Black Friday is such a powerful phenomenon that it has spread to countries that don’t celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday. In many places, Black Friday has become the biggest or one of the biggest shopping weekends of the whole year. Millions of books are sold during Black Friday weekend. For authors, the Black Friday marketing phenomenon is an opportunity but also a threat.
In this article, I share some powerful tips to supercharge your book sales, but before I do, we need to know why Black Friday, more than any other day, motivates people to buy.
Why is Black Friday so much more motivating for buyers than Labor Day or Saint Patrick’s Day sales? Many businesses offer sales around those real holidays. Black Friday isn’t technically a real holiday, yet many people take the day off work.
If you have listened to Novel Marketing for a while, you know the answer can be found in our marketing psychology episodes.
Black Friday leverages several social triggers:
- Anchoring (Prices look low compared to regular high prices.)
- Urgency (Act Now)
- Scarcity (Limited Quantities)
- Social Proof (Crowds Draw Crowds)
- Loss Aversion (Avoiding Loss of an Opportunity)
How can you, as an author, take advantage of Black Friday?
1. List-Build Ahead of Time
For authors, Black Friday is primarily a tactic for your email list. If you don’t have an email list, running a Black Friday sale is tricky.
Check out the following episodes to learn how to build your email list:
- How to Grow Your Email List Using Delicious Reader Magnets with Tammi Labrecque
- How Jason Porterfield Grew His Email List from 0 to 6,000 in One Year
- 8 Tools to Help Authors Get More Email Subscribers
If you subscribe to my emails, you’ll get a front-row seat to how an email list can be used for Black Friday book promotion. Author Media will have its biggest Black Friday sale in years, but it will only be available to authors who subscribe to our email list. So, if you want to get those deals, sign up now!
2. Create a Gift Guide for Your Timothy
A gift guide is fun and can be a good source of affiliate revenue if you participate in Amazon’s affiliate program. Creating a gift guide for your Timothy is also a great way to see how well you know your target reader. If you can’t think of a gift your Timothy would love, you probably need to get acquainted with a real-life reader and learn about your audience.
3. Write a Christmas Short Story that’s Only Available to Black Friday Buyers
You can set up a system where anyone who purchases your book gets an exclusive short story.
Offering a short story works well for traditionally published authors who don’t have control over their prices. You can email your list saying, “Anyone who buys my book over Black Friday weekend and emails me the receipt will get a free short story!”
This tactic can be particularly motivating because it takes advantage of urgency, scarcity, and anchoring. It’s free, but only for a limited time! It also utilizes loss aversion. If you’ve built a reputation for writing fun short stories, you’ll benefit from this tactic.
4. Raise Your Base Price Ahead of Time
Make sure you clear the decks of any sales ahead of Black Friday.
If you listened to my recent episode on pricing and have been meaning to raise your price, do it now! The higher the base price, the better your discount will look.
But make sure you’re offering a real discount. You want to demonstrate integrity and honesty, so when you announce a discount, it needs to be real. Don’t raise your price right before Black Friday, then “discount” your book to the regular price on the big day. Online retailers use disingenuous shenanigans like that all the time, and it’s a bad practice.
However, inflation is real, and you probably need to raise your price. The beginning of November is a great time to raise your regular price.
5. Create a Black Friday Promo Alliance with Similar Authors
Connect with other authors in your micro-genre. Ask if anyone is running a Black Friday sale and if they’d like to trade book promotions. You feature a link to their book on Amazon in your Black Friday emails in exchange for them featuring a link to your book in their Black Friday emails.
Trading Black Friday book promotions is especially beneficial for an author who only has a couple of books. If you have one book that’s $2.00 off, that’s not a huge motivator for readers to buy. But if you have 12 books and $50.00 worth of discounts, suddenly, people will be more interested. Plus, it’s a great way to build relationships with other authors and their audiences.
6. Create a Black Friday Book Bundle With Other Authors
Creating a book bundle is an advanced version of the previous tactic of creating a promotion with other authors. The book bundle tactic works best if you (or the hosting author) are set up to sell books directly on your own website. It’s relatively easy to set up your own Gumroad or Payhip account to sell books directly.
The bundle could be five different full-length mystery novels for $9.99. Readers would pay less than $2.00 per mystery!
When setting up your bundle, make sure the author hosting the bundle is financially compensated for the bookkeeping, monitoring, and setting up the online store. Don’t split the earnings even-steven because the hosting author will have to put in more work.
If I were hosting an author bundle and selling from my website, I would take 25% of sales as the bundle host.
I would also set up an affiliate program where authors get 50% of the total sale for sending someone to the bundle. The remaining 25% (or 75% if no affiliate referral) would be split evenly between the authors.
The affiliate program would allow an author with a much larger list to be compensated for their participation. Without an affiliate commission, the large-list author may feel like they’re carrying everyone else and might not want to participate.
But if you have a smaller list, you really want that large-list author to be involved. The affiliate program is one way to motivate that large-list author to get involved, and it will make the endeavor a win-win for everyone.
7. Create an Email Plan
Before you create an email plan, you have some decisions to make:
- What are you putting on sale?
- What emails will you send?
- How long will your Black Friday sale last? Just Friday? Just Monday? Throughout the Black Friday weekend?
Make those decisions and clearly communicate them to your author partners.
8. Schedule Your Emails Ahead of Time
If you’re an American, the Thursday before Black Friday is a very busy day, especially if you’re helping prepare the complicated and robust Thanksgiving meal. You also want to enjoy Thanksgiving day with your family without worrying about work.
So, write your emails beforehand and schedule them to send while you’re celebrating Thanksgiving. If you’re selling directly from your website, you should be available on Friday to answer customer questions. But if you’re sending people to Amazon to buy, you can make money while you’re watching football on Friday!
Be aware that if you’re running a Black Friday sale, you might not want to mention it ahead of time. Doing so will shut down all your sales until Black Friday because people will wait for the sale to buy. However, since I want to show you how to implement this tactic, I’m going to disregard my own advice and reveal my email plan.
My email plan for this Black Friday is to send four emails.
- Black Friday Morning: Announce the Author Media Black Friday sale.
- Black Friday Afternoon: Email Black Friday deals for authors that I’ve found.
- Cyber Monday: Email the same discounts as Black Friday. It’s important that Friday’s discount be better or the same as Monday’s so your Friday customers don’t feel like schmucks for buying early.
- Cyber Monday: Last Chance Email
9. A Few Warnings
Don’t Promote on Thanksgiving!
I’m not a fan of running promotions on Thanksgiving Day, but some people do it. In America, it’s a very positive holiday based on gratitude, and using it for commercial purposes tends to ruin the tone of the day. Besides, most people in the United States won’t be checking emails on Thursday. If you’re in Europe, that advice doesn’t apply.
Don’t Send Email Without a Discount Deal
On Black Friday, people will open their email and browse for deals. More than ever, people are shopping online, and they’re looking for Black Friday discount deals. If your email isn’t full of discounts, people will ignore it.
Don’t Run the Sale for All of November
A long sale window ruins the urgency. People will not be motivated to buy now if they can buy it at a discounted price at any time throughout November.
Apple runs a very limited Black Friday sale every year for only a few hours. It creates a major sense of urgency to buy from Apple. But instead of offering a discount, Apple offers a bonus with your purchase. Your bonus might be store credit or an iTunes gift card.
Your sales window doesn’t need to be that small, but it should be fairly limited. I’ll run my sale Friday morning through midnight on Cyber Monday.
You Can Also Ignore Black Friday
You’re an adult, and it’s a free country. You are welcome to ignore Black Friday and still be a successful author. Many authors who ignore Black Friday will see their sales dip as other authors run sales over the weekend, but that’s okay! You have 51 more weeks to promote your book.
If planning for Black Friday stresses you out or you’re busy preparing to host family, you can ignore Black Friday. This marketing event will not make or break you, but it can be a nice way to boost sales and revenue as you head into the Christmas season.
Do you want a heads-up on deals for authors after Black Friday?
Throughout the year, I scan the web for deals and discounts for authors, and I regularly post them on the Author Deals page at AuthorMedia.social. You’ll find discounts for products and services I often recommend, such as Vellum, Divi, Bluehost, and Depositphotos.
Check out all the different spaces at AuthorMedia.social.
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