Top Ten Predictions for 2011

I have a friend who lives in Middle America and is retired. She spends a good portion of her day on her computer and loves to forward all sorts of interesting emails to her friends.

I recently received one from her titled “Top Ten Predictions for 2011.”

I do not know who originally wrote this list, but I loved it and decided I would share it with you. All the problems the World is facing can be unsettling to the mind. This list is sure to help you refocus on what is most important.

Top Ten Predictions for 2011

1.      The Bible will still have all the answers.

2.      Prayer will still be the most powerful thing on Earth.

3.      The Holy Spirit will still move.

4.      God will still honor the praises of His people.

5.      There will still be God-anointed preaching.

6.      There will still be singing of praise to God.

7.      God will still pour out blessings upon His people.

8.      There will still be room at the Cross.

9.      Jesus will still love you.

10.   Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.

And I will add to this list that Christian books proclaiming God’s power will still be published.

It’s good to remind ourselves of who is really in control. For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” I Peter 1:24-25.

May you be blessed by God in the New Year!

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Good News or Bad?

Sales of Christian products have “flattened” this year. Simply put, this means Christian book sales did not increase this year. After a decade or more of growth, Christian book sales have basically remained the same the past couple of years.

Industry experts do not really know why sales have remained flat, nor do they agree on their perceived reasons as to what has led to this stall in sales growth. Here are some of the speculations the industry experts provide:

  • No new blockbuster titles (like the Left Behind series and The Purpose Driven Life)
  • A glut of Christian products
  • Products that do not interest younger Christians

I believe that there are cycles to every industry and to product sales. Many industries have experienced either a flattening or a dip in sales in the past two years due to the recession. We should not think that Christian book sales are exempt from economic impact when the economy suffers.

As for Christian book sales flattening, I think much of this is due to the economy. However, I believe that all three of the above reasons given by industry experts come into play.

Blockbuster titles drive sales of other Christian books. Often, someone will go into a store to purchase the blockbuster title and come out with an additional title or two that caught their eye while in the store. Hence, a Christian bestseller can help sell more Christian books as a whole. Since the industry has not had such a title in a couple years, Christian book sales, as a whole, have been impacted.

Interestingly, a glut of Christian products can lead to fewer bestselling titles. I believe that one reason Pilgrim’s Progress was such a Christian classic and bestseller was that, for so many years, consumers only had a handful of books to choose from. The more titles people have available to them, the more purchasing gets dispersed, and the harder it is for one title to rise to the top.

In addition, the industry has been chided for years for publishing “fluff” instead of “meaty” Christian titles. For example, a couple years ago, one of the major Christian publishers contracted with Britney Spears’ mother to write a book on Christian parenting. Now, Britney Spears is hardly a good example of what one wants a Christian parent to produce. I am sure the publisher felt that the author’s name would sell many copies regardless of the content. The publisher ended up deciding not to publish the book after it came out in the news that the mother was allowing Britney’s pregnant teenage sister to live with the father of her baby. Such a parenting book would definitely have fallen into the “fluff” category of Christian titles.

I do not believe that the flattening of Christian book sales is negative news. Rather, it is fairly positive news. In these years of recession, Christian books have continued to sell.

I believe the market is primed for small publishers willing to publish “meaty” Christian materials that appeal to those seeking a deeper understanding of and closer relationship with God. These books may not become bestsellers, but they will definitely find an audience.

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Are You Obsessed?

Some authors never check their Amazon sales rank. Others check it multiple times daily. Now with Amazon offering Nielson Bookscan data on sales, authors have more ways to see how their books are selling.

Hopefully, you are not obsessed with checking your Amazon sales. Here is a humorous look at the effect obsessing checking of Amazon sales ranking can have on authors.

Merry Christmas and may you sell many books!

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Social Media Success

One of the clients I provide social media services for recently met a gentleman who was new in her field of business. This gentleman had started a Facebook page for his business and was bragging to her how “successful” he had been with his Facebook page.

My client sent me a link to the gentleman’s Facebook page. After looking at his page, I asked my client what was meant by “successful?”

Was he referring to the number of people who “liked” his business page? Was he referring to the number of posts he made to his wall each day? Was he talking about the types of messages he posted? Was he referring to the number of comments he received to those posts? Or, did he mean that he had increased sales as a result of his Facebook page?

My client did not know the answer, but knew that she wanted to increase the number of fans on her Facebook page. By the way, the gentleman who was having such “great” success on Facebook only had 25 more fans than my client.

Attracting fans on your Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking site is only the beginning of social media success. The key challenge in social media success is keeping those fans interested and engaged and turning them into advocates for what you are selling or offering.

Cone, a social media marketing agency, recently conducted a survey to find out what social media users expect from businesses that they follow. Here is some of what they found out:

  • 77 percent wanted to be offered a discount or coupon for services and products
  • 46 percent wanted customer service
  • 28 percent wanted to be entertained

What the survey found was that what people were not looking for was equally relevant. The top two reasons social media users said they stopped following businesses online tied at 58 percent. These two reasons were businesses sending out too many messages and businesses acting irresponsibly. A close second, at 53 percent, complained that the content posted by the business was irrelevant.

So, if you want to be successful with your social media efforts, keep in mind that too much content or the wrong kind of content will drive consumers away. Post a couple times a day (peak usage times for Facebook are 11am, 3pm, and 8pm on weekdays) and keep your content relevant to your products. In essence, don’t overdo it.

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Demystifying How Books are Chosen for Review

With about three-quarters of a million books published each year, review publications have to make decisions about which books to review and which books to skip.

If you are curious about the process that review editors use to decide which books to review, watch this video by Ron Charles, deputy editor of The Washington Post Book World, on “The Business of Book Reviewing” that he presented at the Virginia Book Festival on March 20, 2010.

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