I am Thankful for…

Every year, the fourth Thursday of the month of November is designated as a special day for thanksgiving in the United States of America. It provides us a wonderful opportunity to sit back and reflect on all our blessings and the things we have to be thankful for.

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I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

As Christians, God wants us to have thankful attitudes every day. I strive to do just that.
However, in light of Thanksgiving, I am spending just a little time on this blog to share with you some of the things that I am thankful for.

  • I am thankful for having the privilege of leading and directing Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) for the past 10 years.
  • I am thankful for all the publishing members (both present and past) of CSPA and the desire they have to spread the message of the Gospel.
  • I am thankful that we live in a country where we can freely publish and distribute Christian materials.
  • I am thankful that the Third Edition of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace will release in early 2014. The guide desperately needed to be updated and God has graciously given me the bandwidth to do it this year.
  • I am thankful for you, the readers of this blog. I pray that it is a blessing to you.
  • I am thankful for my wonderful, supportive, loving family.
  • I am thankful for a heavenly Father who loves me and provides for all my needs.

What are you thankful for today?

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Use Bookstore Days to Promote Your Books

Bookstores want business and authors want opportunities to promote their books. Bring the two together and each can help the other.

As an author, you can piggyback on existing promotional opportunities to get more publicity for your books. Two upcoming events offer authors interesting marketing possibilities.

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Author Handselling Day

This Saturday (November 30) is Small Business Saturday. Author Sherman Alexie decided to start a new movement. This year, he invited authors to handsell books at their local independent bookstores on Small Business Saturday. On this day, which he is calling “Indies First”, Sherman wants authors to spend time at their local bookstore and make recommendations to people on what books to buy. He wants authors to not just promote their own books, but other books as well. For Indies First, authors are encouraged to pick a bookstore and talk to the owner to come to an agreement about how you will spend your time in their store that day.

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) likes the idea and has decided to support it. The ABA has a website page devoted to “Indies First” where authors can sign up to participate. Currently, over 700 authors have signed up and over 500 bookstores nationwide will be supporting them.

It is not too late to call your local Christian bookstore and see if they would like to be part of Author Handselling Day and host your time.

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Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day

Saturday, December 7, is the fourth annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. Over 500 bookstores around the world participate in this event. The mission of the event is to introduce children to bookstores and everything they have to offer. It’s also an opportunity for children to interact with booksellers and receive personal recommendations about books to read.

If you are a children’s author, you can use this already established day designed to help bookstores to both help your local bookstore and promote your books. Contact your local Christian bookstore, tell them about this event and volunteer to be a resident author for part of the day. What richness this will add to the experience of the children who come to the store for this special day. Not only will they be able to learn about new books, but your presence will allow them to meet and interact with an author.

Opportunities for authors to promote their books abound. You can take advantage of these events to piggyback your marketing efforts and find new readers for your books.

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Smashwords Reinvented

Charisma, a Christian publishing company, recently made the announcement that they are now offering a new self-publishing service for authors. This new service, called Excel, is completely free.

Excel

You heard that right: Free.

Excel reports that they offer authors free high-speed typesetting, custom cover design, and preparation for electronic publication in formats for the Kindle, Nook, iBook, and Kobo. The company states that they have developed a high-speed digital typesetting program based on the open source LaTeX program. They report that this production is fully automated. Excel plans to make its money from book sales.

Sounds a lot like Smashwords doesn’t it?

Basically, Excel is the Christian version of Smashwords—an automated typesetter and ebook seller, just like Smashwords. One difference is that Excel will offer print-on-demand for print titles also.

Another difference is that authors will have less control, both creative and economic, with Excel. The company states on their website that they will choose the retail price of the books they publish. From this, they will pay the author a $1.50 royalty for each copy sold. Authors can also purchase copies of their books for an estimated price of between $.03 and $.04 per page.

So, if you are looking to get a book published and willing to market a cookie-cutter looking book—remember, production is automated and lacks the human touch—Excel might be the service for you.

I expect to see more of these types of self-publishing services appear over the next few years. Self-publishing has been growing by leaps and bounds and it will continue to do so as more and more authors choose to publish their manuscripts this way.

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More Good News

The economy may be sluggish, but for small publishers and independently published authors, the news is very positive. My blog post last week on “Self-Publishing has Become Main Stream” reported that 40% of all books published in 2012 were self-published. Today’s post is full of more good news for you.

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BISG’s latest Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading study (the study BISG is discontinuing at the end of this year) found that readers are interested in paying more for ebooks if they got more in return. The study found:

  • Consumers are very interested in “bundling” print and digital versions of a book, with 48% of survey respondents willing to pay more for bundles.
  • Just over half of survey respondents would pay more for an ebook if it could be given away or re-sold.
  • Consumers do not distinguish between ebooks published by traditional houses and independently published options when making buying decisions.

While there is not much small publishers and independently published authors can do about making it easier to give away ebooks or allow readers to resell ebooks, the other findings from the study are actually good news for those who produce books.

This study showed that almost half of the respondents were willing to pay more for a bundle—buying both a print and ebook together. That means you should be offering this option to your potential customers. Offer the print book alone, the ebook alone, and a bundle of the two together. Also, make use of Amazon’s new Matchbook service to sell bundles via Amazon.

If you are unfamiliar with Amazon’s new Matchbook service, you can do the research and find out for yourself—or better yet, just join Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). CSPA’s member publishers were informed all about Matchbook and how to access and use the service when it was launched. Join now and you can use our article index to find out about this new resource.

The other really good news in BISG’s ebook study was that the study found that customers do not tend to distinguish between traditional houses and independently published options when making buying decisions. We can conclusively say that there is little sigma left in self-publishing. Hoorah!

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Changes

This year, I committed to updating my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. That process is well under way, and the Third Edition of the book will release in early 2014.

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What has amazed me in updating the book is the monumental changes that have occurred both in the publishing industry and on the Internet since the Second Edition. For instance, in the past four years, social networking has gone from being a fairly “new” thing to an everyday activity for most people.

In the Second Edition of Your Guide to Marketing Books on the Christian Marketplace, there is an entire chapter devoted to social networking. Within the chapter there is a whole section dedicated to popular social networking sites that are open to everyone, but Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo only received mentions, and Twitter was not even in the mix.

The new Third Edition of the book will feature whole sections within the social networking chapter devoted to Facebook and Twitter, yet the landscape has changed so drastically that most authors will already be using these social networking sites when they read the book.

One of the other huge changes in the industry is the growth of ebooks. While the Second Edition of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace has a whole chapter on ebooks, back in 2009 digital book sales were only around six to eight percent of all book sales. In 2013, ebook sales make up between 25 to 30 percent of all book sales. That is a large amount of growth. In essence, ebooks have gone from being a specialty book format to a common book format.

With the growth of ebooks, most of the publications that review books now accept review copies in digital format. Also many of the book awards that used to accept only print books now have added ebook categories to their awards.

What do all these changes mean for you?

The Internet continues to evolve. As it does, the way we do things changes with it. The Internet is continuing to change the way we publish, distribute, and market books. As an author or publisher, it is important for you to stay on top of these changes so that you can continue to meet your target market where they are.

Stay tuned to hear more about ordering the new Third Edition of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace!

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