How to Self-Publish During the Festive Season
By Emma Regan, Jordan Maxwell Ridgway, Hayley Gray and Ella O'Neill
December is a very busy time in many industries and as it turns out, it’s a prime spot for indie press and self-published releases. In fact, most book sales actually take place in December. Both online retailers and bookshops report that as much as 41% of all sales, both print and e-books, take place between mid-November and mid-January, including those classic gift vouchers you get from the office Secret Santa. Children’s books, cookbooks and other gift books get a particular boost around this time. However, business focused self-help books are better suited to January.
All of this makes a December book launch a potentially lucrative option not just for the Big Five publishers, but even for self-published authors too. And for clarity, this means books should be available for purchase by mid-November.
But before you post your magnum opus online, the alternative publishing team have gathered a few tips and suggestions of how to make the most of the festive season and give your work a real shot. Peak sales also mean staunch competition, so a book launch really needs to be strategic with a touch of your own personal magic if it’s going to have a chance.
One of the first vital steps to publishing your book during Christmas is learning how bookstores operate in December. Most bookstores run into limited resources during the busy month, so expect longer publishing times. E-books that are available to purchase on websites such as Amazon and Apple will not take as long to publish as printed books do, however you shouldn’t risk leaving it past 6 December.
Once you have your book launch date ready to go, it’s good to utilise social media platforms to market your book for the festive season. Platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and TikTok are now crucial to marketing and promoting your book. You can even schedule budget-friendly giveaways on websites such as Goodreads, which include e-books and print books. Paid adverts on websites such as BooksBub and Bargain Booksy are also resourceful to self-published authors.
Just like traditionally published authors, pre-order campaigns are the most important promotional tool for self-published authors. They help improve the visibility, discoverability and sales of new releases, as each pre-order is an advance book listing for both e-books and print-on-demand titles. For most retailers, the pre-order sales count towards the sales on day one of publication, meaning the more pre-order requests you get, the better.
Christmas may be peak book buying season, but it’s important for each author to weigh up whether this is the best time for their book to be released.
At first glance it does seem like a smart time for self-publishing authors to put their work on sale, as they can capitalise on book buying fervour that envelops the public. However, it’s the busiest season of the year; whilst this has been mentioned as a positive it must also be taken into account in the reverse; authors need to expect competition and that their sales could struggle as a result. It is simply not worth rushing to get your book out in front of people as there are many opportunities year-round.
Now, book buying is intrinsically seasonal and there are specific genres more suited to other times of the year (and different weather!). February and March are also great times to release a book as the weather is bad and people are stuck inside looking to cosy-up with an excellent read. However, summer is also blockbuster season (like the movies) and can be a great time to release genre books when people aren’t tied down to their computer screens.
Self-publishers should enjoy the increased amount of freedom they have when it comes to this decision as it is a huge advantage when compared to the rigorous schedules mandated by larger publishing houses.
Therefore, every holiday season is a busy time for both authors and booksellers – with most book sales occurring in December – and to not only survive, but truly thrive, during the festive period, writers of every genre should take note of the tips provided in this article.
However, before putting all these tips into action, you should take a minute to think about your expectations because publishing your book successfully will take time. This is not a process that you can rush – it is something that you have to put your love, sweat and tears into producing and you owe it to yourself (and your readers) to promote and launch it successfully. Once you have successfully published your book during the festive season, it would be ideal to wait at least a few weeks before analysing your campaign and sales results to avoid any unnecessary actions being based on limited information.
Among all these other tips, please make time for yourself and enjoy Christmas with your loved ones!