Not only is this the time of year where it seems everyone has a Christmas book (or is writing one at the last moment), but it is also when every author’s year end goals come into sharp relief. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of people who have told me this month: “I have one more book to get out before the end of the year.”
I admit, I am no different. My Secrets to Effective Author Marketing book published on Dec. 9th. I also had a Christmas novelette I published on the 10th–a last minute addition I wrote the final week of November. However, in spite of working long hours to get these two products out, I have low expectations of sales. The reality is publishing anything in mid-December is too late to really expect good holiday sales.
From about October 1st to the end of the year is THE most competitive time for publishing. It is when the big five traditional publishers release their frontlist books–books for their perennial bestselling authors and books that have generated a huge buzz. The Fall books tend to have a bigger marketing budget too. Publishers know the October-December time period is when a lot of people stock up for holiday reading or vacation reading.
This is why I hear so many people disappointed about their sales from October through December. If this is you, perhaps you’ve considered writing a Christmas murder novel that involves publishing or distribution executives. But no need. It is matter of changing your expectations as to what else this season offers in terms of marketing.
That’s why the expectations I mentioned above for my most recent releases are not about sales. I’m not buying ads at this time of year because they are significantly more expensive. I am still using my social media to let people know about my books, but that is primarily going to reach my current fan base. It is unlikely that new people will be looking to buy from me when there are so many other books from bestselling authors. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have published.
So why publish? Why not wait until January? Here were my reasons for each title. Christmas Courage was written to be part of a multi-author Christmas Cheer bundle, so I had to write it anyway. It is one of three stories in my Sweetwater Canyon Holiday Trio offered in that bundle. But there were four other reasons I decided to publish it separately as well.
- To give a free holiday story to my readers who are on my email list. I know my readers love holiday stories and many of them would NOT choose to spend their Christmas dollars on my little book. They would more likely spend their money on a bestselling author’s expensive book as a special present to themselves because Christmas is a time when you indulge in special treats. By offering a free story, I can still let them know how much I appreciate them and remind them to come back for my stories next year.
- To have something inexpensive available for readers who are looking for something affordable at Christmas. In the off chance that readers, who don’t know me, are open to something new, I provide an inexpensive entry to my Sweetwater Canyon series. How can anyone go wrong with a holiday story, right? If I make even a few dollars it will be more than I planned.
- So, it’s out there for post holiday sales in January. The nice thing about holiday books–particularly Christmas stories–is that a lot of readers want to keep the good feelings of the season going. One way they do that is by reading holiday stories and continuing to watch holiday movies.
- To have something already finished for next year. Though I don’t expect sales this year, it will be available again next year. Because it’s already done I can push it and the Sweetwater Canyon Holiday next year beginning in October/November before the big rush and I’ll have a lot more reviews by then.
Why Release the Marketing Book? It has nothing to do with Christmas.
This release is 50% due to an obsession with meeting my goal to finish this book, and 50% due to the number of people who have told me they wanted it now so they could plan their marketing for 2018.
Again, I don’t expect a lot of sales during the holidays. Though a couple hundred writers, who have my other books, have repeatedly told me they want this book the most, I know that writer’s are notorious for thinking they will do a lot of learning and planning during the holidays but it doesn’t end up happening. So my expectation is to do a big push in January when writer’s are getting back into their schedules and the holidays are behind them and not a distraction. Having it out now makes it available to the few who really will read it during the holidays, and it gives an opportunity for them to leave reviews.
What about the obsession for meeting a goal? I am a believer in writing goals at the beginning of the year and then doing whatever I can to make them happen by the end of the year. One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to get the next two books in the Career Author Secrets series done. Secrets Every Author Should Know published in 2016. Secrets to Pricing and Distribution published in August 2017. Secrets to Effective Author Marketing published on Dec. 9th. This does a lot of things for helping me expand my brand as a nonfiction author, specifically for writing author guides.
- I can now take the indie author from first book published through distribution and marketing for under $12 over three books. Particularly for new authors this is a bargain. The first thing most authors think of is: “Tell me how to make money with my book.” I personally think that rarely ends well because there is a lot that needs to happen before the marketing. (e.g., no amount of marketing will make up for a bad cover and poor blurb on the vendor book page). I’ve seen plenty of people spend good money on paid ads for Facebook and AMS. They get a lot of clicks but not a lot of purchases. Invariably it is because they don’t understand the importance of their cover and their blurb sales copy in converting lookie-lous to buyers. However, having the third book at leasts answers that immediate need and, I hope, also points them back to the other two for the best chance at being successful.
- I now have the possibility of bundling these three books together for those who prefer to buy a boxset. Bundling is a decision that needs to go with other primary pushes, so I haven’t yet decided when I will do that, but it will be in 2018. That gives me a fourth product in the series.
- These books can serve as a taste of what it might be like to take a workshop or course from me. Not everyone likes to take online courses, but for those who do learn that way, these books are written in the same voice as I use as an instructor. For the few face-to-face workshops I do each year, they also provide a similar function.
I hope this helps you to move forward with finishing your year end books and getting them published. Even though it may be too late for huge sales this month, you will do yourself a favor in setting them up for next year.
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