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Holiday Marketing Trends

Five Holiday Marketing Trends that Authors Can Use for Book Promotion

Holiday Marketing Trends

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

Trend 1: Holiday Book Promotion 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 2018 (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.

Online searches for “gifts” according to Google

Takeaway for Authors:

  • It is important to prepare a holiday book promotion plan that spans early November through early January. Everyone is in a buying mood, so this is the perfect time to sell more books.
  • In 2019, Thanksgiving doesn’t fall until the 28th of November, so there is one less shopping week between holidays. On years like this, you will likely see retailers discount heavily before Black Friday to make up for the lost time. This is a tactic that authors may want to consider as well. If there’s less time between holidays than normal, think about really ramping up marketing before Thanksgiving.
  • Here are a few noteworthy dates within this range that are significant online shopping days, along with ideas on what tactics and messages will resonate with customers:
Date Consumer Mindset Authors Should
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
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
Shipping Deadlines
  • Oh no, 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
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
New Years Day
  • I am so hungover, I am going to sit 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 Dominates Holidays

Amazon is the most dominant online retailer during the Holidays, and this doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon. Amazon reportedly accounted for 81% of internet sales against other big-box retailers from December 1st to December 19th, 2018 (source).

With such a strong Holiday Season in 2018, there aren’t any signs of Amazon slowing down.

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.

Trend 3: Paid Advertising Gets More Expensive

Many retailers spend the majority of their ad budget in the last two months of the year. Much of this budget will be deployed to Facebook/Instagram Ads, Google Ads and increasingly Amazon Ads.  Because of this, there will be more competition for ads, and you’ll pay more as a result. This not only causes a surge in costs but also may create a problem of deliverability. There are already reports in early November of delays getting Facebook ads approved in a timely manner.

According to Adespresso, Facebook advertisers should expect their average cost per click to at least double during the Holiday Season.

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 a Holiday (our sites Freebooksy, Bargain Booksy, and Red Feather Romance do not raise prices over the Holidays and deliver the same great results).
  • Plan ahead. Expect that getting your ad approved may take longer during the Holiday season.

Trend 4: Email marketing is more effective during the Holidays

Email marketing becomes more effective during Holidays because shoppers are looking for deals in their inbox. 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 the Holidays.

The bottom line: consumers expect to receive more emails during the Holidays and they use email to make purchase decisions. Authors should know this when planning their holiday book promotion.

Takeaway for authors:

  • Don’t be afraid to send emails over the Holidays. 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, Freebooksy, Bargain Booksy, Red 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).

Trend 5: Mobile Traffic Continues to Grow

The majority of online traffic is from mobile devices and this trend is highly evident during the Holiday Season. In the year 2018, smartphones accounted for over half of all website visits, and for 31% of revenue for online retailers (source).

The graph below displays a sample of online sales for the Holiday Season (source). It’s clear that buyers are using their phones to find and buy products in a major way. Don’t ignore this fact when you are working on your Holiday book promotion plan.


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 looks good on mobile devices.
  • 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 by 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.

And, if you are looking for more ideas on how to connect with readers over the holidays, we have just what you are looking for!

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10 comments on “Five Holiday Marketing Trends that Authors Can Use for Book Promotion
  1. Great article, truly helpful, not just filler. Just reading through it once gave me ideas. I’m actually planning to print it out and use it as an action plan for November and December. Thank you so much!

  2. Thank you so much for this fantastic post! I have been using this information like gospel and have shared it with my fellow authors! So far, it’s paid off! My Cyber Monday deal was a great success! Off to send a newsletter on your advice… Thanks again!

  3. Excellent article. I read a question on Nick Stephenson’s 10K Readers Facebook page about whether it made sense to jump into the holiday promotion game. This article answered the question for me and I’ve shared it on the FB page. Good work. Looking forward to learning more from you.

  4. Great Article. Thanks for sharing. I’m already planning to have all my Amazon books on sale for free over December (whole).

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