While the “gift book” isn’t exactly a genre, we all pretty much know what a gift book is—at least by sight, if not definition. The gift book pops up in the holiday season generally, often at specialty stores and boutiques. It’s a book you buy because you know it’ll interest the receiver, but there’s a good chance they don’t already have it. It might be a luxury item, something that’s not a necessity, but feels right. It’s that feeling of “I’d never buy it for myself, but, gosh, I’d like to have it.”
Sure, the gift book is an amorphous thing, but when it’s right, it satisfies a very specific need and can generate good sales. If you’re looking to make a book people will buy to stuff stockings or put under trees, here are some things to consider:
A gift book has a unique approach, a concept that can elicit a chuckle or a sense of, “I never thought of that.” For instance, The Super Villain’s Handbook, a book that will teach you how to take over the world. Or, perhaps, The Shakespeare Insult Generator, for the snarky Shakespearean on your list. There are a ton of books about dogs out there—to break out of the pack, think of an approach no one else has.
While visual design is important for any book, gift books particularly have to leap off the shelves by making an impact with their unique look. Sometimes it’s a particularly sumptuous, luxurious look. Other times, it’s something kookier. But the look needs to target the potential recipient and reflect the good taste of the giver.
Think about the right price for the type of book. A book like Dads are the Original Hipsters ($12.95) needs to be relatively inexpensive. But a book like The Essence of Wine ($75) can demand a higher price. One’s a humorous stocking stuffer, and one’s a big gift.
So, how do you actually get your self-published gift book out there, into carts, and under Christmas trees? If you’re selling your book online, say through Amazon.com or some other ecommerce platform, make sure your metadata is up to snuff. While we’ve posted a pretty good article on that already, you might want to use terms like “gift book” in conjunction with the main subject (i.e., “wine gift book”). If your page is well optimized, there’s a chance you’ll come up for those all-important gift searches. You can also try approaching editors at websites or newspapers that routinely put together gift guides. While some sites do charge for inclusion, others may be looking for unique offerings like yours.
Local bookstores and boutiques may also be interested in carrying your book. Keep in mind that it’s getting to be a busy season for merchants, so being very targeted and showing that you understand their business is key. You might need to drop off a copy of your book, along with a proposal letter. There are also local craft fairs where you can ply your wares.
Put together the right combination of the above and your book could end up the gift that keeps on giving—to them, and to you.