Promoting your book means taking advantage of any opportunity that will be relevant to it. In general, book sales are very low in winter, following the Christmas rush, but summer and the holidays are good times to sell books. Being aware of what events or holidays will help your book sales can help a publisher and author realize when to promote hard and when promoting may be wasting time and energy that could be put into working on the next book or preparing for a better promotion opportunity down the road. Here are some guidelines for determining the best times to promote your book.
Christmas: The Christmas season is probably the time when the most books are sold. However, the fall is also the time of year when the most books are published because everyone thinks his or her books will sell best at Christmas. Not true. No one is going to want to receive a diet book as a Christmas gift-that would be insulting-although the same person might buy the diet book for him- or herself at a different time of the year. Similarly, a self-help book telling you how to take charge of your life might be offensive to someone, making the person feel the gift is a sign of disapproval about how he is living his life. Books work as gifts when the book matches the receiver, being something the person is interested in, so obviously, someone who likes to cook might enjoy a cookbook, or a spiritual person might enjoy a collection of inspirational quotes and poems. Novels, children’s books, history books, and even biographies always have a tendency to sell well as gifts at the holidays.
Summer: Summer is the next big season for book sales, and authors have more flexibility during this time than during the holiday season. Plenty of book festivals and art and craft shows exist where you can promote your title to the general public and usually find some people interested. Any topic has potential in the summer, as long as it’s not related to winter, like a book about skiing or ice-climbing. Of course, the biggest sellers are often novels for beach and escapist reading on a vacation. Travel books also sell well in spring and summer for people preparing for vacation. And don’t forget fitness books-people want to shed those extra pounds so they can look their best at the beach.
Other Holidays/Seasons: Depending on your book’s subject, you can help to promote it at various holidays. Start planning two months or more before the holiday and start promoting at least a month before so as the holiday approaches, people become interested and excited. For example, any romance novel has potential for Valentine’s Day, any book about Ireland or that has Irish characters in it could do well for St. Patrick’s Day. Horror novels can be a hit around Halloween, and historical fiction or history or biographies about significant Americans could do well at the Fourth of July. Books on war and the military can be promoted in conjunction with Memorial Day and Veterans Day, or at anniversaries like Pearl Harbor or the landing at Normandy. And if your book is about hunting, there’s deer season, bird season, bear season. There’s also a school “season.” Be creative about considering possibilities.
Anniversaries: Don’t forget significant anniversaries of events-several books are in the works to be published in conjunction with the two hundredth anniversary of the War of 1812, and I imagine the same will be true in 2014 when World War I reaches its century mark. There are always various events being held on certain topics of interest that can help to sell your book. For example, if you write about automobiles, Henry Ford, or the automobile industry, the upcoming 100th anniversary of a specific model of a car, such as the Model T celebrated in 2008, could help you to promote your book.
Annual or Bi-Annual Events: Every time the Olympics comes around, books about athletes and especially Olympians can see higher sales. If you are a local author writing about the history of your area and the town holds an annual Founder’s Day, you can promote your book at the festivities. The Fourth of July is a popular time for communities to celebrate their own history in conjunction so keep that in mind. It might also be an annual car race, an annual fishing derby, or an annual exhibit at the public library on mental illness that might be relevant to your book.
Festivals: No absence of festivals occurs, especially in summer. If you’re writing history or something with an ethnic connection, seek out the local Greek, Scandinavian, Italian, Irish, or any number of other ethnic festivals. The lilac festival might help sell your gardening book; the yachting festival might help your book on shipwrecks. And don’t forget about food! It might be the annual cheese festival or the annual seafood festival-anywhere people go to eat is going to bring a crowd-the festival-goers’ minds might not be on books, but you’ll catch a few people’s eyes. When people are having fun and satisfying their appetites, they are in a good mood and more willing to part with their money.
National ____ Day/Month: You name it, there’s a day or month for everything. It might be Black History Month that will help you, or Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or even National Pickle Day. Find out when these events take place, help to raise awareness of them, and promote your book in conjunction.
Whether it’s a hometown event or an international conference, a national holiday or a historic anniversary, numerous possibilities exist for ways to tie your book into something people will get excited about. Plan ahead so you are ready to promote when the event occurs. It might be advertising on your website for the month in advance that on “Mother’s Day only” you will have a “half-off” special. It might be booking yourself to be at holiday shows every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It might be seeking out organizers for summer events in the winter so you can be prepared. With a little creative thinking, you can always tie your book into something else that already has people interested and excited so you can capitalize on their enthusiasm to help your book sales.
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.
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