The Important Question

When I learn about new products and services that may be useful to small publishers and authors, I write about them here on this blog. After all, one of the purposes for this blog is to provide information to help you be more successful at publishing and promoting your books.

question

I only write about those products and services that I feel have value for publishers and authors. I believe that writing about any product or service on this blog is an endorsement for a company. As a result, I do not write about something just because someone asks me to. Information presented on this blog is meant to add value to your work.

The other day, I was approached by a start-up company that is offering a service in regards to digital books. The person at this company sent me an email about their new service and suggested that I write about them on my blog.

My first thought was “Why should I write about you?” The company wanted me to write about them so they could get some free publicity. But, why should I write about them?
In other words, other than material for my blog, “What is in it for me?” The company did not offer me a special that I could pass onto you, the blog reader, nor did they offer me a free “try” of their service to see if it was worth my time to blog about. In other words, they did not offer anything in return for their request that I write a blog about them.

The reason I am blogging about this little encounter is because I believe it holds an important lesson for small publishers and authors. Here it is:

When asking someone to do you a favor—review your book, interview you on a blog, write an endorsement—be sure that you offer that person something in return.

Often, the only thing you may be offering is a free copy of your book or publicity for that person giving you the service. Just be sure to let the person know what they will receive in exchange for honoring your request. In other words, tell them what is in it for them.

After checking out the services of the company that requested I write a blog about them, I felt that they were not offering anything new that was not already easily accessible to publishers and authors other places. And, since they were not offering a special discount, I did not see the value in writing about them at this time. Who knows, maybe in the future, they might be worth a mention.

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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