Five Holiday Marketing Trends that Authors Can Use for Book Promotion

Repost from Ricci Wolman

This article has been updated to reflect 2017 trends and actual data from the 2016 Holiday season.

There is a lot of advice out there on book promotion during the Holidays. As you well know we pride ourselves on data so in this article we’ll explore the data-backed Holiday trends for this year and how authors and publishers can take advantage of them.

Trend 1: Book Promotion during Holiday is a Marathon Not a Sprint

The Holiday season, as measured by an uptick in online traffic and ecommerce revenue, starts in mid-November and ends in early January. This graph below shows Google searches on the terms related to “gifts” from 2016 (source).  Searches start trending up in early November, and increase significantly starting the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Day. There is an accompanying spike in online traffic the day after Christmas into the New Year as people redeem gift cards they have received during the Holidays and take advantage of post-Holiday sales.

Book promotion during Holiday
Online searches for “gifts” according to Google

Takeaway for Authors:
It is important to prepare a marketing plan that spans early November through early January. Everyone is in a buying mood, so this is the perfect time to sell more books. Here are a few noteworthy dates within this range that are significant online shopping days, with ideas on what tactics and messages will resonate with customers:

Date Consumer Mindset Authors Should
November 24th, 2017 –
Black Friday
  • Bring on those Black Friday deals baby
  • I’d rather shop online than wait in line with the crazies
  • I need to check my email every hour so I don’t miss out on any new deals
  • Send an email on this day
  • Discount titles to free or 99c
  • Offer two for one deals on physical books from their website
November 27th 2017 –
Cyber Monday
  • Please do not disturb, I am shopping the best online deals
  • Oooh, another email from Amazon, I wonder what this hour’s lightning deal is?
  • Discount titles to free or 99c
  • Send customers to Amazon, where everyone will be shopping
  • Run ads in deals newsletters that will hit inboxes during the day
December 20-22nd 2017 –
Shipping Deadlines
  • Oh shit, what am I going to get Aunt Anne? It’s too late to ship anything and I can’t/won’t brave the mall
  • What can I buy online that can get delivered in time for Xmas?
  • Send emails reminding readers that ebooks are the perfect gift that requires no shipping
  • Use last-minute and stocking stuffer language
December 26th 2017 –
Boxing Day
  • I’m so sick of my family, I’m going to spend the next 4 hours redeeming all these Amazon and iTunes gift cards I just got
  • The best deals are after Christmas! Super sales here I come
  • Run ads promoting your book to get a share of the gift card redemption dollars
  • Email your readers reminding them that they can redeem gift cards for your books
January 1st 2018-
New Years Day
  • I am so hungover, I am going on my couch all day and stare at my phone
  • It’s the New Year, time to work on my resolutions for this year
  • Post to social media, email your readers and pay for placement online
  • Use resolution messaging in your copy, ex: Is it your NYR to read more books this year? I can help you get started


Trend 2: Amazon Owns Holiday

Amazon was the most dominant online retailer during Holiday last year taking a 31% share of Cyber Weekend sales alone (source).


Book promotion Amazon Cyber’s estimated market share of Cyber weekend revenue in 2016

Amazon will continue to dominate holiday sales this year (source).

Amazon holiday sales


Takeaways for Authors:

  • Focus on Amazon. Emphasize links to your books on Amazon. Your prospective customers will already be shopping on Amazon, so make it easy for them to purchase your books by being where they are (on Amazon!)
  • Feed the Amazon algorithm in November by sending target readers to purchase your book. Running a book promotion can help you boost your rankings and activity which primes Amazon to include your book in emails and also-boughts during the Holiday season.
  • Consider running Amazon Ads if you are not already, but make sure to monitor your ads closely every day.

Trend 3: Everyone is Advertising on Facebook

And we do mean everyone. The folks at Adspresso summed it up best: “There are peak times in the year when advertisers are flocking to Facebook Ads in droves—even more than normal. During these peak times, there will be more competition for ads, and you’ll pay more as a result. Think about how much ads are during the super bowl—now imagine every marketer trying to use Facebook Ads for Black Friday and holiday sales, because that’s pretty much what happens. Big brands spend a lot, raising the cost of Facebook Ads for everyone (thanks, Walmart). This not only causes a surge in costs, but also creates a problem of deliverability. This past November and December, the Facebook Ads community was flooded with complaints from small businesses unable to even spend their budget.”

CPM on Facebook increase 46% in Q4 in 2016, which means that you can expect the ads you are already running to get 46% more expensive. (source). Remember that customers are in a buying mood resulting in the average return on ads doubling over Holiday (which is why everyone is advertising). The higher returns are due to consumers buying items (apparel, electronics, toys) that are higher priced than books.


Book promotion on FacebookSource: Nanigans

Takeaway for authors:

Your Facebook ads will become more expensive as you compete with big brands for the same audience. You can mitigate this by:

  • Monitoring your campaigns daily and reducing budgets when you see ROI decreasing.
  • Targeting your ads to your own fans and lookalike audiences
  • Move your Facebook budget over to other book promotion services that have proven results and don’t raise their prices over Holiday (our sites FreebooksyBargain Booksy, and Red Feather Romance do not raise prices over the Holidays and deliver the same great results).

Trend 4: Email marketing is more effective during the Holidays

Email marketing becomes more effective during Holiday because shoppers are looking for deals in their inbox. (source) As we mentioned above, shoppers are in a buying mood and they use email as a primary source of research and inspiration on what to buy. Retailers know this and they use email as a primary marketing channel during Holiday.

The bottom line: consumers expect to receive more email during the Holidays and they use email to make purchase decisions.

Takeaway for authors:

  • Don’t be afraid to send emails over Holiday. If you currently send one email a month, you can safely send two emails a month in November and December.
  • Make your emails the best they can be. Read this guide to email marketing for best practices.
  • Focus your emails on your products (your books!). Readers are looking for ideas on what to buy and now is the time to put your books front and center.
  • Use book promotion services that leverage email marketing (Bookbub, FreebooksyBargain BooksyRed Feather Romance) to capitalize on customer’s receptiveness to emails. This is a great way to broaden the customers you can reach without incurring a Holiday cost premium (as you will with Facebook).

Don’t know where to start with email marketing? Take our free course: When Everything Clicks: 20 Minutes a Day to Email Marketing Bliss.

Trend 5: Mobile Traffic Continues to Grow

The majority of online traffic is from mobile devices and this trend will be highly evident this Holiday. In 2015, Amazon announced that “nearly 60 percent of customers shopped using a mobile device this holiday. Mobile shopping accelerated as customers got later into the shopping season.”



Takeaway for authors:

  • Make sure all the emails you send are mobile friendly.
  • Do not send traffic to your website if it is not mobile friendly. Google has this nifty tool to check if your site is mobile friendly.  If the answer is not what you hoped, you can take our free course on how to build a mobile-friendly website in less than 4 hours.
  • If your site is mobile-friendly, we would still recommend sending the majority of your traffic to Amazon over the course of the Holiday season due to the stats we covered in trend 2.


You now have the knowledge, the next step is to take action and plan for this Holiday season! Start by setting aside an hour sometime in the next week to sit down with a calendar and plan your marketing activities. It is better to plan one or two promotions and do them well, than to overwhelm yourself with trying to do something every week. You likely have other important things to focus on during this time of year, like spending time with family, giving thanks and taking time out for you. Give yourself a gift this year by setting up your marketing plan in advance. Happy holidays from the Written Word Media team!

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Ricci Wolman is founder and CEO of Written Word Media, whose mission is to empower authors to sell more books with book promotions. Ricci started Freebooksy, Written Word’s first book promotion site, in 2012 to help her mom, an author, publish and market her book. Ricci has over 10 years of experience building online audiences. She is a data geek, a book lover and a mom. She also holds an MBA from Harvard University.