In Your Corner: Spring into Self-Publishing (Part II)

spring writing laptop

It has been some weeks since I last checked in about resetting for spring, and much has changed. Where I live, the snow has turned to rain, and every time it rains the worms show up on sidewalks and in gutters and on lawns, roaming just a bit astray from their primary work tunneling through the thawing, loosening soil. The birds are in the midst of their spring migration, and the ice is breaking up, even in the lake bays. The grass is greening under the last of the winter detritus, and even though the wind sometimes still blows cold, I am often tempted to take myself and my laptop out of doors to work in the warming sunlight.

Last time I wrote, I provided some thoughts on constructive ways to take advantage of the spring to reset our writing. This week, I want to spend some time thinking about why spring is so important to us as writers and writing professionals—as opposed to any other season of the year. Summer is lush with golden afternoons full of freedom and adventure. Fall is lovely and full of pumpkin spice lattes (as I think I’ve mentioned a hundred times each year). Winter is packed with special days of great emotional importance, and is a season of returns. But spring? Spring is special. And here’s why.

  • Symbolism.

    I’ve already mentioned that the world feels like it’s coming back to life in the spring, and it’s hard not to feel inspired by natural cycles on a symbolic level (not to mention physical—increasing sunlight levels and exposure in spring do some serious magic within the human brain). Rather than resisting this natural and symbolic rhythm, it’s worth attempting to channel it into forms that are useful to you. Feeling restless? Try out a bunch of new writing and marketing styles, and see what works well and what doesn’t. Spring is a laboratory of opportunities, and it’s okay to give yourself permission to let loose and be disorganized every now and again! Feeling energized and focused? Plan out a new schedule which makes more time for the things that you know will bring you peace and joy later in the year, when these habits are etched into your routine.

  • Publishing practicalities.

    While the rhythm of self-publishing is far more flexible than that of traditional publishing, there remain some practical reasons why spring is the best time to both a) begin the self-publication process, and b) get to work on your next project. The first reason is that spring is normally a quieter season in publishing and self-publishing both, with awards season more than half of a calendar year away and nominee announcements in advance of that. The busiest period is still a few months out, with the submission deadlines for the National Book Awards (arguably the biggest event in traditional publishing) at the end of June and the CIPA EVVY Awards (one of the most important awards in indie and self-publishing) in mid-May. Another busy period of the year starts in Fall, after submission deadlines are over and authors feel free to focus on marketing. As Anthony Wessel wrote in 2012:

The book industry has sales trend lines that have been consistent for the past forty years. Sales are relatively flat on a week-to-week basis for forty-six weeks out of the year. Slight sales increases are seen on the minor sales holidays. This means approximately the same number of books is being read in any given week compared to the previous year. […] Indie authors should expect flat sales in 2012 from May till December and nothing close to what they had at the beginning of the year. I would suggest authors spend this time period writing and putting marketing plans together to capitalize on the upcoming holiday season.

  • Personal meaning.

    What does spring mean to you? I think this is an important question to ask each year. When I was younger, it was easiest to seize upon the optimistic and joyful aspects of spring; now that I’m older, I’m conscious of spring as a connection point between cycles of loss and life—a reality which heightens the joy in some ways but also renders it bittersweet. I have a lot of feelings to navigate in spring that I didn’t before, and these feelings translate directly into what projects I move forward with and which ones I let percolate a little while longer. I think it’s wise to listen to your body as well as your intuition about things like writing, and spring brings new dimensions to both.

How will you move your writing and marketing projects forward this spring? I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line in the comments section, below, or reach out to us online (we’re on Twitter at @SelfPubAdvisor)!

spring writing mug coffee tea books

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.

In Your Corner: Spring into Self-Publishing (Part I)

2019 is now well underway, but not so far underway that it feels quite like spring––at least, not if you live in the same part of the world that I do.  The weather is grey and cold––and wet––and worst of all, there seems to be no end in sight (even though we know, in theory, that this happens every year).  At some point during the incrementally lengthening days, there comes a realization: your writing is suffering.  Whether it’s because of all the other things piling up, or because you’ve burned through your allotment of holiday candy, I thought I’d take a moment today to encourage you with a few simple––and practical!––ideas for kicking those pre-Spring blues.

spring crocus snow

  1. Take care of your body.  Revisit your sleep schedule, your vitamins C and D intake, your water intake, and those other finicky cycles that we all tend to interrupt and sacrifice on the altar of our incredibly busy lives.  If you notice that one of these basic components of day-to-day health is off, don’t stress!  Take a moment to breathe, and take steps to correct them––sustainably, of course, and never ever punish yourself for struggling or lapsing.  Positive reinforcement only!
  2. Check in with friends and fellows.  We all need the boost that a good conversation can bring.  Google it: research shows that we need positive interactions with friends, family, and other community members to stay positive ourselves.  During this pre-Spring time, reach out and touch base with your friends and fellow writers.  You need them, and they need you too!
  3. Try something new, like signing up for a creative writing or introduction to publishing course through your local library, or join a local writer’s group.  Don’t think in terms of a long-term commitment just yet––just give it a taste, a quick try, and reassess after a month or so.  Is it helping?  If yes, keep going.  If not, let it go and try something else.
  4. Get outside.  We writers tend to stick to the hermitage for reasons of both preference and (mostly) practicality.  Writing is easiest inside, where there are plenty of wall sockets and comfortable seating nooks and wifi connections.  And before summer well and truly dries out the snowbanks, getting outside can be kind of … messy.  But here’s the thing: sunlight and fresh vistas can be some of the best curative tricks in the whole trade.  Take something portable––an iPad or regular plain old paper notebook––in case something sparks your imagination.  Get it down then and there!
  5. Plan something fun.  Whether it’s a big vacation or a weekly trip to a local coffee shop (or, let’s face it, the local bookstore!), build rewards into your upcoming schedule.  Giving yourself something to look forward to as you strive to write this spring will spur you on!

It only seems right that we lay a solid foundation for the months of work to come.  Just remember: it’s okay to pick and choose what techniques work for you!

house finch spring buds snow

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.

 

In Your Corner: The Polar Vortex of Marketing (Continued)

Last week, with our fingers frozen stiff inside of our heaviest winter mittens, we leaned into the life-affirming (and self-publishing-lifestyle-affirming) wisdom of self-publishing authors who have seen success, drawing specifically upon a series of articles put out by Goodreads; the first post was titled “Advice for Aspiring Indie Authors by Successful Indie Authors” and I would continue to recommend that you check it out, as well as its sequel, “Indie Authors Share Their Secrets to Creating Successful Self-Publishing Careers,” which features much more lengthy insights from a number of others.

We were hoping that the polar vortex would have been on its merry way by now, but depending on where you live, you may be in for quite a bit more snow throughout the remainder of February.

warning snow

Since the weather hasn’t changed much, we’ll continue in the same vein as my last article two weeks ago, and if you’ll remember, that article ended with a statement and a question:

This week, take a moment to witness and absorb the wise words of these authors and remember what got you into self-publishing in the first place. Remember the joy that comes with carving out a space for yourself in the world of words, and seeing something you’ve written out there, changing the lives of those lucky enough to find it.

Now we can get started thinking about how to help more people be that lucky, right?

If we rephrase that question as how can we get started thinking about how to help other authors find success in self-publishing, the question becomes even more interesting and complex. One way in which authors differ from other entrepreneurs or small business owners is that we are very rarely in competition with each other in any way that affects the pocketbook. If anything, feuding authors tend to drive up each others’ sales, although that’s certainly not a marketing approach that we would counsel anyone to embrace—not when positive collaborative opportunities are so readily available!

[Several years ago, we hosted a “Marketing Master Strokes” article on the subject of “Playing Well With Others,” and it’s well worth revisiting here.]

Even before you reach out to another author to collaborate, there are plenty of ways to learn and benefit from other authors. You’re probably already drawing on quite a few of your own favorites as inspiration for your own work—and the act of writing itself—but you can also learn from other authors by studying how they shape their own brand and public marketing platform. Spend some time on Google acquainting yourself with author websites, Facebook pages and other social media accounts, blogs, newsletters, and their various efforts throughout. Which websites grab your eye? What features do they share? What can you learn from even an ugly website, in terms of what to steer clear of? What was the author’s latest promotion: a sale, a discount, a giveaway, or something else? And what kind of programs and materials did they use to make that happen? How often do they Tweet and post to Facebook, and what kinds of content seem to gain the most responses?

All of these questions can be answered just by surveying what material is already out there. It’s worthwhile narrowing your focus to look at authors who have  similar resources to you, or writing in the same genre; doing so will make sure you’re comparing apples to apples, and ensuring that these authors’ marketing strategies are manageable.

But then … once you’ve finished your web sleuthing … it’s time to make a personal connection. As you’re conducting your web search, keep a record of the names and contact information for authors whose work and marketing strategies you admire. Once you’ve got a handful, it’s time to reach out! Put together a letter to each one which expresses, simply and straightforwardly, what it is you admire about their work and what you’d like to do with them. Would you like to, as our “Marketing Master Strokes” article put it, pair up with another author or multiple authors to host a book discussion or workshop together? Would you like to gather several other authors together and apply to run a booth at a local book fair, or a panel at a “con” (convention)? Would you like to conduct interviews with other authors and share them on each other’s websites, providing insight into the authorial process? Or would you like to perhaps co-write short stories or novellas together, to be distributed as giveaways or free to the public online?

In my opinion, interviews and blog “round-ups” are the most fun and enlightening, and not only do they help drive traffic to your website or blog, but they also may just provide some important insights that you will make good use of in the future!

The letter doesn’t have to be long. It could, in fact, be a three-to-six sentence email. The main thing to remember, etiquette-wise, is that many self-publishing authors who post their contact details online get lots of spam, so make sure your letter or email doesn’t look and feel like the dreaded “form” or “spam” letter. And you should never push back if someone says “no,” because there are far too many awesome possible collaborations out there to be disappointed by one “no,” and also because you really do want to find those authors whose work and style meshes nicely with yours naturally and without too much scheduling gymnastics. A simple:

“Hi, I’m [insert name here], and I recently self-published a book on [insert half-sentence premise here]. I was really impressed by your recent blog post on [insert subject here], and I was wondering if you might be interested in doing a quick interview exchange which we could both post to our blogs. You can find out more about my book at [insert link] to see if a collaboration feels right to you. I wish you much success in all that you do! Sincerely, [insert name here].” Or at least, that’s the kind of email I’d write!

If you have already collaborated with other authors, good on you! That’s awesome! We’d love to hear from you about how you went about making those connections, and how the process ended up working out. Just drop us a line in the comments section, below!

winter snow reading

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.

 

In Your Corner: The Polar Vortex of Marketing

 

winter storm cat book

Are you managing to survive the current polar vortex sweeping across North America? (If you live in the southern hemisphere and are currently toasting your toes on a beach somewhere … is your suitcase large enough to stuff an adult human into? Asking for a friend.) This is the time of year—after the holiday magic has well and truly worn off, and before the rejuvenating effects of spring have kicked in—when we start feeling truly down and out. And of course, since everything is connected, our self-publishing adventures tend to suffer just as much as our general mood and the cleanliness level of our kitchens. (What? Your kitchen is still tidy? What’s wrong with me?) This is the time when we need a touch of encouragement to make it through the polar vortex, or whatever interminably cold and barren patch of ground we face.

It’s probably no secret at this point that I love Goodreads, the hybrid social media site for dedicated readers and book reviewers; it’s how I track what I’m reading, especially when my to-read pile (it’s actually an entire bookshelf, plus an extra coffee table, now) gets a little bit out of control. (Who am I kidding? It’s always out of control.) Well, back in October of 2016, the Goodreads blog hosted a series of posts that may prove to be exactly what you need to read right now, as a self-publishing author facing the doldrums yourself. The first post to catch my eye included a series of quotes from popular self-publishing authors such as Hugh Howey, such as:

hugh howey quote

colleen hoover quote

and …

andy weir quote

 

The post was titled “Advice for Aspiring Indie Authors by Successful Indie Authors” and I highly recommend that you check it out, as well as its sequel, “Indie Authors Share Their Secrets to Creating Successful Self-Publishing Careers,” which features much more lengthy insights from a number of others. As authorities on the subject, sometimes writers such as Weir and Hoover and Howey have the power to both inspire us and flip that emotional switch buried deep inside us, the one that gets a bit, ahem, iced over with repeated disappointment or from lack of use. If you’re at all like me, this is the time of year when my creative energy is at its absolute lowest, and I sometimes don’t even realize what all is possible, I’m so swept up in the blues. A wise word or two acts like a shock to the system, reminding me that, yeah, actually, I *can* do this thing I’ve been meaning to do, but have been feeling too anxious and self-sabotaging to get started on.

This week, take a moment to witness and absorb the wise words of these authors and remember what got you into self-publishing in the first place. Remember the joy that comes with carving out a space for yourself in the world of words, and seeing something you’ve written out there, changing the lives of those lucky enough to find it.

Now we can get started thinking about how to help more people be that lucky, right?

More on that next week!

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.

 

2019: Time for a Fresh Start on Marketing

Oh, no, it’s time to review that dreaded list of New Year’s resolutions!  It’s not uncommon for these lists to be either too long or too ambitious for their makers to actually accomplish within twelve months, but that doesn’t seem to stop any of us from feeling the compulsive tug toward writing them–or from feeling miserable when we find ourselves running into a brick wall of complications.

writing goals

For those of us who are authors, many of us will end up making at least one of our resolutions that of writing and publishing a book in 2019.  But how might an author go from creating the goal of writing a book to actually getting it on paper and, finally, to publishing it?  If you’ve resolved upon a similar goal, here area couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Join a writer’s group.  

While there are certainly plenty of online options available to you, through internet forums and listservs and Facebook groups and the like, the best kind of feedback a writer can receive is the kind that is delivered in face-to-face conversation with people who have held your manuscript in their hands and feel some sort of personal stake in delivering detailed high-quality responses to the questions that you pose.  This is why, above all other things, I recommend you look to join a writer’s group in 2019.

But where to look?  I recommend stealing a page of or Lorena Knapp’s playbook over at the Write Life blog.  She recommends researching a variety of options before committing to any one writer’s group; you might start with local writing centers and then move on to conferences, bulletin boards, writing associations, your personal network, online networking sites like Meetup.com, and then as a last resort turn to social media and so on.  In my personal experience, conferences can be overwhelming (a case study in over-stimulation), bulletin boards are rarely up-to-date, and online networking sites lead to as many “misses” as “hits.”  I found out about my local writing association after attending an event at my local library, which often plays host to local authors–many of whom are self-published.  You can’t go wrong by asking a librarian!

  • Join a book club.

The library also happens to be a great place to begin your hunt for a local book club, since most libraries directly or indirectly sponsor these sorts of events, and can point you to the right people or resources to set up your own book club if there isn’t one already geared toward your interests.  You can also check online at the Reader’s Circle, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting readers with each other, to see if there are otherwise off-the-grid book clubs meeting in your area.

But why should a writer join a book club?  The answer isn’t as simple or the dots as easy to connect as with writing circles and writer’s groups, where writing is the common theme.  But as Evan Maloney wrote for The Guardian back in 2010, reading and reading well is actually the most fundamental of skills for a writer to practice:

As well as a large vocabulary, novels give writers a sense of how it is done. They offer templates that can be borrowed and adapted; they teach a writer how to create narrative structures and characters, how to develop tension, write dialogue, and maintain a consistent tone and pitch. Novels also trigger memories from a reader’s personal experience, and these give writers ideas for their own stories.

Best of all, writes Maloney, “whenever writing gets too painful, when each word and idea seems to be dragged from the mind like the limb of an aborted camel, reading offers a writer a lovely escape into a fantasy world where stories are revealed with simple ease and order on the page.”  Sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.

  • Work with a ghostwriter, or if that’s not quite your speed, with an editor.

With a book club feeding you inspiration and a writer’s group providing you support and feedback as you write, the next best step is to find your voice.  If you’re struggling to find the time or cultivate the skills you think necessary to capturing your story, it may be time to look for a ghostwriter–someone who can sit down with you, hash out all of the relevant details, and then serve as architect and project manager for your book–all rolled into one.  We often associate ghostwriters with the traditional publishing model, since most of the ghostwritten books we see hit shelves are celebrity autobiographies–but you can be a self-publishing author and develop a healthy rapport with a ghostwriter, too!  Hybrid self-publishing companies like mine–Outskirts Press–often offer ghostwriting and editorial services as several of many tools to put in your toolbox.  The differences between ghostwriting and editing is significant–the former will take on a large part of the “generative” process, while the latter will help shape or reshape material you have already created–but the general impulse is the same: these services exist to help you get stuff done.  Don’t underestimate the power of a good edit!

  • Cultivate new and sustainable writing habits.

Here’s where things get a bit hazy.  Every author has individual writing habits developed over years of hard work and necessity, so what a “good writing day” looks like to you will most likely differ from everyone else you meet.  We can look to our heroes for inspiration, sure, but ultimately I find comparison a toxic, toxic beast.  The best way to succeed at adopting new and useful writing habits is to do so slowly and sustainably–by making incremental changes and sticking with them over the long term.

There’s a reason NaNoWriMo proves so difficult for authors to just “pick up” and do: it’s such an intense process that it requires writers to make enormous changes to their daily schedules just to fit it in.  A much better course might be to adopt more manageable alterations–boosting the time you spend writing every morning by five minutes a day for a week, perhaps, or by restricting your self-editing to only five minutes a day–and to evaluate their efficacy regularly, discarding the useless ones and keeping the useful ones.  As my grandmother used to say, “trim the fat!”  Keep the things that help you, and shed the weight of those which don’t.

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 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.