Five Trends Authors Should Know for 2018

A new year is right around the corner. We live in an age of unprecedented technological advances. Yet, as authors and publishers, we are still people of the printed word.

Each year, it gets harder to attract attention for any given book. The number of books produced each year is growing faster than the population rate is growing—while the average time spent reading daily is decreasing.

Marketing is essential to engage readers’ attention for your books. To keep your book marketing activities effective and relevant, you should be aware of these five important trends as we move into 2018.

1. Independent publishing will continue to grow.

According to Bowker, the agency that assigns ISBN numbers, self-publishing has grown tremendously over the past seven years. While the growth has recently slowed, the numbers of books published each year by independent authors will continue to grow.

According to Bowker, the number of books that were self-published (including small presses publishing fewer than 10 titles per year) grew 30 percent between 2013 and 2014. From 2014 to 2015, the number grew again by 21 percent, and then from 2015 to 2016, the growth of self-published titles grew by 8 percent.

While the number of titles published each year continues to grow, the reading rate in America has held steady since 2012. This means that the competition for readers’ attention, time, and money gets fiercer each year.

2. Amazon will continue to streamline operations for book publishing.

Amazon owns CreateSpace, the number one self-publishing platform on the Internet. Authors publishing on CreateSpace automatically have their books placed for sale in Amazon and in the CreateSpace store. However, in October of this year, Amazon shut down the CreateSpace store and the company is now directing all sales of CreateSpace books through Amazon directly.

Earlier this year, Amazon began rolling out KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) print option. Now anyone publishing an ebook via KDP can also request the book be made available in print format through Amazon without having to use CreateSpace. I believe that Amazon will continue to streamline operations for book publishing and that eventually all self-publishing for Amazon will go directly through KDP.

3. Online purchasing will outstrip brick-and-mortar purchasing.

An October survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation found that nearly 59 percent of 7,350 consumers surveyed said they plan to do their holiday shopping online this year, up from 56.5 percent last year. This makes the first time in the survey’s history that online shopping topped brick-and-mortar as the preferred holiday shopping destination.

Online sales for books have exceeded brick-and-mortar stores for a number of years (since about 2012 after Borders closed). The majority of books are already purchased via the Internet. As the number of books purchased online has steadily risen, so the number of brick-and-mortar bookstores has steadily declined in the United States. Book sales tracking companies report that 70% of all book sales are now online (including print, ebook, and audiobook).

Your books should be available in multiple online outlets. While Amazon captures about 42% of all print book sales, books are still being purchased at other online bookstores. To capture the most sales, your books must be available in multiple outlets.

4. Mobile Internet access will continue to increase.

Two-thirds of the world’s population is connected to the Internet through mobile devices. People now spend more time browsing the web on mobile devices than on desktop computers. In fact, 63 percent of searches on Google this year were from a mobile device. The number of searches from mobile devices is expected to continue to grow, even surpassing the 70 percent mark in 2018.

To stay relevant, your website must be mobile optimized. If it is not, you will be left behind. Google gives preference to mobile-optimized websites for mobile searches. If your website is not mobile optimized, you could be missing out on almost two-thirds of the searches looking for your type of book.

5. Video will continue to dominate engagement on the web.

People watch a lot of videos online. Digital Information World reports that 55 percent of people watch videos online every day. Here are a few more statistics on video usage on the Internet:

  • Experts estimate that by 2019, video watching will account for 80 percent of Internet traffic.
  • After watching a video, 64 percent of users are more likely to buy a product online.
  • Recent data from Facebook shows that people are 10 times more likely to comment on a Facebook Live video than other posts.

You can use video to promote your books. Create book trailers, informational videos, and use live stream videos like Facebook Live to share with and connect with potential readers.

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The Antidote to Holiday Travel Stress

If you have ever traveled for the holidays, you know that it is stressful. Holiday travel is often marked by crowds, delays, and traffic jams. All this stress can cause headaches, heartburn, and short tempers.

Here is the good news:
Authors and publishers have the cure for holiday travel stress.

Barnes & Noble, Inc., the world’s largest retail bookseller, recently commissioned an independent survey to explore consumer reading habits around the holiday season. Conducted as an online poll among the U.S. general population, the study revealed that Americans turn to books and periodicals on Thanksgiving Eve more than any other day of the year to help ease the stress of traveling. Historically, the Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest travel time of the year.

The study also found that:

  • 73% study participants reported that reading makes a trip more relaxing.
  • 72% said reading a book they enjoy makes their trip more enjoyable.

It appears that READING is a great antidote to holiday travel stress.

Additionally, study participants also reported that the top five benefits of reading a book while traveling are:

  • Reading is a good pastime if I get delayed while traveling (56%).
  • Reading is relaxing and helps ease the stress of hectic traveling (53%).
  • A good book “transports” me somewhere else (47%).
  • I can catch up on books that I have wanted to read, but normally do not have the time to read (47%).
  • Reading gives me a chance to learn something new (46%).

Everyone wants holiday travel to be less stressful. Now you have the perfect countermeasure for holiday travel stress: Books for travelers to read!

This holiday season, in addition to promoting your book as a great gift, let people know that reading your book may well be the remedy they need to combat stressful holiday travel!

Feel free to use the graphic in this article to promote your books as a great way to combat holiday travel stress.

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Four Creative Ways to Sell Your Books this Season

Books make great gifts. They are affordable, easy to wrap, and cover subjects to suit everyone’s interest. Books are the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.

Historically, about 25% of books sales are made between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This means that people do buy books as gifts. So, don’t miss out on this great opportunity to promote your books as gifts this holiday season and increase your sales.

Here are four creative ways to market your books as gifts this year.

1. Offer a Coupon or Holiday Special.

Send a special holiday coupon for dollars off the purchase of your books to your email list. Post the coupon on all your social media sites and your website to entice people to buy your books this season. Or offer a holiday special pricing such as Buy One Get One or even Buy Two Get One free for your books. Simply offering a limited time special encourages people to buy.

2. Offer a Gift Bundle.

Offer a prepackaged gift bundle to make shopping easy for your readers. Bundle a gift card or a box of chocolates with the purchase of your book. For example, you could offer a $10 Starbucks gift card with your book as a great gift bundle.If you have a devotional or bible study, offer a journal and special pen with the book as a bundle. The ideas are endless; just use your imagination.

Another great gift bundle can be a boxed set. Either create a boxed set of some of your own books, or better yet, partner with two or three other authors to offer a multiple book boxed set with a similar theme. For example, if you have a Christian romance book, then find a few other Christian romance authors and offer your books together as a boxed set for the season. Not only will you sell more books, you will enlarge your audience as each author will promote the set to their fans.

3. Offer a Subscription.

Do you have a book series? If so, instead of selling the entire series to be given at once, offer a subscription. Readers can buy the first book with a subscription to have an additional book in the series shipped each month. Just mail the first book with a subscription certificate. That way, the gift-giver can give a gift that really keeps on giving. This idea works especially well for children’s book series.

4. Exhibit at a Christmas Bazaar or Holiday Event in Your Community.

Many local community centers, libraries, and churches host holiday bazaars and other holiday events. Often you can rent a table for a reasonable fee at these events. Then set up shop and offer your book and book gift bundles to shoppers. If the event is already booked, find out if you can hand out flyers to attendees with information on how to purchase your books. The more exposure your books have, the more sales will follow.

Get creative this year with your holiday book promotions. If you have another idea for creatively selling books during the holidays, I would love to hear about it. Just leave a comment.

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Photo courtesy of Visual Hunt.

Is Your Business Card Impressive?

Business cards are still in fashion. I find it surprising that even in this digital age with everyone carrying a smart phone, business cards are still a marketing essential.

If you are an author, you should have a business card. Your business card should include your author or book website and contact information. Business cards are a great marketing tool. Carry them with you wherever you go. You never know who you will meet or what connection you may make.

Did you know that 72 percent of people judge a person based on the quality of their business card? The infographic below tells you what you need to know to create an impressive business card.

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A Little Yeast…

“Please note that if I review this book, I would have to give it a 2 star based on its poor punctuation and grammar. The story is great and wonderful, but the writing is sub-par.”

“For the story content and the impact it had on me, I would definitely award this book 5 stars. But, I could not give it 5. Sadly, the book is riddled with typos, wrong words, formatting mistakes, misspellings, and other editing issues that kept jerking me out of the story and making me wish the publisher had edited it properly.”

I cringe when I read comments like these from book reviewers. Indie publishing has come a long way in shedding the stigma attached to it. This stigma said that self-published books were sub-par. Poor covers, bad editing, and mediocre content is what people expected from these books.

Fortunately, the stigma attached to self-publishing is fading. However, every time a book reviewer writes a statement like the ones above, indie publishing takes a hit.

I often feel like a broken record because I repeat myself so much about this issue. If you choose to publish a book yourself, professional editing, layout, and cover design is a must. If your book is a Christian book, it not only has an impact on God’s reputation, it also has an impact on the reputation of indie published books.

After all, Paul says in I Corinthians 5:6: Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Is your yeast good or bad?

I interact with a lot of indie authors. Many are frustrated because they have trouble selling their books. However, I find that often many of the authors that vent this frustration did not take the care or money to have their books properly edited.

Indie publishing is an incredible gift. We live in a time when almost anyone can afford to publish a book. But, just because you can publish a book doesn’t mean you should. Before you decide to publish, be sure that have done your homework so that you know what an industry-standard book looks like and you know the basics involved in promoting and marketing a book to readers.

Part of the mission of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is to strengthen small publishers and independent authors in the Christian marketplace. One way CSPA does this is by providing tools and information to help you produce quality books.

Members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) have access to the on-demand seminar “Create a Professional-Looking Book” as well as the “Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book.”

You can join CSPA for just $90 for the 2018 calendar year and have access to this great information and more. Join today at http://www.christianpublishers.net/membership/become-a-member.

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