Are You Willing to Commit?

Ask yourself the following question:

What am I willing to commit in time and energy each day or week to keep my book alive?

It’s a great question. Dan Poynter, self-publishing guru, said, “Books don’t sell themselves; people sell books.

How much time and energy are you putting into promoting your book each day or week? Are you putting in as much commitment in time and energy every day or week to promote your book as you did to write your book?

Marketing a book takes time and energy. So many authors give a great effort to promoting when they first publish their book, but then slowly their efforts dwindle to nothing. At that point, they cease selling books.

Do you want to keep your book alive? Then you must commit to doing marketing activities daily or weekly. Not sure what to do? Here are ten ideas:

  1. Publish a new blog post or podcast at least once a week.
  2. Share your blog post on Reddit or StumbleUpon.
  3. Send a newsletter to your email list sharing your new blog post or podcast and reminding them of your book.
  4. Comment at least once a day on your social media accounts.
  5. Send a request to a book reviewer or blogger asking them to review your book.
  6. Join the discussion on online groups (Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads) that speak to your target audience or topic. Respond to a thread or start a new thread regularly.
  7. Write insightful comments on a blog that targets your audience or speak on your topic a couple times each week.
  8. Write articles and guest blog posts.
  9. Send a request to be a guest on a podcast that speaks to your topic or audience.
  10. Send thank you notes to people who share your social media posts, give you a shout out, air your blog post, interview you, or review your books.

Need more ideas? You can find plenty more in my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace and in Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) monthly newsletter for our member publishers and authors. In fact, one member recently wrote, “This latest newsletter is the best marketing newsletter I have ever read. You provided so many ideas, topics, tips, etc, that it’ll take me two weeks to put all of them into practice.—Michael

How much time and energy are you willing to commit to keep your book alive? Decide. Then, start doing promotion activities. Remember, any activity that draws people’s attention to your book is marketing.

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Photo courtesy of Carl Cerstrand

The 2017 Book of the Year Award Winners

The votes are in and counted. The winners of the 2017 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award have been determined!

Christian book lovers and retailers voted on 120 nominated titles in 13 categories. The winners in each of the 13 categories are:

Fiction
Always With You, Elaine Stock, Elk Lake Publishing

Historical Fiction
Dawn of Liberty: Short Story Collection, Amber Schamel, Vision Writer Publications

Romance
Forgiveness, Marianne Evans, Pelican Book Group

Christian Living
Frankly Speaking, Janet Dash-Harris, CLM Publishing

Bible Study / Theology
Stuff Jesus Never Said, Paul Ellis, KingsPress

Devotional
Getting To Know Jesus: An Invitation to Walk With The Lord Day By Day, Eric Kampmann, Beaufort Books

Biography / Memoir
The Party’s Not Over Until God Says So, V.Lynn Whitfield, Professional Woman Publishing

Relationships / Family
Handing Out Life: The Simple Way to Rewarding Relationships in All of Life, Rev. Dr. Todd A. Biermann, Halo Publishing

Children’s (age 4 to 8)
Fireflies, Ginger Sanders (author), Tracy Applewhite Broom (illustrator)

Children’s (age 8 to 12)
Paul the Apostle: A Graphic Novel, Ben Avery (author), Mark Harmon (illustrator), Beartruth Collective, LLC

Young Adult (age 12+)
Healing Rain, Katy Newton Naas, Clean Reads

Gift Book
Jesus Loves You, Christine Topjian, Lighthouse Publishing

Christian Education
Examine Your Faith! Finding Truth in a World of Lies, Pamela Christian, Protocol, Ltd

Congratulations to the winners! Thank you to everyone who voted!

The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award is sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA).

Looking for a great book to read next? Try one of the winners of the CSP Book of the Year Award listed here.

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Global eBook Sales are Within Your Reach

Imagine that someone in China or South Africa is reading your book. The good news is that it is possible. With ebooks, selling books internationally is easy.

Did you know that with a click of a button, you can sell your ebook in multiple countries?

  • Amazon will sell your ebook in 12 countries.
  • Kobo ebook stores sell your ebook in 36 countries.
  • Apple eBook store sells to over 40 countries.

Author Earnings recently completed a report on ebook sales in the top five English-language countries: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Below is a chart that shows the annual ebook sales broken down by country.

Author Earnings study revealed some interesting points. Here are three of the salient ones:

  • Amazon is the majority retailer in just about every market.
  • Taken all together, Amazon accounts for more than 80% of English-language ebook purchases, Apple another 10%, Kobo 2% and Nook 3%.
  • Self-published indie authors are verifiably capturing at least 24% to 34% of all ebook sales in each of the five English-language markets.

Once again, the news is that Amazon dominants book sales in English-speaking countries. However, it is important to remember that Amazon is not the only ebook store.

Many independently published authors publish exclusively with Amazon. If you publish exclusively with Amazon, you might be missing out on sales both in the United States and worldwide. Following are three reasons NOT to have your ebook exclusive to Amazon:

  1. You are missing out on offering your book for sale in at least 28 countries.
  2. You are missing a potential 20% more sales for your book.
  3. You reduce the impact of external marketing and sales for your book as everyone does not purchase books via Amazon.

Don’t shortchange yourself. While it is easy to publish a book on Amazon, remember Amazon is not the only player in the ebook sales industry. If you want to sell more books, you need broader distribution. Make sure your ebooks are listed in Kobo and in the Apple store as well as in all the ebook retailers. You can do this by making your ebook available for distribution through one of the following ebook distributors:

If you have already published your ebook on Amazon, that’s okay. You can still use Smashwords or IngramSpark for broader distribution. Both services will respect your existing relationship with Amazon.

Don’t miss out on worldwide sales for your ebooks. Indie published ebook sales continue to grow. Your book sales will benefit from the exposure wider distribution brings.

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Photo courtesy of Slava Bowman

What Authors Can Learn from Shopping Behaviors

I love to shop. For the most part, I prefer shopping in physical stores where I can not only see what I am purchasing, but I can touch and feel it also. I know many people prefer to shop online. While not everyone shops the same way, there are a few similarities overall among people’s shopping preferences.

A new study by Catalyst, a marketing agency specializing in retail, explored consumer-shopping behaviors across multiple channels. Their research found that most customers prefer convenience over other factors when shopping. Here are a few of the findings from Catalyst’s study:

  • Convenience Is Paramount
    Amazon wins when it comes to convenience. Most customers prefer researching and buying products online.
  • Efficiency Matters
    Customers look for what saves them time. If it is not readily available to order or purchase, or if shipping is not fast, customers will walk away from a purchase.
  • Price Matters—but Quality Matters More
    Customers want the best quality for the lowest price. They are willing to pay more for a product when convenience and customer service are perceived to be superior.

There are a few nuggets of wisdom for authors in this study and its findings. Here are two lessons from this study that can help you sell more books.

1. Your books must be available in multiple channels for buyers to purchase.

Believe it or not, not everyone shops on Amazon. Your book needs to be available for purchase (and quick delivery) at the places where your readers shop. Having your book available for purchase on Amazon and your website is not enough. Make sure your books are in wider distribution so that they are conveniently available to more people.

2. Your book’s price affects sales.

One of the best rules to follow when independently publishing a book is simply this: Follow the industry standard. When pricing your book, this means that your book is priced in the same range as other books in its genre that are published by the large industry publishing houses.

Since print-on-demand is more expensive per book than offset printing (printing large numbers of books at once of 1,000 or more copies), independently published authors often price their books higher than industry standard. Pricing high allows the author to make a decent return on each book sold. However, pricing your book higher than other books in your genre can result in a loss of sales. Remember, people are looking for the best quality at the lowest price. If a reader is considering purchasing your book or another book on the same topic, if the books appear equal in quality, the reader will opt for the lower-priced book.

Book buyers are shoppers and they, like most consumers, prefer convenience, efficiency, and good deals.

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Are You Convincing Enough People?

As an author, your most important online presence is your website. Yes, your website—not social media, not Amazon, not Goodreads.

In fact, the purpose of social media is to get people to your website. The purpose of your website is to turn visitors into customers (people who buy your books).

According to research, 48% of people who enter a physical store buy something. However, on average, only 2 to 3 percent of people who visit a website purchase something. In fact, 96% of people who visit your website are not ready to buy. You have to convince them to purchase your books.

This is the purpose of your author website—to convince people to buy your books.

Experts report that when a visitor comes to your website, you have, on average, less than one minute to convince them to stay on your website. The longer visitors stay on your website, the greater chance you have of convincing them to either buy your book or sign up to receive your emails so you can continue to work on convincing them to buy your book.

The best way to keep people on your website is:

1.  Make sure your website loads quickly.
For every second delay in loading, you lose 7% of your potential visitors. Google analytics allows you to view your site load speed time.

2.  Have a compelling headline.
Your headline needs to be clear and draw your audience in.

3.  Give your visitors something to do.
Tell them what you want them to do. Make it clear. Large buttons that state things like:

  • Buy the Book
  • Download 10 Tips for…
  • Read the First Chapter

4.  Include a video.
Research shows that websites with a video of the product they are selling can increase their purchase rate by 144%. If you need an easy free video for your website, check out Bitable or Powtoon for creating a short video about your book.

Your website is your strongest tool for convincing readers to buy your book. Don’t overlook this important marketing mechanism. Use it wisely to convince your visitors that your book is worth their time and money!

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Photo courtesy of Vitaly