What To Do When Your Book is Pirated

Authors should be more concerned about obscurity than piracy. This is the conventional wisdom. However, piracy does happen. When it happens to you, do you know what to do about it?

Not too long ago, I received a Google Alert that my books had recently been listed on some websites I had never heard of; so I checked it out. It turns out that the websites were pirate sites that allow free PDF downloads of books.

Lo and behold, my books had been pirated. They were being offered for anyone to download free-of-charge on these sites.

Fortunately, I knew what to do and flew into action. I immediately sent each site a DMCA Takedown Notice. Both sites responded—surprisingly—quickly to my notices and reported that they had removed the books.

Do you know what to do if your books are pirated? Here are my suggestions.

1. Sign up for alerts.

To stay on top of where you and your books are appearing on the world wide web, you should subscribe to an alert service. Alert services include:

These services search the Internet for the words you give them and let you know where these words are showing up online. These sites will send you an email notifying you each time a new listing is found.

If you use your name or the title of your book, the alert service will send you a notice when it finds a new listing of the phrase on the web. These alerts allow you to know who is talking about you and your books, and they allow you to monitor if your books are being pirated.

2. Send a DMCA Takedown Notice.

If you find a site that is listing your books as a free ebook download, you need to take immediate action. The best thing to do is to send a DMCA Takedown Notice to the site administrators. DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

To make it easy for small publishers and independent authors, Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) offers a free downloadable Reference Guide on DMCA Takedown Notices to our Members. This Reference Guide includes a DMCA Takedown Notice template to follow when sending such notices.

If you write and publish Christian books, you can join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) for just $90 for the calendar year. Then you will have access to this Reference Guide and the many other supports and guides that the organization offers its Members.

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Tips for Selling Books from Your Website

Do you sell your books direct from your website? If so, pay attention to these important findings from Cyber Monday shopping.

On-line shopping is growing. One of the fastest growing trends for online shopping is the buy online, pick up in-store movement. Fifty percent more people used this option on Cyber Monday 2018 than in the previous year.

Shopping using smart phones is also growing. According to an online shopping data report by Adobe Analytics, people spent 48% more shopping from their smartphones on Cyber Monday. In fact, purchases made from smart phones on Cyber Monday amounted to $2 billion. This is the most revenue ever to come from smart phones in a single day.

Interestingly, taking a closer look at the data report by Adobe Analytics, the report states:

 “Large retailers ($1 billion or more in annual e-commerce revenue) saw 6 percent higher conversion rates on smartphones. Smaller retailers, offering more specialized products, were better at getting shoppers to close sales via desktops with 7 percent higher conversions.”

Whoa. Stop right there. For a while now, the trend has been mobile. Experts have been telling us that every website needs to be responsive for mobile devices as well as desktop computers. Yet, this research from Cyber Monday shows that smaller retailers—people like you—had a higher percentage of people purchasing from their websites via a desktop computer this past Christmas season.

If you sell books from your website, your main focus should be on keeping shoppers on your site. After all, conversion—converting a visitor to a buyer—is what drives sales.

Here are a few tips to keep shoppers on your website:

1. Have the books you are selling front and central.

Make the products you are selling easy to see and find on your website. Don’t bury them. Include clear descriptions for each book so readers know what the book is about and how it will benefit them.

2. Make the prices clear.

One study by Corra found that 33 percent of shoppers hate when prices aren’t up front. Make sure that the price of your book and the cost for shipping is easy to find and see.

3. Ensure ease of purchase.

Studies show that for every extra click a customer has to make to finish a purchase, a business loses 50% of shoppers. Create a streamlined buying process on your website.

4. Allow customers to contact you.

The same study by Corra found that more than half of all shoppers wanted to have the option to live chat on a website when they ran into a problem shopping. Of course, most small publishers and independent authors don’t have the resources to provide this on their websites. However, you can provide a phone number. This allows customers to feel confident that they can talk to a real person if they run into a problem.

If you sell books from your website, use these four tips to improve your visitors’ shopping experience, and maybe, just maybe, you might sell more books.

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Photo courtesy of Bru-nO.

Are You Using Video?

Some friends of mine own a custom jewelry making business. They have long had a presence on Facebook, but have recently been dabbling with Instagram for more exposure.

They told me that, to their surprise, after posting a video of one of their employees doing a funky dance in their warehouse, they had a spike in sales. One customer even wrote them and told them that she had been following them for a while, but after seeing the video, she had to buy one of their products.

My friends were perplexed. They reported that the video had nothing to do with their jewelry. I commented, that it may not have showcased their jewelry, but it showcased their workplace culture and was authentic.

I then explained that consumers crave authenticity. They want to know who they are doing business with. The video of an employee dancing showed their clientele the human side of their business.

As an author, you can take two lessons from my friend’s experience.

1. Use Video

Video on the internet is extremely popular. Everyone is watching videos. Video on the Internet is extremely popular. Everyone is watching videos. In fact, Cisco predicts that by 2020, 82% of all consumer web traffic will be video.

Video has become an important part of people’s shopping experience. Consider these statistics:

  • Almost 50% of web users look for a video before visiting a store, says Google.
  • Wyzowl says that 79% of consumers prefer watching videoto reading about a product.
  • And Hubspot says that 43% of consumers want to see more video content this year.

If you have not yet jumped into videos, try using some video in your marketing this year. You can post videos on your blog and in your social media posts.

2. Show Your Authentic Self

People want to know you, the author of the book. So, show them your true self in your videos. In other words, make some informal videos that show your personality and likes or dislikes. Tell a story, even one that is not related to your book’s content.

To make your video attractive and draw people to your books, keep these three tips in mind.

  • Grab attention fast. Studies show that the first 8 to 10 seconds of your video determines whether it will be watched to the end.
  • Keep it short. People are busy. Videos that are one to two minutes in length are more likely to be watched all the way through.
  • Include a call to action if you can. You cannot insert a link into a live video, but if you are using a prepared video, include a link to your website at the end.

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Photo Courtesy of Drew Graham.

Are You Using Publishing Industry Standards?

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” ~Stephen Hawking

Standards. Every industry is governed by standards. These are a set of criteria within an industry that defines the standard functioning and carrying out of operations.

The publishing industry has standards. Anyone involved in publishing and selling books should be aware of these standards.

Sadly, many independent authors don’t take the time to educate themselves on publishing industry standards. This lack of knowledge often becomes apparent when these authors interact with others in the industry. Then, these authors’ ignorance reflects poorly on themselves and their books.

One place where I frequently see a lack of knowledge on industry standards with independently published authors is the ISBN. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. This is a unique number assigned to a book that identifies the book within the industry. All industry players use the ISBN number to identify a book, much like the government uses a social security number to identify an individual.

The ISBN is a 13-digit number, not a 10-digit number. Yes, Amazon lists both a 10-digit ISBN and a 13-digit ISBN. Yes, Amazon lists the 10-digit ISBN first. This does not mean that it is the industry standard. The industry standard is a 13-digit ISBN.

Go to a bookstore. Pick up any book in that bookstore and look at the barcode on the back. You will see a 13-digit ISBN, not a 10-digit ISBN.

The publishing industry switched from 10-digit ISBNs to 13-digit ISBNs back in January 2007. That almost 12 years ago folks. The only reason that Amazon provides both the 10-digit and 13-digit ISBNs is because they want to be repository for every book published. As a result, they house many books that were published prior to the change to the 13-digit ISBN. Therefore, these books host a 10-digit ISBN. So, Amazon provides both so that any book can be located in their system.

I am surprised by how many independent authors list the 10-digit ISBN when nominating their book for the Christian Indie Awards. The awards do not specify whether to give the 10-digit or the 13-digit number because the 13-digit is industry standard. Since only authors and publishers are allowed to nominate titles, every person nominating a book should know that the 13-digit ISBN is industry standard. Yet, they don’t.

If you are going to publish and market a book, do yourself a favor and take the time to become familiar with industry standards. Read some books or join a publishing association like Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA). Don’t let your lack of knowledge become a stumbling block that hinders your ability to secure publicity in any form.

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Christian Small Publishers Association Gets a New Name

This month, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) celebrates its 15th anniversary and embraces a new name. The organization has changed its name to better reflect the current publishing landscape and the authors and publishers it serves. The association is now known as Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA).

Over the past 15 years, the publishing industry has undergone tremendous changes. According to R.R. Bowker, the official U.S. ISBN agency, the number of independently published books has grown by 156% over the past six years. Since CSPA’s membership is comprised of both small publishers and independently published authors, the name change was instituted to better reflect who is being served.

The mission and focus of the organization stays the same: To provide information, tools and resources to strengthen small publishers and independent authors, and to continue to represent this group to the larger Christian book industry.

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) offers the same great benefits as CSPA, with new benefits being added for 2019. Membership benefits include:

  • A monthly e-newsletter packed with marketing tips and industry updates.
  • Cooperative advertising opportunities including a print catalog, magazine ads, and eblasts.
  • Quick reference guides and on-demand seminars on publishing and marketing.
  • List of radio and podcast media actively interviewing authors.
  • Book Launch Marketing Checklist.
  • Tradeshow representation.
  • A book review program.
  • Free title setup and revisions with IngramSpark.
  • Free title setup with Lightning Source.
  • Discount when ordering ISBN.
  • Discount on Publishers Weekly subscription.

Membership in Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) is just $90 for the calendar year. You can join today at www.christianpublishers.net.

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) will continue to sponsor the Christian Indie Awards for Christian books by small publishers and independent authors. Voting for the 2019 Awards opens February 1, 2019. Watch for the announcement.

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