Lessons from Self-Publishing

Whenever you embark on a new adventure, there is usually a steep learning curve. Often those who have already completed the adventure forget that steep learning curve and can make the process seem easy.

I have often run into this with self-publishing books. Self-publishing a book is not easy. There is a lot to learn and understand not just about book design and the publishing process, but also on marketing a book.

Lessons from Self-Publishing

Sandra Beckwith on her blog, Build Book Buzz, recently shared statements from 25 self-published authors on “I wish I’d known before I self-published.” These statements not only show how much there is to learn, but also how important it is to get support in the publishing and marketing process.

A couple of the 25 statements made by these self-published authors caught my eye. I believe they illustrate why belonging to a professional association is important in navigating the publishing and marketing maze.

1.  Get Your Information from Experts.

One “I wish I’d known before I self-published…” author said:

“Use IngramSpark for your print books! I just learned this valuable lesson. Bookstores and libraries don’t buy from Amazon – they use IngramSpark to purchase books, and if you don’t publish there, you are missing out on many sales.”

Sadly, this author has it mostly correct, but not completely correct. IngramSpark is a print-on-demand platform. They are not a distributor. However, IngramSpark will place your books into distribution through their parent company Ingram (and Spring Arbor for Christian books). Retailers and librarians order books through Ingram (the distribution arm) not IngramSpark.

This is important information to know. When you are promoting your book to retailers and librarians, you want to let them know that your book is available for order through Ingram, not IngramSpark.

In addition to getting your information from experts, membership in a professional organization like Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) can save you money. Members of CIPA receive free title uploads to IngramSpark a savings of $49 per book.

2.  Don’t Reinvent the Wheel.

Another “I wish I’d known before I self-published…” author said:

“Writing the book was the easy part. When you decide to embark on the self-publishing journey, you need to have a marketing plan zipped up and ready to launch.”

In addition to having a solid marketing plan, your marketing needs to start long before the launch of your book. The good news is that you don’t need to come up with a marketing plan from scratch. There are numerous book marketing and book launch plan templates that provide you a guide to help steer your personalized strategic book marketing plan.

Here is where a professional association can, again, provide you the information you need. Members of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA), have access to numerous reference guides and checklists including:

  • Checklist for Creating a Professional-Looking Book
  • Book Launch Marketing Checklist
  • Metadata Checklist

Both are great templates to make sure you have the basics covered when publishing and marketing a book.

If you are not a Member of a professional publishing association and are independently publishing books or thinking about publishing a book, I encourage you to join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA).

Christian Indie Publishing Association

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA)’s goal is to provide authors and publishers with the tools you need for success in publishing and marketing Christian books. The organization provides numerous resources to help those who are embarking on the publishing journey find success.

Right now, CIPA is offering a Fall Membership Special. For just $110 you can gain Membership in the organization through December 2021. Join today and get the tools and resources you need to be more successful in publishing and marketing your books.

Related Posts:
5 Common Indie Publishing Errors
Are You Using Publishing Industry Standards?
4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska.

Time Is Running Out

Did you know that there are over 4,000 books self-published every day in the United States? That is a lot of books! And, it means that your book has a lot of competition.

Book Awards provide an opportunity for books to raise above the noise and get noticed. That is what the Christian Indie Awards strive to do for Christian books published by indie authors and small publishers.

Time is running short for you to nominate your book for the 2021 Christian Indie Awards. Nominations are due by November 15, 2020. You can nominate your book at https://www.christianaward.com.

If you aren’t interested in nominating your book. That’s okay. Below are 10 Reasons to NOT Enter a Book Award.

10 Reasons to NOT Enter a Book Award

Related Posts:
Book Awards Are a Blessing
The Hidden Benefit of Winning a Book Award
Book Awards Help Promote Books

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Book Marketing Amidst Thorns and Thistles

Over Labor Day weekend, I decided to tackle a long-neglected area of my yard. I pulled out weeds and cleared brush.

The weather was hot, so I wore a short sleeve shirt. Only later did I realize that I must have tangled with some Poison Oak when large red welts began to appear on my arms. The damage was not pretty.

As soon as I noticed the allergic reaction, I began to treat the affected areas. I also prayed—asking Jesus to heal me. In my prayer, I reminded God that I was only doing what he wanted me to do—to subdue the Earth and rule over it (Genesis 1:28).

While praying, I was reminded that God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; …It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (Genesis 3:17-18).

I had certainly run into some nasty thorns and thistles. As I pondered this, I got to thinking that we don’t just run into thorns and thistles while doing yardwork. We also run into thorns and thistles in other areas when we assert dominion.

As a Christian author or publisher, you run into thorns and thistles in the writing, publishing, and marketing of your books. After all, your writing is part of ruling with God on the Earth (Go into all the world and make disciples).

As a Christian author or publisher, you run into all sorts of thorns and thistles like:

  • Computer crashes where work is lost
  • Cancelled events
  • Lost packages when shipping books
  • Money spent on advertising that does not bring results
  • Book launches that flop

It’s good to remember that while we have to deal with thorns and thistles, that is not all that our work produces.

In the same sentence that God tells Adam “It will produce thorns and thistles for you”, God also says:

“…and you will eat the plants of the field.”

We may run into thorns and thistles, but our work will also bring about fruit. So, while you are struggling with the thorns and the thistles, take heart, good crop is also growing. Your efforts—taken for the glory of God—are not made in vain.

Trust God. Ask him to bless your work. He is faithful and tends the seeds that you plant with your books. Good fruit will come—even though you have to fight the thorns and the thistles in the process.

Related Posts:
Have You Asked?
Attitude: Is Yours Helping or Hurting?
We All Need a Little Encouragement

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Dimitri.

Is Your Link Universal?

Last June, I wrote a blog post titled “Are You Using the Right URL?“. The article educated authors on how to use the best URL when sending potential buyers to your book on Amazon.

Is Your Link Universal?

The short version of that article is that many authors search for their book on Amazon, then they copy the URL from the search. This URL link is long and complicated. It is much better to use the shorter, correct URL when sending people to Amazon.

I am still amazed at how many authors are not following this advice. I still consistently receive long complicated URLs from authors for their books on Amazon.

Using the best URL when marketing a book is important. So, now I am going to encourage you to go one step further with your Amazon URL.

If you are marketing your book to a large audience, and some of these people might live outside the United Sates (or the country in which you reside if you are not in the U.S.), then it is best to use a Universal Amazon Link.

What is a Universal Link?

A Universal Link automatically takes readers to the Amazon store in the country in which they live.

If you use a regular Amazon.com link in your marketing, people who live outside the United Sates are taken to the U.S. Amazon store. If they want to purchase your book, they have to switch to the Amazon store in their country. Amazon has different URLs for sales in different countries. For example:

You can make it easy for people to purchase your book by using a Univeral Amazon Link in your marketing. The good news is that creating an Amazon Universal Link is free. There are a number of services that you can use to create one for your book. These include:

For example, my book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, can be found on Amazon.com at:Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books

https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Bolme/dp/0991299515

The Universal Amazon Link for my book is:

https://rxe.me/GQJJ29

If you provide a link to Amazon on your author or book website for readers to purchase your book via Amazon, then changing that link to a Universal Amazon Link can help you sell more books.

Related Posts:
Are You Using the Right URL?
Presence: It’s Essential in Selling Books
Amazon Is NOT Your Publisher

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Are You Securing Repeat Customers?

Email marketing is one tactic many authors use to connect with their audience. Email marketing allows you to have regular exposure to a group of people who are interested in what you have to say.

Repeat Customers Help You Sell More

Conventional wisdom encourages authors to provide a sign-up form on their website where interested readers can subscribe to your author newsletter or updates.

Smart authors usually go one step further and offer a freebie in exchange for an interested reader’s email. This freebie might be a novella, a recipe, a tips sheets, or something else with entertainment or educational value.

Providing a sign up in this fashion is smart marketing. With social media, you cannot control who sees your posts. With email, your information is sent to everyone on your email list. These people at least see that they have received an email from you, reminding them of you and your books.

Some experts encourage authors to sell books direct from your website. This way, you get to collect the contact information on people who buy your book. You can add these people to your email list and continue to market to them as you produce more books.

However, most authors don’t sell books directly from their website and many people prefer to buy books from a book site like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. So, how do you collect contact information for these buyers?

Enter end-of-book offer.

An end of book offer is where you offer the reader of your book access to a freebie in exchange for their email address. This could be similar to the freebies that you offer on your website, but something of value for someone who has finished your book.

I recently finished reading a book. Now, this is not unusual for me because I read at least one book a week. What was unusual was the offer in this book.

collecting emails

This author offered free access to a series of free online mini-courses on the subject of his book. I was somewhat surprised because this was a generous offer.

However, when I visited the site where the free mini-courses were listed, I realized that this author was using these free mini-courses connected to his book as just a gateway into his much larger program.

It turns out that this author has multiple books and numerous online courses available. By offering free access to his mini-course, he is not only collecting email addresses, he is also building his audience for his other offerings.

If you are a one-book author, this technique for building your audience may not be the best idea. However, if you have multiple books and offer online courses, I think that implementing a similar offer in your books would be smart marketing.

Repeat customers help you sell more. According to Small Business Trends:

  • 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers.
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%.
  • The probability of selling to a new customer is 5–20%.
  • 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of their existing customers.

If you have more than one product to offer, you want to hook your readers into becoming repeat customers. It is just smart marketing.

Related Posts:
How to Sell More Books
Is Free Really an Effective Marketing Tool?
Are You Offering a Compelling Reason to Buy?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Brett Jordan.