The Definitive Indie Author Gift List
It’s coming up to Christmas and we’re starting to write our gift lists. Are you struggling for inspiration? I’ve collated my favourite suggestions for indie specific gifts – not necessarily just for Christmas – and explained how they could work for you.
Gift a Book
A disclaimer: you’ll be pushed to get books printed by Christmas 2016 at this point, even if your files are completely ready ¬– printers can take over a month to print a complicated book during busy periods and they often close for the festive period well before Christmas. Regardless, these are still great perennial gift ideas.
A special edition of your book:
Whether or not you intend to have a print run for the main bulk of your books, you would need to use a print-on-demand printer to produce just one or two fancy copies; there’s a minimum print run with printers so for just a couple, it would need to be POD. Even with POD, there are ways to make a special edition stand out – namely, gold foil text on a hardback dust jacket. The shortest print run that you can arrange with most printers is fifty, so if you’re feeling flash then you could print a batch as special gifts for everyone you know, or as anniversary edition presents. If you’re looking for more significant cover embellishments, ribbon inserts and fanfare, it might be the best option.
A short spin-off book or a prequel:
This requires careful thought in terms of timings, print numbers and the most appropriate printing method. However, it is a proven way to drive sales of your backlist titles and works as a quirky gift that will (hopefully) lead to positive reviews. Most printers accept a minimum word count of 5000 words but this is a bit of a vagary – their limits are based on page extent, so if a text contains lots of images or the font is huge, fewer words are acceptable. Assuming it’s a novella-style book though, the 5000-word mark is worth bearing in mind as a general guide.
Other Gift Suggestions
This is not exactly easy, due to an ongoing lack of cohesion among retailers, along with potentially problematic (yet worthwhile) Digital Rights Management (DRM). There’s the age-old method of buying a gift card and hoping that people will redeem it against your eBook, but most of the biggest e-retailers allow options that are less of a gamble and are specific to your ebook.
Apple: Every ebook that is published through iTunes Connect comes with 250 downloadable individual codes that allow a recipient to log in to their iBooks account and paste their code; the ebook will automatically download onto their device. Codes expire twenty-eight days after download and they require an Apple device to work.
Amazon: Only available to be gifted between devices that are registered in America, this is an option for friends across the pond. To gift, log in to your Amazon account, go to the Amazon.com product page, click on the ‘Send as a gift’ button on the right, enter the email address that’s registered to their Amazon.com account – and a voucher to download your ebook will hit their inbox.
Nook: It works similarly on Nook. The complication is that Nook UK accounts have migrated, so anyone who held a UK account is no longer, technically, a Nook customer… Which makes this one most applicable to overseas recipients, too.
Google Play: As above, except that this is for Android, so ebooks must be gifted between Android devices.
Scribd: From $25 for three months, this is a unique way to share your ebook with others, while giving the gift of an ebook subscription service.
Other ‘novel’ gift ideas for fellow writers
- A book about the writing craft is always well received. My personal favourite is On Writing by Stephen King, but there are so many books on the subject.
- You could buy them an early bird ticket to the Self-publishing Conference 2017.
- Know any tech-mad authors? Why not sign them up for an online course on skills that will help them to self-publish?
- How about gifting an audiobook via Audible’s Send this Book feature?
- Give them a signed copy of your book ‘for inspiration’ (or to show off).
A self-publishing services package:
Lots of reputable companies offer to help authors produce and publish a high quality book in any format. You might like to shop around to see if someone like Matador, or another self-publishing company, could make your intended recipient’s self-publishing aspirations a reality. If you are unsure about where to start, arm yourself with a copy of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook as a starting point; they list companies that they recommend, alongside plenty of other useful information.
A handpicked standalone service from an expert:
Could you pay for them to have a cover designed (with their input) by a designer or illustrator, or through a website like 99Designs? Have you worked with a great editor, writing advice service or similar that you could refer them to? Perhaps, you know of a PR company that you think would benefit them and are willing to foot the cost – with their agreement. Or, if they’ve pretty much finished the self-publishing process, think about purchasing a book trailer for them or some marketing materials? Maybe you could help them to use these to arrange a book launch?
Whatever you choose to gift this festive season, hopefully this list will have inspired you and given you a few ideas that you can put into practice all year round.