For many of us, the red-and-green bling and piped-in Christmas music at the local big box store — usually before the kids’ Halloween candy is even inspected — is the first tip-off that the giving season is around the bend. It always seems ridiculously early to think about the holidays … but is it really?
If you’re a self-publishing author with plans to market a book, it’s certainly not. In fact, it should be on your mind now, even as summer is at full sizzle. Let’s work backward on the calendar to illustrate why.
By Black Friday, the official kick-off for holiday shopping, most print news and magazine organizations have already planned and sold out advertising space in their regular editions, gift guides and other special holiday publications. If you want to reserve ad space on time, you’ll need to think one to three months ahead; this means you should have your holiday marketing ducks in a row even before those trick-or-treaters come knocking.
That brings us back to October. By some estimates, one-third of shoppers are already buying gifts in the fall, taking advantage of Labor Day sales when the fervor is less aggressive. This can be a golden time to grab the spotlight with a print ad or polished social media banners with less competition than you’re likely to encounter in December.
To prepare, you should create marketing pieces or work with a copywriter and/or graphic designer in September to have your materials ready in plenty of time for a Labor Day push. Consider it a dry run — a chance to gather valuable data you can use to refine your approach to Christmas. (Then get started on Christmas, asap!)
In the two months leading up to Labor Day, focus on a marketing calendar and budget. Spend August saving your coins, determining your marketing budget, researching where best to allocate your money and drafting a marketing calendar specifically for the holidays.
So, now that you know how short time really is, start planning! You’ll be way ahead of the competition — and, dare we say, far less stressed — by the time your happy holidays roll around.
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