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5 Ways to Boost Book Sales This Holiday Season

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 is published 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!

3 Do’s (and 1 Don’t) For Growing Your Social Media Following

As an author, it’s important to get your books out there, know your audience, and communicate with them. Afterall, they’re the ones that buy your books! Social media is a great way to directly reach your audience, market your titles, and grow your following. Whether you’re starting from zero or have 5,000 followers, growing your social media platforms, no matter how big or small, can help you establish your brand as an author and reach even more potential readers.

Here are three tips to get you started!

DO set up all your accounts.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great platforms to start with if you haven’t already made accounts. It’s usually best practice to keep your usernames consistent across all platforms, so users can easily find you no matter what platform they’re on. Additionally, make sure any images you post, from profile pictures to book covers, are high quality and up-to-date. Canva is a free, easy-to-use tool to create and design graphics for social media.

DO engage, engage, engage!

We know you’ve probably heard this one before, but that’s because it really is that important! People want to follow engaging accounts that provide value to their lives. Posting consistently engaging content, whether it be a poll, an open-ended question, or a fun graphic, is a great way to get people to comment, like, and share your posts! Speaking of value…

DO follow the 80/20 rule.

The 80/20 rule states that around 80 percent of the content you post should be useful to your audience while 20 percent of the content you post should be promotional. “Useful” basically means it educates, entertains, or provides some kind of value to your followers. As an exercise, think about the accounts you like and enjoy following yourself. If they just promoted themselves all of the time, you’d probably find it pretty shallow and boring to follow. The key is to communicate with your audience, not at them.

DON’T buy followers!

Although you may be tempted, buying followers is never worth it or the investment you think it will be. If anything, these followers will actually be detrimental to your social media strategy, as they are usually fake accounts and bots that don’t interact with your content. You want active, engaged, real people as followers!

Although it can seem daunting, social media is a great tool for authors that provides the opportunity to connect with your readers like never before! Take advantage of that any way you can. If you need help with your social media strategy, feel free to contact us for some professional guidance and assistance!

Publicity vs. Marketing: An Author’s Guide

Your book is done! You’re as ready as you’ll ever be to share it with the world. But what’s next? How do you get your book out there? How do you make sure your audience finds it? Should you look into publicity or marketing? Or both? And what’s the difference between PR and marketing anyway?

First, let’s start with basic definitions:

Publicity: notice or attention given to someone or something by the media.

Marketing: The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising

The main difference? Marketing is focused on paid promotion of a specific product (i.e., your book), whereas PR is focused on earned media coverage for a brand (or author). It’s often said that publicity is free, but marketing you have to pay for. In the context of publishing, it’s better to think of PR as securing editorial coverage for an author/book and marketing as paid communication directly with the consumer about an author or book.

Publicity 

In the simplest terms, publicity is media attention. This includes traditional media, such as features in magazines, newspapers, and television (talk shows, news shows), as well as new media, like podcasts, blogs, websites, and social media. Publicists write creative pitches as well as press releases that are sent to targeted outlets with the goal of securing coverage. A publicist informs journalists, producers, storytellers, and influencers about why they should feature you as an expert or include your book in their content. Then the publicist and journalist work together to make that story come to life by coordinating interviews, sharing assets, and more until the feature is published. To learn more, check out our interview with a publicist here.

Marketing 

Marketing deals with promoting and selling a specific product, often in the form of advertising. From the ads you see on a train platform to ones you see scrolling through Instagram, these placements all cost money. In publishing, marketing starts with research to determine target audiences that would be most likely to buy your book based on demographics and interests. Once the audiences are established, you’ll then pay to have your ads shown directly to those consumers. Click here to see the step-by-step process to build a cookbook audience on Facebook Advertising.

By understanding the differences between PR and marketing as well as how they complement each other, you are able to achieve a powerful marketing strategy that launches your book right into readers’ hands. Although they’re different, PR and marketing often work hand-in-hand in the most successful campaigns. Send us a note to learn more!

Four Tips to Promote and Market Your Non-Fiction Book

Promoting and marketing non-fiction books is a different experience compared to other genres of books. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Write, write, write. Whether you’re sharing your expertise on social media or drafting op-eds and bylined articles for placement, get your name out there. On social, use hashtags that are popular within your industry. As you secure writing opportunities, be sure to include your book details and a link in your bio and byline.
  2. Utilize the power of your community. Send a book launch announcement to your digital address book. Post the book cover on your social media platforms and consider making it your profile image. Ask friends to post about your book and/or write reviews for it.
  3. Don’t be afraid to self-promote. Writing and publishing a book is a huge accomplishment. It should be celebrated. Don’t be afraid to humble-brag on social media every now and then.
  4. Hire experts. From the book cover design and editing to publicity and marketing, it is worth the investment to hire experts where your publishing knowledge may be lacking. While writing a book may seem like a solitary venture, every step of book publishing can be a collaboration if you want it to be. As book publicists and marketers, we treasure the author-publicist relationship–neither one of us could do our jobs successfully without the other. Surround yourself with those who know the industry inside and out as they will guide you along the journey of helping your book find its audience and be there with you to celebrate every book win!

There you have it! It may seem daunting at first, but if you take it little by little, you’ll be amazed at what you can do. If you need some help with publicity and marketing, we would be more than happy to help you. Find out how you can market your book effectively and highly efficiently with Pacific & Court, the Brooklyn-based publicity and digital marketing firm that specializes in promoting the written word.

Publishing 101: An Interview with an Acquisition Editor

So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve written your book – congratulations! Now what do you do? We sat down with Casie Vogel, the director of editorial and acquisitions of independent publisher, Ulysses Press, to ask her some questions you may have about publishing. Here’s Publishing 101.

  1. Introduce yourself!

My name is Casie Vogel, and I’m the Director of Editorial and Acquisitions at Ulysses Press. I’ve been with Uly for the last 7 years and I oversee the entire list which makes up more than 60 books a year across nonfiction genres.

  1. How do you get published?

There’s so many ways to get published! You can self-publish or work with a publisher. Self publishing is a ton of time, money, and energy but means you get to retain creative control of your project. The benefit of working with a publisher is that you get to rely on their expertise and resources, but you have to not only get your foot in the door but also work in partnership with the publisher’s goals for a successful book. I think this can be an extremely fruitful partnership, but I am certainly biased!

  1. When skimming through the slush pile of submissions, what makes a story stand out?

My experience lies in nonfiction, so I can’t speak to the fiction side of things, but what I look for is a very clear marketing hook/elevator pitch that can describe a project’s uniqueness in just one sentence.

  1. What are the biggest deterrents that lead to a rejection?

Unclear or unorganized proposals. We receive a ton of unsolicited proposals everyday. If your message or project is not made clear as soon as possible, it’s very easy to overlook the gems!

  1. How important is a cover letter?

The cover or query letter is crucial for me. I prefer it in the body of the email so it’s the first thing I see. If that doesn’t capture my attention, then it’s unlikely I’ll look at the proposal. 

  1. As an acquisition editor, how much control do you have over the manuscripts that ultimately get published?

Book publishing is a team effort, there are so many different people involved in the publication of just one book. Every book is vetted through a rigorous Editorial Board process that involves members from various departments (Marketing, Sales, etc.). Acquisitions editors will work closely with authors to shape a proposal and then champion their projects at Ed Board meetings. Editors have to prove to all departments that this book is a fit for their list and the company as well.

  1. How much time do you devote to each submission? How long does it take for you to decide whether to accept or reject a manuscript?

I unfortunately don’t have much time to look at the slush pile these days so I trust my team to vet everything. They’re absolutely brilliant and whenever they flag something for me, I always take it seriously and will completely review it before making a decision.

  1. What submission advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Do your research! Whether you’re self-publishing or working with a traditional publisher, it’s so important to know what the competition looks like. There are so many books out there, make sure you can communicate what makes yours special. When it comes to working with traditional publishers, take a look at their lists and make sure your project would be a natural fit before querying. That work will be apparent to anyone reviewing your proposal.

Good luck!

You may be asking yourself: what should you do next? After you get your book published, you’ll probably want to look into publicity and marketing to get your book out there! Get a free consultation with any of our experts on number of services, from editorial, public relations, marketing, self-publishing, and more! Find out how you can market your book effectively and highly efficiently with Pacific & Court, the Brooklyn-based publicity and digital marketing firm that specializes in promoting the written word.

Publicity 101: An Interview with a Publicist

Interested in getting publicity for your book, but don’t know where to start? Look no further! We sat down with Pacific & Court President, Kourtney Jason, to ask your burning questions. Here’s Publicity 101!

  1. Introduce yourself!

Hi! I’m Kourtney Jason, and I’m the president and co-founder of Pacific & Court. I have more than 10 years experience as a publicist, working alongside celebrities, world-renowned chefs, and bestselling authors. Before launching P&C, I led the in-house publicity departments at independent publishers Ulysses Press and Time Inc. Books. Further developing my client relations, I represented top NYC chefs and restaurants at Bread & Butter and worked with New York Times bestselling authors at Smith Publicity

I am an author as well, and I wrote 5 non-fiction lifestyle books with Ulysses Press. One of which, Lights Camera Booze: Drinking Games for Your Favorite Movies, was included in the Academy Awards swag bags.

I started my career as an entertainment journalist at Seventeen and TWIST magazines, covering all things Selena Gomez, Justin Beiber, Twilight and Jonas Brothers.

When I’m not working, reading or writing, I will most likely be found indulging my pop culture addiction with a Netflix binge, hitting the movie theater (always with a large popcorn and Diet Coke!), adding to my designer shoe collection, consuming a meal with carbs and cheese, or relaxing in Prospect Park with friends. Feel free to reach me at kourtney@pacificandcourt.com anytime to talk about book publicity or to share your current favorite book or show.

  1. What can a publicist do for me?

A publicist can and will do so many things to support an author’s book launch. The standard services include media outreach and interview coordination, blog tours, and book signings and event planning. Additionally, hiring a publicist for your campaign will include creative and professional press materials that will capture your key messages. We’ll take your bio to the next level, draft a book press release that will catch the attention of the media, and write various creative pitch angles to give you multiple opportunities to share your expertise and talk about your book. We are collaborators who want you and your book to succeed, and we are cheerleaders to encourage the hard work it takes to write a book and then have to sell that book. The best author-publicist teams are the ones where the communication is open, goals are clear, and trust is established. An author must be available for media opportunities and open to sharing ideas as well.

  1. How long does a publicity campaign usually take?

Ideally, 2-3 months is the sweet spot for book publicity campaigns. However, some campaigns may need up to 6 months, if it includes an ARC outreach and/or a book tour. If your particular area of expertise relates to a current news topic, the campaign may continue longer than the estimated 2-3 month timeline.

  1. What should I consider before reaching out to a publicist?

An author should ask themselves the following questions before reaching out to a publicist:

What are your goals–to sell books, make money, establish your name and credibility, grow your business, etc? Who is your audience? Do you have experience talking to traditional media? What is your budget? What does a successful book campaign look like to you?

If you have honest answers to those questions when you first connect with a publicist, it will help us land on the ideal strategy to be able to reach the goals set forth for your campaign.

  1. What’s one thing no one knows about/assumes about book publicity?

Public relations is hiding all around you, everywhere you look, and however you consume news. That guest on your favorite podcast? A publicist secured that. That how-to story you just read in a magazine? A publicist pitched that. The expert interview on a morning talk show? A publicist coordinated that. The A-list actor on the cover of a magazine? A publicist landed that. Publicists are working behind-the-scenes to get you and your book in front of the most influential journalists, producers, reporters, and bloggers who will then decide whether to put you and your book in front of their audiences. We publicists don’t care about the spotlight on ourselves, we are over-the-moon to celebrate every headline and media hit that features our clients. Coverage is not a guarantee, but you’ll want to find a publicist that you trust is doing everything they can to get your book out there into the most impactful places.

As you can see, investing in publicity for your book can give you access to new opportunities and new audiences. Interested in learning more? Find out how you can market your book effectively and highly efficiently with Pacific & Court, the Brooklyn-based publicity and digital marketing firm that specializes in promoting the written word.

Five Awards for Independent Authors

Looking to get your book recognized? Below are our Top 5 book awards that are open to independent and self-published authors.

  • Publisher’s Weekly: Booklife Prize
    The Booklife Prize costs $99 to enter (at the time of writing) and comes with a potential $5,000 grand prize (and $1,000 + social media promotion for finalists).
  • Indie Book Awards: Next Generation
    The Next Generation prize costs $75 to enter (at the time of writing) and comes with a variety of cash prizes awarded to winners.
  • Writer’s Digest: Self-Published Book Awards
    The Self-Published Book Awards cost $125 to enter (at the time of writing) and comes with a variety of cash prizes awarded to winners.
  • American Book Fest: Best Books Award
    The Best Books Award costs $69 per category to enter (at the time of writing) and winners receive $2,500 prizes along with 10-month listings on the American Book Fest website.
  • Foreword Reviews: Foreword INDIES
    The Foreword INDIES have a rolling submission process and early submissions cost $89 to enter (at the time of writing) and comes with a variety of cash prizes awarded to winners.

If you are planning to enter any of these book awards (or others) make sure to read the submissions guidelines carefully and mark your calendar for when entries are due. In addition to prize money, book awards are an excellent way to market your book well beyond your typical audience–and offer a clear signal to readers regarding the quality of the book they are considering purchasing.

Digital Ads 101: Building a Cookbook Audience on Facebook Advertising

If you are new to promoting your books with Facebook advertising, Pacific & Court can help. We have years of experience building, testing and perfecting Facebook and Instagram ads to get the best bang for the digital buck. Below is a snapshot of how to start analyzing audiences on Facebook Advertising.

One of our favorite digital advertising tools is Facebook’s Audience Insights. This free tool available to any Facebook business account (which all authors and publishers should have) allows you to scope out how potentially valuable and accessible different book audiences are to market to on these two critical social media platforms. Here are the key insights we take away from a simple search for “fans of cookbooks” in the United States:

Insight 1: The cookbook audience is fairly broad! 9-10 million Facebook users have indicated that they are fans of this genre of books.

Insight 2: This audience is heavily female. 84% of the audience is female (compared to 55% for all of Facebook)

Insight 3: This audience is older. The age groups that comprise 55-65+ make up almost half (49%) of the female audience for cookbooks on Facebook (and 37% for the male audience).

Insight 4: There are some clear “affinity categories” for the cookbook audience that have strong potential for micro-targeting ads. For example, this group tends to like authors like Ina Garten, Josh Axe and Martha Stewart–all of whom have large Facebook audiences that can be targeted with unique ads.

Insight 5: This audience is highly active on Facebook! The average Facebook user clicks on 19 ads per month. This group clicks on 47 ads each month! That indicates that we’ve identified an audience with a much higher likelihood of responding to our ads.

Top KDP Tools for Publishing Your Book

If you are self-publishing a book or moving it over for publication on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform, these downloadable tools are must haves. Download them below.

KDP Royalty Calculator. This Excel sheet provides an interactive tool for calculating what “royalty” Amazon will pay you for each book you sell through KDP. The royalty amount is dependent on the type of paper (white or cream) and the ink (black & white or color) and the page count. So play around with pricing until you hit the royalty amount you think is right.

KDP Print File Setup Calculator. This handy calculator allows you to exactly define the measurements you will need to submit for your book jacket files. KDP requires all book jackets to have a sizable outside margin consisting of a bleed and trim variance (the outside margin ensures any slight printing errors don’t end up as white strips on your cover). So make sure to allow for a larger background than your target trim size and keep any text within the live area. The spine width is determined by the type of paper, ink, and page count.