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Four Ways to Connect With Readers During The Holiday Season

Connecting with readers can be rewarding and profitable for authors. For the Holiday Season, there are a number of trends that we think authors should consider when thinking of new ways to reach their audience.

#1: Use Story Ads for Further Engagement

Did you know that 54% of shoppers bought from their phones in 2018 – resulting in a 13% increase in mobile sales? (source). These numbers confirm something we’ve talked about for years: mobile use is on the rise, and this should be a factor in your holiday book marketing plan.

With more and more potential-buyers turning to their phones for holiday shopping, we’re seeing platforms like Facebook and Instagram draw increasing attention to their stories feature. If you aren’t familiar, these stories are a feature within apps that enable users to share images and videos in a slideshow format.


According to Instagram, 500+ million users use these stories every single day.

With more than a third of marketers planning to incorporate both Facebook and Instagram Stories (source) into their holiday marketing plan, authors should consider incorporating this placement into their social media strategy.

Curious about which app to utilize? Ultimately, Instagram Stories appear to win out over Facebook (largely in part to features offered exclusively on Instagram Stories). These stories allow your followers to feel like they’re truly a part of your brand, especially when you utilize features like polls to get their opinions. Why not create a story to get some reader feedback on what your next great novel should be? It’s a fun way to up your audience interaction!

Takeaways for Authors:

  • Instagram Stories are getting increasingly popular as a platform for advertising products.
  • It’s important to learn about the story feature on both Instagram and Facebook. This feature is bound to grow in usage. We recommend checking out this link to expand your knowledge!
  • Discover eye-catching, beautiful ways to share videos or images of your books with your audience by testing out new methods of content. For example, do your readers want to see a video of you writing your upcoming novel in real-time? Do you want to promote a book giveaway via your stories? Now’s the time to find out.
  • Discover what exactly your audience likes. Look at who or what pages they follow on Instagram and Facebook. What are the common themes or images that your audience is looking at? Tap into these themes.
  • Use stories in ads as well as regular social posts. If you are running Facebook ads with automatic placement, chances are that they are being displayed in stories. Upload taller images to take full advantage of the entire screen. Click here to learn more about different Facebook and Instagram image sizes.

#2: Take a Cue from Influencer Culture – Create a Gift Guide

In 2019, influencer culture is taking the world by storm. Many influencers make the most of the season by putting up holiday shopping guides (or gift guides) on their blogs and social media. This is a great way to drive sales to your books, give your readers relevant content, and send your readers to other authors’ books for a little mutual gratification.

The beauty in gift guides lies in its multifaceted appeal: classic merchandising methods team up with technology to amp up sales. 

Doing an author’s gift guide might look a bit different from an influencer’s guide, though. As an author, you might want to create a Holiday Romance Book Gift Guide (if you’re a romance author), and include your books as well as other related titles in the post. Show readers why they need to read your book if they’re fans of x, y, and z themes.

For a deeper breakdown of what exactly a marketable gift guide looks like, check out this link.

A great place to start when creating a gift guide is to determine the primary themes of your books (such as urban, young adult fantasy and so on) and make this clear to readers in your post. The post might look something like, “Perfect for those picky holiday gift-givers – My Book will make fans of Harry Potter laugh out loud in this urban, YA fantasy! Similar titles include…” and link off to related books. Again, play up the mutual gratification here. See if a similar style author wants to team up with you to mutually promote one another’s work.

Takeaways for Authors:

  • People like to find gifts that are right for them. Presenting potential shoppers with book guides that are both personalized and accurate (AKA, no throwing randomly unrelated books in the guide) shows consideration for your audience.
  • You can create simple gift guide-type presentations on blogs, websites, and social media channels. Play up the strengths of your books and show shoppers why they need to read your book this holiday season, as well as other books they might like to read!
  • Tag team this task with fellow authors. Sort of a you-scratch-my-back situation – if you feature author Sally Sue’s book in your gift guide, then Sally Sue will feature your book in her holiday gift guide. Double win!

#3: Keep Personalization in Mind

Tying in perfectly with the idea of creating a gift guide… Don’t discount how much readers love personalization! It’s not only crucial during the period of holiday book marketing, but it’s here to stay… year-round. The easiest way to find out how to personalize content for your reader audience is by learning who they are. And typically, we learn about people through collecting data.

The word “data” might have a negative connotation. Data doesn’t need to be nitty-gritty numbers that require expensive, complicated tools to access. It’s not hard to discover your own reader data by simply finding out who your followers are. Look at the people who are buying your books and ask yourself, “What do they have in common? What do they like?” 

Earlier in the article, we recommended that you take a look at who else your audience follows on social media channels. Do they follow author pages that favor specific colors or types of posts? Learning from this is crucial to find out how you can better serve your audience.

Personalization can be small or large, simple or complicated. If you write religious fiction and a majority of your readers are churchgoers, the best time to send out reader newsletters probably isn’t on a Sunday morning.

Takeaways for Authors:

  • People like things that are personal to them. You can create a thoughtful holiday book promotion plan by first finding out what your audience likes. Personalization is conscientious and can be a sign of great customer awareness.
  • Once you find out what your audience likes, see how you can tweak your existing plan to better face your readers. This could look like including holiday recipes in your Black Friday reader list email or even using Merge Tags within sites like Mailchimp to customize an email greeting.
  • Try sending emails not at the top of the hour. Many marketing emails go out at the hour or hour thirty marks. Try sending your emails at times like 11:07 am to stand out from the blasts of emails readers are getting some this time of year.
  • Test personalization across the holiday season. Remember, marketing is one big test! Don’t be afraid to try out new material and see what works. This is all a learning lesson for 2020 – and 2021, 2022, and so on.

#4: Remember… People love FREE!

You know it, we know it, everyone knows it: people love stuff that’s free! Sites like Freebooksy offer platforms for getting your free books out to large reader audiences. The holiday season is great for “free” since shoppers are so active at this time. 

For those authors who aren’t interested in free promos, there are still plenty of ways for you to make your audience happy. As we’ve seen with many authors, putting out free prequel novellas or adding sample chapters to the end of books is an easy way to amp up the excitement over your products. Through tools like Vellum, you can easily add “preview” chapters to the end of your books. These free previews can be the next book in a series, or simply from another book of yours. Additionally, you can include these sample chapters within reader emails for a quick, easy freebie.

Takeaways for Authors:

  • Decide on a freebie gift for your readers and play it up! If you’ve got a free prequel novella, post about it on social media or share it through your website. As we know, free gets attention.
  • Consider a free book promotion to pique readers’ interests during buy-heavy months like November and December.

Do you have any ideas for connecting with readers over the holidays? Are you trying anything new this year? Let us know in the comments and check out this post for 5 holiday marketing trends for authors.


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