Should You Write a Christmas-themed Book?

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Clearly, it’s much easier to make the decision to write a Christmas-themed blog post (a thousand or so words, a fairly small investment of writing time) but should you write an entire Christmas-themed book? Depending on the type of books you write, it could be another small (or at least smaller) investment of writing time (such as with children’s books) or it could be months or years of your life (such as with full-length novels).

As with all writing choices, there are pros and cons. The final decision (and the reasons behind it) for one person will be completely different to the final decision (and the reasons behind it) for another. So this decision needs to be the right decision for you.

Reasons to Do It
You have a story that makes no sense without the Christmas theme
The biggest and best reason to write a Christmas-themed story is that you have a Christmas-themed story rumbling around in your head that you just have to get down on paper, one that makes absolutely no sense if you try to take the Christmas theme out of it. Many of these stories will naturally revolve around families getting together and annoying each other in a way that only families can do. But there will need to be something more than that because everyone, even non-writers, have stories like that rumbling around in their heads from personal experience.

You know exactly when to release and market it
Trying to decide when to release a book can be a marketing nightmare. A lot of people are tempted to simply release it when it’s ready but doing that generally means you haven’t given enough thought to a marketing plan. But with a Christmas-themed book, the timing of the release and marketing is obvious. A late October to mid-November release gives you enough time to build up to your all-out marketing assault and by the time December comes around, the general Christmas buzz that happens every year will feel a little like it’s happening just for you.

It’s not an excuse to slack off though. You still have to think about how your Christmas-themed book is going to stand out from all the other Christmas-themed items and events jockeying for attention at this time of the year.

You can do a new marketing campaign each year at the same time
A Christmas-themed book can be the gift that keeps on giving for a writer because each year at the same time, you can do a new marketing campaign to remind people that even though it’s not a new book, it’s still a perfect read for that time of the year. Many books get forgotten after those heady first months of the initial release but with a Christmas-themed book, you have a legitimate reason to remind people year after year.

Reading a Christmas-themed book every year could become a Christmas tradition
If people enjoy reading the book, it could become one of their Christmas traditions to read it each year at this time of the year. Remaining front and centre in a reader’s mind is always a challenge for writers so if your old books can help that process, you’ll have an advantage for your future books over other authors who have faded into a little bit of obscurity.

Reasons Not to Do It
You could be trying to force it to be a Christmas story when it isn’t really one
There are some stories that can’t be told without a Christmas theme but there are just as many, probably more, that don’t need a Christmas theme at all. It’s important to consider which category your story falls into. Trying to force your story into a Christmas-themed book when it doesn’t need to be isn’t going to do you or your readers any favours. It’s going to be harder to write, harder to market and harder to find an audience for apart from a very specific time of the year.

Christmas stereotypes could make your book just one of millions
There are already an awful lot of Christmas-themed books out there and if yours doesn’t have something that sets it apart, it could simply get lost in the crowd. There are just as many Christmas stereotypes – snow, Santa, family dysfunction, turkey, eggnog, gifts – and while these things are worth celebrating, millions of books have done it all before. Christmas is celebrated in many different ways around the world – in Australia, hot weather and seafood are more common than snow and roast turkey; in Japan, KFC (yes, you read that right, Kentucky Fried Chicken) has emerged as a quirky tradition in recent times and there’s even a special Christmas menu) – so a little research into how others do it could be in order.

People might not want to read a Christmas book at non-Christmas times of the year
Writing a Christmas-themed book may limit its readership at other times of the year. You only have to listen to talk-back radio to hear people annoyed by hot cross buns in bakeries in January or Christmas decorations and paraphernalia when it goes on display too early (in their opinion). So the idea of reading a Christmas-themed book in May might just be too much for their compartmentalised lives and mindsets.

A good book is a good book at any time of the year but convincing readers that a Christmas-themed book can be read at any time other than Christmas is always going to be a challenge.

Releasing a Christmas book at any time other than Christmas doesn’t make sense
Part of what makes releasing a Christmas-themed book at Christmas time great is that the marketing is so much easier. Those who celebrate Christmas or who are in countries that celebrate Christmas expect to see Christmas products and you can leverage that. But trying to push a Christmas message at other times of the year can be like pushing a double-door refrigerator up the side of a hill – damn hard if not downright impossible. Christmas in July is a theme in some southern hemisphere countries (just because they want to take advantage of the snow and give people an experience of a northern hemisphere Christmas) but otherwise there aren’t any other exceptions.

So you have to ready to release at a very specific time of the year. And if you miss it, you’ll have to wait a full year for that time to come around again.

You could be alienating non-Christian audiences
Less than one-third of the world’s population identifies as Christian so writing a Christmas-themed book could alienate non-Christian audiences, who make up a significant portion of the reading world. There are many other religious and cultural celebrations that take place around the same time that Christmas does and there are far fewer books with these themes so it could be worth exploring the alternatives, including Hanukkah (Judaism), Rohatsu also known as Bodhi Day (Buddhism), the Solstice (winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere for Wiccans and Pagans) and Kwanzaa (a celebration of African heritage). There are also Muslim holidays, although because they are celebrated according to lunar calendars, they aren’t at the same time each year but they still happen on a rough yearly basis.

*****

Let’s just add this to the already very long list of things that make writing hard. But the choice is yours. And as long as you’ve considered all the pros and cons, you’ll be in a much better position to make the right one.

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