Believe it or not, August is the time to start planning ways to sell more books around the holidays.
There’s no doubt about it – books make great holiday gifts. They’re inexpensive, easy to find and buy, and can be very thoughtful gifts right in line with a person’s interests. In other words, if you know the person you’re buying the gift for – and of course you do – a book can be a can’t-miss gift.
So how can you make your book noticed during the holidays and spark sales? Here are some tips:
- Gift Guides. Many magazine gift guides and gift sections are busy collecting titles right now … in the middle of summer! This is what we call “long lead” media. Finding editorial calendars for magazines isn't difficult, and you can quickly find out what they have in mind for their holiday issue! Some basic searching online with publication titles followed by “editorial calendar” will usually do the trick.
Here’s one example for Shape magazine:
In addition, some outlets will accept book pitches for gift recommendations closer to the holidays—especially online and newspaper outlets—so planning ahead is key.
Think global—but go local. Local media outlets are typically always more inclined to cover local authors. Also, with some basic online searching you can find bloggers, freelance writers, and websites that are interested in specific topics and books for the holidays. Learn more about who you should target. For instance, if your book is a great gift for a daughter to purchase for her dad, you should reach out to bloggers and others who focus on father topics and male interest news. You can also reach out to bloggers targeting the buyer (daughter), too.
- Pitch Perfect. You should be able to quickly describe your book to anyone at anytime. Master how to capture the essence of your book in one or two short sentences. Think like a movie critic or Hollywood film marketer.
Here are some examples for some popular holiday movies:
After causing all kinds of problems in the elf community because he’s so big, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole heads to the U.S. to find his father. (Elf)
A six-year-old has doubts about whether Santa Claus is real. But after meeting a special department store Santa who's says he's the real thing, Susan is given the most wonderful gift of all - something to believe in. (Miracle on 34th Street – 1994)
Young Rudolph suffers a childhood accident that makes his nose change from black to glowing red color and, as a result, he is teased. When he loses in the reindeer games to his rival in front of a doe he likes, Rudolph runs away, but soon finds a way to gain acceptance, overcome his fears and find happiness. (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie)
For inspiration, visit http://www.imdb.com.
- The Media is Your Friend. Don't be afraid to contact media outlets. Remember: producers and editors need good material to publish or air. Less is generally more when it comes to pitching a book. Be succinct and make every word count. Include things such as:
- a short sentence showing that you know their work as a journalist or even a broadcast producer. Personalizing it is great, i.e. “I enjoyed the reading your piece about World War II veterans meeting for the first time last Veteran’s Day. I recently published a book set during World War II…”
- your elevator pitch,
- the people who would love to receive your book as a gift,
- price (especially if you are offering a holiday special price for your book),
- holiday specials or incentives—if you sell the book from your website, gift wrapping and a personal note to the recipient are great incentives
- formats available (hardcover, ebook, etc.)
- links to purchase your book, i.e. Amazon, BN.com, etc.
- short author bio, condensed clips of reviews, testimonials, or awards, and your website,
- email address, telephone number and note (early in the email) if you are a local author, and
- an offer to send a review copy or PDF of your book.
- Make it Personal. Wherever you sell or talk about your book, offer signed copies.
- The More You Give, the More You Get. Choose a favorite holiday-time charity and share a portion of book sales profits for holiday sales. People inherently like to feel good about buying something!
- The Price is Right. Announce prices in all of your promotional efforts, and do it in compelling ways. Example: The Ultimate Holiday Gift for under $20.
- Discount Your Way to More Sales. If you sell your book as an ebook, offer a discount for a limited time during the holidays.
Most importantly, plan ahead and be proactive to make the most of holiday book sales.