Are You Afraid?

Since May is “Get Caught Reading Month,” I thought I would share with you one of the books I read this month and what struck me from the book.

Unbridged Grace: A True Story about the Power of Choice by Dr. Michael J. Norman was entered into this year’s Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award. While the book did not win the award, the story fascinated me, so I decided to read it.

The book is a memoir about Dr. Norman’s experience of being inadvertently associated with the Russian Mafia and the United States Government’s Indictment against him as a result. The book tells this story as well as relates Dr. Norman’s corresponding spiritual journey during this time in his life.

I love to read interesting biographies and memoirs. In the book-selling world, biographies are a popular category, usually selling well. However, I have found that with Christian Small Publisher Association’s (CSPA) BookCrash blogger book review program that memoirs have not been as popular with the reviewers as children’s and fiction books. I believe this is because people like to read about famous people. Most memoirs published by small presses are stories about obscure people we do not know. Hence, they are not as popular as a memoir by a known personality. However, I find memoirs by obscure people the most fascinating.

Usually when I read a memoir by an ordinary Christian, my faith is strengthened. These books usually express ways in which these people have experienced God and his miracles in their lives. I am always encouraged.

Dr. Noman’s story is no different. God was very much alive and at work in this life during this very difficult time. I especially liked what Dr. Norman had to say about evil:

A third nature of evil comes in the form of the devil, or Satan himself. ..Because he cannot kill us, he wants us to kill ourselves by driving us to despair, using all possible means. Primarily through fear and deception, the devil preys upon our frail human nature as the lines become confusingly blurred between right and wrong, good and evil, and truth and falsehood…Without fear, he is left without his greatest weapon and exhibits his fundamental cowardice by backing down from a strong fight.

I appreciated Dr. Norman’s reminder that we are in a battle. The devil does not want the truth of God’s word to go forward.  If you write and publish books that point people to the Truth, you are in involved in this battle.

We can take heart from the words of Dr. Norman reminding us that without fear, Satan has lost his greatest weapon. Is fear holding you back from writing, publishing, or marketing a book? Remember, if God is on your side, who can defeat you?

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Are You Minding Your Manners?

Social media is a powerful tool to connect with people and enlarge your promotional reach. However, it only works if you use it correctly.

I am amazed at how many self-published authors misuse social media. Instead of adding to a conversation or making a thoughtful comment and subtly including information on a book, website, or blog, many self-published authors simply post a shout about their book on someone’s wall.

This actually happens quite frequently on Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) Facebook page. A self-published author will become a fan of CSPA’s Facebook page and within a day or two post an obnoxious message about his new book. What surprises me the most is often when I delete this message from the page; the author comes back the next day and re-posts it.

Here are a few examples of what NOT to post when using social media to promote a book. Please note that these are not the worst of posts that shout rather than add to the conversation. Most of those I have deleted, so I no longer have access to them.

In this example, this self-published author places a link to his book on CSPA’s page. That’s it, just a link that shows the book and includes the description of the book. He doesn’t use a teaser to entice people. He doesn’t make a call to a specific audience the book is geared for. He doesn’t add anything to the information on publishing and marketing that is presented on CSPA’s Facebook page. He just shouts.

In this second example, the comment has nothing to do with the post that the person is commenting on. The first person writes an appropriate response, but the second comment, reporting that a book is available on Amazon, has nothing to do with the post.

Trust me. These types of posts on social media do not encourage people to look at your book. Instead, they make you look amateur and self-published, generating a negative response from the reader, which will not lead to book sales.

So what is the best way to promote your book using social media?

I suggest that you make a thoughtful contribution to a post or conversation and use your contribution to subtly promote your book. Say something useful and relevant. Do not give the impression that you are just there to promote your book.

Above all, remember that you are a guest on someone’s page or profile. Be respectful and use your manners!

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Is Fear Holding You Back?

Are you still flirting with the idea of creating a book trailer for your books? Are you stymied by the idea that you have to have state-of-the-art equipment and techniques to accomplish a professional-looking video?

If you are still pondering starting to use videos to promote your books, don’t let fear hold you back.

Watch this great YouTube video on advice for getting started. It will leave you thinking, “I can do this too.”

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An Equation Every Publisher Should Know

Brian Jud recently wrote an article on “50 Tips for Promoting Your Book” over on Book Business Magazine. In his first 25 tips, I think three deserve highlighting. These are three that I have talked about time and time again, but since I keep running into publishers who don’t pay any attention to them, I guess I need to continue to use one of Brian’s other 25 tips, which is “say something old in a new way”. So here goes.

The three tips from Brian Jud’s article I think need highlighting are:

  1. People do not buy quickly. A one-time exposure will not make a person buy your book. Even hearing a recommendation from a friend once won’t necessarily get them to buy a book. A person needs to be exposed to a book anywhere from 7 to 12 times before they will make a purchase.
  2. Promote daily. If you are not selling many books, it is probably because you are not doing much promotion. Marketing your book to your target audience must be an on-going task. Do one to three things every day to promote your book (and not the same things every day, vary what you do).
  3. Use a variety of promotional tools. This is the varying part. There are many, many different ways to promote a book. Here are just a few: writing guest blog posts (check out BloggerLinkUp.com to find bloggers who need posts in your subject area), send your book on a blog tour (if you are a CSPA member consider using the BookCrash.com program), use Google Adwords to advertise your book, exhibit at a conference or tradeshow, use social media to promote your book, enter a book award, be an expert for the media (check out HelpaReporter.com to find journalists needing stories), and be a guest on a radio show (head on over to BlogTalkRadio.com to find hundreds of Internet shows looking for guests).

Self-publishers and small publishers wear many hats in their publishing business. Marketing is truly a time-consuming effort. It is easy to let it fall by the wayside. However, if you want to sell books, you can’t neglect marketing.

The equation is simple: Promotion = Book Sales. Remember, the inverse is also true: No Promotion = No Book Sales.

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Thriving in a Changing Industry

This year will be the fifth year for Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) to host a seminar for publishers (and anyone interested in becoming a publisher, including self-published authors) at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS).

CSPA is pleased to announce that we will host our annual Publishers’ Institute at ICRS this summer in Orlando, Florida. The theme of this year’s Publishers’ Institute is “Thriving in a Changing Industry.” We have an exciting lineup of speakers for the seminar.

Is the World Flat? Trends in eBooks and Digital Publishing
John McClure, Publisher, Signalman Publishing

After spending his time as an active duty Navy officer and then later as an IT manager for a large hotel chain, John McClure discovered e-readers, and specifically the Amazon Kindle shortly after its debut. He researched the process for formatting books to meet the Kindle specs and publishing in the Kindle Store and felt called to engage this as a business. Thus in June, 2008, Signalman Publishing was founded. Today, Signalman has published 60 titles for the ebook market with 33 of those titles also available in paperback.

Selling and Distributing Your Book to Retail… How Does it Work?
Dave Sheets, Vice President of Sales, Snowfall Press

David Sheets is a book industry veteran with experience with some of the top publishers and distributors in the Christian book industry. David has worked with Tyndale House Publishers during the heyday of the New Living Translation (NLT) and the Left Behind series; and Multnomah Publishers during the mega-selling time of The Prayer of Jabel. In addition, David led the sales and marketing teams at STL Distribution as Sr. Vice President. In 2008, David was named as one of Christian Retailing Magazine’s ‘Top 40 under 40.’ Most recently, David joined Snowfall Press, a rapid growth, short run print solutions company. Snowfall works with authors, publishers, ministries and businesses to produce high quality, short book runs with unique retail and direct-to-consumer distribution options.

The Ten Essential Elements of Successful Book Promotion
Sarah Bolme, Director, CSPA

Sarah Bolme is the co-founder and Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), the owner of CREST Publications, and the author of the award-winning Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. She is also the editor of the CSPA Circular, the monthly newsletter of Christian Small Publishers Association. Sarah’s passion is educating others to help them market their books into the Christian marketplace.

Publishers’ Institute will be held on Sunday, July 15, from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center in Room 303A, during The International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in Orlando, Florida. The cost is just $20. You can register in advance on CSPA’s website by just clicking here. Registration will also be taken at the door of the event.

I hope to see you there!