In Your Corner: Summer is Coming

Look, we know summer is just around the corner, and we also know you’ve all been mainlining the latest season of *ahem* a certain popular fantasy show, so here’s our thirty-second shout-out:

brace-yourselves-summer-is-coming-quick-meme-com-4945958

Okay, now that that‘s done, we can move on from wisecracks to talking about preparing for summer book sales and marketing plans.

As a self-published author, you’re no doubt already well-aware that book sales are seasonal. According to this excellent report from Springer (which is dedicated to taking a numbers approach to publishing), the winter holidays remain the season with the highest book sales, followed by summer. The report writers state that:

In early January, the lowest median sales over the years is close to 15,000 copies a week, a number higher than the highest median sales of any other time of the year except late December. For fiction, a similar but less pronounced peak is observed during the summer months with median sales surpassing 10,000, likely due to book purchases in preparation for the summer vacation. In nonfiction, there is no such summer peak. During these periods of elevated sales a book needs to sell more copies to make it to the New York Times bestseller list than during other months. We also note that in general, fiction books sell more copies than nonfiction, a gap which is largest during summer and decreases considerably during the holiday season, where the sales of both fiction and nonfiction are significantly elevated.

The writers also point out that not only are “the first year sales are the most important for a hardcover,” but also that “most fiction books have their peaks strictly in the first 2–6 weeks [… while] for nonfiction, even though peaks at weeks 2–5 are common, the peak can happen any time during the first 15 weeks.” While on a surface level this might lead one to believe that it would be smart to time a book’s publication with an upcoming sales peak, the reverse may actually be the case. As the Springer report’s authors point out, one has to sell a lot more books during a sales peak than at any other time of year to hit bestseller lists—or see a boost in the Amazon sales rankings. This is because there is more competition during sales peaks (winter holidays for nonfiction, and both summer and winter holidays for fiction). Your sales ranking, for those who may not know, shows how high you rate compared to other authors and books in the same category—the lower the number, the more popular you or your book is. (There are separate rankings for authors and books.)

A book can see successful sales at any time of year, of course, and a refined marketing plan is probably more of a determining factor when it comes to sale than time of year of publication, but it’s well worth keeping certain questions in mind: Can you make effective use of your sales ranking (on Amazon and elsewhere)? That may just be a deciding factor in what you choose to do next in your summer marketing plan.

Next time, I’m going to break those sales rankings down for you, and demonstrate how you can use your Amazon sales ranking to better market and sell your self-published book!

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.

Ringing in the Holidays: Black Friday Edition!

Black Friday brings a lot of not so flattering imagery to mind, from shoppers pushing each other out of the way in Wal-Mart aisles to lines of people camped out outside stores and lines of traffic stymied on the highway. Black Friday has become a quasi-holiday of sorts, mainly because it is an American tradition that dates all the way back to the 1930s. Yes, that far back.

Regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season (again, ‘quasi-season’), retailers began opening their stores a bit earlier the day after Thanksgiving back in the 1930s. Today, some major retailers will open right after Thanksgiving dinner, or midnight–or other hours no one should be out shopping–offering promotional sales to those who are obviously not suffering from a tryptophan induced turkey coma, and who are thus able to storm out into the night for the deal of a lifetime.

Supposedly the cognomen “Black Friday” originated in the 1960s in Philadelphia, where people used the term to describe the abundant foot traffic and cluttered streets. I rather like to imagine that it’s perhaps more fitting today; people whisking out into the dark night, stalking up and down aisles and preparing to battle other predacious consumers over that new X-Box or flat screen TV. If you think that’s a dramatic depiction of Black Friday, keep in mind that seven people have died on this day since 2006, and there have been about 98 injuries associated with the Black Friday shopping madness.

Entertaining history digression aside, Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, which means that as an author with a book to sell, it is not a day to sit back and relax. So, what can you do to rake in some of the Black Friday business?

black friday holiday

First of all, BIG discounts are all the rage on Black Friday. Offering your book for an extremely cheap rate will assuredly promote ‘impulse’ buys from people who might otherwise have considered giving your book a chance. While you don’t always want to offer your book out for an extremely low price, doing so on this particular day could be beneficial for gaining new readers!

Another thing to consider: 99 cent or free ebook editions of your book can gain you free advertising on free or bargain ebook sites. These sites will want to feature your book when it is discounted, and that feature will be free advertising for you, before people even buy your book! Notify these sites when you discount your book, and try to line it up with Black Friday; snag online shoppers who are looking for a deal or to try something new!

Collaborating with other others who have books similar to yours is also a great way expand your marketing efforts. When you combine promotional efforts, this means that their audience becomes your potential audience! It’s a, ‘You scratch my authorial back, and I’ll scratch yours,’ kind of thing. The best thing about this collaboration is that you will enhance your network for book marketing in general, which obviously expands well beyond Black Friday!

So, whether or not you see yourself armed with pepper spray for self-defense as you go out to buy the new iPhone 10–or whatever number they’re on now–just remember that before Black Friday, there’s a lot you can be doing to market your book. More importantly, none of those things require the bravery and fortitude it must take for someone to actually go shopping on that day.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT 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

Ringing in the Holidays!

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 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.

We know here at Outskirts Press how busy this time of year is. We know that you’re also out shopping for you families, preparing turkey feasts for your families, carving pumpkins for your porches, etc. etc. Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to the gift of our services that can help you with these marketing tasks that are so important this time of year!

holiday sales marketing

At Outskirts, we have a marketing package that includes a custom press release, an author platform setup through social media, a book trailer with social network distribution, AND you get 5 hours with your own personal marketing elf…I mean, assistant. This is a great way to ensure you don’t miss out on the perks of holiday marketing, but also ensuring that you don’t miss out on the holiday cheer because you’re too busy worrying about marketing your book!

Click here to find out more:
http://outskirtspress.com/book-marketing.html


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT 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

In Your Corner : 5 Reasons to Self-Publish in December!

December:

It’s a month packed full of moments we treasure, and moments too of almost unbearable stress.  Sometimes–amidst the hustle and bustle of writing up wish-lists, shopping for gifts, wrapping up precious bundles, and decorating cookies as well as cars and trees and houses and everything that stands still long enough to surrender to the holiday spirit–we can find ourselves burned out on forced levity and compulsory cheerfulness.  It’s a season where we’re expected to do a great deal of things, and be a great deal of things … and sometimes, all we really need is to pause, take a deep breath, and have a moment to recapture what it is we’re doing it all for.

It is not in spite of the holiday busy-ness that I recommend publishing in the heart of December, but because of what the holidays are meant to be: a time of celebration, collectively and individually, of who we are as people.  and who are you?  You’re a writer.  So what better way could there possibly be to celebrate who you are and what you have to offer than by self-publishing a book during the holidays?   I don’t think there is one, personally, but I thought I’d offer up a list (don’t we all love lists in December?) of my top five reasons to self-publish this month:

  1. You’re around family, friends, and co-workers.  Publishing your book gives you something to talk about during those long family gatherings and endless holiday parties when all other pithy conversations have run themselves dry.  You may not want to lead with your accomplishments (you are the humblest of souls!) but you ought to be (justifiably!) proud of your mammoth accomplishment.  You’ve published a book.  A book, my friends!  That’s a game-changer.  That’s worth celebrating!
  2. Or maybe you’re not around your loved ones.  In that case, publishing a book gives you a great reason to contact those same people now that your book is finally out there in the world.  Books, like holidays, can be a bridge to healing the breaches that divide us.  It doesn’t have to be nonfiction or a memoir or even spiritual feel-good fiction to mend fences; all it has to be is an expression of your mind and spirit.  By sharing the publication of your book, you’re reaching out and extending an opportunity to enter into conversation.  Don’t underestimate the value of simple conversation to heal!
  3. You can take advantage of holiday promotions, or create your own.  Oh, yes.  You knew this had to be on the list!  Holiday sales and promotions events are invaluable to the self-publishing author, even if your book isn’t specifically holiday-related.  Readers are out there actively looking for new favorites to buy and gift to their loved ones, and e-books are on the rise as popular gift items because of their transferability and the ease with which they can be distributed to loved ones who live far away or don’t have access to a permanent physical address.  (And there are an increasing number of modern tech-savvy nomads for whom this is a problem!)  Get your name and your face out there by offering a discount or a promotion through your personal website or through your Amazon book listing, and spread the word through social media and all other avenues available to you!
  4. For certain genres, there’s less competition.  We can all understand why holiday, religious, and feel-good books sell well around Christmas, but here’s a thought to consider: many authors in other genres push back their publication dates for the spring and summer, when readers are looking for their next “beach read.”  But this shows the myopia of an industry that has, for the most part, been structured around the Northern Hemisphere–and readership has gone global!  Consider the fact that in Australia, folks are heading to the beach at the same moment we’re unpacking our snow gear.  It’s never a bad idea to gear at least a few of your sales pitches towards a global audience … and don’t forget that there are plenty of people looking for a nice addition to their library to cozy up around the fire with in the winter, too.  I guess what I’m saying is: don’t neglect the oft-neglected audiences.
  5. It’s something you can gift to yourself that no one else can.  Let’s face it: you know what you like, and what you want, and you want to be a self-published author.  It’s not selfish to bring a book into existence if doing so brings you joy–and helps you bring joy to this, yes, often-stressful world.

 

self-publishing in december

 

The holidays can sometimes be a lonely time.  Even if you’re not going to be with your loved ones this holiday season, I’m here and so are the other contributors to this blog.  You’re not alone. ♣︎

 

ElizabethABOUT 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.

3 Tips for Authors Self Publishing in November

It is hard to believe, but the end of 2011 is almost here. As the weather turns chilly and stores become Christmas factories, you might be wondering if now is the right time to self publish your book. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind if you are working on self publishing your book this November.

1) Change your copyright year to 2012 so the book appears new even if it publishes before 12/31/11. Readers like to feel like they are reading the newest version of books.

2) If you’re interested in publishing to market for the holidays, it’s time to get moving and finish up before the end of November. As the holiday approaches, more people are buying and shipping, so it may take a bit longer to print and ship. While you don’t want to rush the creation of your interior and cover proofs, the holidays are an ideal time to market. Also, keep in mind that the general reader doesn’t see the book as the author does; for example, an author keeps checking the spelling and grammar, rewriting sentences, and tweaking the cover image. If you’ve carefully reviewed the chapters to make sure they are error free and have carefully reviewed the design at least 2-3 times, then let it go and move on to the next steps.

3) If you’re signing up just to publish by year-end or for Christmas sales, you need a reality check. There is the possibility that your book won’t be finished before the year’s end or that your marketing efforts won’t generate a large  number of holiday sales because you didn’t spend enough time marketing your book. (Think about how early retail stores begin marketing for Christmas. You can’t throw together a book and expect to sell dozens of copies a few weeks before Christmas.) Instead of obsessing over holiday sales and the end of the year, focus on starting the new year off with a bang. Publishing a book is a great way to start off a new year, and you will have more time to plan for success if you consider all of 2012 instead of the few weeks left in 2011.

Cheri Breeding ABOUT CHERI BREEDING:
Since 2005 Cheri Breeding has been working as the Director of Production for Outskirts Press. In that time, she has been an instrumental component of every aspect of the Production Department, performing the roles of an Author Representative, Book Designer, Customer Service Representative, Title Production Supervisor, Production Manager and, Director of Production. She brings all that experience and knowledge, along with an unparalleled customer-service focus, to help self-publishing authors reach high-quality book publication more efficiently, professionally, and affordably.