking down Christmas decorations. Stores are running their holiday advertisements, and their shops don bright decorations with promises of a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday. The hope is that retail sales will be grand this year and break records, in spite of the so-called economy strain.
Are you not a retailer? I mean, you have goods for sale. Why not increase your retail sales and get your book specials ready for the holidays? Actually, if you’re reading this article, you should already have a marketing and sales plan in place. Like traditional retailers, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to try to capture holiday shoppers. My usual suggestion is to have your plans and promotions planned by October and test them so they can be ready to go in November and December. Another reason for early planning is Black Friday and Cyber Monday; however, we’re past that now.
Over the years, I’ve given suggestions on how to market your book during the holidays. Below, I’ve listed a few tips on how to market your books to gain more exposure for your books and convert “lookie-loohs” into paying customers.
Price Reduction: It’s not a bad idea to reduce your book’s price for the holidays. After all, retailers entice shoppers with sales incentives, including price reductions. The amount is up to you. You could reduce your $15 paperback to $12.50 or even $10. You can offer a percentage discount on purchases of two or more—10 percent off two or more books. You can also lower your $6.99 ebook to $4.99 or $2.99. If you have a new book releasing soon, you can offer a free ebook version with purchase of a paperback. You could even offer your oldest book at 99¢ to promote your newest title. You might think that is too low, but consider one of the many success stories like Amanda Hocking, who sold her ebooks for 99¢, made over a million dollars, and ended up with a seven-figure publishing contact. Do your research.
Free Shipping: I challenge you to look in your inbox, and if you get a lot of junk mail like I do, you’ll see tons of holiday advertisements from retailers offering free shipping with purchase. This is actually a good idea, especially if you are an author. You can choose to charge a customer the regular price for your book but offer free shipping, or you can offer a discount on top of free shipping. It is really up to you. Depending on the dimensions of your book, delivery zip code, and method of delivery, shipping can cost anywhere from $2.50 (Media Mail) to $10 (Priority Mail). And if you’re shipping multiple books at once, shipping can get a bit pricey—strategize wisely.
Book Trailers: Just like blockbuster movies advertise with video previews, you can too! You can use one of several brands of software, ranging from inexpensive to very expensive, to create a book trailer. You don’t have to be an expert. You can take a few photos of your book, add legal stock photography, legal background music, legal stock videos, and a voice-over to create awesome videos. If you’re more experienced, you can create professional-looking videos with the help of live actors, great photography, videographer, and a good green screen. Platforms like Microsoft, Corel and Adobe are excellent resources for making creative book trailers. I use Adobe; however, it’s not for the faint at heart. If you’re a beginner, start with Microsoft or Corel. The last time I checked, Microsoft’s software was free.
Contests: I think authors should run a contest two to four times a year, with the biggest contest occurring around the holidays. The contest can be simple or creative. I ran a contest last year offering an extravagant gift basket. Customers were challenged to purchase one of my ebooks or paperback books at which time they would be entered into a drawing to win the gift basket that included all my titles, a wine glass, a bottle of wine, or for those non-drinkers, a coffee mug and a package of coffee. Again, you can run a contest any way you’d like. Run it from your Website, blog, social media, or through email marketing. Please research for rules on social media contests. Facebook has as a specific set of rules, which you can read about here. Here is another resource on Facebook contests.
Promotion Items: I cannot express this enough: Always have some sort of promotional items for your books. Whether it’s a business card, bookmark, coffee mug, or pen, promotional material is an excellent source to market your books. You can utilize many local and national companies— do your own research to find the company and resource that is right for you and your budget.
Donate: I know, we’re supposed to be talking about making money and not giving it away, right? Consider donating some of your books to a literacy organization, preferably to an underserved organization. Of course, the organization you chose will depend on your book’s subject matter. If you write children’s books, consider donating a few to children who are not lucky enough to own or read books and don’t have access to libraries, etc. Even though you do not receive any money on the front end, your investment will come back to you, and it doesn’t hurt that you’ll feel good about helping others.
The above tips are only a few of the many things you can do to utilize, advertise, and increase sales this holiday season. If you don’t have a Website, get one and use it to advertise your books. If you absolutely cannot obtain a Website—they are not cheap—start a blog site. You can do this with platforms like Blogger or WordPress. (Remember that this is a WordPress.com and a WordPress.org.)Click here for an example of blogging platforms. Set up an e-commerce account like PayPal or Intuit to accept payments directly from your Website. It’s as simple as copying and pasting an html code into your Website or blog. Make posters and flyers advertising your specials, and don’t miss any opportunity to talk up your book. Now, sell, sell, sell!
Happy Holidays and Happy Sales!