I used to laugh at the “Christmas-in-July” ads until I promoted my first holiday-related book. We actually started the promotion in July, and July turned out to be the perfect time. Why? Maybe no one buys or thinks about December in July, but the holiday buying season is tough. To make any kind of headway, you must start early. When those “Christmas-in-July” ads start to hit radio and TV, social media, and your inbox, consumers— those who like to shop early—start gathering ideas for their shopping lists.
When is it too late to start thinking about storming the holiday market? November is definitely much too late. October is iffy. If you’re staring September in the face and haven’t done a lick of marketing towards holiday sales, now might be your last chance.
Better to start early—mid-to-late summer is ideal. Here are several ideas to get you started.
1. Do Holiday-Themed Hashtag Research
The holidays are full of excitement and enthusiasm, and hashtags play right into that added fervor. Hashtags exist for every traditional activity or element of the season you can imagine. Your goal is to figure out which hashtags get the most attention, or what’s trending. Hashtags might be somewhat evergreen when you add the current year. A very basic example is #ChristmasCountdown2018.
Know your competition, and learn from authors in your genre who are a couple of rungs up the ladder from you. Success leaves clues. And yes, you can find out what your competition did right last season. It takes some scrolling, but the data is there.
Here are some evergreen hashtags that have stood the test of time in recent years. Remember to insert the current year to make your hashtags timely:
While a certain hashtag might be trending, or even evergreen, if the hashtag goes against your branding or doesn’t fit your personality, look for a different hashtag that makes more sense. Hashtags enhance searchability and relevance, but they’re also an extension of your personality, so be thoughtful.
2. Coordinate with Other Authors for Social Media Promotions
Now is a perfect time to join forces and coordinate holiday sales efforts with authors in a similar genre. What if you did a bundled book together? What if you and four or five other authors gather your best books and offer them as a special holiday bundle? If bundling is not an option, organize your marketing efforts so you each share the other’s stuff on your websites and in social media posts.
Let the authors know what you’re planning, such as a string of promotions or BOGOs around the holidays, and find out what they’re doing. If the other authors have promos planned, they might be interested in combining forces by sharing your stuff if you share theirs. Keep in mind that this reciprocity only works with authors in similar genres. You’re each pulling in your own market, which is your core readership. Don’t try to sell a puppy to a cat person.
3. Do Your Own 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways
Consider whether you can organize your giveaway and promotion ideas into a 12-day series to play into the “12 Days of Christmas” theme.
If your book has an “easy to shop for” reader audience, you can invest in 12 small gifts to encourage readers to engage with your brand. Think stocking stuffers. For example, women’s fiction, which is broad and relatively easy to shop for, a 12-day theme could include a small box of chocolates, a beaded bracelet, or a Dead Sea mud mask.
You can offer one of the stocking stuffers for giveaway each day so your fans and followers engage with your promotions. Maybe to earn an entry, a readers emails you a receipt for one of your books they’ve purchased. Day 2 they share a link to your book on Amazon on their Facebook account, and day 3 they submit a screenshot of their review of your book on Goodreads.
Focus on 12 valuable things your readers and followers can do, match those with 12 inspiring rewards, and you’ve got a 12 Days of Christmas promotion.
4. Make Custom Tree Ornaments for Superfans or Giveaways
Imagine being on someone’s tree every year—what an amazing honor! Consider making keepsakes to represent your books. Reserve these keepsakes for your superfans, use them as giveaways, or a little of both. Maybe superfans receive one kind of keepsake, and everyone else can vie for another style in a giveaway.
Etsy is a fantastic place to find small artisans doing amazing things. Dig around and you might be inspired with even more ideas for custom swag for the winter holidays and beyond.
5. Create a Gift Guide
You’ve probably seen how retailers offer “employee favorites,” and highlight a certain brand or product to call attention to them. Many stores now also offer “gifting guides” for everyone on your shopping list. Why not do the same thing? Create a gift guide for your readers’ best friend, spouse or child—whatever suits your reader market best. Yes, you can recommend your book, but also find things that speak to the consumer’s desire to find that perfect gift. If, for example, your book is sci-fi, create a “for the sci-fi lover in your life” package. Or combine your book with a cool Star Wars poster you saw on Etsy. Some authors create an actual gift basket that readers can give as a unique Christmas gift.
If you found this post helpful, check out 50 Ways to Sell a Sleigh-Load of Books by Penny Sansevieri.