My Simple Marketing Test

Marketing a book is hard work. As the author of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace and the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I get inquiries from authors quite regularly on marketing.

Pass Fail

Many of these authors will report that, in spite of their marketing efforts, their books are not selling well. I can tell with one little test whether any one of these given authors is really expending effort in marketing his book or not. I am going to share this little test with you. This way, you can conduct the test on your own book and see how well you are doing in the marketing department.

Here it is:

Head on over to a search engine—either Bing or Google—type in the name of your book and hit “search.” Watch for the results.

If your search, based on the title of your book, does not contain at least two full pages of results, then I can say with certainty that you are not expending enough energy marketing your book.

That’s my simple marketing test. If you are interested in a longer marketing test, check out the quiz on my book’s website by clicking here.

Some of you may be asking, how does that really tell about my marketing efforts? Search engines show how many places a book is listed or mentioned around the Internet. In today’s economy, with over 50% of all books purchased online, if your book is not found on multiple websites, it is clear that you are not even taking advantage of the many free marketing opportunities on the Internet.

If you are one of those authors who only gets a handful of search engine results when you plug in the name of your book, then I suggest that you start increasing your marketing efforts. You can start by listing your books in the numerous free online directories. Here are three to get you started:

There are many, many more free and low-cost things you can do on the Internet to market your book. Start by adding your book to these three free directories, and then make yourself a goal to do at least one or two online marketing efforts for your book every day. You will reap some results.

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Free Publicity

In my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, I state that following marketing principle:

The more channels through which consumers can purchase your books, the more books you will sell.

The first reason is that we, as Americans, want and have become accustomed to instant gratification. If we are looking for a particular product, we expect to be able to easily obtain it. Often, if we can’t, some other product grabs our attention and we purchase that product instead.

The second reason is that the more places your book is available for purchase the more exposure it receives. People only buy products that they are exposed to.

A few months ago, I let CSPA member publishers know about an online Christian retail store, DeeperShopping Christian Books, Bibles & Church Supplies, which was willing to sell their books. Not only was this store willing to sell books by small publishers, it was also offering some free publicity to go along with carrying the books.

I was surprised to recently hear from Bill Goodyear (my contact at the store) that he only had a handful of publishers contact him to get their books listed in the store.

What that equates to is publishers passing up a marketing opportunity—and a free one at that.

My motto is “never pass up a free publicity opportunity.”

If your books aren’t selling as well as you would like, I suggest you take a fresh look at your marketing efforts. Are you passing up free marketing opportunities?

Every month, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) prints at least three free publicity opportunities for publishers in our monthly newsletter the CSPA Circular. If you are a member of CSPA, make sure you are taking full advantage of these opportunities.

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Too Good to Be True?

I am frequently amazed at authors and publishers that do not take advantage of free venues to promote and market their books. Most of these opportunities take little time and provide additional exposure for a book.

One free channel for promoting books is Facebook. Facebook allows anyone to create a free business page on their website. Yet, many small publishers are not taking advantage of this free marketing opportunity.

If you fall into the camp of those who are not using Facebook, you may be thinking, “Facebook is over-rated. The hassle of creating and maintaining a Facebook page is greater than the return.”

Think again.

The average Facebook user becomes a fan of two pages every month. Facebook pages are popular and effective for reaching a crowd of people with your product and message.

Did you know that Facebook has a Facebook page? Yep. Facebook’s page has 44,142,917 fans.

YouTube uses Facebook to promote its website. Youtube has a Facebook page with 37,460,390 fans.

The second-largest and the third-largest online social networking sites use Facebook to promote their services. Both LinkedIn and MySpace have Facebook pages promoting their social media sites.

Sound crazy? It’s not. These companies recognize that Facebook is the number one social networking site and that using Facebook is an effective way to reach a large number of people without paying a lot of money. It’s not too good to be true; it’s just true.

How about you? Are you taking advantage of the powerful marketing opportunity that Facebook offers you for free?

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One Million Free Books: A Great Publicity Stunt

In 2005, Joyce Schneider published a paperback book, Chili and Chocolate Cake, with Tate Publishing. The book is available for $15.95 on Amazon.com and has garnered 30 reviews on the site.

Now Joyce is giving away free copies of her book (in ebook format) from her website. This author wants to give away one million copies of her book.

Why one million? Because offering one million free books leads to publicity. Simply offering an ebook for free only grabs a little media attention while offering one million ebooks for free gets a lot of media attention.

Beyond publicity, what does giving away one million copies of the ebook version of her book do for Joyce?

I think it accomplishes three great things:

1. It introduces a large number of Christians to her speaking services.

Joyce is not just an author, she is an author with a speaking platform. Giving away her ebook allows Joyce to introduce her message and speaking services to a wide audience. Chances are she will be able to increase her speaking engagements as a result of this. Some of the people who download her ebook and read it will be influencers in their churches. When her message resonates with them, they will want to have Joyce come speak to women in their church.

2. It allows Joyce to aggregate a large mailing list of readers interested in Christian books.

In order to download the free ebook on Joyce’s website, readers must supply an email address. Through collecting all these email addresses, Joyce will have a large email list to use in promoting her next book and her speaking services.

3. It provides a healing ministry to many people.

Joyce is clear on her website that she had an abortion in 1985 and that the trauma of this event followed her for many years, keeping her from fully enjoying her life. It was only through God’s grace and forgiveness that she was able to move beyond the shadow of this event to fully embrace healing and the blessings God has bestowed upon her. Thousands of women (and men) need to hear her testimony and experience God’s forgiveness and grace in this area of their lives. In offering her ebook for free, Joyce is ministering to many hurting souls and offering her talent to God for his use.

This author is maximizing the use of her free ebook to promote herself, her book, and her speaking services. Christian authors should take note of her ploy and consider how you can launch your own book promotion to maximize your marketing and ministry efforts.


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Much Ado About Twitter

The growth of Twitter is phenomenal. While only five percent of Americans are currently using Twitter, the monthly growth is staggering. In January of this year, Twitter had 4.5 million unique visitors. In February that number grew to 7 million unique visitors. That is 50 percent growth in one month.

Twitter is hot right now. I don’t think there have ever been so many websites supplying applications for or information about any other social networking site. Here are just a few of them:

· www.tweetlater.com – lets you schedule tweets ahead of time

· www.twitterbuttons – neat “follow me on Twitter” buttons like the one on this blog

· www.twitterfriends.com – provides all sorts of stats about your Twitter account

· www.twibs.com – a directory of businesses on Twitter

· www.twitpic.com – lets you share photos on Twitter

· http://useqwitter.com – this application emails you when someone stops following you

· http://tweetwasters.com – this tool tells you how much time you are spending on Twitter

· http://search.twitter.com – this is a search engine just for Twitter

There is no doubt about it; Twitter is a major contender in the social networking world. It is one of the most effective tools for spreading word on the Internet about a new product or service, or a breaking news event.

And that is just what Twitter is; a social networking tool. As with any social networking tool, its effectiveness lies in how one uses it.

If you are an author and you want to or are already using social networking to increase your connections, here are a few things I have learned.

1. Social networking takes time. Having just gotten onboard with social networking this year, I can tell you that you have to put time into it to get something out of it. Since I started social networking, I have found myself more often saying, “Where has my day gone?” — and I am only spending about an hour a day on it.

2. Social networking is about connection. Connecting with people involves listening to and caring about them and adding value to their life. If you are into social networking for what you can get out of it, you won’t reap much. It’s part of that “give and it will be given” principle.

3. Be selective. I know that this goes against the current trend in social networking and especially Twitter. Many people are all about following and getting as many followers as possible. However, if you are using social networking to enlarge your circle and increase your connections to grow reading fans, then stay focused on your target audience while expanding your connections and circle of influence. The truth is we can only genuinely connect with a limited number of people.

When it comes to promoting yourself and your books on the Internet, making yourself visible is important. Christian authors who use Twitter now have another tool to collect followers and gain more visibility. ChristianBookVideos.com has created a directory (called CrossTweet) of Christian authors using Twitter. This directory is listed on their website to help Christian book fans find the authors they read so they can follow them on Twitter. If you are a published Christian author who is active on Twitter and would like to be listed in this directory, send a Tweet to @ChristnBookVids and tell them which genre you want to be listed under. The directory of Christian authors on Twitter can be found at www.christianbookvideos.com/browse/crosstweet.

See you on the CrossTweet Directory!