Customer Service Matters

A new study conducted by Woodbury University showed that while over 60% of businesses they surveyed were using the Internet to promote their business, over 25% of these businesses did not monitor customer satisfaction. The study also found that half (about 50%) did not monitor online reviews of their business.

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The most interesting find for me from this study was that only about 75% of the businesses surveyed reported that they felt good reviews were important to their business. Yet, in a survey of 1,500 consumers who were asked how they would select a business to do home remodeling, 35% reported that the relied on online reviews.

I am baffled by the 25% of businesses that thought consumer reviews were not important to their business. However, I recently ran into this issue in looking for a printer for the Third Edition of my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

To get quotes to compare printing costs, I went online and submitted a request for a quote on five different printing companies’ websites. These are printing companies who I am familiar with due to their current or previous Partner Membership with Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). I had even used two of the printers that I requested a quote from to previously print a book.

Of the five requests I submitted via these printers’ websites, I only received two quotes. The two printing companies I had used previously to print a book did not even respond to my request for a quote.

I was quite surprised. The only reason I can come up with is that these printers just don’t need any business. Yet, if that is the case, why would they place a “request a quote” on their website? One thing is sure, these printers certainly are not placing a high importance on customer satisfaction.

Fortunately, I did find a printer to print the Third Edition of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, and the book is now available for sale for $25.99 (with free shipping) if you order via www.marketingchristianbooks.com.

How about you? Are you providing good customer service? Do you respond promptly to emails, phone calls, and notifications on your social media sites? Bad customer service will drive readers away, while good customer service will ensure that you have readers for your books for years to come.

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Market Your Book as a Gift

Did you know that gift sales are on the rise? According to Unity Marketing, the gifting market accounts for $1 out of every $10 spent on general merchandise, apparel, and accessories, furniture, and other sales in stores.

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That means that 10% of the money consumers spend on merchandise is buying gifts. Don’t let your books get left out of this sales opportunity.

Christmas is not the only gift-giving season. People give gifts for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, weddings, new babies, baptisms,  graduations, anniversaries, and birthdays. That is a lot of gifts being given throughout the year. Your books could be included in those gifts.

If you want to sell more books, try marketing your book as a gift. If you have a children’s book with a great message, let reader’s know that it makes a great birthday gift for a kid. If you have a relationship book, remind people that it makes a great wedding gift to help new couple get off to the right start.

Bundling your book with a useful item can make it more appealing as a gift. More than one CSPA member publisher has developed a character in their children’s books into a stuffed animal to sell with their books. The two products together offer a more appealing gift idea.

Ideas for bundling a product together with your book are endless. If you are not sure what might go well with your book, take some time and browse Etsy. This website is filled with artisans selling handmade items. Find an artisan with a product that matches your book. Partner with that artisan and start marketing your new bundle as a great gift idea.

Remember, books make great gifts. Books coupled with a product that fits the book’s theme are even more appealing as gift items.

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How Much Do Authors Make?

My daughter dreams of being a full-time writer when she grows up. I keep telling her that most authors don’t write full-time, that most authors write as their second job. After all, she should know this first-hand, as both her parents are authors and both of us also have other jobs.

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A new report from Digital Book World found that the majority of authors make less than $1,000 a year. The study showed that almost 80% of self-published authors and more than half of traditionally published authors earn less than $1,000 per year.

Digital Book World’s study, conducted via interviews with 10,000 authors in all types (self-published, traditional, hybrid, and aspiring) found that only 10% of traditionally published authors made more than $20,000 a year and 5% of self-published authors made more than $20,000 a year.

I think the takeaway from this study is what most authors already know—whether self-published or traditionally published. Don’t quit your day job anytime soon. Being an author is a hobby or a second job.

For most authors, that doesn’t matter. We love to write and we love to have others read what we write. So, as long as God calls you to write and share it with others, keep doing it, even if it brings you less than $10,000 a year in income. After all, God calls us to make disciples, regardless of the profit it brings us.

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The Most Important Equations

“I thought my marketing was not doing any good.”

This quote is from a member publisher of CSPA. This publisher had been utilizing Christian Small Publishers Association’s membership benefit of distribution via STL for a book. The book had been consistently selling anywhere from five to twenty or more books each month.

No Sales

Then, the publisher decided to head in another direction and transferred the book back to the author. When this transpired, book sales stopped.

Not dropped… stopped.

After about five months of not selling any books, the author contacted the publisher concerned because his book was no longer selling. The publisher contacted me to see what my thoughts were.

I told her that I thought the change simply came from marketing. I knew that she had been doing some marketing for the book and wondered if, upon the book reverting to the author, the author had done any marketing.

This publisher’s response was that, in fact, the author had not been doing any marketing, and that she thought her marketing had not been doing any good either. In hindsight, she was able to see that her marketing was actually making a difference.

The most important equations every author or publisher should know are:

Marketing = Sales
No Marketing = No Sales

Marketing is essential in selling books. While you may not be able to trace which marketing efforts are directly linked to sales—and end up feeling, like this publisher, that your marketing efforts aren’t working—the bottom line is that your marketing efforts will add up to sales.

Embracing Change

In recent months, a Costco store in California labeled Bibles with a fiction sticker. FOX News picked up the story when a pastor was unable to get anyone at Costco to acknowledge the problem. Christian Retailing also ran this story and remarked that this error by Costco “underscores the fact that Christian retailers generally know the Scriptures and related products better than general market retailers as a whole—and serve an important need in their communities.”

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I completely agree with Christian Retailing’s thoughts on Christian bookstores. However, over the past few years, the number of Christian bookstores has declined and those that are around tend to be reducing their floor and shelf space.

There are a number of factors that have played into the decline of Christian bookstore, but I believe one significant factor has been that, by and large, Christian bookstores have not embraced independent authors. Rarely do I hear or read about a Christian bookstore that is making an effort to work with self-published authors.

Overall, the publishing industry is changing as self-published authors produce and sell more books. In not embracing this change, Christian bookstores have not piggybacked on the enthusiasm and energy many self-published authors exude (in promoting their books) to draw in customers.

Recently, I did read about a Christian bookstore in Berlin, Ohio, that is doing just that—partnering with local authors (traditional and independently published) to produce an event that draws a crowd and increases their sales. This bookstore, Gospel Book Store, has created an event called “Berlin’s Largest Book Signing Ever.” They began with 20 local authors and grew the event to over 40 authors.

Here is a bookstore that is not afraid to partner with both traditionally published and independently published authors to draw a crowd. The store reports that because the event is so large, people even come from a long way away to attend the event. The store also says that sales the day of the event are four times those of an average day.

I think that if more Christian bookstores were willing to partner with local independently published authors, they might find some new life breathed into them. What do you think?

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