On one hand, the holiday season is a great time to promote your books because everybody is buying books to gift to their loved ones.
On the other hand, the holiday season is a challenging time to promote your books because all the authors and publishers know about how people are buying books. There’s a lot of competition, and it’s hard to stand out.
Add to this the fact that holiday costs means you don’t have the marketing budget some other writers do, and it can be tempting to just miss this potentially lucrative season. Do not give in to that temptation. Instead, execute any or all of these 20 low-cost holiday book promotions to get yourself to the top of the list this holiday season.
20 Low-Cost Holiday Book Promotion Ideas
1. Gift Your Superfans
Even a beginning writer has one or two superfans: people who love you and your work, and who will stop at nothing to help you become successful in your writing career. Whether your writing is at the stage where that’s three people or three thousand, come up with a simple, low-cost, heartfelt thank-you gift you can send them this holiday season. It will supercharge their efforts to help you with any of the other items on this list.
2. Schedule a Site Promo
This promotion comes in two stages. The first stage is setting up some kind of promotion on or for your website. Depending on what stage your career is at, this could be directing traffic to your site, calling for newsletter signups, calling attention to a featured page or blog post, or a sale on one or more of your books. Whatever it is you’ll set it up, craft whatever web page assets you need, and set a day or two for it to run.
Stage two is to promote the promotion. Set a calendar of outreach leading up two weeks to the day of the promo, then make it happen. As people grow more exciting, you can start a count-down, then do updates of how successful the promo is while it happens.
3. Throw a Party
Some kind of celebration of your work, your fans, new additions, updates, or simply your genre overall can be popular this time of year. It doesn’t even have to be that expensive or time-consuming. An online meetup will suffice, though if you have the time and budget, doing something in person can be more impactful across the board.
4. Get Festive on Social Media
Eyes get drawn to holiday themed posts during the holiday season. It’s just the way our brains and senses work. Create a suite of holiday-themed social media assets to put into rotation during November and December. Some good candidates include:
- Daily posts about your own holiday experience
- New banners and headshots for your profiles
- Themed posts for the major holidays: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year
- Pictures of holiday-themed books from your genre, or which you’re reading
- Posts of holiday scenes or weather from your home town
- Book pictures of anything in your work that has a holiday-themed cover
5. Contact Gift Guide Bloggers
Every industry and genre has a few dozen websites that run a holiday gift guide for fans of that niche. Find the people operating in yours and send free copies of your book in exchange for considering inclusion in their buyer’s guide. Generally, print copies have a much higher success rate than ebooks for this strategy.
6. Make a Holiday Email Signature
Your email signature is an easy way to subtly connect everyone you communicate with to your writing career. Change your signature to include some holiday greeting, and word about one or your holiday promotions. It will take you two minutes, and pay dividends the entire season.
7. Bookstagram for the Holidays
For all you dudes and cats who aren’t hip to the newest lingo, a “bookstagram” is a picture of a book you post on your Instagram account. Holiday-themed bookstagrams perform well during this season. These can be of holiday-themed books, books you’re reading right now, or even just a book nestled among holiday scenery. Whatever you can come up with will work just fine.
8. Contact Reviewers and Readers
This is good advice all year round, but people are reading more reviews because they’re looking for gift ideas. Either getting a new book in front of a reviewer or influential reader, or pinging them to renew their interest in something you already sent, can get your book on their site just when people are buying more books. Bonus points for the book being holiday-themed.
9. Make Holiday-Themed Posts
I mentioned this earlier in terms of your general assets, but posting about what you’re up to for the holidays gives fans and potential readers a human look at who you are and what you do. In the modern book market, good writing gets you only so far. The most successful writers have a fan base who are invested in them as a person. This helps people connect with you on a human level.
10. Create Holiday Package Deals
This only works if you have more than one book, but you can bundle several of your works together and put them on a holiday gift package sale price. It works best if you pair it with a way for you to contact buyers moving forward, such as signing up for your mailing list. That way, these interested people who just bought a bunch of books on sale can hear about the next opportunity to buy one for full price.
11. Make a Countdown
The holiday season has lots of numbered sequences of days, like Hanukkah, the 12 Days of Christmas, and the days of an Advent calendar. Choose one, or make up one of your own, and do a social media countdown. For each day of the countdown, have some mini-promo that encourages people to sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to your blog, share about you on social media, buy a book, give to charity, or any other small thing.
12. Use Holiday Hashtags
This is simple to understand and easy to do, but sometimes hard to remember. Do some research on the best holiday-themed hashtags for what you write in, then put them in heavy rotation on Twitter and Instagram.
13. Create a Themed Cover
If any of your books could in any way be tied to the holidays, spend ten bucks on Fiverr.com to create a holiday-themed cover. Make the changes, post the update, and see what happens. It’s okay to stretch the pint a little. That epic fantasy novel that happens on a world with no holidays? If there’s a scene with snow, you can still make this happen.
14. Find the Craft Fairs
Most communities have a series of small craft fairs, holiday markets, and similar events where people gather to buy gifts and decorations for their holidays. A table at one is usually affordable, and makes you one of the few book vendors at that particular event. All the bibliophiles shopping that day will at least take a peek at what you’re up to.
15. Send a BookBub Preorder Alert
BookBub (of which we’ve written a lot, check this link here for starters) offers a preorder alert service where they send news about your book out to all their subscribers. Even if you don’t have a new book coming out right now, you can combine this with the updated holiday cover to technically qualify.
16. Create a Holiday-Themed Giveaway
We talked about how to properly do a giveaway in this article, and this article here. Do all of that with a holiday theme. The theme can have to do with what people do to enter, with the prizes you offer, or just that it’s happening during the holiday season. Whatever it is, make the entry window short — just a few days — so people can pay attention during this busy season.
17. Make a Limited-Time Holiday Set
Build a collection of items you can sell together as a set. These could all be things you made, or you could have an item each from several authors you band together for greater promotional power. Either way, make it available just for one or two weeks, promote the heck out of it, and watch the orders come in.
Remember as you build and price this that you’re not really looking for high profits on sales from this set. Instead, you’re looking to raise awareness for the work of everybody involved. Choose your items and set your pricing accordingly.
18. Have an Online Reading
Jump online for a Facebook live, Instagram Live, YouTube, Zoom, or other video platform reading from your book. Choose the passages most closely related to holiday safety, aiming for 10-15 minutes of reading time total. This could be one longer passage, or several smaller excerpts from one or more of your works.
To make this as successful as possible, keep two things in mind. First, schedule the reading ahead of time and promote it vigorously up until it happens. Second, make it clear and easy how people who loved the reading can take another step: buy your book, join your newsletter, connect on social media, etc. Choose one step, and make it almost automatic.
19. Go Caroling
Offer to sing a Christmas Carol live on the social media page of somebody’s choice. Make a day of it, touring as many sites as you can, and end each with a quick note about how people can find out more about you and your writing.
Bonus points for making this part of your giveaway. It makes a fun consolation prize for a second tier of entrants.
20. Make Some Branded Swag
Create postcards, ornaments, bookmarks, t-shirts, or similar items with some kind of reference to your work. Make the announcement in time for fans to buy other fans gifts, and keep your small swag shop open moving forward. This is a triple-whammy that builds awareness for your writing, engages with your most enthusiastic fans, and opens up a new stream of income for your writing empire. Everybody wins.
Note: free swag is a really good option for the first item on this list, as long as it’s not so expensive you go broke distributing it to your super fans.
What Are You Waiting For?
If you get started now, you can execute one or two of these a day and still have time off at the end of the year. Start 2022 strong by using these to supercharge engagement with what you write.