Are You Running with This?

Marketing is not a nasty word—and it is not just a secular construct. Marketing is simply telling people about your product, service, or book. Some might argue that Evangelism is marketing. It is marketing for God. Evangelism is telling people about what Jesus did on the cross for them—connecting people to God.

Seth Godin recently listed four steps of marketing on his blog. He said:

4 step marketing

  1. Invent something worthwhile.
  2. Design and build it so that people will benefit from care about it.
  3. Tell the story to the right people in the right way about it.
  4. Show up regularly, consistently and generously for years and years to organize and lead the change you seek to make.

It’s number four that often gets dropped by independently published authors. Showing up regularly, consistently, and generously day-in and day-out for years is hard. This takes perseverance.

It is difficult to persevere when we don’t see the results we expect. Maybe you feel that God called you to write and publish a book. Now, you have done that and are excited about the change it can make in people’s lives. Yet, few people notice or pay attention to you, your book, and your message.

What happens? You get discouraged and quit showing up. I see this over and over again with independently published authors. They give it a good go for about a year. When they don’t see the results they want or expect, they just stop showing up. They stop marketing their book.

Perseverence

Missionary Adoniram Judson felt called of God to take the Gospel message to the East. He ended up in Burma where he labored for six long, soul-crushing, heart-breaking years before he had his first convert to Christianity. After twelve years, he had 18 converts. Adoniram endured the death of his wife and three children during that time. Yet, he showed up day after day, year after year, doing the work that God called him to do.

Paul in Hebrews 12 tells us to “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Has God called you to write and publish something? If so, this is your race. Run it with perseverance. Show up day after day, year after year, even if only a few people hear your message. Those few people will be blessed for what you have given.

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Opening Doors for Authors

I like it when someone is polite enough to hold a door open for me. It means that I don’t have to fumble with a door, and I can just be ushered into the building I am entering.

Sometimes as authors we knock on doors to get people to open them. Other times we try to heft the door open ourselves. Sometimes we are successful and sometimes the door remains closed to us. Each door represents another path to receive more exposure and sales for our books.

holding-door-clipart-1

Are you tired of grappling with doors? A book award can help. Book awards open doors for authors.

This summer at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) I met a literary agent who wanted to know more about Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). As we talked, one of the things I shared with her was that CSPA is the sponsor of the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award.

This literary agent recognized the award. She told me that she has a client whose children’s book won this award a few years ago. She reported that she had been working with this particular client to secure a contract for a new line of children’s books with a large Christian publishing house. They had recently signed a deal.

I wondered aloud whether the book award had some influence in that decision. Her response was that a book award always shines favorable light on an author.

Whether you are looking to secure a contract with a traditional publishing house, or simply just want to sell more books, winning a book award helps open doors for you.

Of course, you can’t win a book award unless you enter a contest. The number of book award contests grows each year. There are plenty to choose from, including the list of Christian book awards you can find at www.christianbookaward.com. Allotting some of your marketing dollars for book award entry fees is a smart idea.

The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award is currently open for nominations for the 2017 Book of the Year. The award is granted in 14 categories. If you are a small publisher or an independently published author with a book that promotes the Christian faith, you can nominate your book for the award.

To read the complete nomination eligibility and guidelines and to nominate your book, simply visit the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award website at www.bookoftheyear.net.

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How to Sell More Books

I have never met an author who did not want to sell more books.

I recently presented at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference where I spoke with many authors. One author I spoke with told me that she had been published by a traditional publisher, but then, she decided to self-publish a book.

sell-more

This author told me that the first book she published did not sell well because she did nothing to promote it. When she published her second book, she decided to get serious about promoting and marketing the book. Much to her surprise, as she promoted her second book, she not only sold copies of that book, but sales for her first book began to pick up.

Zig Ziglar said, “If people trust you, they will do business with you.” That is what you develop with a book: Trust with your audience. If you get your readers to trust you with one book, they will read your other books as well. Repeat customers are your best business. Get a reader hooked, and they will buy all your books.

For this technique to work best, you must publish your books under a brand. Publishing multiple books on widely disparate topics won’t help you sell more books.

The author whose second book helped sell more of her first book wrote books geared toward women. The first book was about healing from brokenness and the second book was about forgiveness. Both these books have the same audience—women—and they build on each other. A broken woman needs to forgive those that contributed to her brokenness.

You, too, can use this technique to sell more books. Simply publish more books. If you have written a book for children, write another one. If you published a young adult novel, write another one. If you wrote a book on parenting, write another one on another aspect of parenting. If you published a devotional, publish another one.

Build trust with your audience. One book can easily build trust, but if you don’t have another book for your audience to purchase, you lose out. After all, 80% of most business will come from your repeat customers—people who have come to know and trust you and what you offer.

You can sell more books. One usually surefire technique is to publish more books and promote them!

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Do You Struggle with This?

He sneaks up on you and whispers in your ear:

  • You don’t have anything worthwhile to say.
  • You aren’t good enough.
  • Others are more qualified than you.
  • You can’t make a difference.
  • Nobody will buy your book.

Doubt

His name is Doubt. His agenda is to keep you from doing what God has called you to do.

The antidote: Faith.

When God calls you to act on his behalf, he will equip you to carry out the mission. When God calls you to act on his behalf, he does not call you to do something that is comfortable. He calls you out of your comfort zone so that you have to rely on Him and his strength, and your faith grows.

If God is calling you or has called you to write and publish a book, then:

  • You do have something worthwhile to say.
  • You are good enough.
  • You are the one most qualified to say what God wants said.
  • You can make a difference.
  • If you do the work, God will bring those who need to hear your message to your book.

Have faith. Trust that God is guiding you to proclaim His message as only you can do. Proverbs 3 tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths.”

Your path is unique. It is yours alone and no one else has the same path as you. Not everyone responds to the same message in the same way. That is why we need many voices proclaiming truth to draw as many people as possible into a closer relationship with God.

Psalm 37 tell us that “The steps of a good man are order by the Lord, and he delights in his way.” Your job is to follow God and bring glory to his name. You do that by writing, publishing, and promoting your book with quality. Trust God and banish doubt.

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A Call to Action with Consequences

The other week, the small group Bible Study I belong to was studying the parable of the Wise and Foolish Men found in Matthew 7. In the parable, the wise man built his house on a rock foundation and it withstood the storm. The foolish man built his house on the sand and so his house fell when the storm came.

house-on-rock

One of the questions that the study guide asked was “Why do you think Jesus told this parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount?”

The Sermon on the Mount is full of great teaching by Jesus. In it Jesus gives his audience many pointers like don’t be anxious about your life, don’t hide your light under a bushel, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Then he ends his sermon with the parable of the wise and foolish men’s houses.

Jesus starts the parable with “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like…” It struck me that Jesus ended his sermon with a call to action. He told his listeners the benefit of doing the things he has told them to do—and the consequences if they didn’t do these things.

As an author or publisher promoting and marketing a book, you can take a lesson from Jesus. Good book promotion includes telling your audience what your book will do for them. It tells them what need it will meet in their lives. You can follow Jesus’ example by following this up with a call to action.

Your call to action can be like Jesus’:

Purchase this book to get (insert your book’s promise here).

You can even take it one step further and like Jesus tell people the negative consequences of NOT buying the book:

Purchase this book to get (insert your book’s promise here), or continue to (insert the negative aspect of not doing what your book says).

For example, a book on how to become debt free might include the call to action with the consequence of not following it of:

Purchase this book to receive freedom from the slavery of debt, or don’t and continue to allow debt to squeeze the joy out of your life.

Either way, once you are done with your sales pitch, be sure to include a call to action for your audience. They need to know what you want them to do with the information you have given them. Reminding them of the consequences of both acting and not acting helps to push your listener into action.

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