I want you to brace yourself for what I am about to say . . . Christmas is coming. Yup. This is not a drill, not a joke, and you are not hearing things. While we are sweating in the summer heat and trying to keep our gardens and lawns under control, there is something that most of us are NOT doing, something we need to add to our summer “to-do” lists and PRONTO. We need to start presenting and pitching our books for the upcoming holiday season.
The Time is Now
Stores, chains, catalogs, magazines, and other retailers are all making their holiday choices now, which is why it's called Christmas in July. Now is the time we should all be putting together our holiday book marketing plans and creating appealing packages to impress buyers and editors so that they pick our books!
Holiday gift guides in magazines and online don’t just happen. They are hard-won, gladiator-style fights between editors and staffers. Get your book in front of the decision makers early enough to at least ensure that you get a fair shot. If you wait until September or October, many of the decisions will already be made and spots will already be taken. The early bird with the best book publicity pitch gets the listing.
Either you or your book publicist should reach out to freelance writers and editors now with your book information to see if it might be a good fit for something that they are working on. Better yet, suggest a theme or idea to them. Why not come up with your own clever list of gift ideas that would help out a magazine or website?
As for chains such as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, they have marketing teams that are starting to think about holiday display tables, themes, windows, catalogs. Independent bookstores may not be quite as far out in their planning, but they will be getting pitches from the book publicists of major houses very soon. If I were a publisher or an indie author with a book, I would wrack my brain to come up with a few clever display theme ideas and suggest it to the stores (featuring my book prominently of course).
Holiday Book Placement
Sit down and make a list of all of the places your book should be this holiday season:
- Indie Bookstores
- Chain Stores
- Gift Basket Companies
- Gift Stores
Clever, successful indie authors are not only suggesting their books to each of these folks, they are coming up with great theme and display ideas for them. The holiday season is a good time to pitch your book, but many are doing the same, so keep in mind what makes your book uniquely perfect for the holiday season. Would it make sense in a gift basket? At a toy store? Pet shop? Does it belong on the desk of every small business owner in America? Now is the time to come up with these ideas and start getting the word out with your book marketing and book publicity strategies.
Regional Bookseller Holiday Catalogs
If you get your book into a regional holiday gift guide that is supported by the independent bookstore market and the American Booksellers Association, you can be sure that you will start getting orders from those same independents and ABA members that are stacking the catalogs on their counters. Below is a list of some of the ABA Regional Holiday Catalog sites for you to review. The best advice I have for you is this: even if you have already missed some deadlines, ask them if you can still get in the catalogs. It doesn't hurt to ask and in most cases, there will still be room or cancellations. But don't wait much longer! And if there isn't space, keep these in mind for next year. The moral of this post is that it's never too early to plan.
- SIBA Holiday catalog deadline is August 8, 2017
- New England, North Atlantic and Great Lakes ad info for holiday catalogs are all here
- Northern California Holiday Catalog includes a lot of online options and runs from mid Nov – Dec
- Southern California Holiday Catalog ad info
- MidWest deadline was July 15, 2017, but there is still some space
- Pacific Northwest deadline was July 19, 2017, but they have extended it as well
- Mountains and Plains deadline was July 1, 2017, but deadline for payment and final booking is early August
Good luck and bundle up—it’s cold out there!