Black Friday & Cyber Monday Holiday Sales Planning

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Planning for Authors blog graphic header

It’s that time of year again: Pumpkin Spice is taking over our advertising, the weather is cooling, and supply chains and shipping woes are starting. Much like previous years, shoppers will be flocking to buy online. The opportunity is again here to promote your work and make the most of the holiday shopping season. 

With that in mind, let’s focus on the biggest and most important holiday sales days of the year. Yeah, I’m talking about Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

Black Friday And Cyber Monday History

Did you know ‘Black Friday’ is relatively new? The term came from Philadelphia in the 1950s when police “used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving.” No kidding. If you’re interested, has a great background on the shopping holiday.

The day after Thanksgiving (traditionally the fourth Thursday in November), Black Friday has evolved into a major retail event in the US and beyond. Retailers experimented with opening earlier and earlier for Black Friday, including in 2012 when Walmart opened late on Thanksgiving!

Cyber Monday is an even more recent term, dating back to 2005 when retailers decided to further expand the Black Friday shopping period. The story goes that retailers saw a spike in sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving and wanted to capitalize.

That brings us to today. Whether you like it or not, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the weekend in between them will be a major shopping weekend. While 2021 saw a slight dip in spending around the holidays, last year’s BF/CM weekend sales increased 2.3% to $9.1 billion in online spending alone.

Preparing Your Black Friday And Cyber Monday Sales Strategy

As an independent creator, upticks in online sales are a great sign for you. But just having your book available isn’t enough. You need to actively (and sometimes aggressively) promote yourself and your book this year. 

We’ve already covered some great points to get your author’s website ready for holiday sales. But everything I covered in that post aims to help you drive sales during the entire holiday season. 

A solid general strategy for the season is important. But as you create a sales plan, you need to specifically think about Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday shoppers.

Use Social Media

While it’s generally smart to rely on your best-performing channel to communicate with readers, for the holiday sales weekend you have to lean into social media. Because the other major promotional tool (Email) is less effective when every single brand is spamming its subscribers, social media is the next best way to reach your audience.

Focus your creative efforts on social posts that engage and convert. That means putting your efforts into the social channels you’ve already built a community on and creating some amazing posts for that weekend. The best plan is to prepare all these posts ahead of time and schedule them. 

Be aware of social selling options too. If you sell with Lulu Direct, you can use Shopify and WooCommerce to connect to social platforms to sell your books. 

Your Book, Your Way

Sell books on your website with Lulu Direct.

Sell Your Book,
Your Way

Sell books on your own
website with Lulu Direct.

Use Email

Social media might be less congested during the holidays, but you’ll still want to send your fans and followers plenty of emails. Be sure to call out any new releases or special editions you’re offering during the holiday season.

Effective email marketing will be far more personal than paid ads or social posts. Take advantage of that to offer your email followers an extra discount or early access to sales. Maybe even offer a unique special edition of your most popular book just to your email fans.

Use the holiday season to help bolster your email list too. Tease that special edition or sale to entice new readers to join your list. Those fans who do get on your email list will be the most likely to continue to engage and buy from you. 

Influence Buyers

You can saturate social media, people’s inboxes, and even their browsers with advertising for your book. But none of it will work if the advertising isn’t influential. 

This is the most challenging part of marketing—you need to predict (correctly) what will resonate and work for shoppers. When it comes to a broad strategy, you’ve got a lot of research to do so you can understand what your potential readers look for. Fortunately, for holiday sales, you can simplify your ‘pitch’ a little bit.

When it comes to influencing buyers, here are the main points to aim for this holiday season:

  1. Adapt and update your keywords, meta descriptions, and branding to reflect the holiday season. This can be pretty subtle, but simply adding a holiday-themed banner image and some keywords (like ‘gift’) can have a real impact.
    It’s also worth taking note that these subtle updates have an impact on all kinds of shoppers. Keywords might help attract a new reader who is searching online. But an updated banner on your site will speak to the existing readers you’ve already connected with.
  2. Optimize the buying process. If you can, the best option is to sell directly through your own website. When you do, you control the entire buying process and you earn more revenue per sale.
    But we’re talking holidays here, so there are other considerations. For one, you have to put a link to all your online retail listings on your site. Encourage readers to buy from you, but don’t make it hard for them to use their Kindle or Prime Shipping.
    The other aspect of optimization is your site’s mobile friendliness. This is becoming a given as the most popular site-building tools offer mobile optimization as a base. But you still should check and verify that all your pages work well on mobile and are generally optimized to encourage buyers.

Make It Simple; Plan Ahead

Do you know about marketing automation? If not, there’s never been a better time to get acquainted with the practice. Because the holiday season can be a LOT of work, anything you can do to front-load some of that effort is going to help.

You can use automation for emails and social posts. This allows you to create and schedule those posts and emails now so that you aren’t manually sending or posting during Black Friday. This is important because if you are making yourself available during that time, it should be to respond to social inquiries; not posting or sending emails.

Be Available

This one is really important. The 2020 holiday sales season was the biggest online shopping season ever. Shoppers are not going to get the personal touch that comes with shopping in stores. 

Which means you need to be available to your readers. Experts have been talking about the increase in online sales and the importance of website management and optimization since the middle of 2020. But very few have delved into how vital customer support will be this year. 

You should be prepared to connect with and support your buyers this season. That might mean answering a simple question about shipping times or helping a reader get a reprint for a printing error. Whatever form it takes, being present and being human will be central to your holiday sales success this year.

Lulu Direct Holiday
Prep Guide

Ready to sell more books this holiday season?

Lulu Direct Holiday
Prep Guide

Ready to sell more books this holiday season?

Finding Holiday Sales Success

A lot of factors can impact your holiday sales success. Marketing, existing followers, and the popularity and quality of your work; all play a part in your sales. So make sure you’re having an impact where you can. 

That might mean doing a thorough edit of your books to clean up any lingering editorial errors. Or it might mean developing and implementing a Google Ads strategy. Whatever route you take, lean into it and emphasize those efforts. This year will be as big as last year for online sales, and as a self-published, indie author, you’re in a better place than most to take advantage and enjoy better-than-normal holiday sales results.

Paul H, Content Marketing Manager

Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.

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Is Lulu going to have the sale this year on BF / CM? Why no advertising around it?

I want to send my book 📖. And I want that your society Lulu buy it.

¿Pueda usar mis redes sociales para promocionar mi ebook publicado en Lulu?

Hello. Being French, your pumpkin festival is meaningless to me. Have fun. 🙂
Conversely, talking about selling, I have a commercial suggestion. I wish Lulu made it possible for the author to set two different prices for his book – one for the Lulu bookstore, the other for distributors like Amazon. For instance a book I’d sell for 20.00€ with Lulu, would be priced 30.00€ with Amazon to compensate for the heavy take levied by that outlet.

I agree with Steve, I clicked on this hoping to see so I could better prepare my social media.

Black Friday is supposed to be about momentous sale prices and great deals, but we’re supposed to celebrate this special occasion by asking our customers to pay regular price for our books? We’re no longer allowed to manage reduced prices for our books anymore! Did you forget that?

This is a good article, but I stumbled over this section: “ You should be prepared to connect with and support your buyers this season. That might mean answering a simple question about shipping times or helping a reader get a reprint for an error. Whatever form it takes, being present and being human will be central to your holiday sales success this year.” Lulu needs te read this and do a better job responding quickly to support their customers.

It would be really useful if you could let creators/authors know in advance what discount deals you will be offering over whic days so we can prepare our marketing in advance too

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