Have a Holly Jolly Promotion Season for Your Book

Or How to Jazz Up a Writing Career with Holiday Promotions
Expert: Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Have you heard of The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans?

It was originally self-published. Evans believed in himself (and his book) when big publishers didn’t. When it did well, “lo and behold,” as they say in the Christmas stories. Someone saw the light.

The motto here, for writers, is “Seasonal material sells.” Especially things that can be given reasonably inexpensively during gift-giving seasons. Seems that books fit the bill. They’re generally $15 dollars or less. They lend themselves to the inspirational (always high on the list of gifts people like to give). And they lend themselves to great cover and book design including religious, whimsical, cartoons, and on and on. Oh, and books are easily and inexpensively mailed or e-mailed!

So, are you using the seasons to build your writing career?

There are all kinds of ways to do it. Magdalena Ball and I are seasonal poetry partners. That is, we have written the Celebration Series of chapbooks. She contributes half the poems, I the other half. And we also share publishing and marketing skills. Blooming Red: Christmas Poems for the Rational is the Christmas entry for that series. We also have entries for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day and even one with a feminist theme to celebrate women for—maybe their birthdays?

Gordon Kirkland is a humorist (Canadian, bless his little soul!). He has written a couple of very funny (and extremely giftable!) books including Holly Jolly Frivolity and The Plight Before Christmas. I met him when we both spoke at a writers’ conference and I know he believes in marketing almost as much as he loves writing.

And that brings me to using seasons to market any of your work. Here are some ideas for doing that, even if you don’t have an entry in the seasonal category (Yet!)

  • Write articles (like this one?), using your own themes related to your books or whatever else strikes you. They can be used as guest posts on others’ blogs or on your own blog or Website.
  • Offer a discount on a book to be used as a greeting card or casual gift. See how Magdalena and I did it for Blooming Red.
  • Cross promote with a fellow author on a book in your genre. People who read cozy mysteries likely read more than one a year. And they often love to give them as gifts. Both authors’ contact lists should be full of people who read cozy mysteries so offer them all a two-for one special—a new one for themselves and another for a gift.
  • Share a list of holiday (or Easter or Valentine’s) gift book ideas. Post it on your blog. Put it in your newsletter. As an example see Karen Cioffi Ventrice’s list. A list like this is Zen. Help yourself. Help other writers. There is even a way to make this idea into a seasonal catalog and produce it as an income-producing venture in the new edition of my award-winning Frugal Book Promoter on page 340 (but also check the index for other ideas for using catalogs). It is also a way to benefit the publishing industry.
  • Write a little seasonal poem, story, or article to include with your holiday letter or greeting card.

Do you have ideas of your own? Please leave a comment (with your e-mail address) and I’ll add them to this article to use next season, to promote my books—and yours.

Have you heard of Charles Dickens? Do you know Scrooge—in person or as a character in A Christmas Carol? If so, how can you argue with what writing for the season can do for you?


Carolyn Howard-Johnson has several decades experience in journalism, retailing (authors are retailers, too!), in publicity, and as a marketer of her own fiction and poetry. She is also author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books—one series for writers and one for retailers. Learn more about all her books and services at http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com.

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