WIIFM stands for “What’s In It for Me?”

WIIFM is what motivates a person to buy something.

I may purchase Dr. Pepper Ten over regular Dr. Pepper because the Ten one tells me that it only delivers 10 calories per serving, allowing me to cut down on my calorie intake. I may purchase Colgate Luminous toothpaste even though it costs me more than other toothpastes because it promises to not only whiten my teeth, but also strengthen my enamel.

As humans, we are motivated to buy something for what we can get out of the thing we are buying.

WIIFM is the most important question every publisher and author must answer for their potential readers. What does your book contain that the reader will benefit from? In other words: What will the reader get out of reading your book?

When creating your sales pitch and all your marketing materials for your next book, answer this question for your potential readers. All your sales text— back cover copy, marketing materials, book descriptions, etc.—should answer the WIIFM question.

Tell your potential readers what they will get from your book. Tell them how your book will improve their life or meet a need they have. It’s that simple.

What’s in it for you? Answer: More book sales!

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ICRS 2012

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently returned from exhibiting at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS 2012) in Orlando, Florida. This show is the largest gathering of Christian retailers, suppliers, and other industry professionals each year.

This year, CSPA represented 51 book products from 20 of our member publishers. We hosted 8 author book signings and one additional book giveaway from an author who was not able to make the show.

We spoke with many retailers, small publishers, industry professionals, and authors. In addition, the publishers and authors who attended the show with CSPA had numerous opportunities to learn and network with others.

Here is out experience of ICRS 2012 in pictures for you to view (just click on the photo).


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How Many Times?

I was recently reminded of the importance of repeated exposure in marketing. While the circumstances had nothing to do with selling books, the lesson still remains.

I coordinate the summer swim team for my neighborhood pool. This is a swim team for children that live in the neighborhood. The swim team runs every summer for eight weeks. Each year, we take a team photo of all the children on the team. The parents then have a chance to purchase the photo as a memento.

This year I emailed information about purchasing the team photo to all the parents on the swim team (my target audience). I requested that they place an order for the photo. I received a few replies.

Since I received only a few replies, I mentioned that the photos were for sale in another email to the parents (repeat exposure). This time, I got a few more replies.

As each email elicited a few more commitments to purchase, I decided to mention the photo a third time in yet another email. This attempt also brought some replies from more parents wanted to purchase a team photo.

Here I had a group of people who have motivation to purchase the team photo—after all, it contains a picture of their child on the swim team. Yet, still, multiple exposures were required to elicit sales.

If three or more exposures were what it took for motivated people to purchase a team photo, know that more than six exposures will be required for you to hook your target audience into purchasing your book. After all, your target audience does not possess the same level of motivation that the parents on my neighborhood swim team have for purchasing a team photo that includes their child.

Take note: When marketing your book, even if you are promoting to your target audience, multiple exposures will be required to secure your audience’s action to purchase.

The Growth of Self-Publishing

New figures from R.R. Bowker show that the recent growth in the self-publishing market has led to the first increase in print book output in the United States in four years.

This Bowker report showed that 347,178 books were printed in 2011 (up from 328,259 in 2010). Of this figure, 211,269 were self-published titles (up from 133,036 in 2010). In case you are not good with math, about 61% of print books published in 2011 were self-published—well over half (the figure was only around 41% in 2010—less than half).

Did you catch that? Over half of the books printed in 2011 were self-published. We are living in the “Golden Age of Self-Publishing.”

If you are wondering whether to self-publish your book, consider this: If you choose to self-publish, you will no longer be in a “minority of authors” category. You will actually be in the category of the majority of authors today.

Self-publishers are creating growth in the publishing industry. Self-publishing success is possible in today’s market.

Let me temper this excitement with a word of caution. If you think that you can quit your day job to self-publish your book, think again. Less than 10% of self-published authors earn a living from their books.

A study, conducted by Taleist, which surveyed 1,000 self-published authors, found that half of these authors earned less than $500 off their self-published books in 2011. Of course, that means half earned more.

In other words, self-publishing is viable in today’s book market. Just don’t expect to become rich off your self-published book.

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Price it Right

How much would you pay for a book?

Would you pay $9.99 for a 50-page devotional? How about $27.00 for a paperback Christian novel?

Price makes a difference.

Price a book too high and you will lose sales. Why should I buy this novel by an unknown author for $27.00 when I can buy one by a best-selling author for $14.99? Why would I buy a 50-page devotional for the same price that I can get a 100+ page devotional that holds twice as many devotions and will last me twice as long?

Price a book too low and you will also lose sales. If you sell a devotional book for $7.99 when most devotional books of the same length sell for $11.99, you may attract some bargain hunters, but many readers will be leery about why your book is so cheap when it is not on sale.

Pricing strategy is important. The retail chain store, J.C. Penney (JCP), recently changed management in an attempt to reinvent the chain and increase sales. The new management rolled out a new name (JCP) and pricing strategy. What they did was to get rid of sales. In the place of “sales” language they designed three pricing tiers:

  • Everyday – for best everyday value
  • Month Long Value – these are the current items that are actually on sale
  • Best Prices – these are clearance items

Guess what? The strategy backfired. The company has lost sales and money this year.

I helped contribute to JCP’s loss of sales. I like to shop at JCP. Recently, I went into a JCP store looking for a couple specific items. After browsing and not seeing any “sales” or “clearance” racks (I am a bargain hunter), I left and shopped at other stores. Later, I stopped back in JCP and realized that their prices were comparable to what I paid for the sales items I purchased at the other stores. However, because I was looking for the “sales” signs and did not see them, I went elsewhere.

A similar psychological phenomenon applies to books. Price a book too high or too low and customers will pass it up. Consumers know the standard book prices and they don’t stray too far from them except for a sale.

If a large retail chain like JCP is having difficulty changing its pricing strategy, as a small publisher or self-published author, you will surely miss out on sales if you don’t price your book right.

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