The Secret to Success

Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

Are you looking to learn how to become a more successful author or publisher?

If you are on a tight budget, the Internet abounds with numerous free opportunities for publishers and authors to learn more about writing, publishing, and promoting books.

Of course, the free information is usually not as in-depth or as thorough as the information you receive through paid subscriptions like the newsletter that Christian Small Publishers Association (or any other publishing or author association) offers with a  membership. Many of our publishers tell us that the information in the CSPA newsletter alone is worth the price of their membership dues.

That said, there is still much to be gained from the free information available to you on the Web. I could list multiple blogs, e-newsletters, and other resources for you to find additional information on how to be more successful. Instead, today, I am going to point you to two free online magazines.

The first one is Book Business. This e-journal is published six times a year and offers publishers strategies for better management. It is produced by the same people who put on the Publishing Business Conference & Expo each year. You can read the magazine online on the website, or sign-up to receive this magazine free-of-charge via your email inbox.

The Author Entrepreneur Magazine is a new publication. This magazine is published monthly and is dedicated to helping author entrepreneurs build a successful and sustainable business. You can read this journal in PDF format on the magazine’s website.

Learning is truly the path to success for both authors and publishers. If you can’t afford more, then at least take advantage of these free learning tools and then put what you learn into practice.

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Don’t Overlook Smart Phones

One of my daughter’s middle-school friends hates to read. Her mother says that getting her to read anything is worse than getting teeth pulled. This girl will always find shortest book she can when required to read something for school.

Recently, this middle-school girl obtained an iPod Touch. One day while browsing around the Internet, she came across an ebook that she thought she might be interested in reading. She decided to read this ebook for her next school project.

Little did she know, this book would turn out to be the longest book she ever read. You see, not having a physical copy, she did not think to look at the number of pages in the book’s description. Reading on an iPod is similar to reading on a smart phone, you only see a portion of a page at a time. This girl told me that when she got to chapter 24, she began to wonder how many chapters the book had. After going back to the Table of Contents to look, she discovered the book had a whopping 72 chapters.

Here is the good part. Not knowing that the book was so long, she began reading and got hooked on the story. Now, she is determined to complete the entire book—all via her iPod through reading in the cloud.

Recently, Bowker noticed a disparity between the number of Young Adult ebooks being purchased and the relatively low number of kids who claim to read ebooks. They decided to investigate. What Bowker found was that 55% of the buyers of Young Adult books are 18 years old or older. Those in the 30 to 44 age group reported they were purchasing the title for themselves 78% of the time.

With over half of the readers of Young Adult books being adults (taking into account both print and ebook format), what does this say about the reading of tweens/teens?

The data found in Bowker’s study combined with the recent findings by the Pew Internet and American Life Project that 45% of all U.S. adults now own a smartphone and that 29% of all ebooks are read on smartphone, makes me ponder a couple of things.

  1. I fear that many young people may be like my daughter’s friend. In our age of instant gratification and fast-moving media, many youth may be turned off by the length of books, leading them to consistently choose other activities over reading. Maybe digital reading may indeed help increase the number of youth reading for pleasure.
  2. Smartphones may currently be the most common mobile e-reading device.

What does this mean for you as an author or publisher? First, be aware that if you have written or published a Young Adult book, the majority of your readers may actually be adults. Second, make sure your digital books are available for sale through Apple’s iStore and the android stores (such as Google Play) for readers to purchase and download your book onto their smartphones.

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Second Call for Nominations

A book award draws attention to your title. One of the winners of the 2012 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award had the following to say after her book won an award:

I’m enjoying the gold stickers from CSPA that state it’s a “Book of the Year” to put on the book’s cover! They really draw people’s attention.

Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year, sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), honors books produced by small publishers each year for outstanding contribution to Christian life. This year, nominations are accepted in 12 categories: General Fiction, Romance, Biography, Christian Living, Devotional, Relationships/Family, Bible Study/Theology, Children’s Book 4-8 years, Children’s Book 8-12 years, Young Adult (12+ years), Gift Books, and eBook Exclusive. Nominations must be received by November 15, 2012.

  1. Books must be published by a small publisher with annual revenues of $400,000 or less.
  2. Nominated books must be Christian in nature and intended for the Christian marketplace.
  3. All nominated books must be printed in English and for sale in the United States.
  4. Any small publisher can nominate titles for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award.
  5. Each book can only be nominated for one category.
  6. Nominated books must be published in 2011 or 2012.
  7. Nomination fee is $40.00 per title.

To view the complete eligibility guidelines and to nominate your books, visit

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Selling Digital Books in the Physical Realm

As the publishing and book selling industry changes with more people buying books in digital format, how will authors (and retailers) sell digital books in the physical realm—in bookstores and during book signings and author appearances?

Two companies have innovative solutions for this dilemma.

One company, Boxette, based in the United Kingdom plans to sell ebooks in boxes shaped to look like books on shelves. The company will load the ebook onto a USB drive in Kindle, EPUB, and PDF format. The USB drive will be placed inside the box, which will be made to look like the front and back cover of the book (think DVDs but books on a flash drive instead of discs). Boxette has just started. As yet, they have not placed their ebooks into any retail stores, but hope to do that soon. The idea is clever and may take off.

The other company, Author Solutions, a large self-publishing company recently purchased by Penguin, has launched a new program called BookStub for their authors. In essence, BookStub is a service where authors can sell their ebooks in person via a credit-card-sized voucher with a picture of the book cover on one side and a unique product code to download the ebook on the other side.

So, now instead of toting books around in the back of a car, an author can carry books around in his wallet. If Author Solutions can get retailers to buy into this program, the next step would be to have these cards displayed on racks next to bookshelves for readers to purchase the digital version of the book right in the bookstore.

If you are an independent author, you can use the BookStub idea for your books. Simply have business cards printed with the image of the cover of your book on one side and the website and product code where the reader can download your ebook (each product code would need to be unique and only allowed to be used once to avoid multiple downloads per card). Then, you too can sell digital books in person at all your author appearances and as you go about your everyday life.

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The Most Important Marketing Tip

Dave Sheets, Vice President at Snowfall Press, did a brief interview with me at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) this summer in Orlando. Dave asked me to talk about the most important marketing tip I have to share with small publishers.

If you want to know what I said, watch this brief interview.

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