Interesting Project

This month, 36 Northwest authors came together to write a full-length novel in six days. The writing was featured live on the Internet as it was happening. This was quite a literary feat!

The purpose of the project was to raise awareness for literacy and funds for two programs that promote writing.

The story titled The Novel! Live! can be read online at the project’s website.

Watch this trailer for the project and the novel.

I would love to see a group of Christian authors do a similar project to raise awareness for the Gospel and Christian literature. Any takers?

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What is Your Benchmark?

Small publishers sometimes ask me about industry averages. They want to know how many books other publishers are selling as a way to tell how well they are doing compared with others in the business.

When it comes to selling books, the number of books sold for any given title, in any given genre is a difficult measurement. Often, the number of sales of any given title is dependent on a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  • The fame of the author
  • The amount of marketing dollars assigned to a book
  • The reception of the book by its intended audience
  • The timing of the book’s release

I read a statistic recently that cited, “The average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.”

I don’t know how the statisticians for this study calculated “average.” Did they include best-sellers in the number, or did they take them out? Did they include self-published books or just books from the large publishing houses as reported to the AAP (Association of American Publishers)?

In terms of business, I believe that publishers should have a benchmark; a standard of excellence or achievement against which your books can be measured or judged. You could use this statistic as your benchmark. If you sell around 250 copies a year (with around 3,000 copies sold over the life of the book) of your nonfiction title, then you are doing as well as most publishers.

As Christians, we should also have a benchmark. Our Christian benchmark should be different from our business benchmark. After all, “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (I Corinthians 3:19).

So, what should the benchmark be for a Christian publisher? I suggest you consider Galatians 6:7-8 which says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Books that point people to God, books that glorify God, books that encourage believers to not be deceived by sin, all sow to the Spirit. For Christians, one benchmark is making disciples and teaching people to observe what Jesus has commanded. If you are doing this with your books, then you are reaching a standard of excellence in God’s kingdom.

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Have You Been Hugged by a Book Lately?

I recently came across this picture on a book review blog. The picture was being used as the blog’s backdrop.

I absolutely fell in love with this picture. It portrays how I feel about good books.

Good books hug you. They provide comfort and support in life.

Of course, the ultimate Good book (the Bible) provides the most comfort, encouragement, and support.

However, other well-written, Christian-themed books also provide a hug when one reads them.

Have you been hugged by a good book recently?

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Cashing in on eBooks

eBooks are changing the book industry. Digital books are easy to produce, store, distribute, and sell.

eBooks do not require cartons to contain them, fuel to transport them (okay maybe a little electricity), building space to store them, or insurance against loss. With their low production and storage costs, they represent potential income to anyone with a website.

With digital books fast approaching 10 percent of the total book sales pie, websites are beginning to sit up and take notice. More and more businesses with an online presence are starting to sell ebooks.

Goodreads is one such company. Goodreads is the largest social networking site for book lovers. With 3.6 million members and a mission “to get people excited about reading,” Goodreads allows any reader to 1) create a personal profile; 2) catalog the books she has read, is reading, and wants to read; 3) interact with other book lovers and authors to review and discuss books; and 4) find interesting new books to read.

This year, Goodreads decided to add sales of ebooks to their website to enhance their goal of “helping authors reach their target audience—passionate readers.” Now, any author with a Goodread’s account (currently over 13,000 authors have an account) can upload ePUB, DRM-free versions of their books to sell to Goodreads users.

With the Goodreads program, authors are able to set the price of their ebooks and earn 70 percent of the sale price of each book sold. This business model is good for both authors and Goodreads. Authors get one more place to sell their books, resulting in more exposure, and Goodreads has a new revenue stream to support their business.

If you are not selling your ebooks on Goodreads, you can find out how to do this on their website under the “How to Use the Author Program” page. Then, you too can cash in on ebook sales.

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Are You Well-Fed?

In his book The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, Peter Bowerman gives advice to self-published authors on how to promote their books to make money. His advice is good.

Are you well-fed?

I believe that Christian authors and publishers should be concerned with being well-fed. However, I think being well-fed spiritually is as important as being well-fed physically.

In Matthew 4:4, Jesus says, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Our souls need food. If we only feed our physical bodies, our souls will starve.

This leaves the question: How does one become a spiritually well-fed author or publisher?

In John 4:32-24, Jesus tells his disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about…My food is to do the will of him who sent me.” That is our food also – to do the will of God.

If you are writing and publishing what God has called you to do, then you are doing God’s will and feeding your soul. I know an author who God has called to write on a certain topic. She is stalling out of fear and, instead, is writing other good things. What she has been called to write nags at her like constant hunger pains.

Has God called you to write or publish something, but you are hesitating?  I encourage you to boldly move forward with the project. Trust God to take care of you. Nothing satisfies like doing the will of God.

Be well-fed!

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