Anyone Awake Yet?

So, those of us in the US are starting to awaken from the postprandial slumber induced by the gastronomic delights and excesses of Thanksgiving. Maybe.

It is time to think about holiday and post-holiday marketing and what will happen after this fiscal quarter wraps up.

A few predictions: 1) The management of Barnes and Noble will do their best to make the holiday sales look excellent and to make the fourth quarter’s numbers look beautiful. And if they are not, they will blame the ‘Zon.    2) Amazon will have a decent fourth quarter and will [one hopes] get the kinks worked out of the Amazon Print system that has replaced CreateSpace.  3) The Big Five will not be pleased about e-book sales, but will happily announce that people are returning to print books and all will be well, no need to panic, nothing to see here, move along. And just ignore the little voice behind the curtain reminding people that children’s books tend to be print, so the kids can have something to hold and unwrap (and chew on).

In other words, the sun will rise, birds will sing unless they are shivering too hard and their beaks are chattering, and people will buy stuff in November and December.

Do you, those who are planning to sell or have a special holiday sale, have everything ready to go?  You should at least have dates and titles sketched out, how much you are lowering prices and why. Is it to hook readers on your series? Is it to kick sales of your latest release(s) into higher gear to get word-of-mouth and reviews before the post-Christmas buying surge? Is it to gain visibility for a series that you are picking up again with fresher covers and new releases? What are your goals, what sales do you want to see, how are you going to discount and in which markets?

For new releases, what dates do you have to meet? Apple sent out their deadlines two weeks ago. I have not seen hard deadlines from the ‘Zon yet, and I’d plan on having everything ready by no later than December 5 for Kobo, in case they have another short-notice software and hardware update between December 18-January 7 as happened in 2013-14. I was not the only writer dismayed to find myself locked out of getting books approved that year.

Now that you are thinking that a turkey coma relapse might be good, let’s do something really scary…

Readers, when do you buy books for gifts and how often? My family is big on books as gifts, both for adults and kids. We used to do the combo packs of book and stuffed animal, but dust allergies and a new puppy precluded that. I’m 100% in favor of giving kids and older children print books, as well as gift cards for e-books. Luddite that I am, the less screen and the more page, the better I think it is for the under 13 cohort.

Do you give fiction or non fiction? Or do you give gift certificates and cards so people can pick for themselves?

My big point is that as readers and as writers, we look at the fourth quarter and books differently. We writers need to put on our reader hats and think about how we sell during this time, or if we would do better to avoid the December Crush and focus on the entire year. We don’t depend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as much as others, thanks be, but it is a good time to get Eyes On Books for the future.

Me? I’m going to release the third Shikari book in December, and have plans to launch the fourth one in January or February. I also have two Merchant books to polish and get ready, and the last Colplatschki title. As for marketing and sales, well, you’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂

Edited to add:

Because fake-fur-lined reading socks are not going to be enough to save the books. No, I am not kidding. They are the first display when you walk into the regional B&N.


  1. I always give hard copy books at Christmas, buying them as early as October sometimes. The rest of the year I buy them for birthdays (not always) or when I think they are particularly well suited to something going on in a friend or family member’s life.
    For myself, I buy audio books for the car, often autobiographies such as The Audacity of Hope or topics such as Fear or new thrillers like Memory Man. I always buy my research books on writing and forensics in hard copy. When I buy through Kobo they’re often for a trip to conserve space.

  2. Please, please, please let Amazon get the kinks worked out. I’d been publishing very happily through CreateSpace, and then life got even nastier this year, and CreateSpace “oh, we’re going away now” was just kind of icing on the unpleasantness. Augh.

    …Currently have Pearl of Fire (sort of steampunk/elemental magic setting) in final edits, hoping to get that out in December. Depending on the kinks. Augh.

    1. Not necessarily Amazon Print’s fault, but my proof was supposed to be in my hands on Friday, for which I paid extra shipping. It is still in Albuquerque, after going from Kentucky to Albuquerque. The USPS is not Amazon’s fault per se, but if this is how they ship POD that’s not with one of their imprints… LightningSource might be a better option.

      1. Amazon has been doing that even with some of their Prime shipments….. which is really infuriating since I got Prime to keep my stuff out of the Post Awful’s clutches.

  3. I’m awake, but there again I’m on the other side of the pond.

    I like to buy hardcover’s as presents for significant others, but this year may well only buy softcover books because of finances. Usually fiction.

    As for marketing… I haven’t a clue. More concerned about my brain’s inability to string sentences together (whatever the evidence to the contrary reading this email may present).

  4. I am woke. Totally woke. Woker than Madara Uchiha, Gihren Zabi, and Charles vi Britannia combined. Let me tell you how I will make you happy, healthy, and wealthy.

  5. I firmly believe in giving children books for Christmas and birthdays – and good books, none of this grey-goo-woke-sh*t.
    Yes, I’m the auntie from Hell – why do you ask?

    1. Funny, my small relatives tend to approve.

      Though last year I gave Rory’s Story Cubes instead and that was a hit.

  6. I try to get book presents for all my nieces and nephews (4 – 18) that fit what I know their interests are. But, also old unusual classics they might not have heard of, but that are truly special: Milne’s Once on a Time, Prayers from the Ark, Grombold’s Night World, Julie Edward’s Mandy and the like.

    And of course, the last two years, almost anything new is Indy.

    Here’s some of last year’s gifts:

  7. I used to give books when all my nieces and nephews were young enough to appreciate them. I still send books to my daughter, although she prefers cash so she can buy her own books.

    I’m releasing my second dystopian novel in December. I’ll know a firmer date when I get my final edits back on Saturday. Probably the week of the 17th, if she doesn’t send back any major corrections. Earlier if the edits are really easy. Which means I need to get on the stick, set up a sale and try to set up advertising for my first dystopian before it gets too late. Thanks for the reminder.

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