Success in 2012

Knowledge is vital for success in publishing and selling books. Where do you get the knowledge you need to be more successful?

One great way to stay abreast of the trends in publishing and selling books, to better understand your competition, and to stay up-to-date with rules and regulations for publishing books is to join a professional association.

If you want to take your publishing efforts to new levels in 2012, I encourage you to join Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). CSPA exists to represent, promote, and strengthen small publishers in the Christian marketplace.

In addition to providing our members with vital information, CSPA also offers affordable avenues to help you promote your books.  A full list of membership benefits is listed on our website.

Member publishers of CSPA often tell us how helpful they find the information and services that we provide. Here are a few of their comments:

“Thank you for CSPA—it is the best single asset I have as a Christian publisher, bar none.” —Joseph

“The newsletter for the Christian Small Publishers Association is worth the price of membership all by itself—we get gems from every issue. Thanks for what you are doing for the industry!” —Melanie

“As a new member, we have been extremely impressed with both the professionalism and the breadth of services from the CPSA. We are just getting started as a company and you have been a huge help.” —Tim

Joining CSPA is now as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Go to the URL www.christianpublishers.net.
  2. Click on “Become a Member.”
  3. Fill out the online form and then either pay the $75 annual membership dues with the PayPal link, or mail us a check for $75.

I wish you much success with publishing and selling books in 2012.

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Email Marketing Still Important

In the song “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old”, the next line states “One is silver and the other gold”. Both gold and silver are valuable. However, gold is more valuable than silver. I think this idea is important to remember when it comes to marketing techniques.

With so much marketing emphasis on social media and mobile these days, it is easy to abandon older technology in favor of the new. Here is a word of caution. Older friends are gold, while newer friends are silver.

I think the same applies to marketing. Social media is silver. However, the older marketing techniques such as email blasts, mail campaigns, and good old fashioned in-person promoting and selling of books are still gold. Don’t throw them away.

BookBrowse, a website all about secular books, recently completed a survey of its 3,400 member reading audience. Here is part of what they found out:

  • 65% regularly use social networking sites, ranging from 95% penetration among 18-34 year olds, to 37% for those aged over 75.
  • Facebook dominates, followed by GoodReads. LibraryThing, and Shelfari trail.
  • Even though two-thirds use social networking, only 25% use it to keep up with websites. E-mail remains the preferred vehicle to stay in touch.

I think the last point means that readers still rely on email to stay up-to-date with the companies they like. While they may be fans of these companies on Facebook, they still prefer to receive emails alerting them to new products, specials, etc.

Email is still gold. Don’t abandon it yet. Use it to keep your customers and potential customers informed about your books, your authors’ events, and any sales or specials you are running.

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e-Reader Ingenuity

Do you want your e-reader or tablet to actually look like a book?

John, an Etsy artist, can help you. For $55.95, John will make you a hand-crafted leather cover that looks just like an old–fashioned book.

These Neverending Story e-reader and tablet covers are made to fit Kindles and Nooks. For an added cost, they can be done for an iPad or Galaxy tablet.

As John says, they are a perfect way to protect your e-reader while attracting a lot of attention and comments from friends and passersby. They might even bring back the nostalgic feeling of a real old-fashioned leather-bound print book.

Now, we just need to convince John to make ones that look like Bible covers.

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Gilded Book Covers

My husband loves leather-bound books. The other day, while shopping at Costco, he saw a leather-bound version of The Arabian Nights. As a collector of classic literature, he could not pass up this book with its beautiful cover.

The New York Times recently ran an article on “Selling Books by Their Gilded Covers”. The gist of this article was that many publishers are releasing books with special cover design elements like deckle edges, covered endpapers, embossing, and exquisite jackets. The article’s author felt that publishers were giving old-fashioned print books a makeover to compete with ebook sales. The article asserts that if ebooks are about ease and expedience, the publishers reason, then print books need to be about physical beauty and the pleasures of owning, not just reading.

I agree, as digital books become more prominent, owning books will be as much about the physical beauty as it is about reading. However, I believe that this was true even before digital books arrived on the scene. My husband collected leather-bound classical titles before ebooks appeared. Even though he now has an iPad with numerous books on it, he still enjoys collecting these books.

I think there are two more reasons to dress up book covers. I wrote about one reason in my post “Is There a Hole in Your Book?” where I talked about making book covers standout to attract attention amongst a plethora of titles. The other reason has to do with books as gifts. Giving someone a paperback title is a nice gift. Giving someone a book with a gilded cover is a more elegant gift that may be treasured more than just a plain book.

As you ponder the cover design for your next book, keep this idea in mind. Would your book sales benefit from using some form of unique or elegant cover design?

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Surfing the Book Sale Wave

The push is on. Publishers and authors alike spend time before Christmas promoting their books as great gifts. Many offer discounts and specials right before the holidays to generate sales for their books.

This strategy is great. It works to sell books. However, it does not work as well for ebooks. Most gift-givers do not purchase specific digital books as gifts. While it is possible to purchase a specific ebook as a gift via Amazon and other online retailers, many people don’t know how (Amazon has developed a YouTube video to show people how). Hence, most people still prefer to give gift cards, allowing the recipient to purchase and download the books.

As a result, holiday book sales now come in two waves. Print sales before Christmas is the first wave of book sales. The second wave is the sale of digital books on Christmas day and the days following.

Did you know that last year Amazon sold more Kindle books than print books on Christmas day? Why? Because each person who received a Kindle e-reader for Christmas immediately wanted to load his new reader with books to read (and many received gift cards to purchase books along with the gift of the e-reader).

This year will be no different. If anything, more e-readers and tablets will be given as Christmas gifts than were given last year. After all, sales of Kindles were up 300% this Black Friday from last year, not to mention the surge of new e-readers and tablets currently hitting the market.

How can you smoothly surf the book sale wave and capitalize on the digital sales that come on Christmas day to sell your ebooks? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Remember that the promotion you have done before Christmas for the print version of your titles is not completely lost for those wanting digital titles. Some will remember your book and purchase it in the ebook version.
  2. Offer the first couple chapters of your book as a free download. You can do this on a number of website including on Amazon through the Kindle Singles program. Be sure to include a link at the end of the chapters to where the reader can purchase the remainder of the book (the full version). Be sure to promote this free download.
  3. Offer a Christmas week special on the ebook version of your book. You can do this by temporarily reducing the price of your ebook on Amazon and other retail sites for that week. Be sure to announce your special in your newsletter and on all your social media sites.

With a little planning and ingenuity, you may be able to ride the Christmas ebook sale spike and sell more books this holiday season.

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