Much Ado About Twitter

The growth of Twitter is phenomenal. While only five percent of Americans are currently using Twitter, the monthly growth is staggering. In January of this year, Twitter had 4.5 million unique visitors. In February that number grew to 7 million unique visitors. That is 50 percent growth in one month.

Twitter is hot right now. I don’t think there have ever been so many websites supplying applications for or information about any other social networking site. Here are just a few of them:

· www.tweetlater.com – lets you schedule tweets ahead of time

· www.twitterbuttons – neat “follow me on Twitter” buttons like the one on this blog

· www.twitterfriends.com – provides all sorts of stats about your Twitter account

· www.twibs.com – a directory of businesses on Twitter

· www.twitpic.com – lets you share photos on Twitter

· http://useqwitter.com – this application emails you when someone stops following you

· http://tweetwasters.com – this tool tells you how much time you are spending on Twitter

· http://search.twitter.com – this is a search engine just for Twitter

There is no doubt about it; Twitter is a major contender in the social networking world. It is one of the most effective tools for spreading word on the Internet about a new product or service, or a breaking news event.

And that is just what Twitter is; a social networking tool. As with any social networking tool, its effectiveness lies in how one uses it.

If you are an author and you want to or are already using social networking to increase your connections, here are a few things I have learned.

1. Social networking takes time. Having just gotten onboard with social networking this year, I can tell you that you have to put time into it to get something out of it. Since I started social networking, I have found myself more often saying, “Where has my day gone?” — and I am only spending about an hour a day on it.

2. Social networking is about connection. Connecting with people involves listening to and caring about them and adding value to their life. If you are into social networking for what you can get out of it, you won’t reap much. It’s part of that “give and it will be given” principle.

3. Be selective. I know that this goes against the current trend in social networking and especially Twitter. Many people are all about following and getting as many followers as possible. However, if you are using social networking to enlarge your circle and increase your connections to grow reading fans, then stay focused on your target audience while expanding your connections and circle of influence. The truth is we can only genuinely connect with a limited number of people.

When it comes to promoting yourself and your books on the Internet, making yourself visible is important. Christian authors who use Twitter now have another tool to collect followers and gain more visibility. ChristianBookVideos.com has created a directory (called CrossTweet) of Christian authors using Twitter. This directory is listed on their website to help Christian book fans find the authors they read so they can follow them on Twitter. If you are a published Christian author who is active on Twitter and would like to be listed in this directory, send a Tweet to @ChristnBookVids and tell them which genre you want to be listed under. The directory of Christian authors on Twitter can be found at www.christianbookvideos.com/browse/crosstweet.

See you on the CrossTweet Directory!

Give and It Will Be Given

I recently read a blog post by an author with an upcoming general market book. She was frustrated because her publisher asked her to find people to review her book. This author found 20 bloggers who were eager and excited to read and review her book. However, the publisher felt that many of these 20 bloggers did not have a large enough audience to justify the free book. This author’s response was 20 people excited about reviewing a book will generate more word-of-mouth advertising than one very influential person who only gives the book a cursory review and moves on to “more important things.”

I am surprised at how often I meet with resistance from authors and publishers when I start to talk about giving books away as part of a marketing plan to generate interest in a book. Giving books away is cheap publicity. It only costs the author the price of printing the book. Yet, many authors and publishers see giving books away as counterintuitive, since their purpose in writing and producing a book is to sell it.

Counterintuitive?

If you are a Christian following Jesus, then giving books away should not be looked at this way. Consider a principle of Jesus that so many Christians (especially in America) seem to miss:

“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 niv

Interpreted for authors and publishers, this verse reads: Give away books and this will generate sales.

Are you still balking? Consider this.

James Redfield self-published his book The Celestine Prophecy in 1993. This book is a novel that discusses various psychological and spiritual ideas that are rooted in many ancient Eastern Traditions and New Age Spirituality. As of May 2005, James Redfield’s book had sold over 20 million copies worldwide and had been translated into 34 languages.

How did he do it?

Mr. Redfield initially sold the book out of the trunk of his car. As he talked with people, he gave many copies of the book away to generate interest and the word-of-mouth advertising that drove sales of the book and resulted in the book being republished by a major publishing house.

Give and it will be given to you. It’s not science. You can’t quantify it. It’s one of God’s principles.

Here’s the bottom line. If God gave you a message to write, whose message is it really? If it belongs to God, then you are not losing anything by giving it away. His word never returns void, but accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent forth (Isaiah 55:11).

Have you given away any books lately?

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Are You Listening?

The best marketing is relational. People will usually not remember much about a conversation they had with you, but they will remember how they felt when they interacted with you. Marketing is about identifying a need and providing a solution for the need. Promoting a book is all about responding to someone’s need.

When I recently attended Christian Book Expo (CBE) in Dallas, I met a gentleman who had self-published a book. This author was very enthusiastic about his book and its potential. He showed me his promotional material and the many endorsements and reviews he had received for his book, pointing out the big name authors he had secured endorsements from. He told me his book was “going places.” At the end of our conversation, I had no clue what his book was about or how I would benefit from reading it.

This particular author did not have a booth at CBE. He was an attendee walking around with a briefcase stopping to talk with people about his book. As I do with most contacts I make at a tradeshow, I sent this gentleman a follow-up email telling him it was a pleasure to meet him and wishing him the best with his book. His response was a return email requesting that I promote his book on my website.

Why would I promote this man’s book on my website? What benefit would there be in this for me? If this author had but taken the time to look at my information and my website, he would see that this is not the sort of activity I routinely engage in. The lack of a relational approach and personal connection in his interactions with me left me feeling like I was not a fellow author, but merely a marketing vehicle.listening

On the other hand, I met a children’s author while I was browsing in the kids’ section at CBE. This author noticed that I had stopped to look at her books and came over and introduced herself as the author. She then proceeded to ask me about my interest in the books and if there were any questions she could answer for me about the books. This author shared with me why she had written the books and the message she wanted children to take away from reading them.

We chatted for a few minutes and this children’s author allowed me to share about my own work. Upon hearing what I was doing, she immediately took me to meet someone who turned out to be a very beneficial contact.

Guess what? I am in the process of purchasing those children’s books by that author largely because she made a personal connection with me. I left feeling like she had a passion for her message and that she also cared about the people she came in contact with. I was more than just another sale to her.

You can promote and promote a book, but if your promotional efforts are not relational, your efforts may well fall flat. Listening to your potential customers and their needs is key to keeping your marketing efforts relational.

Are you listening?

Announcing Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award Winners

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is pleased to announce the winning titles for the 2009 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award. Retailers selling Christian products voted on the nominated titles. The winners in each of the four categories are:

acalltodie2Nonfiction: General

A Call to Die: A 40 Day Journey of Fasting from the World and Feasting on God, David Nasser, Redemptive Art Publishing, 978-0-9792479 -0-3

adamsbelle1Nonfiction: Biography

Adam’s Belle: A Memoir of Love Without Bounds, Isabel Washington Powell with Joyce Burnett, DBM Press, LC, 978-0-9816102-1-4

holynightFiction

One Holy Night, J.M. Hochstetler, Sheaf House Publishers, LLC, 978-0-9797485-0-9

milo1Children’s

Milo and the Green Wagon, Lisa Umina, Halo Publishing, 978-0-9797429-4-1

The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award is sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (www.christianpublishers.net). A total of 38 titles were nominated by publishers for the four award categories.

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The Things We Need to Know

Wouldn’t it be great if one book carried all the information an author or publisher needed to know? It is amazing to me the vast array of information one needs to complete all the tasks an author or publisher must in the course of producing and selling books.

Once we have been at this business for awhile, we tend to forget what newbies don’t know. Of course we remember the big stuff that they need to know, it’s the more mundane things we forget.

Just the other day, I had an interaction that highlighted this phenomenon for me. At the recent Christian Book Expo in Dallas, I met a wonderful fellow social-worker-by-trade-turned-author Christian lady. She had self-published her book. After the show, she ordered a copy of my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

After receiving the book in the mail, this author sent the following email:

I got Sarah’s book yesterday and promptly ordered the mailer it was sent in from ULINE. I’d been looking for a source. Nice. The book looks helpful, too, of course!

That email made my day. It’s great to know that someone has received benefit from ordering my book without even having to read it.mailer

Mailers for books! I had forgotten that new authors and publishers might not know where to order mailers in bulk at a great discount. Buying them at Office Depot, Office Max, or Staples is not cost effective.

For mailers, I personally prefer Uline (www.uline.com). They have a large selection, good service, and a great price.

Where do you buy your mailers?

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