Are You Speaking the Right Language?

In a recent conversation I had with an indie author, the author told me that she had sent a query to a number of podcasts. This author was working on scheduling a podcast tour.

I asked her if she meant that she had sent a pitch to these shows. The author asked me to explain the difference between a query and a pitch to her.

Are You Speaking the Right Language?

I explained that a query is the request (letter or email) that a person sends to print publication to inquire about submitting an article or book to be considered for publication. A pitch is the request (usually email) that one sends to media outlets—radio, television, and podcast shows—when one is seeking a guest interview or spotlight on the show.

The author and I then commiserated together about how much there is to learn about publishing!

Every industry has its own language. There is medical lingo, legalese, and car talk. The publishing industry has its own terms like:

  • Derivative work
  • Exclusive rights
  • Frontispiece
  • Gatefold flaps
  • Interrobang
  • Moral turpitude clause
  • Plagiarize

Every author and publisher should take the time to educate themselves so that they are familiar with the publishing industry language. Whether you are traditionally published or indie published, you will have conversations with industry experts. Knowing the publishing industry language allows you to both understand what the other person is saying and to talk intelligently to that person in return.The Publishing Dictionary

Mary Hollingsworth has compiled a resource to help you. The Publishing Dictionary is an information, easy-to-understand reference that includes Christian publishing terms.

The book is designed to help anyone—authors, editors, proofreaders, marketers, publishers, and freelancers—understand and communicate accurately and effectively with others in the industry.

If you want to make sure that you are speaking the correct language, I suggest that you get a copy of this book and keep it as a handy reference guide.

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5 Ways to Promote Your Book for Free

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic distress for many people. As an independent author, you may be struggling financially.

As an author, you have at least one book to sell to generate a little income. Maybe you are struggling with sales. You don’t want to spend money on advertising and promoting your book because money is tight.

Free Book Promotion Ideas

You have to spend money to make money.” This common phrase may have you in a double-bind. You just don’t have the funds to play with.

Fortunately, there are many ways to promote your book without spending a lot of money. My book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books is dedicated to helping authors market their books on a small budget.

Following are five no-cost marketing strategies that you can employ right now to help sell more copies of your book.

1. Create a Website

If you do not have an author website, you need one. Readers like to learn more about authors. One method readers use to find out more about an author is through an author’s website. Having an author website sends the message that you are serious about being an author, which raises your esteem in readers’ eyes.

If you do not have a website, you can create one for free. BookLaunch provides any author a free landing page. This landing page is easy to create and provides you with a custom URL.

BookLaunch.io

If, for some reason, you are not able to create a website, then I recommend that—at the very least—you complete your Author Page on Amazon. You can then use this page as your website.

If you are unsure what a complete Author Page on Amazon looks like, check out my (Sarah Bolme) author page on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/sarahbolme.

2. Run a Price Special on Your Book

It doesn’t cost you a dime out of your pocket to reduce the price of your book. Consumers love bargains. Offer a summer sale on your book to get people to buy it now.

Scarcity drives people to buy. Think about the recent toilet paper shortage. Stores were short of toilet paper, causing people to buy more than they needed so they would not run out.

Special Offer

You can use this same idea with book sales. Make your special book price or discount time limited or limited to a select number of copies. This helps people choose to buy it now rather than wait until later because they don’t want to miss out on the special price.

3. Get More Book Reviews

Book reviews are marketing gold. As humans we operate with FOMO. FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out. When people rave about your book, then other readers will be more inclined to buy your book because they don’t want to miss out on the great information or story you provide.

One option for getting more book reviews is to give away a limited number of your books for free in exchange for a review. The saying “You have to give to get” applies here.

Sweeten your request for reviews by offering a select number of free books in exchange for a review. You can ask your friends and followers on social media, as well as the members of the forums and groups you belong to.

4. Write Articles and Guest Blog Posts

Writing articles costs nothing but your time. As an author, you are an expert on the subject matter of your book. This means that you can write and speak with authority on the subject and people will take notice.Christian Writers Market Guide

You can leverage your author authority through writing articles and guest blog posts. Then you can submit these articles and posts to magazines and blogs for publication. When people read your article or post, they are exposed to you and your book, increasing the chances of more sales for your book.

You can find a list of Christian magazines that accept article submissions in the Christian Writers Market Guide. If you want to guest post, you can find a list of over 200 websites and blogs that accept guest posts at https://www.websitehostingrating.com/list-of-200-websites-that-accept-guest-posts.

5. Be Interviewed on Podcasts and Radio Shows

Exposure is key for selling books. After all, people cannot buy something they don’t know exists.

You can leverage your author authority to gain more exposure through radio and podcast interviews.Christian Indie Publishing Association

You can search for podcasts that speak to your subject using a podcast search engine like Listen Notes. Or you can sign up for Membership in Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) for just $75 and have access to a list of over 100 podcast and radio outlets interviewing Christian authors. The list alone is worth more than the $75 Membership fee.

The famous saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” applies to your book marketing. You must venture something—whether that is time, money, or effort—to gain book sales.

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Photo courtesy of Chronomarchie.

 

 

Effective Marketing Techniques

If you engage in email marketing, you will find the results of a new study by BuzzStream and Fractl very informative. These two companies teamed up and interviewed 1,001 people to find out which online marketing strategies work best.

A survey of one thousand people is really a small sample size. However, these researchers believe that this sample represents the larger population.

If you are an author with a website that employs a marketing technique—like a pop-up prompting your website visitors to subscribe to your newsletter—then you should pay attention to the results of this survey.

BuzzStream’s goal was to find out which marketing tactics Americans are happy to participate in—and which ones they avoid.

When it comes to giving out an email address and reading newsletters, here is what this survey found:

The Email Inbox

If you hold contests on your website, you will be interested in these findings from the survey:

Marketing Tactics American Participate In

The results from this survey have some good news for authors. I found the following two statistics very encouraging:

  • 85.5% of people will give their email in exchange for a freebie.
  • 57.1% of people will share something on social media in exchange for entry into a contest.

Which results did you find helpful or encouraging?

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Does Your Book Need Refreshing?

Is your book selling as well as you would like? If your book sales have slowed down or are lacking, maybe your book needs refreshing.

Does Your Book Need Refreshing?

Ponder the following four points to determine if you need to engage in updating or refreshing your book to improve sales.

1.  Book Reviews

I am amazed at the number of books that have no reviews on Amazon. Some of these are indie authors that are paying for advertising for their books, yet their books have no reviews on the largest book selling website. Reviews are essential for selling books.

My advice is that before you launch a marketing campaign for your book, get reviews. Give readers a free copy of your book in exchange for a review. You need reviews.

If the average rating of reviews for your book on Amazon or any other bookseller site is less than four stars, this means either your book needs some work or you are not targeting the right audience for your message.

The competition is stiff. Readers have exponentially more choices of books to read than they have time to read. An average rating of less than four stars means your book is just that—average. Your book needs to be more than average to sell well. It needs to be compelling.

2.  Provide a Sample

Buyers like to have some assurance that what they are buying is worth their money. This is why when browsing for books in a physical bookstore or library, readers will not only read the book’s cover, they will open the book and read a section of the interior to decide if they want to invest in the book.

Buyers need this same access to the interior of your book when browsing online. Give your potential buyers the ability to sample your work so they can make an informed decision that leads to a purchase. You can offer the following samples for potential readers:

  • Enable the Amazon Look Inside feature for your book.
  • Offer a link to read the first chapter of your book.
  • Offer a digital prequel, short story, or tip sheet for free to potential readers.

3.  Update Your Cover

First and foremost, your book should be sporting a professional cover image. Your cover should look as good as or better than the top 10 sellers in your category or genre. Your cover needs to be eye-catching to rise above your competition.

Sometimes book sales lag because your book’s cover—your number one marketing tool—does not accurately reflect the contents of your book. Make sure the image on your cover conveys the emotion off your message to the reader. If you are selling a romance story, your cover should speak romance. If you are selling a thriller, your cover should feel suspenseful.

Do a quick review of your book’s cover. Sometimes updating or changing the image can spur sales.

4.  Listen to feedback

In response to feedback around editing, I have had authors say, “This is the message God gave me.” Good editing does not change the message. Instead, it makes your message more relatable and compelling.

Once I told an author who requested my help that her book was too long for her target age group. I suggested that she either condense it or break it into a series of books. Her response was that children needed the whole message so she was going to leave it the way she had it.

Clearly, she was not open to my suggestion. I would rather my children eat part of their meal than none of it. At least by eating part they are getting some nutrition. The same can be true for a message. Pieces eventually add up to the whole.

Listen to the feedback you receive from your readers. Take the strengths from the positive reviews and improve the weaknesses pointed out in the negative reviews. Your book (and you) will be better for it.

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Photo courtesy of Malte Luk.

Don’t Lose Focus

The events in our world and our country in 2020 cannot be ignored. They are affecting all of us.  Yet, I would encourage you to not allow these events to sidetrack you from the message that God has given you.

Don't Lose Focus

I recently read a post by an influencer in the indie publishing world. This individual was advocating that indie authors take a break from marketing their books to spend some time dealing with the pressing issues in our country.

While this advice might be beneficial for secular authors, I don’t think it is good advice for Christian authors.

2 Timothy 2:4 says “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” In season and out of season means when it is favorable to do so and when it is not favorable to do so – or when it is convenient to do so and when it is not convenient to do so.

We are in an out of season time. There is pressure all around us to jump on the hot topic of the moment. Don’t get sidetracked.

It is easy to get dragged down by worldly concerns involving conflicts and fears. When this happens, we get distracted from the hope we have in Christ.

Do not lose your focus. As a Christian author, your gaze should remain fixed on spiritual things that offer the hope, security, and peace people need in this trying time.

Whatever your message was before the events happening this year, it is still needed. People’s spiritual needs have not diminished with current events—in fact, these needs are growing since churches have not been open and people have been isolated.

People are still struggling with relationships, parenting, finances, health problems and other issues related to Christian living and spiritual growth. They need the hope you offer in your books. Hope both for this life and the life to come.

So, I encourage you to not veer from the message God has given you. Your message is timely. Your message is needed. God’s word never goes out of season.

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Photo courtesy of Elena Taranenko.