Are You Prepared for Lightning?

Lightning is dangerous. One estimate is that 24,000 people are killed by lightning strikes around the world each year and about 240,000 more are injured.

Are you prepared for a lightning strike in your life?

Lightning

Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) office was recently a victim of a lightning strike. The lightning did not strike the building directly, but somewhere just outside. It came into CSPA’s office via the DSL Internet line.

Everything connected to the DSL line was fried—a modem, a fax machine, a printer, and a computer. All were wiped out in a blink of the eye.

Having written an article on the importance of keeping your data secure for the CSPA Circular, Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) monthly newsletter for members, I knew the importance of backing up data on a regular basis. The article included a number of resources for free or cost-effective backup and storage of data that CSPA members could utilize. Fortunately, I had followed my own advice and the most important data on the obliterated computer was safely backed up and stored.

Keeping your data secure is important. No one wants to lose a manuscript. No one wants to lose the press-ready files for a book they are publishing. No one wants to lose the data on their website. No one wants to lose precious research data stored for marketing purposes.

Because I had backed up and stored important data, I was able to meet a number of impending deadlines despite the inconvenience of having to purchase and set up all new equipment. One deadline was for the upcoming Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference where I will be presenting a workshop. The organizer of the conference told me that she needed to take my warning to heart and improve her own backup procedures.

Don’t get caught unprepared. If you are struck by lightning, a flood, a fire, a theft, a crashed computer, or any other catastrophe, be prepared. Backup your data regularly and securely.

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Are You Making this Connection?

My husband plays the bass. He recently got a better, upgraded instrument and decided he would sell his older one. A friend just happened to be looking for an affordable bass for his son to learn on. My husband, sensing a sales opportunity pounced.

Bass Guitar

He dropped his bass off at the friend’s house and told him to try it out. His plan was to return in a few days to either collect his bass or the money for the sale. That, my friends, is smart marketing.

You see, my husband understands a concept that many authors fail to grasp: connection. The more connected a person becomes to a product, the more likely they will buy it.

After playing with the bass for a few days, my husband’s friend and his son are not going to want to give it back. They will want to keep the bass as they will have become engaged with and connected to the instrument.

The same principle applies to books.

At the recent International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), the largest gathering the industry has of Christian product buyers, there are many books on display. Publishers and authors are trying to get the attendees to get interested in and purchase their books and other products.

My teenage son accompanied me to ICRS this year. He stopped at a booth that had a line of Christian graphic novels. I asked him about these graphic novels. My son told me that he did not know much about them. I wondered why—after all, he had spent time at the booth and talked with the creator of the graphic novels.

My son informed me that the author had simply stood and told him about the books. He had not offered to allow my son to look through one of the graphic novels. That is like telling a kid about a cool toy. The kid doesn’t quite grasp the concept and thus has little interest. But, give the kid the toy to try out and you have an excited child who wants one.

This author had missed an important marketing opportunity: connection. Yes, the author had tried to make a connection with my son, but he had failed to connect my son to the books. Had this author handed my son a book to look through, he would have created a connection and garnered interest, and possibly even a sale.

How can you get people more connected to your books? Try these two easy ways:

  1. Always carry a copy of your book with you. When you are telling people about your book, pull it out and let them hold it and thumb through it. Create a connection to the physical book.
  2. Offer a sample of your book in the digital realm. Allow potential readers to read a couple chapters of your book to get them engaged and connected.

Remember making a connection increases the chances you will make a sale. The best connection is where the reader not only connects with you, the author, but also with the book itself.

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Finding Connections and Opportunities

If you have published or are thinking about publishing a Christian book, I encourage you to attend at least one trade show that the book industry hosts. These venues present wonderful opportunities to learn about the book industry and understand what is important in promoting and marketing a book, as well as provide you with a number of new opportunities.

Below are testimonials from two members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA)—one an independently published author and the other a small publisher—who attended ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) with us this summer in Cincinnati. Hear what they have to say about their experience at the show, then consider how attending a trade show might help you in marketing and promoting your book(s).

If you are not yet a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I encourage you to join. One of the benefits of membership in CSPA is that we offer a cost-effective way to attend industry trade shows like ICRS. CSPA is offering a summer membership special of $120 for membership through December 2017—that’s 18 months of membership for less than $7 per month. Join today on CSPA’s website!

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ICRS 2016 Recap

The president of ABA (American Booksellers Association) recently had this to say about BEA (Book Expo America):

Newly returned from BookExpo America, I was struck by a couple of things: one that was great, one worrying. The first is the growing emphasis on the relationship between independent booksellers and publishers—a terrific thing from our perspective. The second, something that worries me, is that what has always set BEA apart—the books themselves—seems to have a diminishing presence on the trade show floor.

Having just returned from ICRS (International Christian Retail Show), the Christian marketplace equivalent to BEA, I have to say that this shift is being mirrored at ICRS. This year, very few of the major Christian publishing houses sponsored authors book signing and speakers at ICRS. Most of these were done by small presses and self-publishing houses. Few of the larger publishing houses were even giving away books as they have done in the past. As a result, the smaller presses ended up getting more interaction time with retailers at the show. In the past retailers time was often consumed with book signings from authors of major publishing houses.

The reality is that only about 20% of a bookstore’s space is devoted to books. Research shows that 80% of the floor space of most bookstores is now focused on other products. Additionally, only 17% of Christian products are actually sold through brick-and-mortar Christian bookstores.

In essence, as the sales through brick-and-mortar stores shrink, publishers will naturally put less of their marketing dollars into this channel and more into the places where consumers are buying books. This shift is simply reflected at ICRS—the largest gathering of Christian retailers for the Christian market in the United States.

I believe there is still value in attending ICRS. It is a great place to learn, make connections, and network. Many of the authors and publishers attending ICRS with Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) report that the money spent to attend the show was well worth their time. The contacts, connections, and opportunities that came their way at the show will broaden their reach and exposure for their books.

CSPA’s booth at the show was busy. Watch the video featuring pictures of our booth and author book signings at the show below:

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Let Go and Let God

I answered my phone and listened to my daughter sob. After she calmed down, she told me that she had just fallen down a flight of stairs and thought that her leg might be broken.

The call came just hours before I was to leave for the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) where Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has a booth each year and represents our members’ books and products at this trade show. My teenage daughter was over 250 miles away at a summer college program for rising high school seniors.

letting-go-open-hands

My mother instinct wanted to jump into my car and immediately drive to my daughter’s side. I couldn’t due to my ICRS commitment. All I could do was make sure my daughter was in good hands, and then turn the situation over to God and trust that he would fill in the gaps.

Letting go is hard. I believe the timing of this accident no coincidence. God wanted me to become better at letting go and allowing him to handle that which I am not capable of doing. Yes, my presence would be a comfort to my daughter, but the purpose of the program she is in is to help her be more independent and ready for college. As for the broken leg, there was nothing I could do for that. Such injuries require doctors.

If you are like me, you might also have a hard time letting go. I tend to take matters into my own hands and use my grit to “make things happen”, especially when it comes to promoting and marketing a book. But the truth is there is only so much that I can do in my own strength. The rest is up to God.

I can put the information about my message and my book in front of people. I can’t make them notice this information. I can’t make them pay attention to the information. And, I certainly can’t make them buy my book. I have no control over these things. I must let go and let God.

I recently heard a Christian author say, “God gives you your platform and he can take it away.” That is so true. I have to remind myself that God alone is the one that takes my message and uses it to help others. My job is to simply show up, be present, and give the message God has given me. God must do the rest.

What about you? Are you trying to control too much? Are you anxious and stressed about marketing and selling your books? I encourage you to turn it over to God. He alone “builds the house” (Psalm 127:1). Let go and let God.

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