by Rachel Thompson
How do you plan to market your book(s) for the holidays?
Most authors don't do much of anything different and that's cool, if you have low expectations. If however, you'd like to see a good bump in your book sales (and who wouldn't?), here a few easy, practical tips you can do right now!
(What follows are only suggestions. I am not enumerated to mention any of these sites, and if you try them and have a bad experience, that is on you.)
1. Run a promotion
I like sites like Freebooksy and BargainBooksy (owned by Written Word Media, "Trusted by over 17,000 authors and 350,000 readers") because they're reasonably priced, easy to deal with, and typically have an almost 100% acceptance rate if you follow their guidelines. Books must be priced between 99c and $5 for the Bargain site, and I find that if you give them a week's notice, that's usually plenty of time; however, given that the holidays are an extremely busy time, I suggest booking around Christmas week right away.
They also have a few newer sites for new releases, romance, thrillers, and series as well.
Your book will go out to their newsletter list for that genre (i.e., I've done promotions for Broken Places (on their nonfiction list) which goes out to 74, 700 subscribers. They also tweet and Facebook it as well. Obviously, your book must be free (on whichever dates you're set to go free or perma-free) to use Freebooksy.
Runaway Goodness is another new site that's grown with hyper speed. Take a look and see if you have any interest. It's owned by my publisher, Booktrope, but they accept all books, indie or from other publishers. Contact them directly for more info. Cool tip: readers get a free book just for signing up.
There are hundreds of sites you can use to run promotions for your book. How do you know which one(s) to use? I go to AuthorMarketingClub.com and use their free submission feature (scroll down to the bottom of the page). Take your pick. Most are free if your book is free; if your book is not free, there are many low-cost paid options.
2. Social Media
As you probably know, I'm not a huge fan of hawking books on social media, but if you do run a promo, it's worth using a hashtag like #BlackFriday or #CyberMonday, or #XmasGift or #HolidayGift etc., because people will search on hashtags when looking for gifts.
Additionally, you can now use hashtags on all other social media channels, including Facebook (they now allow searches on keywords), Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. Ebooks make an especially easy last minute purchase, so #LastMinuteGift is also a handy hashtag.
Tip: Schedule in these tweets and shares using Hootsuite or Buffer, leaving you plenty of time for your own holiday shopping, writing, and family time. Not sure when the optimal time to post on the different social media channels? Here's a handy guide from AddThis.
(If you plan to focus on paperbacks as gifts, remember to leave time for shipping, so stop those tweets/shares approximately ten days prior to Christmas.)
I still get can't my mind around people who don't blog, but if you're one of those, now is a great time to dig in. People generally have more time off around the holidays, which means more time to discover YOU.
Unsure exactly what to blog about? Here's a really simple formula: pick five topics that interest you, whether or not they relate to your book, and write about those. Once weekly is plenty. If you can tailor it appropriately for the holidays, cool.
*Brand the author, not the book*
Why do people say that, anyway? Well, hopefully you have more than one book in you. If you put all this time and effort into only ever talking, blogging, tweeting, and sharing about this one book, what happens when you write the next one? Are you going to keep changing your blog posts (and your entire platform) to fit the next book? And then the next?
Don't do that. Work smart. Your website and blog are your home. If you've only ever focused on your book, now is the time to become authentically you. Need an example? I write about real life: relationships, abuse, divorce, parenting, the life of an author, with an rare excerpt of my work (if it's close to a release), plus lots of guest posts.
While we're on blogging, a few simple tips to attract people to your blog:
* Always use pictures - I recommend Unsplash. Their pictures are always royalty-free and gorgeous. Pictures and visuals draw the eye in and readers are more likely to stay and read your posts if they are visually engaged.
* Use your expertise - in anything. Solve problems for people, even if it seems trivial. Share a secret (I found out how to remove a ring rash even three dermatologists couldn't figure out and it was brilliant!). Someone, somewhere can use what you know.
* Be consistent - make the time. This post took maybe thirty minutes, once I committed to the time. If you can write for 10 minutes, three times here and there throughout the day, you can write a post once a week. Stop procrastinating and telling yourself you can't - your own success demands it.
4. Book Bloggers
It may be too late to fit in a blog tour at this point, however many, many bloggers are doing contests, giveaways, and parties which are great for visibility and exposure. I find many different book bloggers posting opportunities with different genres on Facebook daily. Find yours and jump in!
How many new authors get all excited because "Wow, my book is out! Everybody read it!" and guess what? That doesn't happen. Your book is one of about 5,000 released daily, just on Amazon alone. You need reviews, right? And not just from anyone - so if you're spamming random people on Twitter 'Hey, want a free copy of my book in exchange for a review?' (and you know who you are), stop that right now.
"Random people" are not your ideal demographic. When I released my first book in 2011, as a self-published author, I was terrified to approach book bloggers and reviewers. They didn't know me! Why on earth would they bother with me, right?
I find most book bloggers and reviewers to be truly good-hearted people who love to read good books, and be treated with courtesy and respect. Take a look at the BookBloggerList.com to find book bloggers in your specific genre - it's respectful to approach bloggers and reviewers who want to read your genre, not push your book on those who don't.
For more information on how to interact with book bloggers, read this amazing guide by the creator of the above mentioned list, The Author's Guide to Working with Book Bloggers (Building Blocks 1) by Barb Drozdowich.
Editor's Note: If you're still confused about what to do or you're looking for more options, you can reach out to the experts at IndieReader's new BookShare suite of social media, marketing and exclusive advertising opps!
Good luck with your books this holiday season and I hope these tips help you to plan your promotions now. Please leave any questions or comments below!