Selling Books is Challenging!

Industry statistics show that, while print book sales have been slowly growing over the past few years (about 2% to 3% per year), sales of fiction books have declined. According to 2017 estimates by the Association of American Publishers, sales of adult fiction fell 16% between 2013 and 2017.

Selling books is challenging. On any given day, more nonfiction than fiction books are sold in the United States. While there are numerous best-selling novels, year after year Americans still buy more nonfiction books than fiction. In fact, one recent report reveals that, in the United Kingdom, nonfiction outsells fiction by a two to one margin.

Why this decline in sales?

The most commonly shared view is that reading for pleasure is declining and it has become extremely difficult to generate exposure for novels.

As fiction sales decline, so do the vehicles that authors have available at their disposal to promote their books. Over the fifteen years that I have been involved in the Christian book industry, the number and breadth of vehicles that authors can use to reach readers has steadily declined.

The latest vehicle to fall by the wayside is Book Fun Magazine. Citing a drop in readership as well as a drop in revenue, Book Fun Magazine recently announced that their final issue will be released in December 2018.

With fewer avenues available for marketing and advertising both fiction and nonfiction books, authors need to become more creative at reaching readers directly.

1. Developing Your Audience Is More Important than Ever

Instead of relying on publications and other historically industry-standard venues to reach readers, authors now have to become more creative in their marketing efforts. Knowing your target audience and where they hang out and get their information has become more important than ever. More and more authors need to engage their target audience through avenues like professional organizations, online interest groups, church leaders, partnering with parachurch organizations, and speaking engagements.

Targeting your audience effectively is not enough. It takes seven to twelve exposures to a product before a consumer decides to make a purchase. Your goal in developing an audience is to offer a free lead magnet to hook your target audience into giving you their email. Then, you develop this audience by building trust with these people through providing them ongoing content that meets a need they have and enriches their lives in some way.

2. Format for Quick Reading Is Becoming More Important

We now create more data in one year than in the 5,000 that came before. Information overload is present in almost every area of our life. Numerous studies reveal that people’s attention spans are getting shorter. Long-form reading is on the decline.

People no longer want to read dense passages of prose. Instead, we want the facts and we want them in an easily digestible format. Authors need to make it easy for readers to consume the next line and keep going. This means that the interior layout of books is becoming more and more important in attracting and keeping readers.

In essence, authors need to make their words as visually appealing as possible. This means using more space and separators in your chapters. For nonfiction books, include bolding, italics, underlining, and pull quotes to attract the eye. In fiction books, keep your chapters shorter with cliff-hanging hooks at the end of each one.

As times change, are ways of doing things also need to change so that our books remain relevant. Selling books is not an easy task. The growing number of distractions in our society that pull people away from long-form reading is only going to continue.

Related Posts:
Selling Books in an Overcrowded Market
Selling Books in Nontraditional Places
Three Tips for Selling Books to Millennials

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of PatheMathos.

Embellishments Help Create an Emotional Connection

As humans, we crave connection. We want to feel connected to our family members, our friends, our community, and God. This sense of connection meets our need for belonging.

Authors can use humanity’s innate need for connection to enhance your marketing efforts. You can use stories and information to help your readers feel a connection with you. You can also use adornments to create a sense of connection and anticipation.

Not too long ago, I ordered a book. The book was mailed to me. It came in an envelope. What caught my eye was the sticker on the back of the envelope. It was an oval gold sticker that helped “seal” the envelope shut. The sticker simply read ENJOY.

This caught my attention. It also served to increase my anticipation of reading the book. A simple sticker embellishing an envelope created a stronger connection to the book for me.

We are emotional creatures. Simple adornments strategically placed can heighten our emotions.

Consider how you might be able to use a similar strategy with your books to increase readers’ connection to you and your books. The ideas are endless. Let your creative juices flow.

Maybe you can use a similar sticker when you send out copies of your book. Maybe you can add a sticker to your book’s cover that creates an emotional response. Even a “Signed by the Author” sticker can help create an emotional connection for readers.

You can find some great sticker ideas on Zazzle or Demco.

Related Posts:
How to Bring Attention to Your Book
Is Your Book Cover Too Cluttered?
What’s Your Marketing Shtick?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

10 Daily Book Marketing Activities for 2019

It’s the time of year people start to think about New Year’s Resolutions. Even if you don’t make New Year’s resolutions, the end of a year is a great time to reflect on what you have done the previous year and what you want to improve on in the coming year.

For authors and publishers, reflecting on what you have accomplished in writing, publishing, and marketing is important. Now is the time to start setting goals in these areas are for 2019.

If marketing is an area that you have found yourself becoming lax in, then resolve to do better in 2019. To build an audience for your books, strive to engage in marketing activities on a daily basis. A constant drip of marketing activities will add up, much like a dripping faucet eventually fills the sink.

Following are 10 book marketing activities that you can do every day.

Don’t be intimated or overwhelmed with the idea of marketing. Strive to do a little each day.

If you want to improve your marketing efforts, I encourage you to join Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). CSPA provides our Member authors and publishers a number of resources to help them be more successful in marketing. Our newest offerings are CSPA Reference Guides which include the following:

  • Book Launch Marketing Checklist
  • List of Radio and Podcast Media
  • CSPA Guide: Author Media Kit
  • CSPA Guide: Media Pitches
  • CSPA Guide: Media Interviews
  • CSPA Guide: Bookstore Events

You can join Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) today for the 2019 calendar year. You will receive access to these great resources and many more. Membership through December 2019 is just $90. Join today on CSPA’s website.

Marketing is any activity that brings attention to your books. Marketing activities focus on creating, keeping, and satisfying customers. You must engage in marketing activities to spread the word about your book so that people will know it exists. After all, people cannot buy something they don’t know exists.

Related Posts:
5 New Year’s Resolutions for Every Author
Five Christian Book Publishing Trends for 2019
Are You Marketing Effectively

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

5 Affordable Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

It’s the season of giving. As an author or publisher, you know a lot of book lovers (at least I hope you do). To help you with Christmas gift ideas this year, I have collected five affordable, yet unique, ideas for gifts you can give the bibliophiles in your life.

1. Book Magic Book Clip and Stand

This book clip and stand is a great gift for those who love to read while they eat. It holds a book or magazine upright and open. It is also small, lightweight, and portable—it will easily fit into a purse.

2. Over Tub Caddy

If the book lover in your life prefers to read in the bathtub, then this bathtub caddy is the gift for her. The book holder in the caddy is adjustable and great for keeping books dry.

3. Mighty Bright Book Lamp

This is the perfect gift for those who enjoying reading in bed at night. This clip-on book lamp sports a rechargeable battery with a life of up to 60 hours. The lamp lets you read all night if you want!

4. Knock Knock Personal Library Kit

For a bibliophile, there is pleasure in sharing beloved books, but also pain in losing from for good. This personal library kit helps ensure that books that are loaned are returned.

5. Lit Chat: Conversation Starters about Books and Life

This 50-card conversation deck is perfect as an icebreaker or a conversation starter at any party. The cards give readers of all persuasions an excuse to talk about books, ideas, and life itself.

If you have another unique gift idea for book lovers, please share it in the comments section!

Related Posts:
Four Gift Ideas for Authors
Market Your Book as a Gift
Create Book Bundles for Gifting

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Are You Paying Attention to Details?

“The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.” ~Charles R. Swindoll

Attention to detail is important. Some people are better at details than others. Yet, Charles Swindoll nails it with this statement. If you want to have a great book, you must pay attention to the details.

I find that many independent authors don’t pay enough attention to details. Over the past few months, numerous books published by independent authors have poured into Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) office as nominations for the Christian Indie Awards were made.

What has caught my eye repeatedly, is the number of books whose back covers do not look industry standard. The front covers are generally well designed, but the design and informational elements on the back cover are lacking.

Now, I know that over half of all books are purchased online. I understand that when browsing online people do not pull a book off the shelf and look at the back cover—which, by the way, is one of the first few things a reader looks at when viewing a physical copy of a book. But, as an author, you will still have times where you are showcasing your book in person. Therefore, it is extremely important that attention to detail is given to both the front and back covers of your book.

A number of independently published books nominated for the Christian Indie Awards show up with just a few paragraphs of text on the back cover of the book along with an EAN barcode. Yes, this is acceptable, but it is a minimalist approach and does not mirror industry standard for books.

The failure of these authors to pay attention to details has resulted in their books lacking four important back cover design elements.

1. Sales Copy Designed to Attract the Eye

Simply having blocks of text on the back of a book is not good sales copy. People skim back covers instead of reading them. With no text or quotes that are designed to stand out or attract the eye, your book is less likely to sell itself.

2. Testimonial or Endorsement Quote

Books that lack testimonial or endorsements quotes on their back cover also fail to sell a reader on the book with one of the most powerful selling techniques—social proof. Social proof is simply the positive influence that is created when people find out that others are doing something or finding something worthwhile.

3. About the Author

While an “About the Author” is not necessary on the back cover of a book, it is another industry standard and helps sell a book.

4. BISAC Subject Headings

BISAC Subject Headings are put out by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). These headings are industry standard for informing industry professionals (booksellers, librarians, distributors, etc.) and readers what category your book falls into. In other words, no one needs to wonder whether your story is fiction or nonfiction. The subject headings tell them. Industry standard books tote a BISAC Subject Heading on their back covers.

If you want a great book, you must pay attention to details. You don’t want someone to walk away from your book because they couldn’t get what it is about at a glance.

If you are unsure about what details you need to pay attention to, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has help for you. Our Members have access to the on-demand seminar, Create a Professional-Looking Book, as well as a downloadable Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book that includes everything you should include on your book’s front and back cover. Remember, your attention to detail will make the difference between your book being good or great.

Related Posts:
5 Common Indie Publishing Errors
Is Your Book Cover Too Cluttered?
The Importance of a Cover

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of marcomagrini.