Cashing in on Christmas: Writing and Marketing Christmas Books

Christmas, undoubtedly, is the most commercial time of the year. The fact that 25% of trade books are bought as gifts makes it a very interesting time for authors, publishers and booksellers as well.

Twenty-five percent of books are bought as gifts. That's an astounding number. It can be disheartening if you think about it too much: one-quarter of books purchased are bought by people who don't intend to read them.

Given that the bulk of those books are purchased in that busy retail period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's also a good reason to ramp up your publishing and marketing efforts to take advantage of the gift-giving season. The ways to exploit the Christmas rush are as many and varied as your imagination, but here are a few tried and true ideas for authors and publishers.

Write a Christmas Book

Christmas books in almost every market segment become popular before the big holiday. Romance and mystery dominate the Christmas fiction lists and illustrated children's books are always popular, but cookbooks, coloring books, puzzle books, craft, how-to, self-help, and humor titles with a holiday theme are also popular.

If you live near an area popular with tourists or near a historical site, Christmas titles with a local or historical theme can quite easily find valuable retail shelf-space in local stores and museums during the holidays.

Create a Boxed Set from your Backlist

A holiday-themed box set of older titles priced in one of the sweet-spots for Christmas buyers can boost sales of your backlist titles, and can be pulled out year after year. Whether this is a viable option for a mid-size publisher depends on your printer's pricing and the volume you're planning to order. Self-published authors likely will need to find a printer for the packaging, and assemble sets themselves to sell to bookstores and consumers.

Sell Locally

Nearly everyone has a certain amount of pride about the city or town they live in. Let them brag about the literary talent in their area by marketing autographed books from their local author when they are searching for unique gifts for their visiting friends and family.

So how do you find these local buyers? There's never just one way. You can find local buy and sell groups on social media to make your pitch, set up a pop-up shop in a local mall, or find local artisans to join you in creating package deals for holiday shoppers.

Small independent bookshops might also be more eager to host events with local authors in order to bring in more shoppers during the crucial holiday season.

Sell at Holiday Fairs

Some local sales opportunities are easy to take advantage of -- holiday fairs are full of customers looking for unique, local products to buy for friends and family. Pushing print sales in person at these fairs is a great way for an author or self-publisher to sell books. Even with only a few titles available, offering autographed copies to fair-goers can make be quite profitable if you pick the right venues.

Marketing successfully during the holidays can take some experimentation to find the methods that best take advantage of your own strengths and the appeal of your titles. Plan early and often about this season. A little effort can go a long way to making your new titles and your backlist profitable.

Wendy Woudstra

Mom, coder, web developer, book lover, geek, writer, and a pretty nice person. Find out more about me at WendyWoudstra.com.

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