We'd all love to see sales soar on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, wouldn't we? But for many of us the time to market for the holidays has long since come and gone. Or has it? The key piece of this is that when it comes to holiday gifts, autographed books make great presents and are often fantastic "hostess" gifts or inspired ideas for last-minute shoppers.
When it comes to online promotion, almost everyone's emphasis is online. Banner ads, Facebook promotions, Pinterest promotions. All of these designed to drive you into a store or to shop online. But there's a lot of momentum to be had by pushing the offline markets.
There's No Place Like Home: There's a lot of truth in this very famous line. Let's take a look:
Stores and gift shops: Now I'm not talking about Barnes & Noble stores here, though of course if you can get your book into a local chain store that's always a great idea. I'm talking about your local gift shops, card shops, even coffee shops and other local retailers. Autographed books make great gifts and if you are doing some local promotion and agree to drive buyers into the local stores that's an even bigger benefit for them to carry it. Be sure to get those "Autographed by Author" stickers for the front of the book as well as a small stand for the counter or wherever you'll be displaying the books. If the store can't take books into inventory without a lot of extra work, offer to leave some on consignment. Just be sure that you leave them with an invoice or some other simple agreement so you know how many books you left and what you've agreed to pay the store per each book sale.
Local Media: Finding a holiday spin that ties in locally is another great idea. Local media loves to feature hometown authors so figuring out a good holiday spin will be a fantastic way to get booked on a show, featured in a local paper or magazine. Don't think your book has a holiday tie-in? We had an author some years ago who had a book about the benefits of humor on kids. The holiday pitch? Give your kids the gift of laughter this holiday season. We booked him like crazy. Be creative, spend some time noodling with ideas and then run them by people who can give you objective feedback.
Holiday Fairs and Events: Go onto your local town events page and see what's coming up. Most of these places probably haven't booked up if you want to get a table, share a table or get a booth.
Schools/Civic Organizations: There is always a lot going on in the school system and local organizations around the holidays. Holiday fairs, holiday events, civic events, etc. If your book ties into these, or if there's a way to participate in them, do it. It's a great way to get in front of a potential buying audience.
Strip Malls and Shopping Centers: As I mentioned above, these can be great places to leave a stack of holiday books (signed of course). If you aren't having any luck placing the books, see if the store will let you do some fun bag stuffers like bookmarks with your contact information on it: For a signed copy, please contact... Or find some other fun, creative bag stuffer you can offer. Bag stuffers can be great promo pieces and, if you buy in volume, you can get some really good pricing, too.
Airports: Many airports offer a little-known service: they'll let you rent a table in various spots to sell books. I've seen it done a few times at various airports around the country. Imagine being front and center when the holiday crowd starts to flood in. How would you organize this? Call your local airport, ask for the general information office and ask them. Or better yet, go down there and scope it out for yourself!
eBook Promotion: We've been focusing offline for much of this piece but if you have any free eBook promotion days why not schedule them just before Thanksgiving to help give your book some additional exposure and a little nudge? You'll have access to sites that let you post your book for free which is great and you can potentially get a jump start on the holiday shopping season. But, you might argue, if it's free doesn't that defeat the purpose of the sale? Well, not really. See if you offer it for a day or two days for free, you'll get in front of a lot of people (potentially) and the momentum you create from the giveaway can help push additional attention to your book so when the book is regularly priced again, you're making a sale (or several)!
Holiday sales can be great and if you're savvy about it, they don't have to involve months and months of advanced promotion. Take advantage of what's going on around you, step out and get to know some of your local vendors, local events and other regional opportunities. They could pay off for you in some big end-of-the-year results!