Announcing MCB University

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~Benjamin Franklin

There is always more to learn. Anyone who wants to improve—whether that is in a sport, a hobby, an ability, or any skill—must learn something new. The same is true for anyone producing books. To improve, whether that is the quality of the product or the marketing of the product, you must learn new skills and techniques.

Endorsements cover 2

I have always said that the purpose of this blog is to educate and inform small publishers and independently published authors about publishing and marketing Christian books. Now I have decided to take this one step further with a new service: Marketing Christian Books University (MCB University). MCB University provides on-demand seminars to help you become more successful in publishing and marketing your Christian books.

MCB University has rolled out its first seminar: Endorsements Help You Sell More Books. This 45-minute, on-demand seminar teaches you everything you need to know to obtain endorsements for a book. Instruction covers:

  • What endorsements are,
  • Why endorsements are important,
  • Whom to ask for endorsements,
  • When to seek endorsements,
  • How to request an endorsement, and
  • Where to use the endorsements you receive.

MCB University is sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). As such members of CSPA can access the on-demand seminars for free. Non-members, can access these seminars for a very reasonable fee (CSPA strives to keep all services affordable).

  • Members of CSPA can access MCB University on-demand seminars on CSPA’s website.
  • Anyone else can access MCB University’s on-demand seminars for a fee by clicking here.

Stay tuned. More MCB University on-demand seminars will be rolled out in the coming months.

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Paper is Not Going Away

Recently the Association of American Publishers (AAP) released the sales numbers for books sold for the 2015 calendar year. Overall, book sales were up 0.8 percent ($7.2 billion in 2015 sales compared with $7.1 billion in 2014 sales)—good news for publishers and authors.

AAP

The AAP reported that for 2015, ebook sales declined. In fact, ebook sales declined to pre-2012 levels. In 2012, overall ebook sales were $1.5 billion. In 2015, ebook sales were $1.4 billion.

AAP’s report stated that most of the ebook sales loss was from the Children’s and Young Adult categories (down 43.3% from 2014). This seems to indicate that these younger generations continue to hang on to print reading over digital reading. They may also be buying fewer books as the Children’s and Young Adult category overall sales (both print and ebook combined) were down 3.2% in 2015 from 2014.

Even among books in the Adult category, ebook sales declined. The report showed that for Adult books in 2015, downloadable Audiobooks was up 38.9% and paperback was up 16.2%; however, eBooks sales declined 9.5%.

If you produce print books, take heart. People are still buying print books. In fact, they are buying about four times more print books than digital books.

I believe paper is here to stay. This humorous video testifies to this fact.

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Never Pass Up Publicity Opportunities

If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.” ~Tom Peters

I love this quote. I see many independent authors doing just what it says not to do. They pull down the shade on publicity opportunities.

shade

Publicity is any information, article, or advertisement issued to secure public notice or attention. Publicity is a marketing activity. Marketing is any activity that draws people’s attention to your product.

There are two ways I frequently see independently published authors pass up publicity opportunities:

  1. They don’t seek out publicity opportunities.
  2. They pass up opportunities offered to them.

Why do these authors pull down the shade? I think it often boils down to feeling inadequate. Following are some of the statements I hear from authors passing up a free publicity opportunity:

  • I only have one title—with plans for future/additional titles. I’m not sure that this is appropriateness or right for me.
  • Having only published one book, I don’t feel that I have much to say.
  • I am just too busy right now.

None of these statements are true. If you are an author, you always have something to say. If gaining more sales for your book is important to you, you make the time. If someone asks you to talk about your book or company, it is always appropriate or right.

Sometimes authors will pass up a publicity opportunity because they feel that it is “too small”. No opportunity is too small if you are seeking more sales for your book. Yes, authors selling thousands of books can be more choosy about their publicity opportunities, but most independent authors who are passing up publicity opportunities do not fall into this category.

Maybe you are reading this and thinking: “I wish more free publicity opportunities would drop in my lap.” You don’t have to wait for them. You can go seek them out. Free publicity opportunities are presented to you every day. Some of these include:

1. Commenting on blogs that speak to your target audience on your subject.
2. Offering to write a guest blog post for a blog that speaks to your target audience.
3. Offering to be a guest on Blog Talk Radio shows seeking guests with your expertise.
4. Writing articles for publications including placing them for others use in article banks online (like ezinearticles.com).

One study by Microsoft found users needed to be exposed to a message between 6 and 20 times before it sunk it. Publicity gets your message before your audience. Your potential readers need to hear your message again and again before it sticks.

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What is Your Purpose?

Do you want to avoid discouragement and burnout?

It takes more than doing something you are passionate about to avoid becoming weary. You must also keep your purpose forefront in your thoughts.

purpose

What is your reason for writing, publishing, and marketing your book?

This is a very important question—one that should not be ignored or taken lightly. Producing a book, publishing a book, and selling a book are hard work. It takes time, dedication, and lots of effort. We can easily become discouraged when the results we want to see don’t roll in.

That’s where purpose comes in. Purpose keeps us grounded. When we lose sight of our purpose, we can become lost and wander.

I heard a story about a world class tennis player. This woman reached the rank of #5 in the world in women’s tennis. When she reached that spot, she began to lose consistently. She started to hate tennis and viewed practicing as a chore. What happened to her? She lost sight of her purpose: the reason she played tennis. Once she regained her purpose—which had nothing to do with how many games she won or lost—she began to enjoy playing tennis again and started climbing the ranks.

The same thing can happen for authors and publishers. If you lose sight of your purpose, your work can become tedious, boring, and uninspiring. Your productivity suffers. You no longer look forward to the next book or even talking to people about your current book. It just seems like a chore.

Knowing your purpose is key to success. Why? Because purpose defines your success. How you define your purpose is just as important as having a purpose. If your purpose is to be a best-selling author, you will easily get discouraged when you fall short of it. Your purpose must be deeper. It should not be tied to performance. With a purpose such as helping your readers live a more productive or Godly life, you are less likely to become discouraged because your purpose does not depend on how many books you sell or how popular you become. Simply helping your readers will give you the satisfaction you crave.

Have you defined your purpose? Take some time to ponder these questions:

  • What is my purpose in writing this book?
  • What is my purpose in publishing this book?
  • What is my purpose in marketing and selling this book?

These don’t have to be three different purposes, they might be the same. Your purpose should inspire you. It should ring true in your gut and renew your passion for your work.

I would love to hear how you define your purpose. Share it with me in the comments section.

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Sales Text That Sells

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post titled “It’s Okay Not to Know”. In this post, I talked about how we all start at the same place—not knowing much about writing, publishing, and marketing books. We are all on a journey and we need each other so we can learn and grow. In my post, I encouraged readers to ask if they don’t know.

sales-training-goes-off-cou

One reader, Elsa, a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) took my advice to heart. Elsa is new at publishing books. She recently purchased a cooperative ad through one of the many membership benefits CSPA offers. For the ad, we requested a 50-word description of the book.

Elsa put together sales text for her book ad. She asked me to give my input on her ad text as this was the first time she had put one together for the book. She reminded me that I had encouraged newbies to ask questions in my recent blog post.

I was happy to provide Elsa some feedback on her sales text. After all, she is a member of Christian Small Publishers Association and was purchasing a service CSPA provides. Here is what Elsa wrote for her original ad copy about a book titled The Listening Book by James Webb.

Jesus reached out to us using parables—and we can do the same. Quirky tales of a strange troll, troublesome blackbirds, and hidden treasure keep you coming back for more. Have you ever tried saying to someone: ‘That reminds me of a story’? Try it sometime—and see what happens.

I gave Elsa the following feedback on this advertising copy:

1. Sales text needs to be emotional. Purchases are not a logical decision. They are largely an emotional decision. Sales text for ads and other marketing materials should have an emotional pull. Warm emotions work better for pulling people in than cold emotions. Elsa’s use of “quirky” felt fairly cold. Why would readers be drawn to read “quirky” stories? Most people would rather read “heartwarming” or “inspiring” stories (that’s why Chicken Soup for the Soul series is so wildly popular).

2. Answer the WIIFM question. WIIFM stands for “What’s in it for me?” Elsa’s sales text doesn’t make it clear what I would get out of reading this book. Her sales text needs to address what benefit her audience will get through buying and reading this book.

3. Include a call to action. Good sales text includes a call to action. Elsa’s original sales text had a call to action—telling someone ‘that reminds me of a story’—which has nothing to do with reading or buying the book. The call to action in good sales text should encourage the reader to read and purchase the book.

Elsa took my thoughts to heart and rewrote her sales text. Below is the revised ad copy.

Jesus reached out to us using parables—and we can do the same. Have you ever said to someone: ‘That reminds me of a story’? These 25 beautifully illustrated short stories include seeds and sofas, treasure and tragedy. They offer precious nuggets of personal encouragement and help us reach out to others with the truths of God’s kingdom.

I found Elsa’s rewrite much clearer. It has warmer emotions and includes a strong message about why her audience should read this book.

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