Distribution is More Important Than You Think

For years I have been saying that distribution is key to increasing sales for your book.

Distribution increases the likelihood that your book is available where someone prefers to shop, making it easy for them to purchase. We are an immediate gratification society. If we don’t find what we are looking for right away, we will take the closest substitute.

Now a new study backs up what I already knew to be true. Wilke Global discovered that there was a lack of research on what consumers do when they are unable to find a particular product in both the brick-and-mortar and online worlds. So, the company embarked on a focused study in 2016 to learn more.

A few key findings from the Wilke Global study show that distribution is fundamental in winning with consumers. These findings include:

  1. Half of consumers (48% in 2016 and 49% in 2017) reported that they would buy another brand if the product they were searching for was not available on the shelf of the grocery or drug store where they were shopping.
  2. When faced with a product they don’t find at their retailer of choice, relatively few consumers seek to complete their purchase online (7% in 2016 and 10% in 2017). Basically, if a consumer sets out to buy a product in a store, they don’t readily make the shift to purchasing that product online if they can’t find it in the store.

While well over half of all books are now purchased online, some consumers are still brick-and-mortar book purchasers. What this research confirms is that when these readers hear about your book and can’t find it in the bookstore of their choice, they will  buy another book on the same topic that is available in the store instead.

This is why distribution is so important for small publishers and independently published authors. Simply having your book available on Amazon.com is not enough to reach all readers. If you book is not available for purchase in multiple online and brick-and-mortar bookstores (even for the store to order it when a customer asks) you are losing out on sales.

The Wilke Global study also discovered that consumers who purchase online are not terribly likely to visit the brand website (only 8% in 2016 and 6% in 2017 did so). Instead people shopping online generally start with Amazon, Google, or Walmart to find the product they are looking for.

As an author, the more places your book is for sale, the more sales you will catch. Make sure your book is in established book distribution channels so you don’t lose out on sales.

Related Posts:
How to Get a Book into a Christian Bookstore
What Authors Can Learn From Shopping Behaviors
Global eBook Sales are Within Your Reach

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Photo courtesy of Rhys Moult.

Christmas Peace to You!

Merry Christmas!

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Let us be glad and rejoice in it!

Sometimes Christmas carols become so familiar that we stop listening to the words. Today, stop and ponder the last two verses of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” written by Edmund H. Sears in the 1800s.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh, rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on
By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever-circling years
Shall come the age of gold;
When Peace shall over all the earth,
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song,
Which now the angels sing.

May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts today and throughout the year to come!

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Merry Christmas to You
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The Rule of Seven

I recently watched the movie The Founder. This movie tells story of how the fast-food chain McDonald’s grew to be an impressive success. While the man who grew the restaurant chain to be an American sensation—Ray Kroc—was not an outstanding example of Christian character, we can still take a lesson from his life.

In the movie, Ray listens to a motivational album in his hotel room. The album recites something that Calvin Coolidge is known for saying:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Later in his life, Ray attributes his persistence as the largest contributing factor of McDonald’s success.

This notion of persistence is not new. After all, Jesus spoke about the success of persistence in his parables. One parable Jesus tells about the benefits of persistence is recorded in the book of Luke. In this parable about the Persistent Friend, Jesus says, “I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

Jesus follows this up by saying, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10).

I think many independent authors give up too easily. They forget that it requires persistence to have doors opened.

Rick Frishman, one of the authors of Guerrilla Marketing for Writers, has what he calls the “Rule of Seven”. Rick has found that it takes an average of seven contacts to acquire bookings for an author. This might be a booking for an author signing event, an author speaking event, or a radio or television interview.

Rick says that the most important part of promotion is follow up. Without it, you can take away the pro and just have motion.

Persistence is required for successful book promotion. Keep the Rule of Seven in mind when you seek promotional opportunities. Remember that you have to ask more than once, and that pleasant, persistent follow up is required for success.

Persistence pays off. So, I encourage you to keep knocking; keep asking.

Related Posts:
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Are You Shouldering This Responsibility?

Are you an author or a publisher of books? Ask yourself:
Which do I spend more time doing: reading books or watching videos or TV?

While you might not think this is an important question, it is. Since you are in the business of making books, you should also be involved in the consumption of books.

I am in the process of updating my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. While working on the Fourth Edition, I was surprised to discover that it’s not just bookstores that are on the decline. I already knew that reading rates were holding steady while the number of books published each year grows, but I was saddened by another trend I discovered.

Everyone knows that readers have begun buying more books online than they do in physical stores. As a result, bookstores are declining. After all, the largest Christian bookstore chain, Family Christian, shuttered the doors to its 240 stores in February of this year. The fourth largest general market bookstore chain, Book World, which operates 45 stores in the Midwest, will close all their stores in January 2018.

But it’s not just bookstores that are struggling. What surprised me is that church libraries are becoming nonexistent. This year, two of the largest church library associations shuttered their doors. Both associations cite declining membership and lack of interest in church libraries.

My first thought was maybe most churches were simply shuttering their libraries in exchange for church bookstores. However, research shows that this is not the case. While church bookstores thrived in the early part of the century, the number has actually shrunk over the past five years.

Here is the point. If we are publishing books and we want people to read these books, we must also be putting effort into helping people see the benefit of reading and encouraging them to read more.

How do we do this? We start by first modeling—being an example. That means that as an author or publisher you spend time reading books and talking about them with people. Then we move on to encouraging others to read. There are many ways that we can do this. Here are six ideas to get you started:

1. Regularly recommend books to people.
Don’t just recommend the books you write or publish, but talk about any good Christian title that will enrich people’s lives. Give these recommendations in person, on your blog, and on your social media sites.

2. Give books as gifts.
Books have the power to change people’s lives. Give them as gifts to encourage reading.

3. Start a lending library at your church.
If your church does not have a lending library, start one. It does not have to be large, simply a shelf or bookcase will do. Start with your own titles and books by other local Christian authors.

4. Make sure your church’s children’s ministry is stocked with good books.
Check out the children’s ministry rooms in your church. Are they stocked with good Christian books for the kids to engage with? If not, donate some or get others in the church to donate books to the Children’s ministry.

5. Start a book group.
Start a book group in your church or community. Gather interested people to read and discuss a good book once a month.

6. Put up a Little Free Library in your neighborhood.
Little Free Libraries encourage reading. You can find information on how to build or purchase a Little Free Library box on the organization’s website.

I believe that if we write and publish books, we also need to be about the business of promoting reading. Unless we encourage reading on a regular basis, we may wake up one day to find nobody reads books anymore.

Related Posts:
The Demise of the Christian Bookstore
Reading Rates Remain Consistent
Are You Making Use of Fiction Apps?

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How Readers Discover Books

Do you recommend books to your family and friends? Have your family members or friends recently recommended a book to you?

Studies show that the number one way people discover books is through recommendations from family members and friends (including co-workers). Last year, Penguin Random House conducted a survey to find out more about how people discover books. Below is the Infographic that compiles the findings.

One of the more interesting findings in this study is how many people discovered a book via Goodreads. If you are not yet active on this book networking channel, I recommend that you join and benefit from this powerful tool that connects readers and books.

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Book Discoverability
Is That Information Necessary?
Trends in Book Discovery

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