Are you a Literature Missionary?

“I always wanted to be a missionary, but that dream was not fulfilled. Then one day I realized that I was a missionary—a literature missionary!”

This statement, made by the Director of the Write to Impact Lives conference I taught at earlier this year, made me stop and think.

It’s a true statement. If you write and publish books that point people to Jesus Christ, then, you too, are a literature missionary.

Even better, with the ability to sell books worldwide today, you don’t just have to be a domestic literature missionary, you can be a foreign literature missionary as well.

If your book is available for sale on Amazon, then it available for purchase in the following countries:

United States United Kingdom Ireland Brazil
France Canada Germany Japan
Italy Spain Netherlands India
Austria Belgium Luxembourg Mexico

If your ebook is available via Kobo, then it is also available in:

  • Portugal
  • South Africa
  • Turkey
  • Philippines
  • Switzerland

One method to gain more exposure in some of these countries for your books is to make sure that you set up an Author Central Page for each country. Currently, Amazon lets you set up Author Center Pages for just four countries outside of the United States: Germany, United Kingdom, France, and Japan. You access can Author Central for each of these countries at the following links:

With today’s technology, every Christian author has the opportunity to be a Literature Missionary!

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Photo courtesy of Porapak Apichodilok.

Five More Free Tools for Authors

Indie authors wear many hats including writer, publisher, book designer, production manager, publicist, marketing manager, and social media manager. It’s a lot to do with multiple tasks to keep track of.

The more help you have with these tasks, the more efficient you can be. Following are five free tools to help you in your Indie author roles.

1. Organize Your Brainstorm Ideas.

All authors brainstorm ideas. Brainstorming is an important part of developing a book. But, where can you put all those ideas and organize them? Enter mind maps. Mind maps are a graphical representation of ideas and concepts. They are a visual thinking tool for structuring information, helping you to better understand, remember, and generate new ideas. You can use the Bubbl.us mind map online for free.

2. Find Out How Amazon Kindle Sales Rank Translates to Actual Sales.

Every Kindle book listed on Amazon has a sales rank. How does this sales rank correlate to daily sales? You can now find out with the Kindle Sales Rank Calculator by Kindlepreneur. This free to use tool helps authors understand the connection between Amazon’s best sellers rank number and Kindle ebooks sold per day. Try the free KDP Calculator.

3. Know the Tone Your Words are Communicating.

Written words carry tone, which conveys emotions. To make sure your next email, text, or social post carries the correct tone, use the Tone Analyzer tool. Just copy and paste your message in the box and click the “Analyzer” button. The Analyzer lets you know what emotion your text conveys.

4. Save Stuff from the Internet to View Later.

If you are like me, you probably stumble over lots of interesting things on the web that you don’t have time to digest at the moment. If you use your browser bookmark tool, it can become unwieldy. A better way to save and organize anything on the web—articles, videos, social media posts—for later enjoyment is Pocket. Once saved in Pocket, your list of content is visible on any device—phone, tablet, or computer—for viewing. The service has free and premium options.

5. Find Out Which Libraries Carry Your Books. 

Have you been pursuing library sales for your books? Do you want to know if any libraries have ordered copies of your books? You can find out which libraries have copies of your book in circulation at WorldCat database.

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Google’s New Talk to Books

Sometimes I feel like I am beginning to live in a Science Fiction movie. The speed at which artificial intelligence (AI) is developing and becoming incorporated into our daily lives is accelerating.

Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are now allowing individuals to have conversations with artificial intelligence. Google has even taken their AI one step further and unveiled a new program: Talk to Books.

This new AI tool provides the ability to search based on semantic (meaning of phrase or sentence) rather than on keywords. Talk to Books allows anyone to search a database of books for information at a sentence level rather than an author or topic level. Using this tool, a user can input a statement or a question and Talk to Books searches over 100,000 books for sentences that best provide a response.

As you may be aware, over the past two decades, Google has digitalized thousands of books with or without the copyright holder’s permission. By integrating their new Talk to Books tool with these digitalized books, Google is providing a powerful search engine to help anyone seeking information to find that information within the pages of these books.

Google already has a book search engine. This search engine, https://books.google.com, allows you to search books by topic, author, or title by typing in text to the search engine. Talk to Books is slightly different. Instead of looking for books by author or topic, it searches within books for passages that are related to the question asked.

For example, if I type into the Google Book Search Engine the name of a bestselling Christian author like Max Lucado, I am rewarded with a list of books that he has authored. However, if I type or speak his name into Talk to Books at https://books.google.com/talktobooks, the results show passages from books that either talk about Max Lucado or quote from one of his books.

Some publishing industry experts believe that this new Talk to Books tool by Google will boost book discoverability. In other words, when individuals use Talk to Books to find information on various issues or topics, they are exposed to passages from books, increasing these books’ discoverability by readers and increasing the likelihood that the individual exposed to these books may make a purchase.

Sadly, Google has implemented a “popularity measure” in Talk to Books. This measure gives a boost to books produced by “professional publishing houses”—sorry Indies.

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Photo courtesy of Piotr Cichosz.

Marketing Tips to Reach Each Generation

I am a GenXer, a middle-child wedged between Baby Boomers and Millennials. I embody most of the Gen X characteristics including hard working, independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. Sadly, my generation is also known as the forgotten generation when it comes to marketing.

Few companies specifically target Generation X in their marketing efforts. Yet, if companies don’t speak to me in a way that I will listen, I won’t stand up and take notice of what they are offering.

Marketing is not a one size fits all program. Effective marketing takes knowing how to talk to each generation so they will listen. Following are some tips to effectively reach each generation with your marketing messages.

Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, this generation makes up a significant portion of the purchasing public. Baby Boomers have longer attention spans than younger generations. After all, they did not grow up with the Internet and technology at their fingertips.

Baby Boomers are still tuned in to traditional marketing methods. As a result, radio and television ads and print ads in newspapers and magazine speak to this generation. In marketing to Baby Boomers, you can go into more depth with your information and even feature longer videos. Keep in mind that Baby Boomers are nearing or in retirement, so two big messages that this generation tunes into is how they can enjoy their leisure time and how they can save money to stretch their retirement funds.

Generation X

This generation, born between 1965 and 1980, is all about bargains. These people want to save money, time, and effort. So, in reaching this generation, offer coupons and ways for them to obtain your books and products without much effort or time invested on their part. This is a cross-over generation that can be reached through both traditional marketing and online marketing.

Millennials

Born between 1981 and 1997, this generation is on the cusp of surpassing Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation, according to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the texting generation. In fact, 100 percent of Millennials who own a smart phone communicate via text.

Millennials want content that is relevant and authentic. They like customized messages, not generic messages. Word-of-mouth is a driving influencer in Millennials purchases. Social proof—others talking positively about a product—is extremely important to this group. So, be sure to include testimonials in your marketing messages.

Generation Z

These are the new kids in town—those born after 1997. While young, this group is still a powerful buying force. These individuals are true digital natives. They have grown up with technology at their fingertips. This generation prefers to communicate through images rather than text. They are huge YouTube users. Use of video and images must be prominent in your marketing to reach this generation.

Generation Z is also the least churched generation in American history. This generation has grown up in a post-Christian, post-modern environment where many of them have not even been exposed to Christianity or to church.

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Poetry Sales On the Rise

Have you ever attended a Poetry Slam?

In case you don’t know what a Poetry Slam is, it is a competition where poets read or recite their original works. The concept began in the early 1980s when American poet Marc Smith began experimenting with turning existing open microphone poetry readings into a competition.

In 1997, Poetry Slam, Inc. was founded to promote the creation and performance of poetry that engages communities and provides a platform for voices to be heard beyond social, cultural, political, and economic barriers. This nonprofit organization hosts a YouTube channel as well as live and online poetry events.

Poetry Slam, Inc., is a secular organization. However, some Christian poets and churches around the country host Christian Spoken Word Contests. One Facebook Page highlights Christian Spoken Word poetry and encourages anyone with a video performance to post on the Page to share with others.

Poetry sales are booming. Last year marked the best sales on record for poetry. There appears to be a new appetite for the works of living poets. Many poets are acquiring large audiences of online followers. In addition, poetry is becoming more popular through poetry slams and at live festivals. In fact, according to Nielson BookScan, poetry book sales have seen a 66% increase in the past five years.

With this rise in Poetry sales and interest in poetry, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has added a Poetry category to the Christian Indie Awards. Over the years, we have had a number of authors and publishers ask us about adding a Poetry category and we believe the time is ripe to do so.

For the 2019 Christian Indie Awards, four new categories have been added. These are:

  • Mystery and Suspense
  • Business / Finance
  • Self-Help
  • Poetry

In addition, the Bible Study / Theology category has been split into two separate categories, bringing the total categories for the Christian Indie Awards to 18 categories. You can view all 18 categories and their descriptions on the Christian Indie Awards website at https://www.christianaward.com/eligibility-guidelines/categories.

Nominations for the 2019 Christian Indie Awards are now open. If you are an Indie author or small publisher with a Christian book with a copyright of 2017 or 2018, you can nominate your book at https://www.christianaward.com/nominate-your-book.

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