by Will Viharo
When deciding the best time to release your eBook, you may consider various holidays as offering optimal opportunities, especially if the bulk of your plot happens to take place during a particular shopping season.
But books don’t always share the same marketing magic as movies, so unless you’re adapting Easter Parade, A Christmas Story or even Friday the 13th – and why would you? – you may want to rethink this festive strategy…
Writing a book aimed directly at a time-bound market is never the best idea from a purely commercial standpoint, since you’re automatically limiting the product’s appeal and its overall sales potential. Also, many frugal folks download free seasonal books if they feel like reading at all in between shopping sprees and social events, and it’s hard to compete with that, especially when budgets are being strained anyway.
Of course, if you don’t mind restricting your own sales season, targeting a specific but lucrative audience within a strategic time frame can pay off enough to at least pay your personal holiday tab, especially if they’re in a proven genre like children’s books. Just don’t plan on making that money on a monthly basis, though. You may have to wait a year for your next deposit from Kindle Direct Publishing, at least for this particular title.
Actually, from a promotional standpoint, the smarter thing to do would be to launch seasonal campaigns for your books, especially if they happen to be topically “trendy,” but not necessarily set during that time of year.
Obvious examples of this would be horror writers pitching their scary wares during Halloween season (which seems to start earlier every year – August, last time I checked, at least according to the spooky stock on chain store shelves showing up in late summer), or romance authors shrewdly exploiting Valentine’s Day (basically anytime between New Year’s Day and February 14) to re-introduce their own amorous body of work. But again, the competition can be fierce, so prepare yourself accordingly by lowering expectations, while working to make your book the most attractive literary flower in the online bouquet.
Your book doesn’t necessarily have to tie into the seasonal theme to make it a sensible (and virtual) stocking stuffer. For instance, Christmas is the time of giving, and what better gift than a book from an indie author? (At least from an indie author’s point of view.) There’s certainly no shame in hopping on board the merchant bandwagon (AKA Santa’s sled) right after Thanksgiving, especially on Cyber Monday, the perfect opportunity to pedal your eBook(s).
And then there’s the “holiday hybrid,” epitomized by Tim Burton’s animated classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, wherein you can basically straddle two popular holidays and extend the timeliness of your eBook, combining elements for the widest possible profit margin.
Every now and then an enterprising author will get lucky and produce a classic that is recycled annually, but we can’t all be Charles Dickens.
One last piece of advice: choose your target holiday audience wisely, i.e. when they’re most likely in a shopping mood. A book centered on Groundhog’s Day is probably not a solid bet. We can’t all be Bill Murray, either. History doesn’t always repeat itself.
As for Easter, The Bible and Peter Cottontail may have that market cornered, too.
Are you planning to write a holiday book, and if so, why?