The Christmas Effect

Sales around Christmas are very different to any other period in the year – this is not news. But how are they different for ebooks?

Firstly, the run-up to Christmas is bad for ebooks. I have a theory, of course, and it’s this: Amazon reckon their best chance of selling those lovely, big (expensive) hardbacks comes when people buy them as gifts at Christmas. So they start promoting hardbacks in the Christmas purchasing period (these days, that extends all the way back to November). And because they’re promoting hardbacks, they promote other books less, ebooks least of all – especially with the problem of gifting ebooks on Amazon.

Did I notice? Hell, yes. Sales of Sleight of Hand dropped by a third in November and the first three weeks of December.

But marketing buzz also says that book sales after Christmas are brilliant, and this effect continues well into January.

Common sense says that ebooks will massively outperform traditional books in this period – just look at the Christmas present sales of the Kindle and wonder what everyone who gets one is going to do on Boxing Day.


Book 2, Hidden Trump, needed to be there to surf this wave. Special thanks to my editor, Lauren Sweet, for working with me right up to her departure on vacation to ensure that it happened. Thankfully, I didn’t need to take up her offer to do the last pass editing on her flight. No, she had at least an hour spare before she had to be at the airport.

My wildest dreams are nothing to do with books :-), but my wildest plans for marketing my books involved this following scenario: I release Hidden Trump just before Christmas, announcing it on the web site, Goodreads and on Facebook. I email every single person who has fed back to me. Maybe, just maybe, I can generate enough quick sales from readers who enjoyed Sleight of Hand and are waiting for book 2 to get Hidden Trump into the first screen of recommendations in Urban Fantasy on Amazon. All those new Kindle owners see it there, see that it’s a second book, see the ratings for the first book and I get the double whammy – two sales in one hit.

Did it work? Hell, yes.

In the period from 1st November to Christmas Day, Sleight of Hand averaged 62 book sales a day. From Christmas to now (10th January), sales averaged 137 books a day. The Amazon sales rank in Contemporary Fantasy (where 1 is best) went from 44 to 21 for the same periods.

From the day of its release (20th December) to Christmas Day, Hidden Trump also averaged 62 book sales a day. From Christmas to now, sales averaged 177 books a day. The Amazon sales rank in Contemporary Fantasy went from 54 to 14 for the same periods.

For Sleight of Hand, there were 40 reviews on the US Amazon site in the period 1 st August to Christmas Day, and 23 since then. (Reviews! – blog post to follow)

For Hidden Trump, 4 people managed to read and review in the brief time before Christmas (special thanks to them!) and another 22 have reviewed to date on the US Amazon site.

A HUGE thank you to all my readers – you rock. And an extra helping to those who feed back, through Amazon, Goodreads, their own blogs or by emailing me on the web site contact page ( I read every one, and I reply to every email. Feed back is my fuel 🙂

Marketing lessons to take away:

A new launch may be used to invigorate existing products.

Use existing successes to leverage new launches.

Know market trends and use them.

About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at

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