Oh, The Places Your Book Will Go!

On a recent weekend excursion, I stayed in a HomeAway basement apartment in Virginia. For those of you who aren’t familiar with HomeAway, it is a competitor of Airbnb. Both services help people rent anything from a bed in their home up to their complete house to travelers.

It was obvious that the main room of this basement apartment doubled as a bonus room for the family when they were not renting their basement to travelers. One wall held bookcases that were full of books.

Being a book person, I spent a few minutes perusing the books on these bookshelves. I gleaned a number of things about the family whose house I was staying in from the books they had on these shelves.

I learned that the family followed Christ. At least one of the spouses had attended a Christian university (the yearbooks were housed on these shelves) and there were numerous Christian books on the shelves.

As I was browsing the various titles, much to my delight, I encountered a title that had won the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award (now renamed the Christian Indie Awards). I pulled the book off the shelf, and sure enough, the award sticker was proudly displayed on the book’s cover.

I love to see books by small publishers and independently-published authors on bookshelves in homes I visit. What a treat to find this gem among other great Christian books!

The number of independently published books is on the rise. Recent studies have found that almost one out of every five books (17+%) purchased is an independently published book. As a result, I am sure more and more bookshelves will be housing independently published book, including winners of award for these types of books like the Christian Indie Awards.

By the way, nominations are still open for the 2018 Christian Indie Awards. You can nominate any Christian book you have published in 2016 or 2017 for the awards through November 15, 2017. Nominations can be made by either the author or the publisher. The award is open to independently published books as well as books published by small presses.

Make your nomination today at https://www.christianaward.com.

Have you ever seen a book you published displayed or stored someplace that pleasantly surprised you?

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Book Awards Produce Winners
The Value of Book Awards

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Do You Know Your Target Audience?

Who is your target audience? I am continually surprised at how many authors have trouble answering this question. So many authors have a burning to write a book, yet they fail to identify whom they are writing their book for.

“Everyone” is not a target audience. Neither is “all Christians.” Your target audience is the group of people who will benefit the most from what you have to say. Maybe it’s those Christians who want to start seeing answers to their prayers. Maybe it’s single moms who are weary of fighting the parenting battle alone.

Knowing your target audience not only makes your writing stronger and clearer, it helps you market your book effectively to this group of people. When considering their target audience, authors and publishers should look at things like:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Economic status
  • Relationship status
  • Spiritual level or interest

If you are writing Christian books, then a subset of “Christians” is your primary target audience. A new study shines an interesting light on the ethnic diversity of this community in the United States.

A recent report by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) states “The American religious landscape has undergone dramatic changes in the last decade, and is more diverse today than at any time since modern sociological measurements began.” In fact, the organization’s 2016 American Values Atlas found that one-third of all Evangelical Protestants in America are people of color.

About a quarter of Americans (26%) self-identify as evangelical. Around two-thirds of these evangelicals are white (64%), while 19 percent are Black, and 10 percent are Hispanic, and the remaining 6 percent are Asian, mixed race, or other ethnicity.
Interestingly, the study found that half of evangelicals under 30 years old are nonwhite (50%). So, younger generations of evangelicals are even more ethnically diverse than the population taken as a whole.

What does this have to do with your target audience? It most likely means that your target audience is more ethnically diverse than you might have considered. Additionally, the younger the audience you are targeting, the more ethnically diverse it is.

Knowing your target audience allows you to promote your book to the group of people who have the most interest in your message. Knowing specifics about this target audience allows you to tailor your marketing messages and material to effectively speak to this group of people. If you want to be successful in promoting your books, then make sure your marketing materials are speaking to your target audience.

Related Posts:
Get to Know Your Target Audience
How to Gain More Readers for Your Books
Micro-Target to Get Results

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Photo courtesy of Tamarcus Brown.

How to Gain More Readers for Your Books

All authors face the one same challenge: Finding readers for their books.

All sorts of gimmicks exist to lure customers to purchase products. Advertising experts even study which words and phrases work best for grabbing people’s attention. Tested Selling Institute and Word Laboratory Inc. looked at words and phrases salespeople could use to get customers to buy. They discovered a few magic words that tend to grab attention include:

  • New
  • Advice
  • At last
  • Truth
  • Love
  • Facts you should know

Advertising legend Robert Collier believed that writing advertising text was like a science. He used the studies done by Tested Selling Institute and Word Laboratory Inc. and applied their findings to printed advertising. Collier’s own research revealed that the word “how” in an advertising headline appeared to be the most useful word in improving the success of an advertising piece.

Each of these words reveals that people are searching for answers. People want practical solutions to their problems. They want to improve their lives.

I frequently say that marketing is simply letting people know that you have the answer to a need in their life. If you publish books, your book meets a need in someone’s life.

We all know that advertising is expensive and often does not have a very high return, especially for books. After all, people need to see and hear about a product multiple times before they decide to make a purchase (with the exception of impulse buys). So, what other marketing techniques can authors use to grab readers’ attention?

Enter content marketing. Content marketing is about sharing information that educates, inspires, and entertains readers. Content marketing allows an author to develop trust with an audience so that these people buy the author’s books.

If you are interested in learning more about content marketing and how you can use this powerful tool to grow the audience for your books, I encourage you to watch my new on-demand seminar Grow Your Audience with Content Marketing. This 40-minute seminar will walk you through six practical steps for sharing content on a regular basis to grow your audience.

As always, these on-demand seminars are free for Members of Christian Small Publishers Association. Other publishers and authors can access this seminar, Grow Your Audience with Content Marketing, for just $15 online at https://mcbuniversity.selz.com.

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Is Your Audience Growing?
Are You Developing an Audience?

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Environmentally Sensitive Publishing

Are you helping or hurting the environment? Environmentally friendly practices attempt to leave less of a negative impact or footprint on the environment. Being environmentally conscious helps preserve the Earth for generations to come.

People care about their environment. Consumers want to know that businesses are not plundering the environment in their pursuit of profit. Environmentally friendly practices are especially important to Christians who believe that humans have been given stewardship of the Earth.

For years, numerous environmentalists have sought to raise public awareness regarding the issue of deforestation and the impact it has on the environment. Publishers have sometimes come under fire for their use of trees in making books.

Over time, printers have become more environmentally sensitive in response. Some offer soy-based ink and printing on recycled paper. Others tout certifications showing that they are environmentally sensitive and that their paper originates from a certified-sustainable, well-managed forest. These certifications include:

As a small publisher or independently published author, you can still demonstrate to your readers that you are environmentally conscious. You can include in your book’s end pages or even on the copyright page that your book was printed by an FSC or SFI certified printer with sustainable practices.

Some print-on-demand printers don’t carry these certifications. After all, printing on environmentally-friendly paper is often a little more expensive. So how can you show readers that you care about the environment?

I recently stumbled across a great idea in a book published by a small publisher. In the end pages of the book, the publisher devoted an entire page to environmental stewardship. The page talked about how in order to be environmental stewards, the publisher had partnered with an organization “to plant a tree for every tree that paid the price for the printing of this book.”

The organization that this publisher was sending money to plant trees was Plant with Purpose. This organization will plant a tree for every dollar donated. Other organizations offer similar services including:

I think this is a great way to show your readers your conscientious Earth stewardship practices.

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Earth Saving Ideas for Publishers
Environmentally Conscious Publishing
Unity in Diversity

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Photo courtesy of Karlo Pušić.