sell books

How to Sell Books During the Holidays

The holiday book-buying season is upon us, and it’s time to sell your book for the holidays! People are looking for gifts for everyone on their list, and that makes it a great time to sell books.

Whether an awesome stocking stuffer or the one gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list, your book just might be that perfect one. Get a little creative to stand out in all of the holiday and festive noise out there!

Limited face to face contact removes speaking at live events, bookstore events, live appearances, conferences, and conventions for book sales. Sure, losing those awesome options as an author is a bah humbug bummer, but there’s plenty of other opportunities to sell books when you’re stuck at home for the holidays. This video gets into sell books specific to the 2020 holiday season and below we have more ideas for you!

How to Sell Books During the 2020 Holiday Season

Give the Gift of a Book – Promoting Your Book as A Gift

Every book has the potential to sell big this year if you position it as a gift for the right person. For example, the history buff in your life would love J.M. Phillip’s new memoir “Lamlash Street,” a heartfelt and humorous memoir of one Cockney family as they heal from the trauma of WWII in 1960s London. The new college grad or aspiring entrepreneur could learn a ton from the lessons in Ron’s Worley’s inspiring success story and how-to guide “Ditches to Riches.” And for that workaholic that you just wish would take a break, try “The Joychiever Journey” by Tracy LaLonde, a comprehensive roadmap to teach overachievers how to harness their ambitious skills to strive for joy. If you match the right book to the right person you’re bound for gift-giving success. As an author, if you know your audience, you already know exactly who would be thrilled to unwrap your book this holiday — you just need to market to those shopping for them.

Write a Gift List to Sell Books

A great way to market your book during the holidays curating gift lists. Write a few different lists for specific audiences that stump gift-givers when searching for that perfect present to put under the tree. Here are some ideas:

• The Top 10 Best Books for a New Mom
• The Holiday Gift Guide for the Future Retiree
• The Top 10 Gifts Under $20 for The Tech Enthusiast

Post your list on Instagram or Facebook for your own fans to consider. Even better, shop that list around to some major blogs that will be looking for content this time of year that search engines will love. Since you’ve already done the hard work of curating that list, connect with bloggers or influencers you know your readers follow and put that list in front of a much bigger audience.

Companies Give Books as Gifts

Contact organizations or companies that will be giving gifts to clients or employees. Take the opportunity to offer a bulk discount on your book. For example, David Frost’s “KaBoomer” could be a great option for the owner of a fitness company or gym to give all their personal trainers for the holidays, or Pat Watson’s “Tactical Lockpicking” could be a great gift to a team of emergency workers like firefighters or EMTs. This option does require a bit of work and some upfront costs; you’re going to want to mail out a nice little package with a copy of your book to those targeted organizations. But if you mail out 10 or 15 of these and you end up getting an order for 100 or more copies of your book, then the time and money spent is well worth it.

Incentives Sell Your Book Too!

Another great way to sell your book during the holiday season is to create incentives. Get people to buy your book during a period of time or buy in a certain quantity. For example, offer a free addition in exchange for the person’s email address when they buy a copy of your book – like a spreadsheet that calculates how much money you need to retire or a menu plan for paleo vegetarians. Make sure the offering is something the reader would have otherwise paid for, so it has a value in addition to the book they’re buying. Some other great offerings to consider these options to buy:

  • Three copies and get free access to a one-hour prerecorded talk on a particular topic featured in the book.
  • 25 copies and receive the same templates for high-paying clients that the author used to build their business.
  • 100 copies and get a free webinar training seminar for your company.

Time-based or quantity-based incentives motivate buyers to buy now – before it’s too late and they miss the deal!

Make sure your SEO and metadata are accurate!  Sell more books from searches that are already happening with the right metadata. Plenty of shoppers will be searching for gifts so target the audience searching for a book like yours!

Not sure what that means, then these two videos are for you!

Are Pre-Sales Important for Your Book Launch

Have you heard people saying, you have to put your book on pre-sale? Do you know what that means? Even more importantly, do you know if pre-sales are important for your book launch?

What is a pre-sale period?

In this video, I show you what it looks like when your book is on pre-sale:

Pre-sale period is the time between the upload of your book for retail listing and when it will ship out to readers.

Now, here’s when things get a little confusing and can be kind of tricky. A pre-sale period is not mandatory nor necessary. But, unless you’re only selling your book on Amazon you’re going to need time between when your book is done and you officially make it for sale to the world. There are a lot of things that have to happen before it’s really the right time to launch your book completely.

For starters, you have to make sure Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo, Kobo, Apple, or wherever your book is going to be available, have been set up right. Book Launchers takes care of all of that but it still takes time to populate the catalogs across these companies. Each retailer has its own schedule and process.

Use your pre-sale period to build a foundation of success for your book’s launch and give these places time to properly populate.

How Long Should You Set up For Pre-Sale?

Again, you don’t need to do any pre-sale period. But, if you do, generally it’s ideal to spend a minimum of two weeks in pre-sale but not more than three months (Ingram Spark will let you spend up to a year in pre-sale but Amazon e-books can only be on for pre-sale for 90 days).

So what are you doing during this pre-sale period?

  1. Check distribution, pricing, and other meta-data at all distribution points.
  2. Sell copies to your early reviewers at a discount.
  3. Send readers to Amazon and other stores to buy books. If your readers are buying print copies, these pre-sale orders all add up and count as sales on your release date when the book ships out which gives you a good chance at cracking some top 100 bestseller sub-genres lists top 100 bestseller subs on top 100 bestseller sub-genre lists on sites like Barnes & Noble and Apple. If readers buy on Amazon, it counts the day the purchase is made. For the E version of your book on Kobo, the sale counts twice. They actually give it twice the weight as a regular sale so it’s easier to rank higher in pre-sale on Kobo. So woohoo for Kobo.
  4. Pre-sales help prevent inventory shortages on launch day. This helps reduce the likelihood you sell out on launch day and Amazon shows this temporarily out of stock message. If that happens, Amazon often tells a buyer the title is going to ship in four to six weeks. You will lose sales if it does that. Titles that are in stock will be listed as available and will ship immediately and that’s what you want.

Unless your book is on a really timely subject like a tax loophole or some brand new technology, then I would not rush the release of your book.

And, if you’re looking for more book launch marketing advice, check out these two videos:


An Epic Guide to YouTube Video Marketing for Authors

YouTube is a powerful platform for being discovered and connecting with potential book readers. But as an author, you might be thinking there’s no freaking way you’re getting in front of a camera and shooting a video. The reason you write, you may be thinking, is to stay behind the screen, not get in front of it. I get it, but I also think video marketing for authors is one of the easiest ways to stand out and build an audience in 2019 and beyond.

When I started shooting videos in 2009 it took me 30+ takes just to get a mediocre video but I kept going. And, I am glad I did. My old YouTube channel helped me sell a lot of books, courses, and make money!

And, it’s not too late. If anything, video only continues to grow importance.

Here are five reasons why I think YouTube video marketing for authors is important today:

Video is not going away. YouTube is a gigantic search engine where you are not getting found right now if you’re an author without a presence on YouTube. And by the way, who owns YouTube? Google! So you’ve got an already gigantic search engine being owned by an even bigger search engine, you got to get on there.

YouTube isn’t just a great way for you to create a community of people who will buy your books. YouTube supports you creating multiple streams of income as an author. And shooting videos will help prep you for the insanity that happens when you do live media interviews. Doing a quick segment on a local or national news show is probably the craziest experience you’ll have when you promote your book. And, if you’re comfortable in front of the camera already, you’ll be much more likely to do a great interview.

Finally, YouTube is where people are actively, seeking to solve problems. Most people mindlessly scroll through Facebook or Instagram. YouTube tends to attract viewers who want to learn something or they have a problem to solve.

So, now you know why I highly recommend creating a YouTube channel for video marketing to promote your book. What should you do?

7 Tips to use video marketing as an author:

Number one, choose your channel name wisely.

I wouldn’t name it after your book. Personally, I’d do it after your business or your own name, so you can build a community around it, and use it to promote what you do beyond the book. It probably won’t be the last book you write, and a year from now, you might be tired about talking about your book.

You want to stay in touch with the subscribers you’ve worked so hard to connect with, so choose your channel name so it fits the area of your book but allows you room to expand away from your book in the future. Your own personal name can work depending on your business.

Number two, start your channel before your book comes out.

If your book is out, it’s not too late. But if you can start your channel three months before your book launch so you can begin to build up an audience to share your book news with, that’s ideal.

Number three, plan your content.

Look at your book and pick 10 to 12 tips you can pull out of your book, and turn into three to five-minute long videos.

Here’s a few ideas:

  • The single important tip to achieve x result.
  • Five things you don’t know about this subject, but you should.
  • Or, three myths about this subject.

You already have this material in your book, just grab those short soundbites, and sketch out key points for your video.

And, if you’re worried or wondering about creating videos without giving away your best content, check out this video:

Number four, block aside a whole day to shoot your first set of videos.

The first time you shoot videos you’re probably going to scrap a dozen takes before you start to get rolling, and really get in a groove. And then once you’re in a groove, you can shoot four or five or more and then you’re set for a month of weekly author marketing content. If you want it to look like you’re shooting videos on different days just change clothes.

Number five, invest in some lighting and a mic.

A shotgun mic for your iPhone is fine. Shure has some great products to help with this. It’s a small amount of money for a big difference in quality on your shoot.

Lights I’ve used:

Shure mic for iPhone:

Mobile Lighting Kit:

(These aren’t referral links … just sharing exmaples of what I’ve used).

Number six, I recommend hiring a video editor, but in my early days I did all my video editing myself.

I bought Final Cut Pro and spent hours on YouTube learning the ropes. But there’s plenty of iPhone apps now that allow for basic editing for your videos, and make a fast upload. Just keep it simple. It’s far more important that you start posting, then you worry about perfection. And if you don’t want to worry about perfection at all, go live. Right now it’s still acceptable to go live without high production value. Just be well lit, with good sound, and pay attention to what’s in your background, and go for it.

Number seven, plan to post at least once a week, every single week for the time leading up to your book launch, and ideally for the months afterwards.

Consistency is so critical, I can’t emphasize it enough. And if you want to get the absolute best tool to help you improve your channel and track your progress as you go, I highly recommend MorningFa.Me.  I love Morningfame’s analytics and recommendations.

How to Prevent Amazon Book Reviews from Being Removed

Every once in a while large batches of Amazon book reviews get removed from the Amazon site. It’s one of the worse things that could happen to a book post-launch.

Reviews matter a lot in buying decisions, and we all need those reviews to be honest. Gaming Amazon shouldn’t happen easily or we’ll all suffer. Purges aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but systemized approaches to cleaning up a system inevitably kills some good with the bad.

Because there’s surely another purge coming, it’s a good time to refresh yourself on Amazon’s policy.

Amazon does not want your friends and family to review your book. Friends and family are biased but how does Amazon know who are your friends and who is a family member?

Amazon has access to a plethora of data, so there are plenty of ways for them to figure it out but here’s an obvious one that you may not have considered.

Amazon can find your friends via Facebook.

Stick with me for a second.

Amazon owns Goodreads. One of the main ways to sign into Goodreads is via Facebook. So, here’ the tip of the day: Don’t be lazy, create your login and disconnect it from Facebook.

If you connect the two, data sharing allows them to figure out who your Facebook friends are. Disconnect Twitter and disconnect Facebook from Goodreads.

There have also been a lot of reports of people who give gift cards to folks to buy a copy of their book for review having those reviews removed.

Make sure you coach Amazon book reviewers who receive free copies on what to include in the review

If someone receives a free book for an honest review it’s essential they add a disclaimer. It needs to say something like I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Additional guidelines for custom reviews straight from Amazon:

  • reviews can only include URLs or links to other products sold on Amazon,
  • customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product,
  • do not try to review a book and then get your husband to review and then your kid to review, it doesn’t work.

Also, Amazon explicitly says, you may not manipulate the Amazon verified purchase badge by offering special pricing to reviewers or reimbursing reviewers.

Rest assured, if you’re hustling to get reviews like you should be, you’re not paying people to write good reviews and you’re not trying to game the system in any way, your legitimate reviews will likely stick. But take that extra step of not connecting anything to Goodreads or anything else Amazon might have their hands on. Reviews are essential to the Amazon business model and you better believe they’re doing everything they can to protect them.

And, it’s worth noting, you don’t want your friends and family to buy your book anyway. Check out this video:

Amazon learns who is most likely to buy your book from the purchases and the reviews, and then they show your book to people who are just like the people who’ve already bought and reviewed your book. So if you’re aunt generally likes to read steamy romance books and the odd book on gardening, unless you’re Ron Neitzel, The Green Wizard, your aunt is not going to help your book.


Book Award Contests are (Mostly) Scams

I’m Julie Broad, award-winning author and founder of Book Launchers, a fabulous company that will help you write, publish, and sell a non-fiction book to boost your business or grow your brand. Sounds cool to say you’re an award-winning author, doesn’t it? That’s why so many companies offer book award contents … and most of them aren’t worth your money. 

The Guaranteed Book Award – What?!

“Everyone was in black ties and formal wear. They had red carpets and professional photographers. Every author got an award. The pictures were amazing!”

My mastermind colleague was explaining what she got for her $20,000 investment in a book package. She wrote the book, a relatively famous man had a standard template of a book forward he added to her book, and then he showed up to present her with an award. (Of course, it was his company that sold her this book package!)

My colleague thought it was money well spent because everyone in her circle was so impressed she won an award at this fancy looking event. A few clients were impressed she knew the famous guy who wrote the forward.

But, to call yourself an ‘award-winning author’ when anyone who pays gets an award … well, that doesn’t sit well with me.

The whole situation made me take a closer look at the awards I’d won and other book award contests.

There Are No Guarantees when it’s a REAL Award

Any company guaranteeing you best-seller status or that you’ll become an award-winning author if you work with them is using a gimmick of some kind to get you that result. There are no guarantees.

Nobody knows what will ultimately be a big seller. And you certainly can’t guarantee an award will be won.

Seriously, think about it from the perspective of movies. Even when it’s likely a movie will do well, there still are no guarantees. And nobody can say they’ll win an Oscar or an Emmy. It’s impossible to know. There are always surprises. The same thing happens in books.

So how can a publishing course or a company guarantee you will become an award-winning author? Simple, they give you the award.

Authors everywhere are hungry for exposure, validation, and credibility, so the author award business is huge.

My observation isn’t to make you feel bad if you’ve entered your book into book award contests. I spent almost $1,000 entering my two books into contests over a few years. Nobody warned me that so many of these contests were slimy. Winning an award seemed like a great way to gain credibility and exposure.

My first book, More Than Cashflow, won an international book award (it is a Canadian real estate investment book). My second, The New Brand You, won the Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Sales book and was a finalist in another contest. These awards aren’t the same as paying someone to give you an award, but it is a for profit business. You pay to enter – which is pretty normal for all the kinds of book award contests. And, I understand that they charge. There are expenses involved in running contests. Plus, if it were free there would be thousands of submissions, and it would be completely unmanageable.

The Book Award Contest story starts to get gross when you realize:

  • Many of the awards don’t give an actual monetary prize for winning – what does the money really go towards?
  • Very few contests disclose who the judges are. Does anybody even read these books?
  • Some of the contests have more than 100 categories to encourage everyone to submit their books. More books = more money made.
  • Almost none of these contests tell you how many books were in your category. You could be a winner in a category of one.
  • And, the worst part of the contest business … when you win, you win the honor of BUYING paraphernalia to showcase that you won. You have to buy stickers, plaques, or other items to show you won.

Non-prize prizes, press releases, media announcement, database and website listings were all prizes. And some offer little more than the supposed honor of winning the award. Which is truthfully all I got for being the Beverly Hills winner of the Best Sales book.

Personally, for my next book, I’m going to save my money and focus on more marketing efforts. If you’re considering entering an awards contest look for:

  • Awards that honor authors and the community. This probably means they have a low entry fee and aren’t a for profit business.
  • A publicly available list of the judges. Bonus points if they even send comments or feedback on your book after reading it.
  • Actual prizes for the winners. A real prize would be financial compensation or even a physical trophy or plaque sent to you at no charge.

I’m all for opportunities for authors to gain more exposure for their books, but I’ve never met anyone who said: “I saw your book won the award and bought it.” There are better ways to get my book in the hands of the right readers and get the word out about it. That’s probably true for you too!

And, if you want to check out the legitimacy of a book award contest before you enter, the Alliance of Independent Authors association has a great list.