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. 🙂
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.