Updating Your Book Marketing Plan for Holiday Sales

by | Aug 31, 2021 | Bestseller Essentials, Social Media for Authors

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Obviously your book marketing plan plays a huge role in your long term success, but a lot of authors forget to make seasonal updates to support sales goals for specific holidays.

Yes, all retailers are vying for coveted “holiday shopper” attention, but with some strategic additions to your current book promotion efforts, you can easily grab your share of the holiday sales revenue.

Let’s start with some numbers!

We know that online shopping sales are big, but did you know that 69% of US consumers shop online at least once a year? And recent figures show that 80% of the world’s population shops online as well. These numbers are likely to only get bigger.

But the actual shopping season starts earlier and earlier each year as well, as was the case in 2020, because of supply chain problems, which we expect to see continue through this shopping season as well. We call it “Christmas Creep,” meaning the holiday positioning starts earlier and earlier each year.

So, let’s dig into some ways you can grab your share of holiday book sales!

Get Your Holiday Message Added to Your Book Marketing Plan

It’s a good idea to start your messaging now. Whether you’re planning a full campaign around holiday sales or you just want to update your website and run some ads, plan your unique messaging early. How are you going to pitch your book as a smart seasonal purchase? Your messaging goes everywhere from your Amazon page, to social media, to your website, and you want to be consistent and cover all the bases – make sure you don’t forget a critical opportunity.

Create Seasonal Advertising

Authors often like to run ads but as we get closer to big holiday shopping days like Black Friday, ad pricing can get extremely competitive. The least expensive ads can be placed for Christmas Day, the first Tuesday in December, the Monday before Thanksgiving, and the first week of November. The most expensive and competitive ads are for Cyber Monday, Black Friday, the seven days before Christmas, and Thanksgiving.

If you’re already running Amazon ads, you could start a seasonal batch of ads–and I just finished a blog post (which you can find below under the Resources and Free Downloads section) on running seasonal ads you can refer to as you begin to develop your ad plan.

Plan for Critical Shopping Dates ASAP

Yes, we all know Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big shopping days, but keep in mind that many consumers start much earlier than that, so plan ahead. Whether you’re needing to update your website/shopping cart experience, update your book copy on Amazon, or organize promotions for your mailing list, don’t wait till the last minute. Start planning now. There’s a reason retailers often refer to “Christmas in July”–that’s how long many of the bigger retailers need to pivot to the holiday season and plan out their promotions.

Create Special Book Promotions for Your Email List

If your book marketing plan includes an email list, but you don’t use it regularly, now is a good time to start “warming up your list.” And by that, I mean get your mailing list accustomed to hearing from you. Send one or two email blasts with helpful information and perhaps a nod to your upcoming holiday specials.

If you’ve already been emailing your list regularly, then it’s time to start plotting out any promotions that you might do specifically for your email list. Promos like BOGO “buy one, give one” or “buy one, get one” should be planned out early. And I love these types of promotions because you can encourage folks to buy your book and give a copy to someone else, which is a great holiday surprise, but also helps you widen your reader reach, too.

Get Your Website Ready to Handle Orders and Special Offers

If you’re planning to sell books from your website, then it’s time to make sure that your store is ready to go. Also, in your book marketing plan, consider doing special offers like gift-wrapping or free shipping. Free shipping is a big deal to consumers so it’s nice if you can offer it. Yes, it all costs money, but you’ll make more money selling direct anyway, so keep that in mind.

If you don’t want to ship your own books, then link to retailers–but you can still offer the BOGO by asking readers to send you a copy of the purchase receipt to participate in the special.

Create Special eBook Promotions

Discounted ebook promotions are a great addition to your holiday sales plan and if you have multiple books out, it’s really a fun way to drive more interest to your books. Pricing discounts don’t have to be huge, meaning you don’t need to price your book at .99 cents for it to be a deal. Marking a book down by 1 dollar or so can be a fun way to offer a holiday special and run an ebook promotion. But keep in mind that ebook promotions around key holiday shopping days fill up really early, so grab your spots sooner, rather than later.

Control the Sales Narrative

Book descriptions and marketing copy should always be updated to remind the customer why they should buy. If your book has won an award this year or has some other notable mention, be sure to add that to the copy. Does it make a great gift? Who is the perfect gift for? Answering these questions nudges your customer to make the purchase.

For example, you could say, “This is the perfect YA book for fans of [X] and [Y] titles,” or “This book is for people who love shows like …” Be direct about why your book is the right book for them, and update book descriptions for anything that might be holiday-specific or that has a gift element to it.

Reward Your Most Loyal Fans with Special Deals

Now, especially, is a great time to reward people who already know and like you. (Think: your newsletter subscribers and/or social media followers.) Offer them discounts or exclusive offers as a part of your book marketing plan that are just for them. Or consider running giveaways of books or a gift pack that includes your book.

Stay with me here: the best book marketing campaigns include social media AND it is also true that social media doesn’t sell books. Wait, what? Isn’t that a contradiction? You’d think so but here’s the thing: social media is an important key to exposure, and exposure sells books. Let me rephrase that: the right kind of social media sells books. Which is why I always say it’s not about being everywhere, but everywhere that matters. There are a lot of different angles to consider with social media platforms, and you can get deep into which platform is best for your purposes as well as all kinds of analytics that can guide when and where you post. These are all worthy topics for advanced study. Today we’re going back to basics as we consider the best book marketing campaign for you. Today’s post, in fact, is all about helping you answer a question many authors struggle with: what the heck am I supposed to post? Authors often hop on social media sites without any idea of the demographic of the platform’s users, with no knowledge of their own reader demographic, and without the faintest idea of what to say – and then they wonder why social media doesn’t seem to be working for them. That is not the right way to approach social for your best possible book marketing campaign; not only is it wrong, but that approach will cost you a bunch of time and effort that you literally will never get back. Where Does Your Message Live on Social? Most of the time, social media frustration stems from authors struggling with the content they feel they should be posting. In response to the feeling that they should be active on social media, they post something that’s not really relevant to their audience, though maybe it’s top of mind. But the problem actually starts earlier than that because more often than not, authors are on the wrong social media site to begin with. I’m including a link to a social media quiz you can take, to determine the best site for you (see the Resources section below). And if you take the quiz and you’re sitting here thinking “Well great, I’m on all the wrong social media sites, what do I do now?” My answer is: close down what you don’t need. If you keep the account, you’ll be tempted to update it, and that’s not a good use of your time. If you keep the account and don’t update it, it looks like you’ve abandoned your own party, and that’s not a good look either. Creating a Rockin’ Social Media Presence It’s fair to say that each social media site has its own particular “needs” – LinkedIn, for example, is different than Facebook, which is different from Instagram or Twitter. But regardless of where you’re going to spend your time, you’ll want to make sure to do a little bit of prep work before you start posting. Authors with the best book marketing campaigns work on identifying the talking points that will work best for them and for their books. To make this easy, I recommend you find three or four tracks you will speak to. These “tracks” are the conversation funnels you share on social, and the reason I like to limit those tracks is that a narrower course makes it easier for you to figure out what to say and/or share. Generally what happens is authors hop onto social and share whatever comes to mind, which creates a somewhat erratic presence and, invariably, lowers your engagement. What you’re attempting to do here is set your reader expectations by pre-plotting your pathways and the things you share. This doesn’t mean that you’re always tied to just four talking points, but to get started and kick this into high gear, you’re better off staying on track. And, by staying consistent to your messaging and your posting topics and schedule, you’ll build a reader/follower base much more quickly than you would if you just got onto social media in a haphazard way or if you posted too much one day and then nothing at all for a week. Most of what happens on social media falls into one of those two scenarios. So what does this look like in the best book marketing campaigns? Let’s say you’ve written a diet and health book; your tracks might look like this: • Latest health news • Quick daily health tip • Exciting news about your book • Motivational quote around health/wellness/diet If you’ve written a fiction book, let’s say a Sci-Fi novel, your tracks might look like this: • Fun science fiction did-you-know • Throwback to old Sci-Fi novels, shows, or films • Exciting news about your book • Book research you’re doing for future books OR • Some insight into your life: where you write, the playlist you listen to when you write, etc. OR • Your hobbies and what you love to do besides writing We worked with an author who set one of her romance novels in a small town, so she shared recipes from the various restaurants and coffee shops she wrote about, and readers really enjoyed this creative twist. She tried to create an immersive experience because she knew that was what her readers really cared about. So, along those lines you could share cocktail recipes or anything that tethers to the world you’ve created. Here are some other ideas: • Get your followers’ help in naming a pet in your next book. • Even better, get their help naming a character! • Ask questions to get to know your followers better; people love it when you ask about hobbies or movies they love. • Talk about things you like besides books. • Make yourself unique. • Share things that are specific to your genre – for example, if you wrote a book on vampires, you could create a meme with four famous movie vampires and ask readers to pick their favorite. • Celebrate your favorite comfort food or something else that dials into your topic. The idea is to find where readers want to engage – meaning posts that will (in the words of Marie Condo) spark joy with your followers. This may take a while. Start with your three or four discussion tracks but know that you may need to play around a bit and further refine them. The Best Book Marketing Campaigns Create Connections Readers love getting to know the authors of the books they read and love. Often, authors post on social and then wait for folks to engage with them, and yes, a bit of that approach can be part of your social platform mix. But also know that the degree to which you are connected to your posts matters, and it matters a lot. If you’re posting and ditching, you won’t get good engagement – ever. After you post, you need to check back to see if anyone responded; sometimes it just takes one person response, followed by your own, to get the comments rolling. Humans desire social approval; we love to express ourselves on social media in the hope of getting affirmative feedback. Likes and shares give our brains a surefire dopamine rush. We also love contributing and having our opinions heard – keep this in mind even if you’re just posting something funny. For example, I do a lot of “caption this” posts to spark communication. Some of them do really well, garnering upwards of 150 comments, while others only get 20 or so comments. Regardless of how many responses I get, I make sure to acknowledge every single one. People love it when you take the time to get to know them, when you’re really interested and willing to take the time to connect. Inviting followers to share their hobbies and then responding – or even just giving their content a thumbs up – can go a long way in developing reader relationships. Another driver of engagement is nostalgia, though you need to know your audience well enough to make it work for you. Someone who grew up in the 1990s won’t necessarily feel nostalgic for the same post as someone who grew up in the 1970s. People also love humor, especially now. So posting funny things might be one of your tracks. As I said before, you’re going to want to play around with this a bit until you find the right mix. Branded Images The best book marketing campaigns use images that are consistent in color, font, and message. You may share a meme that’s not specifically branded to you, which is fine. But the majority of your images should be consistent with your brand as this helps to create a visual recognition; readers see something and say, “Oh that looks like [insert author name]!” You can create branded images using an online service like Canva. In fact, for AME’s blog images (which get shared on social), we create a series of templates so that we can swap images in and out, but the standard font, spacing, and URL stay the same. Canva is an easy way to quickly create content, too. Create a Posting Calendar The best book marketing campaigns rely on planning. Not everything you do has to be planned ahead of time, but keeping up with your social media obligations will be a lot easier – and quicker! – if you create a posting calendar so you know what you’re sharing and when. Once your plans are in place, you might also spend some time creating images ahead of your posting dates and then scheduling them to post. This allows you to really focus on marketing strategies like book giveaways so you aren’t caught off guard when your chosen date crops up. Staying the Course Social media takes time. You’ll try something and succeed, then try something else and fail. This is how you learn what resonates with your audience, and what does not. Before long, you’ll start to see why social media plays such an important role in the best book marketing campaigns. And you might even start to discover some real joy along the way! Resources and Free Downloads Canva Monthly Book Marketing Planner Book Marketing Kickstart Package QUIZ: How to Market Your Book on Social Media

Create Seasonal Blog Posts to Get Buyers in the Holiday Spirit

If you have a blog that you regularly update, create some holiday-themed posts around your offer or the specials you’re doing and share these on social media. Maybe even use a themed banner. When your book marketing plan directs customers to a single place that lists what you’re offering or sharing as a holiday special, it’s easier for buyers. A blog is a fantastic resource for doing this.

Your email marketing or social strategy shouldn’t be just a one-shot deal with a single message that goes out before Thanksgiving. Instead, market throughout the holiday season and, as I said, be mindful of folks who want to fill new devices with ebooks or audiobooks.

Another idea for your blog is to create a seasonal gift guide(s) recommending other books along with yours. Then, invite the other authors to share your post, as well. It’s a great way to get some additional traction.

You could also create gift ideas that don’t include books, say scented candles, and then recommend your romance novel to read when the candles are used. Or crafting supplies if you have a non-fiction crafting book. You get the idea!

Final Notes on Polishing Your Holiday Book Marketing Plan

Creating a holiday book marketing plan is easy and fun to do and you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it. Whatever you decide to do is great as long as it’s a push to get your book in front of more readers.

In terms of sales, it’s worth repeating: pace your social media posts so that you notify followers a few times before your special offer starts. Often, followers won’t see all of your posts right away, so sending notifications multiple times helps to ensure that they’ll catch it.

Keep in mind that even post-holiday pushes can be successful. People always look to fill up new devices post-holiday, so right after Christmas can actually be the best opportunity to push your ebook or audiobook, too!

And if you’re eager to get started, here is a list of some holidays you already know, and maybe a few you hadn’t considered: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Hanukkah, Green Monday, Free Shipping Day, Super Saturday, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s.

Good luck and happy holiday selling!

If you found this post helpful please use the social buttons below the Resources and Free Downloads to share on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and tag me, or you can email this post to a friend or colleague!

Resources and Free Downloads

Are You Ready For Big Media Coverage?

Reader Profile Brainstorm

Smarter Book Promotion on Amazon with Seasonal Ads

Book Marketing Plan: Your Book Promotion Mindset

Check out the Alliance of Independent Authors for news and resources 


  1. Mary Hagen

    Thank you. Such good information.

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Hi there Mary-Thanks for letting us know you’re finding this helpful and feel free to reach out if you’re looking for additional marketing strategies.



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