The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part VI – The Christmas Week Edition)

christmas new year's holiday time

I know what you’re thinking–it’s only five days to New Year’s Day–what could you possibly do this late in the year to take advantage of the holidays before the year (and holiday spirit) runs out?

First of all:

keep calm holidays

That’s right–this doesn’t have to be anything that will ratchet up your stress levels! And first and foremost, if you’re reading this and you’re a naturally busy person around the holidays, it’s okay to not add any last-minute marketing tricks to our to-do list. Our recommendations today are for those of you who are looking for something to do with all of your spare time over the next few days. To that end, if you have …

Five Days of Free Time

Our recommendation? Start the clock on a New Year’s giveaway or discount! If you truly have five days to work something new in, a giveaway will give you the largest impact for the time available to you. Hop on to your book’s Amazon listing, Goodreads, or wherever else you want to host the giveaway or discount, and set up the functional part of your special offering today. Also: announce it across all of your social media platforms! This is important to do immediately. Then, every day until the end of your discount or giveaway, make sure to hop online and remind your followers of what’s going on. Once the functional part of the giveaway or discount has been set up, you have a lot of flexibility on timing, frequency, and content of your social media posts–but make them count! Make sure to craft a couple of beautiful images and to use your book’s cover art to boost the visual impact of your promotion.

Five Hours of Free Time

If you only have five hours to spend on marketing this holiday week, you could either go the route of throwing together a super quick special like the one above, skipping over a lot of the social media check-ins, or you could focus your energies and produce one really high-quality marketing item, like a holiday-specific press release or email newsletter or promotional image. We’ve written in detail about press releases and similar marketing strategies before, and if you’re having trouble deciding upon what to spend your five hours of limited time and energy on, we recommend opting to play up your strengths and choose a strategy you’re comfortable with. When you have a bit more time to spend, you can innovate and expand your repertoire–but for now, you want to do something quick and efficient!

Just remember–the point of every holiday marketing strategy is to put your book out there (again or for the first time) in front of its ideal readers and to take advantage of the various holiday-specific vocabularies (visual or written) to do so. Readers are all about authenticity, and around the holidays they’ll want to know that your words come from the heart as well as from a pragmatic point of origin.

Five Minutes of Free Time

Look, it’s okay! Not all of us can expect to carve out much time around the holidays for marketing. For those of you who maybe have time to check your email or post a quick update to Facebook, that’s still enough time to make a difference. Whether it’s mentioning your book in the same breath as your turkey roast or your family’s trivia game night on New Year’s Eve, a quick tweet on Twitter of blog post or Facebook update will still be well-received by your readers. Keeping them in the loop on what’s important to you is useful in and of itself!

Whether you only have minutes or you have a whole long luxurious week of free time ahead of you, there’s almost always room for a little marketing. And if not? Well, there’s always the new year! And we’ll be back in 2019 with many more tips and tricks for how you can improve your marketing reach as a self-published author.

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 V)

My gratitude list - file cabinet label

It’s a fashionable thing to limit our conversations about gratitude to the time around Thanksgiving, when all the stationary and gift displays and card racks at Hallmark all feature gratitude as their main theme. But I’m here today to advocate for extending that period of gratitude to include the Christmas and New Year’s holidays—because while Thanksgiving is lovely and wonderful and should definitely have its own marketing space, there are things we are grateful for closer to the end of the year that have their own nature, their own set of qualities, that makes them both poignant … and a potential platform for further holiday marketing, as I’ll get into here today.

I would also note that one can be an entrepreneur—a self-starter, a self-published book author—and carry the burden of marketing lightly, and carry it without being obnoxious, or dissembling, or insincere, even in the midst of a world crowded with half-baked promotions and kitschy products designed to capitalize on people’s sentimental holiday nostalgia.

Yes, you can be both a person who needs to market your book around the holidays, and utterly sincere about the messaging you send out into the universe around the holidays.

This holiday season, a friend of mine who happens to be an author (among other things) set about thanking those authors who were foundational to his development and evolution as a wordsmith on social media. Once a day, he has been tweeting about and to the authors who helped make him who he is. He hadn’t intended this to be anything other than a fun little project unconnected to anything else going on in his life, but it ended up putting him on the radar of a number of fantastic, high-profile authors who subsequently re-tweeted his tweets. In doing so, they broadcast his gratitude far and wide, raising his profile in the literary community and exposing numerous new readers to his name and brand.

I propose that we all do something similar. Having seen what has happened in my friend’s case, I can without reservation state that doing so will not only put your name in front of new potential readers, but it’s also a fun and worthwhile exercise to do on a personal level. It’s the gift that gives back, as expressing gratitude so often builds both giver and receiver up.

It’s the simplest thing to put together a quick social media campaign. If you decide to move forward with something similar, keep in mind a couple of our top tips here on the blog for successful posts:

  1. Rinse & Repeat: Repetition, and routine, are the keys to growing your social media presence. Make sure to time your tweets and Facebook posts (and you can use a third-party scheduling app, like Hootsuite or Twitter & Facebook’s extant scheduling options to do so) for high-traffic times of day, and to tweet or post to Facebook regularly.
  2. Attach Images. Analytics clearly and definitively prove that attaching images (that you have the rights to, of course) to your tweets, Facebook posts, and blog posts boost the visual impact and increase the “clicks” those posts receive. Snap a quick picture with your camera or grab a picture from online to accompany every post, and watch those clicks roll in.
  3. Tag People. Both Twitter and Facebook (as well as Instagram and other social media platforms) allow creators to “tag” or “@” or “mention” or otherwise direct their posts to specific individuals. Doing so creates notifications which will make people aware that you are talking about them, which boosts the likelihood that they will respond or re-post your material, thus raising awareness about it.
  4. Authenticity Matters. Social media is the best lie detector in existence. Twitter and Facebook users are highly attuned at present to inauthentic material (and will only continue to grow moreso as the conversation around “Fake News” becomes more advanced and nuanced) and are unafraid to call people out on it. The way to ensure that you put social media to work for you rather than against you is to treat your followers like you would your coworkers and your friends all at once. You have to be honest, and authentic, and you have to be able to stand behind every post you make in the years to come. (The Internet forgets nothing.)

Think of all the authors and creators who have influenced your journey. Who would you like to thank this holiday season? What are their footprints in your life? Whether you choose to mount a quick social media campaign around your gratitude list this holiday season or not, thinking of how far you’ve come and the people who have helped you along the way is just one more way to enjoy a bright and beautiful Christmas.

christmas gifts

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 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)

GettyImages-998993074.jpg

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.