The summer doldrums. The dog days of summer. The slow season.
Not very cheerful in terms of book sales, perhaps, but that’s the truth of summer in ecommerce. People travel, take vacations, and spend time outside – which means fewer hours in front of the computer shopping. Fewer eyes on your book. Fewer dollars spent online. The outlook isn’t completely bleak – things will pick up again in August.
Your month over month growth may look more like a decline, but don’t fret: that’s normal. A typical ecommerce entity (meaning someone who sells products online – like an author) will see a seasonal fluctuation that looks something like this:
Sales dip down in the summer, with June and July as the worst performers. A 2017 study found that the worst times of year for ecommerce are sunny Saturdays in the summer. Don’t worry, though. Sales start climbing up again in August and spike over the holidays in November and December (makes sense, with everyone stocking up on holiday gifts and goodies at this time of year).
So, what should you do about it?
1. Measure growth year over year instead of month over month.
Looking at your sales count for May and saying “I sold 10% fewer copies in May compared to December” isn’t all that helpful – because everyone probably sold fewer copies in May.
Instead, pull your sales from previous Mays and look at your growth year after year. Consumer behavior in May will almost always perform differently than December – but it should perform on par with last May. Measuring year after year growth instead of month after month growth accounts for seasonality and will give you a much better sense of where you stand.
2. Try new marketing tactics while things are cheaper.
One upside of the summer doldrums: the ‘big guys’ in ecommerce aren’t running a bunch of campaigns. There’s far less competition for ad space in Facebook, and as we know CPCs go up as competition increases. This makes the summer your ideal time for lower cost. If you’ve been wanting to try a Facebook ad or sponsored tweet, now’s the time to experiment. Your ad is far less likely to get lost in the noise.
3. Utilize book promos to get the ball rolling.
The good news for authors? Voracious readers will buy books all year long. With more and more personalized options such as listening services falling into readers’ hands, they have more ways to buy books than ever before. They might just need a bit of a push to buy. Summer is a great time to entice readers by discounting your book or trying a free run.
Our readers come to us every day, every season. We’re happy to help you jump start your sales if you’re stuck in the dog days of summer.
Have you seen your sales decline over the summer? Have tips for fellow authors to combat seasonality! Tell us in the comments!