Are You Hitting the Target?

When I was a child, my dad taught me archery. He would take me to a range and have me try to hit the target with an arrow. Pulling the bowstring back on the bow took a lot of effort. My little, skinny arms always protested. More often than not, my arrows flew wide of the target.

For me it is easier to hit the target with book marketing than with a physical bow and an arrow. Yes, pulling the marketing bowstring to shoot the arrow still takes a lot of effort. However, once the arrow is in the air, if I have done my research, I am able to hit the target more frequently than I ever did as a kid in archery practice.Archery

In archery, pulling the bowstring takes muscles. In marketing, pulling the bowstring takes research. Who is your target audience? Who are the groups of people who have the need that your book fills? Where do these people live? Where do these people hang out? Do they use the web? What are their habits and language? What type of stores do they buy from? Once these questions have been answered, then you can let your arrows fly.

Did you know that 24 percent of the population of the United States is 55 years of age and older? That’s one-fourth of the population. Yet, only 24 percent of this age group uses social media. So, if you have a book geared for this crowd, using social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to interface with potential readers is not the best way to connect with them. If that is what you are doing, your arrow is going to miss the target.

On the other hand, 74 percent of those aged 18 to 34 have either a Facebook or MySpace account. Many researchers believe that these online social sites have an important role in the social lives of people in this age group. If you have a book geared for younger adults, then you should hop aboard the social network train to connect with potential readers. Doing so will help ensure your arrow hits the target.

After archery practice, my dad always had me wax the bowstring. Waxing the bowstring strengthens it by keeping all the fibers in a uniform direction, giving the arrow better momentum. Spend some time waxing your bowstring before you shoot your arrows. Taking time to research your target population and to find out where best to connect with them will keep your marketing efforts sharp and on target.


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Are You Regular?

Most experts in marketing will tell you that, at a minimum, you should be doing five things a day to promote your book. Sometimes book promotion is like reading your Bible. You know you should do it every day, but often you fall short. Life just gets in the way.

Fortunately God’s grace is greater than our failings. That’s true in our relationship with him as well in our book promotion. God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make the grade. Simply resolve to do better.

The best way to ensure that your book marketing efforts are regular and continual is to create a marketing plan. From your marketing plan draft goals for yourself about what you will do each day. Then set out to fulfill those goals.

Your daily five promotional efforts can include a blog post, commenting on someone else’s blog that reaches your target audience, sending off queries for acquiring book reviews, seeking speaking engagements, seeking guest blog appearances, writing articles about your topic that help promote your book, seeking radio or television interviews, setting up book signing appearances, targeted mailings, writing a newsletter for your fans, and sending thank you notes for book coverage received; to name just  a few.

Promoting a book is not a sprint. It is a marathon and something that you must do on a regular and continual basis. Regular, continual book promotion will keep your book selling for years. Baby Bible Board Books: Stories of Jesus (www.babybibleboardbooks.com), the set of children’s books that I co-authored with my husband, are still selling six years after they were published; all because we continue to engage in regular promotional efforts.yg2-front

If you are having trouble coming up with a marketing plan and specific resources to use in promoting your book, then I suggest you read a book on marketing books. Books such as John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Book and my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, are filled with specific resources and contacts for you to use in making a plan.

If that approach overwhelms you, then consider hiring a marketing coach to help you. I provide book marketing coaching for Christian books. My service includes a marketing plan with specific resources. You can learn more about this service at www.marketingchristianbooksinc.com.

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then five promotional efforts a day sells your book.


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A Call to Action

On one discussion group of authors and publishers that I belong to a publisher posted a long discourse on her publishing company. The subject line stated that her post was an update on her publishing company. The post itself was a lengthy discourse on her frustration around the lack of response her marketing and promotion efforts had produced. She felt that the activities she engaged in did little to bring sales or web traffic to her site.

It was clear that she was frustrated. What was not clear was whether her post was just a venting session or whether she was asking for suggestions and ideas to better market her books.  In essence her post lacked a call to action.

I was tempted to respond to her post. My response would have been: If your marketing efforts lack the clear call to action that your post just did, no wonder you are not seeing results. Of course, I thought this a little harsh and since she asked for nothing, I gave nothing.megaphone

The same is true with our marketing efforts. If we ask nothing, people will do nothing.

Include a call to action in your marketing efforts. Use words like “call now,” “visit the website,” “take advantage of this month’s special,” and “order your copy today.” People are susceptible to suggestions. We are sheep. If you direct us, we will go. Where you lead we will follow.

Smart marketers get this concept. Churches don’t just ask you to donate your money; they pass around an offering plate during services to suggest you do it now.

Call your target audience to action and you will get results.


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Meeting Needs

Greg Stielstra, author of PyroMarketing, says good marketing is simply “finding people with a need and connecting them with a product that will meet their need. The deeper the need, the easier the process is. Marketing and ministry are nearly indistinguishable when the two are done right.” By the way, Greg has made his book PyroMarketing available as a free audio download on his website at www.pyromarketing.com/audio/index.php.

Christian books fill needs. Nonfiction Christian books usually speak to a specific need. Christian children’s books meet needs in regards to teaching children Biblical values, Godly conduct, and virtues (at least they should). Fiction books even meet needs beyond just wholesome leisure reading that uplifts the spirit and doesn’t pollute the mind.

Your book meets a need. All you have to do is figure out what need it meets and then find people with that need. The rest is a slam dunk.

Promoting a book is like being a missionary. Missionaries don’t sit at home and wait for people who need Jesus to come to them. They go “into all the world” and seek the lost. Many of the lost don’t even know they have a need for Jesus until they come into contact with a missionary who shows them their need.

The same is true for authors. If you sit at home, people will not show up on your doorstep telling you they have a need that your book can meet. You have to go into the world and tell people that your book can meet their need.

As Christians, sometimes we have difficulty with self-promotion because we know that pride is a sin. We know that we must strive for humility and that another should praise us and not ourselves (Proverbs 27:2). I think that looking at marketing your book as meeting a need is liberating. If you are telling people that you have something to meet a need in their life, you are not promoting yourself, you are serving others.

Seek out the people who need your book. Show them how your book meets a need in their life. Make sure all your marketing materials include this information. Book promotion with this attitude becomes ministry and a service you can offer to God.

What need does your book meet?


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Seizing Every Opportunity

In my last post, “Are You a Smart Marketer?” I posed five questions to guide you in deciding if you are one. I decided to follow that post up with five pieces each highlighting one aspect of SMART marketing.

I am amazed at how many authors and publishers fail to seize every opportunity presented to them. I am not talking about opportunities that an author or publisher has to seek out, but opportunities that drop in their laps. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has retained a foreign rights agent to represent the titles our member publishers place in the CSPA annual product catalog (you can view the 2009 catalog at www.christianpublishers.net). I have had more than one publisher never respond to my notices informing them that a foreign publisher was interested in publishing one of their titles.

One gentleman, who published a book on growing up in the Netherlands, relentlessly promotes his book in the United States. Yet, when a German publisher expressed interest in publishing the book in German, this gentleman did not seize the opportunity placed before him.

Recently ChristianBookVideos.com created a directory of Christian authors using Twitter (you can view the directory at www.christianbookvideos.com/browse/crosstweet). Listing in the directory is free. I posted this announcement on a discussion group that I am part of. One Christian author wrote back that she did not like the genre categories that ChristianBookVideos.com was using. She did not think any of the categories really fit what she writes on. As a result, she passed up an opportunity for free publicity.

What does it matter if the exact category is not available? A good marketer seeking promotion for a book would pick the category that fit the closest to seize the opportunity.Cats-God-Cover

On the other hand, David Evans understands how to seize every opportunity. David reads this blog (thank you David). He knows that I do not review books on my blog, but he has seen that once in awhile I mention books on my blog. David became my friend on Facebook and told me about his book Does GOD Ever Speak through CATS? He offered to send me a complimentary copy of his book if I sent him my address. That was all. A free book, no strings attached.

David understands seizing every opportunity. Sending me his book may have amounted to naught. On the other hand, it could garner him some publicity; which it has.

The Bible admonishes us to make the most of every opportunity always being ready to give a reason for the hope that we have (I Peter 3:15). If you have published a book that gives a reason for the hope you have in Christ Jesus, then I encourage you to seize every opportunity and leave the outcomes in God’s control.

Carpe diem!