By Joan Stewart
Each new season of the year doubles as a springboard for book marketing. Tie a title to winter, spring, summer or fall, and publicity is practically yours for the asking.
On September 22, the first day of autumn, promote spooky fiction as a prelude to Halloween, or a craft project with how-to instructions for homemade gifts for the holidays.
On December 21, the first day of winter, offer a free chapter and suggest the book as the ideal holiday gift, even if the topic has nothing to do with cold weather.
On March 21, the first day of spring, excerpt tips from your nonfiction book that prepares readers for warm-weather activities like:
- cooking outdoors
- spring fashion
- and lawn games
On the first day of summer, June 21, create a Top 10 list of “Favorite Beach Reads,” and include your chick-lit title. This is also a perfect tie-in for books that have anything to do with summer topics like:
- road trips
- skin protection
- boating safety
- summer fashion
- and warm-weather recipes
When I worked as a newspaper reporter, one of the worst assignments was to write a story on the first day of any of the four seasons because I had to scrounge for sources and new ideas.
Let’s say I had been assigned a story on the first day of fall. If a local author had called me to discuss the topic of fear in children, and it tied into her spooky fiction book for kids and mentioned Halloween, I would have jumped at the chance to interview her and include her as part of the story. But I can never remember a time when authors ever called. What a missed opportunity!
Subscribe to HARO
Because these “first day of the season” stories are so popular, you’ll probably find several queries from working journalists through the media leads service known simply as HARO, short for Help a Reporter Out at HelpaReporter.com.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to the first day of each season. Promote all season long. And look for opportunities to pivot from one season to the next.
That’s what indie author Marjorie Turner Hollman does with her books, Easy Walks in Massachusetts and More Easy Walks in Massachusetts. When Turner Hollman wanted to do speaking engagements in her community, she offered local libraries a slide show presentation called “Foliage Detectives: Easy Walks to Local Leaf-peeping” in September. The program was a hit, and more than a dozen libraries in central Massachusetts invited her.
Rewrite Press Releases
During the winter, she combines her presentation with a “group walk,” weather permitting. She rewrites her press release like this:
“After our brisk walk (30 minutes or so, weather permitting) we’ll head back to headquarters to enjoy slides of numerous nearby Easy Walk locations. If the trails are icy, we’ll skip the easy walk and simply stay inside, enjoy warm cocoa and slides of area trails, and think spring.”
When spring arrives, she rewrites it again:
“Spring is here and everyone is ready to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. But where to go? Easy Walks in Massachusetts: Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Franklin, Grafton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millis, Millville, Northbridge, Upton, Uxbridge, Wrentham and Woonsocket, RI offers over 50 answers to that question, in 16 local towns. Written by freelance writer and Bellingham resident Marjorie Turner Hollman, published by MarjorieTurner.com, it’s all about finding places nearby to spend time in the outdoors.”
Come summer, she focuses on new places to explore:
“Wish you knew some new places to get outdoors with your family and friends? Come get a peek at some of the woodland trails, hidden access points along the Charles River, and short walks to sweeping views that are ‘right around the corner’ from where you live.”
Partner with Local Businesses
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, look in your own community for businesses that have seasonal messages as part of their marketing, and introduce them to your book. That’s what Turner Hollman did.
“I’ve just partnered with a local bed and breakfast in our area. They plan to offer a ‘hiking weekend’ package which will include copies of both my books. I gave them a big break on the cost. They will feature the books in their advertising, as well as on their Groupon offer. I earn a little from the direct sale to the bed and breakfast, but I expect a possible big benefit when they spread the word in their advertising on Groupon and elsewhere. It should help me reach many more readers.”
She connected with the bed and breakfast through a local business networking group for women in her area, visited the B&B, took a tour and checked back with the owners periodically.
Don’t forget about consumer and special interest magazines that specialize in seasonal features. But bigger publications often have a six-month lead time. If you want your chick-lit title to be considered as a beach read, for example, send it six months before the magazine’s publication date.