Is Your Website Lost?

The old adage, “If you build it, they will come,” does not apply to the Internet. The Internet today is so vast that just building a website is not enough.

The minute your website is up and running, it becomes buried under the weight of the World Wide Web. No one will find it unless they specifically search for it or you send them there.

So, send people to your website.

How?

One good way is to invite them. When you invite, add an enticement. Which would you rather hear: “Would you like to come to my house?” or “Would you like to come to my house for dinner?”

The best way to entice someone to your website is to give something away for free. Two common ways to do this are to provide free material on your website for your visitors (such as an ebook or an article) or hold a contest where you give away tangible products of value to a random person who enters your contest.

CBV button 170x50ChristianBookVideos.com is using a contest to invite and entice people to their website. For the next five weeks, ChristianBookVideos.com is giving away five books each week to five random people who visit their website and take their survey. Each visitor to ChristianBookVideos.com who completes the survey is automatically entered into the contest.

To encourage people to return and visit the website again, ChristianBookVideos.com is giving away a different book each week. Through inviting people to return each week for a new contest, ChristianBookVideos.com is increasing their exposure to each visitor, thereby increasing the likelihood that each visitor will become a regular patron of their website.

If you are looking to increase the traffic to your website, consider hosting a contest where visitors to your website can enter to win free books or products. The product you are giving away does not need to be your own. Consider partnering with another business that is looking for more exposure for their products.

Setting up a survey to collect information from your visitors is actually fairly easy. Just follow these five simple steps:

  1. Set a time period for your contest. Generally one week is a good time frame. Go longer and you lose momentum. Go shorter and you don’t generate enough traffic.
  2. Make a survey using a websites that offers survey setup and management such as FluidSurveys, SurveyMonkey, or QuestionForm. Each of these services offers a free level and a premium level. Generally the free level has limits as to the number of questions your survey can have and how many respondents can take your survey. Make sure to collect each person’s name and email so that you can contact your winner and generate an email list for future marketing use.
  3. Announce your contest, through press releases, your discussion groups, your social networking sites, Twitter, and on your website and blog.
  4. Enlist your friends to let their friends know about the contest. Everyone loves a chance to win something, so getting people to talk about your contest should be fairly easy.
  5. At the end of the contest, use a free online random number generator like Random.org or Randomizer.org to pick your winners.
  6. Announce the winners and send the winners their prizes.

Let me know if you decide to hold a contest for your website. In the meantime, go enter the contest on ChristianBookVideos.com. You may win a new Christian book to read!


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First Annual Book Trailer Awards

It was only a matter of time before someone developed an award for book trailers and now there is one.

The name of the first book trailer award is the BOOKIE AWARDS. They are sponsored by the anti-TV website, JustSayNoWay.com, which promotes reading over watching television.

For the complete list of rules for these awards and to find out how to submit your book trailer (self-published book trailers accepted) visit JustSayNoWay.com’s website.


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Reaching the Average Christian Reader

I recently had lunch with a dear Christian friend. As we talked, she shared with me her desire that her just-turned teenage daughter grow in her relationship with God and read God’s word regularly. Knowing that my friend had done devotional studies with her children when they were young, I asked her if she had thought about doing a mother-daughter Bible study with her now teen daughter to encourage her continued involvement with God and His word.

My friend responded that she had been to her local Christian bookstores and searched and searched for mother-daughter Bible study material, but that she had found none geared to a teenage child. Knowing I am an author, she then suggested I write one.

I told my friend that there was no need for me to write one. I was certain that some small publisher or self-published author had already written an outstanding mother-daughter Bible study for teens. I explained to her how small publishers were starting to fill in the gaps in Christian material that the major Christian publishers were missing. Sadly, Christian bookstores have not yet recognized this and begun to offer more breadth and depth in the books they sell.

I was sad to hear yet another story about how a local Christian bookstore had failed to offer the right mix of books to imagewrap.imgadequately nurture their patron’s faith.  My friend really had no idea how to go about finding resources that were not in her local Christian bookstore.

How many Christians are like my friend? They have a need for a book or material that their local Christian bookstore does not stock, yet they don’t know how to find the quality Christian materials that they need any other way.

How do small publishers and self-published authors better reach this audience?

I wish I had the answer. I don’t. I did explain to my friend about small publishers and self-published authors and how they were creating materials to meet her needs. We did go online and search for mother-daughter Bible studies and found a small Christian publisher who had published a wonderful series for Christian mothers and their teen daughters that my friend could order online.

I don’t have the answer on how to better reach the average Christian. I do know that I am doing my small part to promote small publishers and self-published authors. How about you? Are you just promoting your own books, or are you also letting your friends and family know that small publishers and self-published authors have something great to offer Christians even though most of these materials won’t be found in their local Christian bookstores?


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Book Blogger Appreciation Week

This week is Book Blogger Appreciation Week. If you did not know that, don’t feel like you are out of touch. I just found out myself last week.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week was started last year by Amy Riley. Amy Riley is a blogger. Her blog, My Friend Amy, reviews books including Christian fiction titles. Amy started Book Blogger Appreciation Week to recognize the hard work and contribution of book bloggers to the promotion and preservation of a literate culture actively engaged in discussing books, authors, and a lifestyle of reading.bbaw-button2009

This week, September 14-18, spotlights and celebrates the work of active book bloggers through guest posts, awards, and giveaways.

Anyone can nominate a blog including the blogger for one of the Book Blogger Appreciation Week awards. Awards are given in 38 categories and nominations were accepted July 15 through August 15. Since I found out about this award too late in the game, I missed nominating this blog for the “Vote for Best Publishing/Industry Blog.” I will nominate it next year, but of course, I stand little chance against mainstream publishing industry blogs such as MediaBistro Galley Cat.

The voting for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards is open to anyone. The best blog in each category was voted on last week September 7-12, and the winners were announced this week.

One of the useful elements of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is that the organizers have compiled a directory of book bloggers on the Internet, broken down by categories. Anyone can add their book related blog to the directory. For authors, this directory is a great resource when looking for bloggers to review your book or when booking a blog tour. This Book Blog Directory can be found on the Book Blogger Appreciation Week website.

If you have a book related blog, check out Book Blogger Appreciation Week. List your blog in their directory and nominate it next year for an award. Consider participating in their other events such as guest posts and book giveaways during Book Blogger Appreciation Week.

I appreciate Amy Riley and the work she has put into helping keep the book publishing industry alive and thriving. We need more people like her!

Do you have a book related blog that you appreciate?


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Three Principles for Self-Publishing Success

Forbes.com recently ran an article on Clint Greenleaf, founder of Greenleaf Book Group, a publisher and distributor specializing in the development of independent authors and the growth of small presses. Clint Greenleaf is another great self-publishing success story.

clintClint Greenleaf told his friends that writing a book wasn’t that hard. His friends called him on it. To meet the challenge, Clint wrote a 30-page book titled Attention to Detail: A Gentleman’s Guide to Appearance and self-published it. He posted a free ad for the book in Bottom Line/Personal magazine offering his book for $5.00. Within a few months, Clint was collecting a hundred orders daily for his book. This led to his decision to launch a publishing company. He started Greenleaf Publishing Group in his parent’s garage. Today the company has far outgrown its humble origins and boasts annual revenues around eight million dollars.

Clint Greenleaf’s first book never made it to the New York Times Bestseller list, so how did he manage to achieve his success?

I think Clint understood three basic principles that every self-published author needs to succeed.

1. Write a book to fill an ongoing need.

Every man wants to succeed. Most men understand that appearance is an important aspect of success whether it is in business or in personal relations. Few books have been written to address this issue for men. A handbook that tells men exactly what they need to do fills their need. Writing a book to fill a need is the first key to success in self-publishing. Remember, your chances for success decrease based on the number of competing titles on your subject matter.

2. Price your book right.

A $5.00 book is a bargain. Consumers love a bargain and can spot one a mile away. If Clint had priced his book at $8.00 or $10.00 he would not have received as many orders. People are willing to gamble a small amount of money on something they think they need and only a larger amount of money on something they know they need. Keep price in mind when self-publishing your book. Pricing your book at the sweet spot is the second key to success in self-publishing. Don’t price yourself out of the competition.

3. Know your target market.

Knowing your target market is key to success in marketing books. Clint knew his target audience. One well-placed ad for men brought him the sales he wanted. Research your target audience. Learn how best to reach them and use those methods to get the message about your book in front of your potential customers. Knowing and reaching your target audience is the third key to success in self-publishing.

Take a lesson from Clint Greenleaf’s success story. It could be yours if you follow his example.


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