By Patricia L. Fry
Whether your book is brand new or it’s been around for a while, this is an excellent time of year to promote it. In fact, I suggest kicking your marketing efforts into high gear during the next six weeks. How? Consider the following:
- Don’t let stock dwindle. If your book is for sale in bookstores and/or specialty shops, make sure these stores are well-stocked. If you don’t have a retail outlet for your books, try to set up something. For example, if you have a book on flying/aviation, invest in display racks and signage and approach people at small local airports about selling your book during the holidays. Visit gift shops throughout your region with your book of poetry. See about getting your historical novel displayed at a variety of sites—the museum gift shop, the drug store, travel agencies, the Chamber of Commerce, the Pottery Barn and even quaint coffee shops. Here’s where you need to think beyond the usual.
- Donate copies. There are a lot of charity events occurring this time of year. Locate them (through your Chamber of Commerce, the calendar section of your newspapers, community bulletin boards, etc.) and offer your book as a door prize or for the silent auction. Better yet, put your book in a basket with a reading light, chocolate bonbons, a package of microwave popcorn, a coffee cup with a packet of cocoa mix and a cinnamon stick inside, a bookmark and items related to your story. Put a bow on the basket and donate this for the silent auction. Follow up with promo in the club bulletin, local newspaper, etc. Attend the event with books in hand.
- Create gift baskets for holiday boutiques. Fill baskets with items related to the genre or theme of your book and sell them at the many gift boutiques occurring in your community.
- Get a radio or TV gig and speaking engagements. Talk up your book as a great gift for the appropriate reader on anyone’s holiday list. I find that people are in a buying mood this time of year. It doesn’t take much to convince them to add your book to their stash of gifts.
- Plan home parties around the theme of your book. Surely, you have six friends who will invite you and their neighbors into their home for some fun—a cooking demonstration for a cookbook; a reading for a poetry book; an enactment of your story for a novel (be sure to involve guests); a workshop for your book on fitness, weight loss, an art technique, writing, etc. or make up a game for your fantasy or thriller. What if your book is a memoir? Just tell your story and let people ask you questions. Bring interesting items depicting the story and the period. Get creative—use your imagination and ingenuity to come up with a ways to entertain groups of people and then bring them together for an evening or even a weekend.
- Include promo material with your holiday cards. Send your holiday cards out early to your regular list, but also to everyone whose business cards you’ve collected over the last several years. Insert information about your book and suggest it as a holiday gift. Offer a discount and more than one easy way to purchase copies. Keep in mind that not everyone is Internet-savvy.
- Put promotional bookmarks or postcards in with your bill payments. Fill postage-paid return envelopes with your promo material.
- Offer something for free. If yours is a book on photography, donate a free photo session to a limited number of military families in your city. If you wrote a book on flying and flight, have a drawing and give one lucky person (or several) a ride in your plane. If your book is for children, donate a designated amount to organizations that are putting together holiday baskets for needy families. And with your donation, be sure to get some press.
- Run a contest. There are numerous contest possibilities. Here’s one of my favorites: Everyone who purchases your book during the month of December gets a chance to win a $100 cash prize. So that you aren’t out anything, say that once you’ve sold 100 or 200 books, you’ll draw a winner.
- Arrange to make appearances at local stores and companies. You might show up in the lunchroom with your book at various companies, spend an hour at the hospital gift shop talking to visitors about your book, walk around kitchen stores telling customers about your cookbook, or read your children’s book to willing kids at local libraries or baby shops. Always ask permission. Send press releases out to local newspapers letting the community know what you’re up to.
For added interest, dress in a costume related to a character in your book or the theme—a chef’s hat and apron for a cookbook, the grumpy gopher from your children’s book, or a southern belle or civil war soldier for your historical novel.
- Go door-to-door with your books. One author I know did this and was successful. If you’re going to try door-to-door marketing, this would be the best time of year to do it. Start in your neighborhood and branch out. You might just be the answer to many people’s Christmas gift list prayers.
- Travel with your book. Introduce your book to other communities. Drive 100 miles or so in each direction from your home this month and visit appropriate stores along the way. Try to get some press in each of these communities through articles or interviews in their newspapers and regional publications. It isn’t difficult to get press if you do something newsworthy such as donating books, setting up a charity or giving a presentation. If you are visiting relatives or friends during the holidays, arrive early and/or stay longer so you’ll have time to do some marketing while there.
There you have it, a dozen ideas for kicking your book sales into high gear during the biggest holiday season of the year. Get busy. Get creative. And have fun. You may just be able to buy your sweetheart that expensive gift he or she wants.
–Patricia Fry is the president of SPAWN. She is also a career writer, author, teacher and consultant with 27 published books to her credit. Treat yourself to the best Christmas gift ever for the hopeful or struggling author, a copy of her NEWLY revised second edition book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book AND her new Author’s Workbook. www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html and www.matilijapress.com/workbook.html. Follow her informative blog: www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.