Your Book: A Needle in a Haystack

The number of self-published titles continues to grow. Bowker, the company that assigns ISBN numbers recently announced that 786,935 ISBN numbers were assigned to self-published titles in 2016. This is an increase of 59,810 titles, an 8.2% increase over 2015.

According to the 2016 Bowker report, ISBNs assigned for print books rose 11.3% to 638,624 titles, while ISBNs assigned to ebooks fell 3.2% to 148,311. Since Bowker measures the number of self-published books by ISBN, its count does not include ebooks released by authors through Amazon’s KDP program, as Amazon Kindle uses ASIN identifiers rather than ISBNs.

Small publishers—defined as those authors and publishers who purchase their own ISBN numbers (rather than using an ISBN number provided by a publishing platform like CreateSpace) and produce 10 or fewer titles—grew by 7.67%, up 3,863 titles to 54,206 from 2015.

These figures indicate that the self-publishing industry is beginning to stabilize as it is growing to maturity. According to Bowker’s report, self-published titles grew 30% from 2013 to 2014 and 21% from 2014 to 2015. Then this past year, from 2015 to 2016, the growth rate of self-published titles slowed to about 8%.

If you released a book in 2016 or 2017, your book is simply one book in a sea of three-quarters of a million other books released the same year. That is a lot of competition. It is much like being a needle in a haystack.

Marketing a book among millions can seem a daunting task. How can you make your book stand out and get noticed? Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help your book get noticed. Here are three.

1. Build a platform.
Building a platform is all about developing an audience of people who trust and listen to what you have to say. You can develop your audience online with a blog, podcast, or video series, or you can develop an audience through speaking engagements. Readers buy books from authors they trust. For more information on building a platform and developing an audience, watch my on-demand seminar Developing an Audience for Your Books.

2. Go Niche.
Niche means a distinct segment of a market. It’s all about narrowing your audience to focus on those most likely to read your book. For example, if you have a book on parenting, instead of targeting all parents, you would refine your target audience. You might refine it to Christian parents and then refine it further to Christian parents of disabled children and then refine it even further to Christian parents of disabled children who need special care. Refining helps you find the best niche audience for your book.

3. Partner with Influencers.
Seek out those who already have influence with your niche audience and partner with them. Influencers can be other authors already writing to your audience. They can be bloggers speaking to these people. They can also be civic leaders, church leaders, educational leaders, or famous personalities. Work with influencers to receive endorsements, reviews, recommendations, and support for your book. Partnering with influencers helps you expand your audience and gives you and your book credibility.

Your book does not need to get lost in the haystack. A little effort on your part can make your book stand out and receive the attention it deserves.

Related Posts:
Are You Developing an Audience?
The Importance of Finding Your Niche
Enlarge Your Audience with Micro-Influencers

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Is Fear Paralyzing You?

Fear—it is a powerful emotion that can paralyze even the best. Fear robs us of faith, peace, hope, and confidence. It keeps us from realizing our dreams and all the blessings that God has for us.

Fear is wide-spread and powerful. Some Christian authors claim that the term “fear not” is the single command in Scripture that occurs more often than any other. Lloyd Ogilvie in his book 12 Steps to Living without Fear claims that the command “fear not” is stated 366 times in the Bible—one for every day of the year and an extra one for leap year.

Author Rachel Van Dyken recently said, “Fear has one goal for your life: to paralyze you, to keep you in the same state you were in five years ago. It wants you stuck, afraid, and isolated.”

Is fear keeping you tied up and unable to write that manuscript, bring your manuscript to publication, or step out and promote your book? Maybe you struggle with:

  • Fear of failing.
  • Fear of public ridicule.
  • Fear of judgment.
  • Fear of not being good enough.

In essence all these fears really boil down to the fear of failing—not being good enough or doing it “right.”

Has God called you to write, publish, or promote a book and you are battling fear?

I once heard a missionary say that there is no failure in God’s Kingdom except the failure to obey. Isn’t that true? If you do what God asks, who is responsible for the outcome—you or God? The test is in the obedience, not in the outcome.

A wise, saintly woman I know once received this message from God: “Failure comes in not trying, in not engaging.

If God is calling you to write or publish a book, then you are good enough. You are the one he is asking because he knows you are capable. The beauty is that he never makes us do it alone. He is always there to guide and cheer us on.

So often, our inner critic, that whisper in our ear, tells us to play it safe, not take risks, and not risk failure and public humiliation. These self-doubts and shameful feelings that tell us we are not “good enough” are not God’s voice.

If God has or is calling you to do something, remember, you can only fail if you don’t obey. Obey and lean on God’s limitless provisions to complete the task he has called you to.

Related Posts:
Are You Afraid of Failure?
Do You Struggle with This?
What is Your Benchmark?

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Are You Making Use of Fiction Apps?

Reading habits are changing. The time that people spend reading each day is decreasing with reading time spent in shorter spurts or in soundbites. Often, rather than sitting down and reading for the sake of reading, many people are reading in-between their many other activities.

BookNet Canada, a non-profit book industry research organization recently surveyed 750 Canadians about how they use their leisure time. Since BookNet Canada is interested in books and reading, the survey asked a number of questions about reading habits. Here are are a few interesting findings from the survey.

  • Reading is the fifth most popular choice for leisure-time activity, after browsing the Internet, spending time with family, watching TV, and watching a movie.
  • The use of smartphones to read ebooks rose 6% over last year’s survey, meaning that 20% of respondents read books on their smartphones.
  • Word-of-mouth remains the most common way survey respondents learn about new books to read (50%). Interestingly, respondents were evenly split on finding new books through browsing online and brick-and-mortar stores (38%). While another 30 percent found new books via social media and 21 percent reported learning about new books to read through online communities like Goodreads.
  • Finding books through e-reading apps is growing. Eleven percent of survey respondents reported that they discovered new books through these apps.

I believe this combination of reading in short spurts of time in-between activities and the rise of reading on smartphones has led to the growth of serialized fiction apps. If you write fiction, you can use these serialized fiction apps to grow your audience for your books.

Serialized fiction apps allow writers to write, share, and monetize bite-sized serial fiction stories. Most of these apps use a freemium model, where readers begin reading for free, but can then purchase installments of stories that they really enjoy, tipping, or an ad-based model for revenue earning.

One of the largest online sites and apps for sharing stories is Wattpad. With Wattpad, authors earn money from ads. Two newer serialized fiction apps that are open to all authors are Radish and Tapas.

As an author, you can take a story you have already written and break it down into bite-sized chunks for one or more of these apps, or you can write a serialized story specifically for the app. I think BookNet’s finding that 11 percent of survey respondents had discovered new books (and authors) on an e-reading app shows that putting your stories on these apps can indeed help you grow your audience.

Are you an author who has already put your writings on a serialized app? If so, I would love to hear which app you used and what your experience has been. You can share your experience with me in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Is Christian Fiction Growing or Dying?
The State of Christian Fiction
The State of Fiction Reading

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What Christian Fiction Readers Want

Do you write and publish Christian fiction? The good news is that Christian fiction is a thriving genre.

Did you know that Christian fiction readers are the most devoted Christian book readers? On average, Christian fiction readers read 10 times more books per year than the average American.

The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) recently conducted an informal survey via social media of Christian fiction readers regarding their reading habits and wishes. The survey uncovered two major desires readers of Christian fiction possess.

1. Readers want more.

Most readers expressed that their reading habits had grown in recent years. They are reading more books and more widely. These readers want more good Christian fiction titles to enjoy with more genre choices.

2. Readers want meat.

Many survey respondents reported that they wanted to see more “tough topics” addressed in the stories. They want more books that address real needs through compelling story in a realistic, faith-based way.

Another reader survey by Written Word Media (a general market company) looked at what fiction readers really want. That survey found that readers expressed the following two desires.

1. Readers don’t have a strong preference for fiction series versus standalone fiction titles.

The overwhelming majority of survey respondents in the Written Word Media survey reported that they had no preference between series or standalone books. Two of the chief complaints readers had when it came to series were that it is often hard to find all the books in the series and that they dislike books that end with a cliffhanger.

2. The primary reason readers abandon reading a fiction book is because it is boring.

The most common reason given for quitting reading a book was because the reader found it boring. Readers want a plot that keeps moving and keeps them engaged. Other reasons mentioned by readers for abandoning a book were uninteresting characters and overdone descriptions.

If you write fiction, the findings in this survey should not be a surprise. Rather, they should serve as a reminder of what avid fiction readers want. The good news is that you don’t have to write a series to interest readers. Fiction readers are happy to read a standalone book.

The takeaway from these surveys is that Christian fiction fans are hungry for more and higher-quality novels that address real needs with realistic characters presented with a compelling plot. Write to fill this need and your books will be successful.

Related Posts:
Is Christian Fiction Growing or Dying?
The Power of Christian Fiction
The State of Christian Fiction

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