Christmas is Here Again | On Holidays and Happy Chaos (Part III)

I have good news and bad news, and it’s the same news.  Should I ever face a film-worth scenario in which I have to choose, I will always choose to hear the good news first, so here it is:  Today is the 17th of December, which means Christmas is fast closing in––and I mean fast.  Christmas brings plenty of delectable morsels into our lives, as well as gifts and gift-giving, and––if we’re lucky––a blissful trip up and down memory lane with the people we love most in this world.  But here’s the bad news: Christmas is fast closing in.  You read that correctly!  As I mentioned, the good and bad news end up bearing more than a close kinship to each other. 

But how can Christmas ever be bad news?  Perhaps I’m overstating the fact, but here’s the truth of the matter: Christmas is crunch time for self-published authors, especially those hoping to launch successful holiday specials.  The holiday season is when authors are, along with the majority of small business owners, most likely to recoup or finish recouping their operational expenses for the year.  Maybe an author turned to a hybrid self-publishing company to design, print, bind, or help market her book.  Maybe an author burned a couple of tanks full of petrol in order to host his book signings, readings, and luncheons.  Whatever the case may be, even self-publishing has its attendant costs, and Black Friday is a magic day for everyone.  But the precious commodity constituted by the time left between Thanksgiving and Christmas is shrinking rapidly––so what can we do to make the most of it?

Thought #3:  Breathe.  Write.  Publish.  But mostly, breathe.  (Rinse & Repeat)

Most often, you’ll get tip lists around Christmas from self-publishing gurus, somewhere along the lines of “50 tips to launch your book this Christmas,” or “3 unexpected ways to promote your book over the holidays,” or even “10 steps to self-publishing success.”  I’m not here to tell you these tidbits of advice don’t work––some of them certainly will, and some of them are probably destined for failure.  I am here to offer you something a little more offbeat than a rote list of hit-or-miss ideas.

I’m here to tell you it’s okay to step away from the phone, from the bookstore, the library, and your Amazon book listing.  I’m here to tell you it’s okay not to push your book with some wild and crazy Christmas party, or by setting up a quiet reading at a classy booklover’s club.  But hang on one second––I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t promote your book (at all).  I’m telling you that there’s more than one way to break a glass ceiling.

Think about it for a second.  What’s the most effective way to promote a book?  Writing a book people love.  That one’s a no-brainer.  But what’s the second-most effective way?  Writing another book people love.  No matter how many readers you earn with your first book, you are practically guaranteed to win more with each book that follows.  Name and brand recognition play their parts in authorial success, as does the pleasurable possibility of the serial read.  Whether you write self-help books or genre literature or poetry or something else that is wonderful and wild and perfectly unique to you, your sales will improve as you publish more books.  You know how we all like to marathon whole seasons of Doctor Who or How I Met Your Mother, or drop by a sick friend’s place with Tylenol and the entire extended edition boxed set of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings?  Readers treat your books the same way.  Once they find an author or a series or a genre they like, they’re likely to read all the books that author has written (so long as they’re easily accessible).  And I’ll admit, I’m one of those readers who will wait in line for a signed copy of a new book, then hurry to the bookstore register to purchase all of the prequels, sequels, and tangentially related volumes I can find. 

So, maybe you’ve written just the one book.  Maybe that’s all you have in you right now.  That’s okay.  Don’t ever let anyone try and push you to conform to their expectations of what a writer’s life or method looks like.  As I’ve mentioned in past Wednesday blogs, there’s no one right or wrong way to go about this writing thing, or even this self-publishing thing.  It’s tough enough being a writer without feeling like you’re out of joint with someone else’s expectations.  This holiday season, take time to breathe.  Return to those ways and means that rejuvinate you.  Cherish the stories you’ve written, and the stories you have left to write, and live.

For the first blog in this series, navigate here.  For the second, here.  Look for my final holiday-themed self-promotional blog for the year next wednesday!  If you have a question about any of these tools for self promotion, would like to hear from me about something specific, or have other big news to share, please comment below!

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

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