Marketing Tips

Sell More Books: Christmas Marketing Ideas


Know what would look good on this shelf? Your book!

Being a self-published author is a bit like being Santa, but without any elves. In some ways this is great; you get to make all the decisions and things get done the way you want them to be done. On the other hand, you have to make all the decisions and things don’t get done until you do them.

Take a deep breath and reinvigorate yourself by reflecting on what you have already accomplished. You are a published author. You are among the select few who had an idea, struggled through all the drafts and rewrites, and published a book. As a result, people around the world can now enjoy and benefit from your work. You changed lives. You made a difference.

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time for you to profit from your effort, and there’s no time to waste. Books make great gifts, everyone (including Santa) knows this, but how are you planning to sell your book this Christmas? If your plan is to simply get it into the Amazon bookstore and hope for the best, you are likely to be disappointed. It’s time to take things into your own hands.

Here are few easy ideas to help you spread the word and generate holiday sales:

  • Create an “About the Author” page on your website to act as your press kit.  Share this page on all your social media pages.
  • Write a press release about your book and send it to all local newspapers and radio stations. Include a link to your media kit with your press release.
  • Contact your public library and offer to conduct a seminar on self-publishing or lead a discussion about your author experience.
  • Contact your local bookstores and schedule a reading and book signing.
  • Team up with other writers and sponsor a booth at local Christmas festivals in your area.
  • Add a “buy-now” button to your website and advertise Lulu’s weekly discounts to encourage holiday sales. Remember, your revenues are much higher from sales made in the Lulu bookstore.
  • Offer personalized, signed copies of your book on your website and social media pages.

Take advantage of Lulu’s weekly discounts when stocking up for holiday sales.

Business-savvy authors have learned that by taking advantage of Lulu’s weekly discounts – on top of their author discount – they can earn more revenue per book by selling to readers during events or directly from their website. This strategy requires you to dedicate time for packing and shipping orders, but it also allows you to sign and personalize books and add bonus items such as bookmarks and thank you notes to orders. These small personal touches create a connection between you and your readers, making them more likely to recommend your books to their friends.

xmas-tree-bookshelfAn added bonus to events and direct sales is that you can collect buyers’ email addresses to add to your mailing list allowing you to market directly to fans when your next book is published.

So, make a plan now to market your book locally and online, stock up*, and get ready for the best Christmas season yet.

*If you are planning to purchase more than 100 books, please contact our bulk sales desk for a custom quote.  We may be able to help you save even more on your planned purchases.


More Marketing Tips

Make More Money: Include Lulu Discount Codes in your Marketing Emails

Make the Most of Seasonal Sales

Holiday Publishing Checklist for Authors

Five Hours to Success: Sell More Books


PR Part III: Release the Press Release!


For authors seeking that elusive “best-seller” status, self-promotion can be your best tool for generating internet traffic and increasing book sales.

Author signing autograph in own book at wooden table on light blurred background

With an effective press release, you’ll be giving autographs in no time!

Of all the self-promotion options available to independent authors, distributing press releases is probably the most overlooked and affordable method. This is unfortunate because it can be highly effective – especially if your press release is picked-up by a major news outlet, journal or magazine. It could even launch you to stardom.

With all of this said, you are just wasting your time if only launch a press release into the deep space of the internet and hope someone notices. It’s up to you to make sure people are aware it’s out there. So, put it to work on your author platform and start getting some of that sweet, sweet internet love.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is a technical term for getting the most from what you put out on the internet. The technicalities are for the engineers to understand. For us, let’s think of it as executing a social media blitz, which sounds much more glamorous.

You may think this is complicated, but it’s easier than you think. First, post the news on your web site, then link to it from everywhere. The more back-links that point to your press release, the more value search engines assign to it. This means you show up higher on the search results page.

Don’t forget to get a little social media help from your friends.

Here’s what to do:

  • Tweet your news with a link to the announcement on your web site (and have friends and family retweet it)
  • Post your news with a link to the announcement on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ (very important for SEO), and everywhere else your audience may be found.
  • Create and post a video on YouTube, with you talking about the announcement and link back to the press release.
  • Embed the YouTube video into a blog post and link back to the announcement pages on other social networks such as Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon.


The combined effect of this promotion will be a four to five times increase in interest and traffic to your site  – thanks to the improved search engine rankings of your press release and author news.

Your press release is finished–get ready to ace the interviews!


As an independently published author, it’s up to you to get the word out about your work. If you lay the groundwork ahead of time, you will be ready for the attention. As a reminder, when your press release gets picked up by a local, state, or national publication, launch a new social media blitz announcing the announcement.

Additional information:
PR Part I: Ready, Set, Press Release!

PR Part II: Write the Best Press Release – EVER!

Author Press Kit: How You Market You

Let’s Go Viral: Five Tactics for Boosting Your Clicks, Likes, and Shares

PR Part II: Write the Best Press Release – EVER!


You wrote a book! Yay for you! Take a moment and celebrate the accomplishment. Savor the giddy happiness of creating something from just an idea (and months and months of toil). Actually, take a few moments to really appreciate this feeling. You deserve it.


Now get back to work. First, buy a few copies to sign for family and close friends. Also, share your great news on Facebook, Twitter and all the places your friends hang out. If you are like many newly published authors you will stop here and and devote the coming weeks to hoping someone will stumble upon your book among all the books available to purchase online.


It could happen, but to be honest, without a savvy media campaign it is unlikely. I hear you gnashing your teeth and wailing, “Nobody has money for that!” I get it, really I do, but come on, you just wrote a book.  You can surely write a one-page press release about it.

Remember those five-paragraph essays you wrote in high school and college? Writing a press release is pretty much the same thing and like those high school essays, they follow a standard format. Let’s get started.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (all caps – you can also enter a future release date here)

Press Release Title (bold font, up to 80 characters, should be catchy, not cutesy!)

Write a three sentence summary of your news angle or book pitch here. Your angle is what makes your book special. Your pitch is how you generate interest in your book.

CITY, STATE – DATE (all caps, bold font)The body of your press release starts here, on the same line as your dateline. An effective release will be written around the pitch idea you’ve perfected for your book. The first paragraph briefly answers the questions of who, what, when, where, why and how.

Use the body paragraphs to expand on the five Ws and an H above. Why is your book timely or relevant. Who will care? What problem does it solve? How will people benefit by reading it?

The writing style for your press release should imitate a news story or book review you would find in the publications to which you are submitting your release. This approach makes it easier for journalists in search of content to see your news as something ready for publication through their outlets.

It is always good to incorporate quotes from the author, an authority in the field, or a reputable reviewer, throughout the body of your release. Keep in mind that quotes cannot be changed if your press release is picked up by a journalist, so choose them carefully. Include the names and credentials of the people you quote. DO NOT quote family or friends unless they are an expert in the field in which you write.

Add any remaining details such as the release date, where the book can be purchased (, the formats in which it is available, the retail price, etc.

About <Your Name>

Include a short author bio ( approximately 100 words). Include your qualifications to write the book – i.e. local connection, profession, life-long interest, etc. This paragraph is referred to as a boilerplate and usually remains the same from one press release to another.

For more information about <YOUR BOOK TITLE>, visit <Link to WEBSITE>. Additional author information and promotional images are available at <Link to AUTHOR PRESS KIT> or contact <PUBLICIST’S NAME> at <PHONE NUMBER>. Free review copies are provided on request.

(Indicates the end of the press release)


Experts recommend a press release be about one page in length, so use your words wisely. Most importantly, your press release will be the first impression you make on a journalist, editor, or reviewer so proofread, proofread, and proofread again before you send it.

When complete, copy and paste your attention grabbing headline into the email subject line. Then copy the entire press release (including the headline) into the body of the email. Include links to your website and author press kit. Be sure to include your contact information. Do not attach files to the email or include a free electronic copy of your book unless requested by a journalist.

Up next – PR Part III: Release the Press Release! Now that you have written the best press release ever, put it to work.

Additional Information

PR Part I: Ready, Set, Press Release!

PR Part III: Release the Press Release!

Crafting an Elevator Pitch for Your Book

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

Author Press Kit: How You Market You


PR Part I: Ready, Set, Press Release!


RALEIGH, NC – September 13, 2016 – Lulu, the pioneer and world leader in independent publishing, announced today that all authors should launch their new books with a well-crafted press release. “It’s your story and you should be the person telling it,” said Glenn@Lulu, Content Marketing Manager at Lulu Press.



That’s the most interesting thing I’ve heard all day!

That’s a pretty standard (and frankly boring) opening for a press release: Announce something, follow it by an authoritative, quotable quote, then tell the story. It’s really like writing a one-page essay. All you need to do is write a release that answers who, what, when, where, why and how. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

You may be surprised to learn there are people out there who make hundreds of dollars per press release. That’s right, all that money for writing five paragraphs announcing something someone thinks is newsworthy. In reality, this is something you can do yourself. All you need is a bit of practice and an ear for what will attract the attention of local, national, and global news outlets.

Let’s get started.

One second to fame

Books are published everyday. Another one being published is not news. Therefore, your headline has to jump off the screen and make a reporter want to read more of your story. Since your headline is the first impression you will make, avoid clichés, puns, and gimmicky subject lines. Otherwise your headline may be the last impression you make before a journalist hits the delete key.

Sell the hook, not the book


Sell the hook first. Then sell the book.

What makes your book relevant? Does it solve a problem? How does it relate to other books in the genre? Does your book explain or fit neatly into a current news story? Does the action in your book revolve around an upcoming holiday? Are you a coroner writing a crime novel? A mother writing a conspiracy thriller? A life-long city dweller celebrating life off the grid? Your press release is the means to tell your story. The book is almost an afterthought, “If you want to know more, you can find <insert title here> on Lulu and all major online bookstores.”


Don’t promote, inform

An effective press release is based on facts, not opinion. Of course you, your mom and your best friend think your book is the best book ever published, but that is only an opinion. A journalist needs facts and when possible quotes. If your book solves a problem, state the problem and the solution it provides. If your characters or plot happen to coincide with something happening in the news, explain why your book will help people better understand the situation. When possible, provide quotes from experts in your field or snippets from reputable reviewers.

The best book in the world – Really?

hyperboleYou want your headline and body text to be original, snappy, and attention grabbing; however, avoid using clichés and hyperbole. Unless you have proof your book will transform lives, leave readers breathless or on their knees begging for more, don’t include these overused tropes in your press release. They show a lack of thought and imagination (see above – facts not opinions).


Do your research

Your best bet for getting early publicity for your book will be from local newspapers, libraries, radio programs, and independent bookstores. With that said, make sure you do your homework and address your press release email to a person (name spelled correctly).   No one wants to receive a generic email blast sent to every Sir, Madame, or Whom it May Concern in the business. Make it personal. I spell my name Glenn with two Ns – you should too!

Everybody is busy (and lazy)


Content, I need good content!

All journalists are on tight deadlines, so the easier you make it for them to write the story, the more likely it is your story will get their attention. When you send your press release email, include links to your author press kit (About the Author), your book’s retail page, and book excerpts. It is not recommended you send a free copy of your book with the initial contact. Instead, explain that free electronic copies will be provided upon request.


Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to getting the publicity your book deserves. Remember, start local, be personal, and try different angles until you have perfected your press release. Then go national.


Up nextPR Part II: Write the Best Press Release – EVER!

Tips for composing the best book launch press release in the history of the written word in the format of a standard press release.

Additional Resources

Author Press Kit: How You Market You

Crafting an Elevator Pitch for Your Book

Five Hours to Success: Sell More Books

How to Publish a Paperback Book on



Author Press Kit: How You Market You


Example from an author we all know.

Who is your favorite living author? Have you ever visited their website? If you wanted to know more about them, where would you click? What would you expect to see on that page?

Now think about your website or blog. If a journalist, blogger, production manager, or agent wanted to know more about you, where would they find the information? How are you selling yourself as a writer or subject matter expert? How are you telling the story of you?

If you are new to publishing, you may not have even thought about needing an “About” page on your website. If you have one, it probably has a few fun facts about you, some pictures of your family and maybe an homage to your faithful pet. This information may be meaningful to you, but will it get you an interview or a speaking engagement? If not, perhaps it’s time to re-work your “About the Author” page to serve as an author press kit.

“Who has the time for that?” you may ask. In truth, it’s likely you already have most of the information needed to create an effective press kit. You just didn’t know you needed one. An effective press kit includes:

Author Biography and Contact Information

Lulu recommends authors have multiple versions of their bios for use in article submissions, guest posts, and interviews. Your press kit bio should be about 200 words focusing on what makes you interesting and your areas of expertise. Don’t forget to include a head shot and your (or your publicist’s) email, phone, and social media contact info.


In addition to contact information, always include a clear, professional head shot with your bio.


Specific information about your book(s)
List the title, topic, genre and intended audience for your book as well as a succinct summary (no spoilers).  If you are writing nonfiction include your credentials or personal experience relevant to the topic.

Press Coverage
Show your press-worthiness. Include excerpts from reviews, transcripts from interviews, links to press releases, blogs and articles written about your work. List awards, nominations, and recognitions your work has received. Your press kit is not the place for humility.

Press Kit Newsroom1

Busy reporters are always looking for compelling local stories. A well-written press kit makes it easier for them to meet their deadline.


Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
If your goal is to schedule newspaper, radio, or television interviews, include a list of frequently asked questions and answers about you and your book. The more upfront information you provide, the easier it is for a journalist to prepare a story. Your answers should be personal, conversational, and quotable. FAQs and answers also provide jumping off points for further questions:

  • What lead you to writing?
  • How does your early (or current) life influence your writing?
  • What is your inspiration for developing these characters / writing on this topic?
  • How does the story mirror your own experiences?
  • Why did you choose to self-publish your work?
  • What are you working on now?

    Press Kit Radio Interview

    “You’ve probably answered this question a thousand times, but I just have to ask….”


Fiction authors should include a few meaningful sections that artfully demonstrate their writing style or provide character insight. Nonfiction writers should include a PDF of the first few chapters of their book.

Upcoming Events
Do you have a book signing event scheduled? Are you attending or speaking at a conference? Are you appearing on TV or radio? Let the world know where you will be and how to contact you during the event. If you choose to include an “events” section on your press kit page, it is imperative you keep it up to date. You may also choose to update this section with pictures from the events or links to print articles and interviews (audio / video).

Press Kit Reporter

“I saw you were going to be in town. Will you have time for an interview?”


Sell Sheet
If you are selling books directly from your website or through social media, you should also include your product and price lists for hardcover and paperback versions as well as wholesale bulk pricing for bookstores.

Remember, your author press kit does not have to be fancy. Keep the format, font and layout simple and easy to read. Start with material you already have and add to the page as you build your reputation online, in print, and through broadcast media. Remember this content is how you sell yourself and your work, so proofread, proofread, and proofread again to make sure it is error-free. A professional looking press kit page will help get you the publicity you need for publishing success.

Press Kit paparrazi

The publicity you deserve!

Additional Resources

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

Guest Blogging: How to Build Your Online Reputation

Five Hours to Success


The Price of Success: Not as High as You Think


We now know that devoting as little as five hours a week to your marketing plan can result in much higher sales. That seems like a minimal investment in time, but how much will it cost? We asked 4000 of our bestselling authors how much they spent marketing their books.


Not as much as you thought, right? 65% spent less than $500. If you add the authors who spent nothing (7%), the total number of authors who spent less than $500 in marketing is 72%. In other words, nearly three out of four best-selling authors spent less than $500 promoting their book.

How best-selling authors spent their marketing budgets


As you can see, authors spent the most on advertising. Website and purchasing promotional copies of their book come in second and third, respectively. Below is a detailed breakout of how authors spent their advertising budgets.


Key Takeaways

$500 or less is enough to promote a book. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars.

Most authors spent 28% of their overall budget on advertising, 15% on their websites and 14% on buying promotional copies as well as copies they sell direct to readers.

Action Items

Determine a marketing budget for promoting your book based on how many copies you think you will sell. Take into consideration annual fluctuations in sells as well as any upcoming holidays.

Examine previous promotional spending and determine what worked and what didn’t. Adjust your marketing plan to more accurately target your intended audience.

Additional Information

What Authors Say Is Most Important for Sales

Driving Online Traffic and Book Sales

Need Some Help Marketing? Ask a Friend

5-Star Reviews Are Actually Better

Need Some Help with Marketing? Ask a Friend


The last question we asked our authors was where they turned for marketing assistance. While it’s easy to imagine bestselling authors employing a team of marketing experts, the truth is,  most of them did it alone.


It’s refreshing to see that 58% of authors had no help and an additional 21% had only unpaid help from friends and family. Only 21% – about one in five – paid for marketing support with just 2% hiring a marketing team. That’s one in fifty authors with a marketing team, versus six in ten doing marketing all on their own.

If you need help, phone a friend

While most authors did their own marketing, don’t hesitate to get help if you need it. Whether it’s hiring a designer to make a new cover (something many of our authors recommend) or recruiting a family member to stuff envelopes for a promotional mailing, there are plenty of ways to get the support you need. Here are a few ideas that we heard from the authors who responded to our survey:

  1. If you don’t have a big budget, offer to trade services. For example, write something for the graphic designer who you want to redo your book cover or website.
  2. Engage your fans, followers and subscribers. One of the best ways to get noticed on social media is to ask for your readers feedback or suggestions. Ask your audience which new book cover they like best or which email service provider they recommend.
  3. Hold a contest and give away signed copies of your book to the winners.
  4. Check out You can get a lot of marketing tasks done for cheap on this website. Be sure to select someone with at least ten reviews of 4.5 stars or better and test them out with something small before dedicating a large portion of your marketing budget to them.

Action Item

If you could get help with just two tasks on your book marketing plan, what would they be? Identify and reach out to people with those skills.

Key Takeaway

58% of best-selling authors had no help with marketing. Only one in five paid for marketing help.