We have a few more weeks before Christmas, Kwanzaa, Watch Night and New Year's. Bookstores have geared up for holiday shoppers and blacked-out in-store events for marquis authors, so there are fewer available spots for in-store events for authors to grab at the last minute. Public libraries have geared up for holiday events, so again, the newer authors will have trouble finding readings to participate in. So what do you do? Hold off selling your books until 2012? Or are there ways for you to take advantage of Holiday Cheer? I say take advantage. Here are 10 ways to promote your writing through the holidays.
1. Host a free children’s book drive at your local library.
It’s not too late to book a meeting room or space at your local library or smaller bookstore for a free children’s book drive. If you plan it now, you have time to get a local reporter and local blogger to the event. Invite the public to drop off new books at the library to give away or donate to the library’s children’s section. On your event day have holiday punch and cookies and invite the public to pick up a free children’s book.
2. Give your book to local coffeehouses to include in holiday gift baskets.
Four years ago I met with a popular local coffee house in my town by request of the owner. He loved authors and great books. We created gift baskets with my client’s books inside. We also introduced a new Winter Reading Series.
3. Host an Under the Dryer Book Signing at a Beauty Salon.
Have you ever been in a beauty salon? The long wait, the old reading material. What if someone was selling a book to read while sitting under the dryer? Bingo!! A client of mine sold out one weekend doing this event. You can also create holiday spa gift baskets that include your book for the salon event.
4. Write a Christmas story and have it published in your local community paper or regional magazine.
I wrote a story for Precious Times Magazine a few years back titled “Kissmas Time.” From that one story, I received many invitations to write articles for other magazines. I have a mailing list of people interested in my book (when it comes out). And I have had speaking engagement requests also as a result of that story.
5. Sponsor your local Girl Scout or Boy Scout Christmas Parade Float.
I just participated in my town’s annual Christmas parade. Loads of fun. I saw many familiar faces and made a friend of the mayor. Yippee. Being out and about in the community is a great way to build your author name. Sponsoring a float, making a banner, providing costumes, or just chaperoning kids in the parade will help make you a presence. People will become familiar with you. If you are an author, have kids pass out bookmarks with candy attached to them, or take your little Christmas story, package it up, and give it out to those on the parade route.
6. Read Christmas Stories at your local elementary school media center.
If you write for a young adult market, or even a soccer mom market, then get yourself to your local school and read your cool book to kids. Host a Santa letter party.
7. Host an Online Book Giveaway--but not of your book. Instead give away:
- a book you know your readers want like Ted Dekker’s Kiss, which comes out in January, or
- a book that's tied to the holidays like a Paula Deen Holiday Cookbook, or
- a book your friends might be afraid to buy, but would love to read (for instance Carleen Brice’s Buy a White Friend a Black Book Month Project)
Promote the giveaway and the winner by sending a press release to the winner’s local paper.Put the book in a gift basket from your local coffeehouse. Hey, it works for the Avon lady.
8. Host a Holiday Book Party at a local restaurant
Publisher and author Dwan Abrams hosted a party this weekend in downtown Atlanta to celebrate her birthday, the holidays, and the release of her fourth novel Married Strangers. The event was free to attend. It is also a book drive for a Women’s Prison Literacy Project. She’s got local celebrities, book reviewers, and bookstore managers popping through. The event has been promoted on local gospel radio stations, online mags, local papers, and to anyone within two paces of her.You do know that now is the time to throw a party?
9. Build a tip sheet
Center the sheet around your book’s theme and the holidays, then submit the tip list as filler for major local magazines and online magazines your readers read.
10. Be a front door vendor at your local bookstore.
Ask your local bookstore if you can set up a table on the weekend to sell your books. Ask for two tables. One to sell your book and another to gift wrap books as a free service to the bookstore. All bookstore chains allow authors to do this. (However, some bookstores will only talk to publicists or publishers.)
Bonus: contact your bookstore every week to see if any big authors had last minute cancellations for their Holiday In Store Events. But be prepared to get books to the store on short notice.
If you put all this together, you will see that the lesson here is to become a part of your community. The holidays are the best and most opportune times to do this. There’s just something about holiday cheer. And it only comes once a year--take advantage of it.
What other Guerilla Marketing Holiday Tips can you share?
And what are you most thankful for as a writer this year?
Miranda Parker is the author of A Good Excuse to Be Bad (Kensington), the first in the Angel Crawford Bounty Hunter Series. Parker has been featured at NBCC and The Decatur Book Festival, and featured in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, RT Book Reviews, and Publishers Weekly. She is also the Social Media/Marketing Person for the International Thriller Writers Debut Authors Program and a contributing editor to The Big Thrill. A sequel, Someone Bad & Something Blue, will be released in July 2012. Visit her at www.mirandaparker.com
photo credit: macinate
Great tips, Miranda! I will tuck this column away. Thanks!
That was brilliant. Did you actually do all that stuff? Definitely inspired to try a few on my own.
Here's my marketing trick for the season: I bought a vendor table at my kids' school Breakfast with Santa. I'll have access to holiday shoppers who know me or my family, and the modest cost of the table is a donation I probably would have made anyway.
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