We are right in the middle of the holiday shopping season, and no matter where you go or who you ask, books remain a popular and timeless gift year after year. Around 30-40 percent of consumers who responded to annual surveys between 2012-2020 said they plan to buy books as gifts for the holidays.
Based on data from NPD BookScan (which tracks point of sale for publishing), nearly 173 million books were sold between November-December 2019. That counts for 25 percent of the publishing industry’s annual print sales! And while publishing continues to be impacted by the supply chain disruption, print book sales are up 13.2 percent from 2020 to 2021 and 21 percent from 2019 to 2021, according to NPD BookScan.
To get a peek at your own past and current holiday sales, authors can access NPD BookScan data through Amazon’s Author Central platform, noting that NPD BookScan estimates it captures 85 percent of retail print book sales.
Whether your book is experiencing its first holiday season or its fifteenth, there are a few creative marketing and publicity tips, tricks, and strategies to help boost your sales in these final weeks of the year.
1. SHARE AN EXCERPT ONLINE
A digital presence (social media and an author website) is incredibly important for an author’s brand awareness. If someone is interested in learning more about you and your work, then goes to Google you, what will they find? Your website should be the first link (or, at least on the first page) of the search results. If they click on your page and see a section highlighting your published work, you want to take advantage of the very brief minutes and seconds that you have their attention. With an excerpt published on your site and/or promoted on your social media, you will give readers a chance to see if they want to read more of your book. If they like what they’ve read from the excerpt, they just might be encouraged to buy a copy and/or give a copy.
2. HOST A GIVEAWAY ON INSTAGRAM
Whether it’s on your own account or someone else’s, consider hosting a giveaway of your book(s) in November or December. Be sure to have the prizes fulfilled before the holidays! You’ll get increased exposure and engagement through a social media giveaway, and you could reach new people on the platforms. When you send the book to the winner, include a personalized letter to them explaining how excited you are they won, and maybe a short anecdote about the book or your writing process. Then, make sure to include your contact information (website URL, social media handles), so that they can connect with you online directly after they receive the book and letter.
3. OFFER A DISCOUNT
Is your book an extension of your own business or professional brand? Do you offer professional services to clients? During the holiday season, consider offering a bundle of your services along with a signed copy of your book. If you also sell books directly to consumers (DTC) through your website, offer a discount code for sales through the holidays. It might inspire shoppers to order more than one copy! If your publisher sells DTC through its website, ask if they can set up a discount code you’ll share with your followers to also encourage holiday shopping.
4. PROMOTE PERSONALIZED COPIES
Local bookstores love local authors. So whether you are traditionally published or self-published, make sure you have a relationship with your local independent bookstore. Start building this relationship early, ideally before your book is published. Once the holiday season rolls around, you will have a strong relationship to discuss a partnership with the store to coordinate selling personalized copies to your national audience. Bestselling author Eva Chen is a master at this! She regularly promotes her relationship with NYC-based bookstore Books of Wonder, and stops into the store often to sign and personalize copies shipping all across the country.
5. SECURE HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE COVERAGE
If your book lends itself to a particular audience, lean into that throughout the holiday season. Every day between October to December, a new gift guide publishes somewhere on the internet. And these lists range from general to EXTREMELY SPECIFIC. We’re talking gift guides for plant parents, most bizarre gifts, gifts that went viral on TikTok, and gifts for Royal enthusiasts. Find your audience, and target gift guides that are for those exact groups. With nearly every PR campaign around this time of year, we pitch for holiday gift guide coverage. As another gift guide strategy, you can also come up with your own list of your favorite things to support other authors or small businesses while including a brief plug for your book as well.
Lastly, holiday gift guide coverage isn’t limited to just this time of year. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gift guides are just around the corner. Reach out to us and we can chat about your PR and/or digital marketing needs and goals for 2022. Happy holidays and happy shopping!