Every author wants to take advantage of the holiday season. Of course, this means more sales but there's also something incredible about your children's book being given as a gift. But remember, people can't buy your book if they don't know it exists. That's where marketing comes in. Here are the top 4 things you should know about marketing a children's book for the holiday season.
1. The market is more saturated than the rest of the year
Any new book that is based on a holiday theme or just wants to take advantage of the buying season is released in August-October. Unless you already have a huge following behind you, releasing between November-December will put you at a severe disadvantage because by then, your window to gain visibility will be days rather than months like other books.
If your book is already published then your holiday marketing plan should start on or before that August-October window to make sure that your book gets the visibility it needs to stay competitive and relevant.
Honestly, even when you do have a huge following, releasing or marketing too late in the holiday season causes problems because of shipping delays and customer behaviors. For example, if I release my book on November 15th 2022, people aren't likely to purchase because by then, they are cleaning, grocery shopping, swamped at work, finalizing travel information, and running around in preparation for Thanksgiving. This brings me to my next point...
2. There are natural gaps in momentum
With any book, you want visibility and sales to naturally scale and grow. Your marketing plan will help you do that...but it can be incredibly difficult when you are combating natural lulls in buying behavior.
As stated in my last example, sales usually slow the week before Thanksgiving and don't pick up again until Black Friday. About 2 weeks before Christmas, online sales slow again but this time, it's because of the chance that a product might not arrive in time for Christmas. From mid-December through mid-January, online book sales are at an all time low as families spend time together and recuperate from the financial cost of the gift-giving season.
Because of these large gaps in customer activity, you have to hit the ground running early so that these lulls are more like slowing or yielding rather than a complete stop.
3. PCP advertising gets expensive
This purely comes down to numbers. Books based on winter holidays don't sell year round so it's likely that a publisher isn't advertising in the off-season. So as Black Friday gets closer, they all pop out of the woodwork. When you add all the new releases occurring in August-October, the pool of books being advertised goes way up.
With social media ads, you pay for impressions but the same concept applies - the more people there are in an advertising space for a specific audience, the more expensive it is to "win" the impressions.
With AMS Ads, you pay per click but your bid spend controls impressions. When the market gets more competitive, you won't get as many impressions for your current bid spend, and therefore, your ad performance could decline if you aren't paying attention and making changes.
For more tips about AMS ads, check out this YouTube video:
4. Not every book sells well during the holiday season
The publishing industry is unpredictable. Sometimes, a title that is expected to take off never does. And sometimes, an unexpected children's book ends up stealing the spotlight. Knowing what books will sell or not sell is hard to predict but it helps if you know your target audience.
Many of my own books don't sell well for the holidays because my target audience is teachers. My musical stories are designed to be used within an elementary music classroom...but teachers often don't buy classroom supplies during Black Friday - they buy gifts for their loved ones. That's why for my musical books, no matter how hard I market, winter just isn't the right season for them. But it does mean that back-to-school buying season is my time to shine!
Remember that every book is different and sometimes, things don't turn out the way you expect. The best thing you can do for each book you write is to pay attention: what is resonating with customers? What isn't? If something is working for you...why? If a strategy flops...why?
The most important thing to do to set your book (and you!) up for success is to have a plan in place. Create a custom marketing plan for this holiday season and start implementing it early. And as always, if you need help with that, you know where to find me!