The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part IV)

We all know how wonderful it is to have holiday traditions, those things we do year after year and never tire of because they bring us nostalgia for our youth or for holidays in general. However, in book marketing, tradition in the holiday season might mean stagnation. So this year, when you’ve finished your traditions of decorating your Christmas trees, drinking egg nog, wearing tacky sweaters, caroling and hanging your stockings by the chimney with care, let us help you brainstorm some new ways to market your book.

christmas holiday fire book

The trees have shed their colorful fall foliage, the air has grown crisp, the kids are back in school, and you know what that means? The year’s final holidays are just right around the corner. This is a time of year to celebrate, not only because it means the return of pumpkin spice lattes and apple crisp, but because it is a time of year devoted to giving thanks, sharing delicious food and thoughtful gifts, and it is a time to gather with and spend time with those we love and cherish.

You can further celebrate this time of year as an author by innovating your marketing strategies, as there are certain advantages to marketing this time of year that aren’t available to you on just any summer day.

With an increased amount of shoppers trying to fill stockings and fill out the base of their Christmas trees, it is imperative that you’ve nailed down who exactly your audience is. Is your book a children’s book? Make sure your book is made available in local toy stores and maybe put some flyers up in local day care centers, libraries, and schools. Also, think of how great your book could be as a stocking stuffer for family members; being generous with your book this time of year could lead to more readers not only within your family, but whoever your family ends up sharing it with as well.

This is also a great time of year for holiday giveaways online. Vamp up your blog with relevant tags, and host your giveaways there! Post on pages relevant to your story–this could be anything from a Facebook page of the state your book takes place in, a Facebook group of readers that your book might appeal to, or maybe even to a Facebook event in your area that fits the theme of your book.

Remember that Christmas stockings are often full of Amazon gift cards; do you have an ebook to offer all these new potential buyers? Going digital means that there were literally be MILLIONS of people who will have access to your book, who never would’ve come across it otherwise. If you already have an ebook version, ask your readers for a priceless holiday gift: a good review online.

christmas stack of books coffee holidays

The Christmas holidays is an especially important time to be thinking about helping to preserve your family’s history and legacy by self-publishing a book.  That’s because Christmas, perhaps more than any other holiday, is rich with oral storytelling traditions, baking traditions, and narrative traditions of all kinds.  You can both collect new material for your book and enjoy the rich conversations that will inevitably collect around the news that you’ve got a book in the works.  And sometimes, at Christmas as at other times of year when our relationships with the past are the hinge upon which our lives turn, we can all do with a little reminder:

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part III)

fall autumn book

Several weeks back, we began this series by introducing the idea that marketing—specifically marketing as regards self-published books—is a kind of alchemy. Alchemy, we discovered, has a lot of meanings or connotations, but we continue to run semi-officially with the Merriam-Webster definition of alchemy as “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” We spent some time during the next post examining this definition further, as well as its historic inflections and how that translates into focusing on what makes your writing and method special. Last time, we looked into the guiding question of “what’s next?” Which, as it turns out, is taking your existing habits and tweaking them to better serve your marketing goals–in a sustainable fashion that won’t undercut your existing routines and interests.

What comes after “what’s next?”

Next comes the holiday-specific part! Now that you’ve eked out some additional sustainable habits (that will continue working in your favor year-round, of course!) it’s time to think about what little bits of “extra” you can fit in around the holidays that support your ongoing marketing strategy and also take advantage of all those little things you can only do around the holidays.

Thanksgiving

To hit upon some high points we keep returning to year after year on this blog:

Thanksgiving is a time for doing, every bit as much as it is about giving and receiving. After all, the whole “giving and receiving” thing gets a real workout around Christmas. And in a smaller sense, at Halloween and even Veteran’s Day, when we give thanks to our servicemen and women—very important in its own way, but not the only mode of being to inhabit as a self-publishing author.

Thanksgiving is a time for activity, for wrapping up all the things that have been left unfinished at other times of year—a time for completion, for stepping back and looking at the whole and then by golly sitting down and filling in the holes. The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t just to give and receive thanks; the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to get ‘er done. To see yourself and your book and your marketing campaign and your social media strategy through the rough patches that inevitably accumulate on the leading edge of the end of the year. It’s not, contrary to legend, a time to sit around and kick up your feet and wait for good things to happen (or, more appropriately, to pop out of the oven and onto your dinner plate). Delicious as a fresh-baked cobbler is, it’s not quite the point.

If we wanted to look all the way back to the Quakers and the First Thanksgiving—and let’s face it, like it or not Thanksgiving is a time rife with nostalgia and historic musings—we should be honest about what it was like for them. They only celebrated because the gifted foods and skills given them by the local tribes kept them from starvation—and then, only just. The Quakers almost starved. Many of them did starve. It was not a time of plenty; it was a time for surviving, and for acknowledging those who helped them to survive. The time for celebration isn’t after everything is done and the harvest is in; the time for celebration is now, when the struggle and the busy-ness and the insanity is at its height. Tap into that spirit and, in the spirit too of the diagramming and recording we’ve done since our previous post, start brainstorming the ways you can merge celebration with marketing. Will throwing an event at the local library do that for you? Will putting up posters around town? Hosting a discount or giveaway on your blog and book sale page? Think of those strategies which you can put together quickly, easily, and without adding undue stress at a busy time. We’ll be back next week with more thoughts on specific events, tips, and tricks you can use that fit the bill for simple and stress-free!

These holidays, I hope you know that we here at Self Publishing Advisor are a part of your network, a resource to enable your resilience. We’re here for you this Thanksgiving season, to help you get it done–and to help you celebrate your wonderful book!

fall autumn book blanket coffee

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part II)

halloween

Several weeks ago, I introduced the idea that marketing—specifically marketing as regards self-published books—is a kind of alchemy. Alchemy, of course, has a lot of meanings or connotations, but we are now semi-officially running with the Merriam-Webster definition of alchemy as “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” We spent some time during the previous post examining this definition further, as well as its historic inflections and how that translates into focusing on what makes your writing and method special.

This week, briefly (because it’s Halloween!),  we’re going to take a look at that guiding question, “what’s next?” After all, if you’ve been following along with our previous posts, you’ve already diagrammed your daily habits and figured out what marketing strategies you’re already doing, or which your existing schedule makes easily possible.

Next, it’s time to work on the hard part: making room for more marketing.

I call this the “hard part” because this is where several different things can happen: you can either go too far, or you can go not far enough. Both are common problems, and the key is to use the descriptive work you did in the previous post as a guide here in the proscriptive part of the process. Instead of just shoving one-size-fits-all solutions into a life that’s already crowded with precious activities, habits, and routines, you have to introduce new habits carefully, like when you bring home a new cat to meet the cats you already have. (It’s Halloween; you can let me have this one weird cat metaphor, right?) You do so gradually, with an eye for sustainability, and with respect for the cat, schedule, and skills that are already in place.

There’s no point introducing something if it just won’t work with who you are and what you like to do; this is why going too far and changing your existing routine or stretching your existing skills beyond your ability to cope will only end in disaster. (Keeping with today’s theme, those failures may just haunt you forever–in a legitimate, “I don’t ever want to try this again, even slightly, in any context, now that I’m so frustrated and/or burned out on this one all-or-nothing attempt” way.) Do you enjoy spending time on social media? Are you an Instagram guru? Take ten minutes of your day and set those aside for Instagramming on behalf of your book on top of what you already do for yourself in a private capacity. Do you enjoy having your kids “help” you out in the kitchen? Snap some “behind the scenes” pictures of the fun and use them in your marketing. (They may just be your “publishing team” from here on out.) Do you like to sit down and write 1,500 words before breakfast each morning? (NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow! Get ready!) Use one of those mornings to draft a 1,500-word press release instead of your usual genre.

If you tweak an existing, routinized habit or skill of yours to serve the greater marketing agenda, your alchemical magic is far more likely to take hold, and a tweaked habit is far more likely to become a sustainable part of your daily, or weekly, or monthly recipe than if you try to cram something in that doesn’t fit.

So? Step one was to see what you’re already doing. Step two was to adapt it, just a little, to fit your new needs. What is step three? Well, we’ll be back in two weeks with more on marketing alchemy!

And in the meantime ….

happy halloween

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Introduction)

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Now that it’s the beginning of October, we are well and truly into the holiday season. Sure, Halloween may still be almost a full month away, but the real pleasure of the last three months of the year only a very little to do with the big days themselves–Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day–and a great deal to do with anticipation, and what we choose to do with ourselves in the intervening days as we build excitement–or design costumes, or plan reunions, or negotiate for a few extra vacation days–throughout the home stretch of the year.

What are you, as a self-publishing author, going to do with that time?

For many self-publishing authors, the holidays are the most profitable time of year. These are the authors who have figured out the best way to ring in the holidays using their skills and their published works. We’ve written extensively about holiday marketing in the past, and we may hit some of the high points again this year, but we also wanted to do something new. Not quite “6 weird tricks to spook your friends this Halloween” but something which honors the magic of the holidays, and seeks to marry together your best skills and the season’s best opportunities to create … a kind of marketing alchemy.

Over the months to come, I’ll be asking the questions: What do you have or bring to the table as an author that’s special? And what do the final months of each year have or bring to the table so far as marketing goes? How we answer these questions, together, may just provide a new way forward as you seek to plan your upcoming marketing strategy for your latest or your next self-published book!

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

In Your Corner: Putting the “Thanks!” in Thanksgiving

give thanks

This year, as you settle down for the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s worth considering all the ways we can and ought to say “thanks” to our readers, especially during the holiday season. Giving thanks is a fantastic way to connect with people and show them you care and that they matter to you—just as you matter to us here at Self Publishing Advisor!

  1. Social Media. There are always good ways of making use of social media for establishing that personal touch and intimacy with your readers—especially in responding to comments with personalized tweets, Instagram comments, or Facebook posts—but in the week of Thanksgiving, it’s worth going all-out. Put together a small (or big) post making direct reference to those early reviewers on Amazon, Goodreads, and other websites so crucial to your book’s sales and success. It doesn’t have to be some massively big deal (although it certainly can be if you want!), just a quick: “Dear Julie K., Seth M., and Erica G., thank you so much for being willing to read and review my book on Goodreads! Your comments meant so much and had a profound impact on me.” Or something along those lines … make it your own! And if you can include photos of the readers with your book, all the better!
  2. Actually give them something! There are lots of ways to actually give your readers something tangible. You can do this by A) giving them a discount, B) distributing freebies, or C) throwing a giveaway. Some artists do this by creating graphics that their readers can use for free. Some offer special freebies when readers either sign up for a newsletter or purchase a copy of their book; simply ask them for proof of purchase and a mailing address, and you’re on your way! You don’t really need to give away expensive items but readers often appreciate something and useful. Alternatively, you can host a giveaway of your actual book on Goodreads or Amazon (we’ve written a how-to for Goodreads here). These giveaways are a great way both to say “thanks!” to your readers and raise awareness about your book’s publication.
  3. Throw a party! We’ve talked about the benefits of book readings and signings in countless (COUNTLESS) other posts on this website (we really can’t love on them enough!) … but have you ever considered throwing a Thank You! Party? Consider this: turn a book reading or signing event into a party for those who have read your book, supported you along the way, and helped you throughout the publishing process. It’s still an event which will raise awareness of and the profile of your book, but it has a much more human touch (and in our experience, people are much more likely to come!). This serves as a bit of a parallel or substitute for those customer appreciation parties that local businesses often throw for their guests, or a library’s annual volunteer breakfast and so forth. Put together some light refreshments, and maybe even turn it into a potluck with a bonus reading & signing at the end! You can generate a lot of excitement around the idea of saying “thanks!” to your readers (past, present, and future) by having this kind of party. But as always, remember to promote it! Contact your local newspapers and publish press releases in all the right places, including newsletters and on social media.

No matter how you say “thanks!”  … whether you use one of our ideas here or come up with your own … there are so many reasons to just “go for it” and make sure that your readers know you care!

And while we’re on the subject ….

thank you

Thank you, thank you, thank you, dear readers. I usually end my posts by saying “You are not alone” … but this week, I want to thank you. Because with you out there in the world, doing good things and self-publishing along the way, I always know …

I am not alone. ♣︎

happy thanksgiving


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner: Start Thinking About Holiday Marketing … NOW!

Remember our “Ringing in the Holidays” post series from late last year? Wouldn’t it have been oh-so-much easier to execute the perfect holiday book sales plan if you’d started just that little bit earlier in the year? Well, I’m here today with a reminder as you start to look down the barrel of yet another end-of-year holiday frenzy: it’s time now! If you want to put your holidays in order, you have to start thinking about your marketing plan today. Yes, in August. If not July!

So let’s make a plan!

First stop: Who’s your audience? You’ll be able to plan an effective strategy only if you know who your ideal readers are–or who their parents with the pocketbooks and credit cards are, in the case of children’s books–and where to reach them, either online and in terms of raising awareness about your book, or in person through events and a campaign that they can conveniently connect to.

Second stop: What’s your format? If your book is digital, then giveaways are a must. An absolute must! There are also some great freebies–free chapters, free peeks, etc–that you can do by integrating your material into your website, social media, and so on. Make sure you give your website a facelift if you haven’t in a while–you want to be ready for the holidays, not just responding to them when they happen!

If your book is print, then yes–giveaways are still a must! But also book signings, book readings, and perhaps even workshops and teaching opportunities. The more ways–and the more creative ways–you can put your book into the hand of a potential buyer, the higher your chances of actually getting that buyer to pull out the pocketbook! Print books offer a great opportunity to distribute shiny merch like bookmarks, postcards, and so on to readers–even when your book may not be present or being sold! Think of the places people pick up their merch–banks, hotels, libraries, restaurant waiting areas–and partner with local businesses to see about featuring your book in these places.

Third stop: Get a move on! By the time those holidays roll around–whether Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas–it’s already too late to put together a comprehensive plan to reach new readers at that time. You really have to think ahead! Which is why we’re here. We’ve been there. If we’re honest with ourselves, we still are there. We know what it’s like–but here’s a guarantee: if you plan ahead, you will sell more books than if you don’t.

Sure, we can take it easy on ourselves, and feed ourselves the same line we did last year: “Oh, but there’s always next year.” And it’s true, for most of us. There will be more time to perfect our methods. But for this book, and this year, there isn’t a moment to waste–and it really would be a shame to push back our perfect holiday season another year simply because we let ourselves off of the hook today. Because for as many wonderful and eloquent “New Year’s Resolutions” posts we put up here on Self Publishing Advisor that we really do intend to keep, there’s always something that gets away from us. So we keep at it. Better todays mean better tomorrows mean a strategically stress-free Fall and Winter 2017!

But don’t worry, I’m not saying I’m anywhere near perfect. All we can ask is that we get a little bit better every go-around, right?

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner: Put Your Vacation to Work!

laptop flowers

Oh, I know–turning a vacation into a working vacation isn’t necessarily what you had in mind for your summer, but the fact remains: books aren’t going to sell themselves, and when it comes to being an indie author, there’s not a moment to be wasted.

Even … vacation hours.

Maybe even especially vacation hours!

Luckily for everyone, there are some easy ways to boost your sales and make your vacations work for you rather than against your book sales!

Vacations and the reunions that go with them can be the absolutely most ideal time to market your book and gather some new readers. Or maybe old readers. Age doesn’t matter. Everybody reads, especially when they have a personal connection to the author–you! Reunions are a fantastic place to tell family members, friends, and other personal connections about your book and where they can buy it.

Then there’s the most magical of all summer vacation destinations: the gift shop, the ultimate place to display and present your book for shoppers and readers on their various road trips. And while you travel, too–any stranger you meet on a trip is only a stranger until you break the ice by sharing your book!

Of course, if you’re going to make the most of your vacation, there are some things to keep in mind. You’ll need to:

Keep up with your social media.

Before you take off for the beach of the mountains, schedule. Schedule, schedule, schedule. Facebook has a lovely, easy tool built-in to make this possible–simply put your posts together, and click the drop-down arrow next to the ‘post’ button and input the date and time of your intended schedule.

But what about the others? There are quite a few tools out there to manage all of your media at once. Hootsuite is one, Later.com another, Buffer yet a third. Do your due diligence and pick a service that fits your needs, and be aware that there are free options, so you should theoretically be able to take care of your scheduling needs affordably. Once you have an account, all you have to do is preload your tweets, your posts to Google+ and Instagram and so on.

And of course, be safe! Play up your travels as much as you like as a kind of promotion, but don’t make a point of mentioning how long you’ll be away from home, or other personal details that the disingenuous might exploit. Take pictures and make plenty of memories to share later!

Network!

Take full advantage of your trip to plan for the future. Is there a writing conference taking place in one of your destination cities? Get on the list. Are there book readings? Could you plan a book reading at one of the libraries near your beach or mountain idyll? Local writing groups are another great option. Plenty of people might be interested in having you speak about the process of self-publishing.

And of course, come prepared. Keep a pack of business cards, bookmarks, postcards, posters, and a couple of promotional copies of your book on hand, and practice your elevator pitch thoroughly before hand. If you haven’t yet invested in some merch, go ahead and start down that glorious road. Think outside the box, too: is there a way to promote a giveaway while traveling, guerrilla style?

Make it a GRAND tour!

Some of the items on your agenda are a given, no matter what kind of vacation we’re talking about. But it’s well worth your effort to look into the libraries, museums, gift shops, bookstores, civic spaces, and other places that might serve as a spot for a reading, signing, or other promotional event. If your book somehow relates to local history or events—even better! Marketing your self-published book shouldn’t take up all of your precious vacation time, but spending even just a handful of minutes each day checking Twitter or arranging a couple of book readings will help support the marketing and sales momentum you’ve worked so hard to build–not to mention pay for an even better vacation next year!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.