Does Your Book Have an Expiration Date?

Every few weeks, I thoroughly clean out my refrigerator. I pull out everything that is in the fridge, wipe down all the surfaces, and throw out any food that has expired.

Mission Possible

Fortunately, unlike the food in my refrigerator, most books on my bookshelf don’t have an expiration date. Therefore, I don’t need to throw them out after a few years. I can continue enjoying them for years.

The same is true for the books that you have written and published. Unless you have written a reference or resource book with material that goes out of date, you can continue to promote and sell your book for years.

Too many independently published authors only actively market a book for a year or two. Then, they stop. These authors miss out on the opportunity to continually bless people with their message.

Deborah McCarragher, a member of Christian Small Publishers Association, is a great example of an author who perennially markets her book. Deborah first published her book Mission Possible in 2007. The purpose of Mission Possible is to bring hope and encouragement to anyone in a spiritually mismatched marriage—a subject without an expiration date.

Deborah has tirelessly promoted her book for the past eight years. She produced a second expanded edition in 2011, and just recently, she updated the book again with a new cover.

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Books have the potential to keep selling for years. All they require is ongoing marketing—getting the word out to your target audience about what problem your book addresses. Just like Deborah, you can keep selling your books for years to come.

If you have a book that you have ceased marketing but still have the desire to sell, or maybe you just need a shot of encouragement to keep on moving forward with promoting a book that is a few years old, take heart. With a little effort, you can revive sales for your book.

Maybe all you need to do is simply get back to actively spreading the word about your book. But, if your book is an older book that is no longer selling, I encourage you to take the route that Deborah took. Refresh your book. Release an “updated” version of your book with a new cover and some added material (even a new introduction or epilogue is added material). Then plan a re-release of your book and actively promote the “updated” version.

Remember, most books don’t have an expiration date. As long as you are willing to put time and energy into marketing your book, it can sell for years to come.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We have so much to be thankful for. I encourage you to ponder the words of the song “For All The Blessings of the Year” by Albert H. Hutchinson as you give thanks today and throughout the year!


For all the blessings of the year,
For all the friends we hold so dear,
For peace on earth, both far and near,
We thank Thee, Lord.

For life and health, those common things,
Which every day and hour brings,
For home, where our affection clings,
We thank Thee, Lord.

For love of Thine, which never tires,
Which all our better thought inspires,
And warms our lives with heavenly fires,
We thank Thee, Lord.

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Christianity and Book Sales in America

The news keeps reporting that religion is on the decline in America. Surveys show that “nones”, those who hold no religious affiliation, are growing. In 2007, 16% of the population reported no religious affiliation. That number increased to 23% in 2014.

While “nones” may be on the rise in America, the news is not all bad for the religious landscape of our country. Pew Research recently completed a seven-year study of religion in America. The study was meant to provide a better method for measuring American faith over the self-reporting of denominations.


The study, which interviewed 35,000 adults, found that among the three-quarters of US adults who do claim a religion, there is no discernable drop in measures of religious commitment. This is good news for authors and publishers providing books to people of faith.

In fact, the survey found that Evangelicals were slightly more likely to report the following activities over previous studies:

  • Weekly Scripture reading (63% in 2014 vs. 60% in 2007)
  • Participating in a weekly prayer or Bible study group (44% in 2014 vs. 41% in 2007)
  • Sharing their faith with others at least weekly (35% in 2014 vs. 34% in 2007)

Another interesting finding from this Pew survey was that more than half of Americans (55%) said they think about the meaning of life at least once a week. Evangelicals think about it even more (64%).

The news that those who hold to Christian beliefs take their faith seriously bodes well for Christian book publishing. Pew’s survey reveals that not only are Evangelicals still religiously committed, many others are thinking seriously about the meaning of life.

The purpose of publishing Christian books is to draw people closer to God, wherever they are on their spiritual journey. With Americans holding firmly to their Christian beliefs and seeking to know the purpose of life, Christian books continue to fill a need in people’s lives and sales figures show this to be true.

In fact, according to Nielsen, the sales growth of Christian books continues to outpace the sales growth of general market books. Sales of Religious books in the United States rose 10.5% in 2014. Over the past few years, sales of nonfiction Christian books have experienced the most growth at 11.3% between 2009 and 2014.

Interestingly, Nielsen also reported that almost half of Christian book-buying households earn less than $50,000, and about half of Christian book buyers are older than 45. So, if you are selling books to Christians, consider that half of all Christian book buyers are Generation X and Baby Boomers—which means they may not be as tied into social media as the younger generations.

The stability of religious commitment among Evangelicals and the resulting growth of the sales of Christian books in the United States is good news for all Christian authors and publishers. And, it is surely one more thing to be thankful for this week!

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Which Role Are You Neglecting?

My goal is to redo my office, starting with painting the walls and then putting in a hardwood floor. For some reason, the previous owners decided to wallpaper the room with cream-colored wallpaper. It looks just like paint, but it is actually wallpaper. Since it has begun to fray in places, my desire is to remove the existing wallpaper and paint the walls. This is a fairly large task to accomplish.


I keep putting the task of removing the wallpaper off until I have a whole day to work on it. The other day, I had an epiphany. I have not been able to carve a whole day out of my schedule for the past four months to do this project. I realized it was not going to happen.

As I was speaking to a friend about my conundrum, I realized that I needed to change my mindset. Instead of waiting for a whole day to complete the project, I needed to just start devoting a half-hour or an hour a couple times a week to the task. If I do that, then I will accomplish removing the wallpaper in the time-frame I had in place for the project.

As an independently published author or small publisher, you, too, are extremely busy. You have many roles that require diverse tasks. Some of these roles include:

  • Author
  • Publisher
  • Editor
  • Book Designer
  • Production Manager
  • Publicist
  • Marketing Manager
  • Social Media Manager

Each role has huge responsibilities that require your time and attention. Because you wear so many hats, I am sure that at times you end up neglecting some of your roles. An independently published author recently told me: “I haven’t done much about marketing my books. I have so much more fun writing the books, so that is where I put my time.

I believe one of the reasons that this author is putting off the marketing piece is that the idea of doing it is overwhelming. It seems like a large task that requires a substantial amount of time just like my wallpaper project.

Paul J. Meyer, Founder of the Personal Development Industry, says, “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” I agree. Just like my realization that I needed to take small pieces of time to spend on my project to accomplish it, the same is true for your roles.

I encourage you to plan small chunks of time each day to devote to each of your roles. Break the tasks down into manageable bites. For example, decide you will spend 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon on managing your social media efforts. Then take another 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon to do one or two small marketing tasks like calling a producer of a radio show, sending an email to a blogger requesting to be a guest, or planning your next special promotion. After all, small efforts add up over time.

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Are You Discoverable?

I am surprised that I still run into authors who don’t have a website for their books. I guess these authors have not heard the news: If you don’t have a website, you don’t exist.


I have found that generally authors who don’t have a website are self-published authors. Which, I find somewhat ironic, since it is usually more important for a self-published author to have a website than an author published by a traditional publisher who is paying for publicity for said author. When you self-publish, you must do all the publicity yourself, and therefore, a website is a necessity.

Similarly, I still find that many times when I search via Google for a self-published author’s name or book, few search results are returned. The news here is similar to that of a website: If Google can’t find you, you don’t exist.

If you are a self-published or independently published author, your goal should be to have at least one page (if not two) of Google search results for your name or your book when either of these is put into Google’s search engine request line. In other words, your book needs to be listed on multiple websites around the Internet.

Google returns, on average, about 12 search results per page. This means that you need to have your book listed on at least 12 websites online to cover just one page of search results.

Maybe you are asking yourself why this is important. The answer is simple. The more results that come up when your author name or book title is searched, the easier it is to find both your book and information about your book. The easier it is to locate your book online, the more likely the following will happen:

  1. Consumers will buy your book.
  2. Reviewers and bloggers will be willing to consider reviewing your book.
  3. Media personnel will be willing to cover your book when requested to.

Fortunately, it is fairly easy to get your book listed multiple places online. The best places to begin are the social networking sites for readers.

Social network sites for book lovers allow book readers to catalog (list) and review the books they are reading. Each of these sites also allows authors to join for free and create profiles where they can list the books they have penned.

Placing your books on these book social networking sites makes your book more “discoverable” by search engines. Here are eight such places to consider:

If you are one of those authors who does not have a website for your book, or you if you want one more place to list your book online, a new service is offering you an easy way to create a landing page for your book. BookLaunch is on a mission to make book marketing effortless. Their first step is to help authors create a central online presence through a dedicated website, giving readers a single place to go to find an author’s book.

BookLaunch allows an author to create a free landing page (website for your book) for one book. If you want to list more than one book, then the services will charge you a fee. These pages are easy to create and only take a few minutes.

Don’t miss out on sales and publicity. Make yourself discoverable. Take the steps necessary to ensure that search engines return multiple results when your author name or book title is searched.

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