What Is Your Next Action?

I recently met a poet who wants to become published. This lady is trusting that God will guide her steps on her quest to become a published poet. She has tried a number of avenues and most have been dead ends.

She told me that, not too long ago, she decided to share one of her poems at a local open mic night. This was not a Christian event; it was a general market affair. This author writes Christian prose. She took the opportunity afforded her and spoke one of her poems at the event.

At the end of the evening, a gentleman approached her. He asked if she had ever recorded any of her poems. The poet answered that she had not. This gentleman stated that he thought her lyrics were powerful and should be recorded. He then invited her to use the studio in the basement of his house to records some poems.

Later the poet asked the man with the studio if he was a regular at open mic night. His response was that the night she spoke had been the first and only time he had attended the event.

The way God works is often mysterious and awesome. One thing we do know is that often, before God works, he requires us to act. We have to step out in faith and do something. Then God shows up. He provides or performs a miracle, or simply points us down the next path he wants us to take.

The process starts with an action on our part. Sadly, we often don’t act because we are scared. We fear failure, or embarrassment, or even not doing what God wants.

A Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently took a giant leap with her publishing business. She told me that she often questions whether this is what she should be doing or if it is what God wants her to be doing. I assured her that anytime we are doing something with the intent of bringing Glory to God, our actions are pleasing to God.

Just as this poet had to move out of her comfort zone and perform her poetry in public for a door to open, so too, you must act. What action do you need to take?

Is fear holding you back? If so, ponder these lyrics from Zach Williams’ song Fear is a Liar. The chorus states:

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar

Don’t let fear keep you from experiencing the blessings that God has for you and your books.

I would love to hear your testimony. If you have stepped out in faith, taken action, and God has met you, please share in the comments section.

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The Book Industry Is Still Strong

Selling books is big business. According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) 2018 StatShot Annual Report, 2.72 billion book units were sold in 2017 generating $26.23 billion in net revenue.

Book Sales Hold Steady

Book sales held fairly steady from 2016 to 2017. The report revealed the following about book sales:

1. Paperbacks still reign.

Paperback books were the number one selling format. More than 1 billion paperback books were sold in 2017. Paperback sales made up 36.9% of all book sales.

2. Nonfiction book sales grew in 2017.

Nonfiction book sales saw an increase of 5.4% in publisher revenue from 2016 to 2017.

3. The number of Children and Young Adult books sold is growing.

Both fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults saw more units sold in 2017 than in 2016. Fiction sales grew by 1.1%, while nonfiction book sales in these categories grew by 4.4%.

4. Book sales through physical and online retail channels are now equal.

For years, book sales through physical stores were higher than book sales through online stores. In 2017, this pattern changed. Now sales through these two outlets are just about equal. In 2017, $7.6 billion dollars worth of books were sold through physical retail outlets while $7.5 billion dollars worth of books were sold through online retail channels.

Interestingly, for online sales of books, the breakdown is as follows:

  • 43.2% Print Books
  • 27% eBooks
  • 16.3% Instructional Materials
  • 10.5% Downloadable Audio
  • 3% Physical Audio or other format

In case you did not catch it, 70% of online sales of books are print and ebooks. Print books are still the number one format for book purchases. Print books engage more of our senses. We see them. We feel them. We smell them.

Flipback Books

Credit: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post

The book industry is constantly innovating to keep books fresh. The newest type of print book to hit the market is a tiny flipbook. These new books, the brainchild of Penguin Young Readers, are designed to be small and easily portable. Made with extremely thin paper (think Bible pages), the books are read horizontally with the pages flipped up rather than across. These books are meant to resemble reading on a screen.

This type of book has been sold in European countries for almost ten years. In Europe they are referred to as Flipbacks or Dwarsliggers. Whether these new tiny flipbooks with a full-length novel inside will be widely accepted with U.S. readers is still to be seen. The first ones do not release until October 23 and feature three books by John Green: Looking for AlaskaAn Abundance of KatherinesPaper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars.

Would you read a Flipback? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Photo credit: MegMoggington on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC

Sell More eBooks with Walmart

Did you know that Walmart is the third largest online shopping destination? According to Business Insider, only Amazon.com and Ebay.com have more online customer traffic than Walmart.

Some sources claim that Walmart is the second largest bookseller in the United States. To compete with Amazon, Walmart has teamed up with Rakuten Kobo to sell Kobo e-readers and ebooks. Walmart’s new service, Walmart eBooks by Rakuten Kobo, launched late last month.

According to Walmart’s website, the new Walmart eBooks brings customers:

  • Kobo’s library of more than six million titles – from New York Times best sellers to a wide variety of indie titles and children’s books.
  • A new monthly audiobook subscription – Customers will be able to subscribe to the audiobook service for $9.99 per month, which includes one audiobook per month.
  • The ability to purchase digital book cards in 3,500 Walmart stores
  • Access to Kobo’s eReaders online and in-store – Customers can choose from a variety of Kobo eReaders on Walmart.com. In 1,000 stores the Kobo Aura will be for sale.

All Walmart eBooks are accessible through co-branded (Walmart and Kobo) iOS and Android apps and on Kobo eReaders. Interestingly, Walmart.com receives more mobile traffic than Amazon.com; 64% of Walmart.com’s traffic is from mobile devices, while only 58% of Amazon’s traffic is mobile.

To mark the launch of the ebook partnership site, Walmart eBooks is offering first-time customers $10 off their first ebook or audiobook purchase. And consumers who sign up for the audiobook subscription will get their first 30 days for free.

What does this mean for you?

If your ebooks (and audiobooks) are not available for sale on Kobo, you will lose out on potential sales. Every author should make sure that his or her books are listed for sales on Kobo. This will ensure that your books are also listed for sale on Walmart eBooks.

There are a number of options for placing your ebooks on Kobo. Here are three:

  1. Self-publish your ebook directly to Kobo via their publishing platform (think KDP for Kobo).
  2. Upload your ebook to Smashwords and list it in their expanded catalog.
  3. Publish your ebook through Draft2Digital and use their ebook distribution service.

Don’t miss out on sales. Make sure that your ebook is available through Kobo so that it is available for sale on the new Walmart eBooks.

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Promote Your Books as Christmas Gifts

Christmas gift shopping is big business. The average American spends around $700 on holiday gifts and goodies. According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. holiday sales account for about 20% of all retail sales each year.

As a small publisher or independent author, you can cash in on this gift buying trend to sell more books. By promoting your books as a great Christmas gift idea, you can sell more books.

Many people start Christmas shopping early in the fall, so now is a great time to begin promoting your books as gifts. Here are six ways to capitalize on Christmas gift shopping to sell more books.

1. Position Your Book as a Great Gift

Let your fans know that your book makes a great gift. Feature it as a gift idea on your website, in your newsletter or email updates to your fans, and on your social media posts. Your readers may not automatically think of your book as a gift. You can plant and water this idea for your followers.

Let your readers and fans know that they can give your book as either a print book or a digital book as a gift. Amazon Kindle now allows anyone gift a Kindle book through their new “Buy for Others” feature.

When promoting your book as a gift on social media, be sure to use hashtags related to Christmas and gifts to make sure your posts have wide visibility. A few of these hashtags include:

#Christmas
#ChristmasGift
#ChristmasGiftIdeas
#StockingStuffer
#Gifts
#GiftIdeas
#GiftsForHer
#GiftsForHim

2. Offer a Special Christmas Discount

One way to make your book more appealing as a gift is to offer shoppers a special Christmas discount. You can offer a two-for-one deal, free shipping, or even just a special holiday price. Be sure to make your Christmas special or discount time limited to give shoppers a sense of urgency so that they will act on your prompting to purchase your book as a gift with your holiday discount.

3. Create a Bundle for Gift Giving

Many people don’t like to spend a lot of time Christmas shopping. For these individuals, the easier you make shopping for them, the more likely they will buy. One way to make shopping easy for people is to offer a gift bundle. Then instead of having to buy a book from you and then heading over to another store to purchase another gift, you can make it easy by offering a bundle that provides one-stop shopping for your customer.

You can pair your book with another product as a bundle. For example, if your book is about Godliness for young ladies, offer a bundle consisting of your book and a piece of Christian jewelry. If you have a devotional that focuses on men, offer a gift card to Home Depot along with your book. Your gift bundle can be as creative as you allow it to be.

4. Create a Gift Guide for Your Fans

Some people find gift buying tedious and overwhelming. They feel that they lack good ideas about what to buy their loved ones. You can help these individuals by offering a Gift Guide on your website or blog. Feature a number of products that make good gifts for your target audience. Of course, include your book in your guide. Remember, the goal is to provide information that your followers will find helpful.

5. Display Your Books at Local Christmas Craft Bazaars or Holiday Festivals

Every community has Christmas craft bazaars and holiday-themed festivals where local residents can rent a table or booth and showcase their goods a gifts. You can sign up and display your book at these events to promote your book as a gift and garner some sales.

6. Advertise in Holiday Shopping Guides

Numerous magazines, journals, websites, and blogs feature holiday shopping guides. Some require you to pay to advertise your book as a great gift. Others are put on by bloggers where the blog will feature your product as a gift in exchange for a free copy of your book to the blogger. You can pitch bloggers that feature gift guides to ask if they would be willing to include your book or bundle in their guide.

When promoting your book as a gift, remember that you are not just promoting your book, you are also informing people why your book makes a great gift. Remind people that books make great gifts. If you need some reasons, check out my infographic on Six Reasons Books Make Great Gifts.

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Photo courtesy of George Dolgikh.

Book Awards Help Promote Books

We have so much information presented to us every day that we remember very little of what we encounter.

Hence, keeping your book in front of readers on a regular basis is required for readers to remember your book. Most authors find it challenging to consistently keep their books in front of prospective readers in a fresh new way. Book signings, author events, reviews, and readers’ testimonials all provide great fodder for putting out fresh news about books on your author website and social media accounts.

Fresh news about your book gives you a creative way to continually put your book in front of your target audience. Each time your audience hears something new about your book, their memory is refreshed and they are reminded that your book is worthy of an investment of their time and money—increasing the chances that they will make a purchase.

Did you know that nominating your book for a book award gives you a fresh piece of news about your book?

An independent author who recently nominated her book for the Christian Indie Awards included the following note with her nomination.

I would like to express my deep appreciation for providing me and other small Christian authors the wonderful opportunity to enter the Christian Indie Awards. You encourage by recognizing the gifts our Lord has given us. Just the chance to enter is a real honor.

I agree with this author. It is an honor to nominate your book. God has given you a message and now you have the opportunity to nominate it for further recognition. So, share this honor with your audience. After you nominate your book for an award, announce to your audience that your book has been nominated for the award.

Readers take notice of book awards. The mention that your book has been nominated for a book award is one way to raise the level of prestige for your book. You can use your nomination (even if you nominate the book yourself) in promoting your book. Of course, if you win the book award, your book’s reputation will rise to a new level and you will be handed more news and promotional opportunities for your book.

If you have published a book that promotes the Christian faith in 2017 or 2018, your book is eligible for nomination to the Christian Indie Awards. You can head on over to www.christianaward.com and nominate your book. Then announce to your audience via your website, newsletter, and social media that your book has been nominated for the Christian Indie Awards. It’s fresh news that allows you to keep your book in front of potential readers.

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