Are You Backed Up?

More than one author has told me a tale of losing all their work when their computer crashed in the middle of a project. I hope that this has not happened to you.

A couple years ago, my house was hit by lightning. It fried the Internet router box, a phone, my computer, and a printer. Everything on the computer was lost. Fortunately, I had backed up all the data on my computer.

World Backup Day

As a publisher or author, you create vast amounts of data regularly. All of this data can be lost in a moment to a natural disaster, a virus, a computer crash, or even a theft. It’s not uncommon.

  • One in ten computers is infected with a virus each month.
  • 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute.
  • 29% of disasters are caused by accident.

Yet, 30 percent of people have never backed up their data. The best precaution you can take so that you do not lose material on your computer is to actively back up your data.

Keeping your data safe is important. March 31 has been declared World Backup Day. The purpose of World Backup Day is to raise awareness of the need to back up data.

A backup is a second copy of your important files—both for files on your computer as well as for files on your website. A backup allows you to keep another copy of everything somewhere safe.

Did you know that only one in four people regularly backup their data? Is your data safe? Do you have backup copies?

The 3-2-1 Rule

The 3-2-1 Rule is widely hailed as industry best practice for data storage. The rule states that you should have three (3) copies of your data at all times. This data should be kept on at least two (2) different types of storage, and that you have at least one (1) copy of the data offsite.

3-2-1 Rule

Many people choose to keep a backup copy of their data on a USB thumb drive, an external hard drive, or an SD card. This copy is kept in their home or office. Then, they also opt for cloud-based backup for keeping a copy of their data offsite such as Google Drive or Apple’s iCloud service.

Do you have a website? Don’t forget to backup the data on your website. It, too, is not immune from hackers or viruses. Most web hosting companies provide some type of backup or at least a referral to a website backup service they recommend.

World Backup Day asks everyone to take this pledge:

 “I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.”

Don’t just do it on March 31. Do it regularly and you won’t ever lose your important manuscripts and book documents.

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Where Will Christian Books Be Sold?

“Change is the only constant in life.”

This quote by Greek philosopher Heraclitus is as true today as when he lived in the sixth century before Christ.

The publishing and book-selling industry is no exception to this rule. Publishing houses come and go. Book distributors open and close their doors. Retail stores move from brick-and-mortar entities to the digital realm.

In an era when Amazon is opening physical stores, chain stores are falling by the wayside. Retailers filed for bankruptcy at record-high rates in 2018. The American trend has gone from small independent stores to large chain stores to digital shopping.

Lifeway Stores to Close

Christian booksellers are part of this shift. Lifeway stores are the latest victim. Last week, Lifeway Christian Resources announced that they will close all 170 of their brick-and-mortar stores this year.

In January, LifeWay announced it would reduce the number of its retail locations due to declining customer traffic and sales. The company had hoped to keep some stores open, but due to market projections, they decided to close all physical stores.

This means that there will now be 170 fewer stores where Christian books will be sold. In 2017 Family Christian Stores closed all 240 of their brick-and-mortar locations. That is a loss of over 410 Christian bookstores stores in three years.

These closures are a loss for the whole Christian book-selling industry. In my book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, one of the twenty marketing fundamentals I provide states:

The more channels through which consumers can purchase your books, the more books you will sell.

The Christian book-selling industry now has fewer places to sell books. Since Lifeway did not work with many indie authors or small publishers, this most recent loss is not as great for us as it is for the established Christian publishing houses.

Online Commerce Growing

Lifeway reports that over that last decade, they have seen commerce increasingly move online. They are not the only store to fall to e-commerce. In 2012, Cokesbury closed all 47 of its physical bookstores and went to one online-only store. I believe it is only a matter of time before Barnes & Noble follows suit.

Online commerce is growing while physical shopping is declining. For authors and publishers, this means that the main focus of your marketing efforts should not be about getting your books into bookstores. Instead, your focus must be on selling directly to consumers.

Selling directly to consumers means that you must focus your attention on branding and platform building to develop an audience to sell your books to. It’s the new way of selling everything—not just books.

Christian Indie Publishing Association

If you need information and support to help you make the shift in your marketing efforts to developing an audience and selling directly to consumers, Christian Indie Publishing Association can help you.

Christian Indie Publishing Association exists to provide information and tools for success in publishing and marketing to independent authors and small publishers. The Association has numerous resources available for you to educate yourself on how to develop an audience and sell books directly to readers. These include on-demand seminars, reference guides, checklists, and our monthly newsletter. You can join today for just $90 and have access to all these great resources.

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Photo courtesy of Tim Mossholder.

Choose Your Colors Carefully

Did you know that color plays a major role in decision making? Research shows that people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing. Between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.

Colors influence how we feel. This makes them a powerful marketing tool. Colors are often a primary factor in purchasing decisions.

Check out this infographic by Kissmetrics to learn more. Then, pay careful attention to the colors you choose for your book’s cover image, your website, and your advertising and marketing messages. The colors you pick will determine whether you draw people in to buy your books or turn them away.

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Have You Given Your Book Feet?

The newspaper article headlines read:

Fire chaplain drives 300 miles to leave crosses for Jacksonville victims

He’s left crosses at Ground Zero in New York City, in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Dallas after a gunman ambushed police officers, and most recently, after the school shooting in Parkland.

Have you given your book feet?

Another headline reads:

Chaplain, Impressed By Pittsburghers’ Strength, Offers Comfort At Synagogue Memorial

With a simple greeting and wearing a navy-blue coat that reads “Chaplain” across the back, Bob Ossler is a constant these days.

Triumph Over TerrorChaplain Bob is the author of Triumph Over Terror, an eyewitness account from a first responder at Group Zero on 9-11 that recounts the questions, fears, struggles, and sacrifices of the families and workers overwhelmed by despair. Bob knows how to give his book feet. Bob is a chaplain with a heart for victims of terror. He lives out what he believes and his book goes with him on his journeys.

Books are inanimate objects. They cannot move or talk on their own. You, the author, must give your book feet.

You may not have the mission or ability to travel as far and wide as Bob does, but you can still give your book feet. You may not be as extroverted and easily able to talk and pray with people as Bob is, but you can still give your book feet.

You can follow Chaplain Bob’s example to give your book feet. Like Bob, you can take your book with you wherever you go, broadening your book’s audience and reach.

  1. Know what need your book meets and who struggles the most with this need. This is your target audience and the people you should focus on as you take your book with you. Bob knows that his target audience are people impacted by terrorist activity.
  2. Always have a copy of your book near. Carry them in your car. Carry your author business card or bookmark featuring your book in your purse or wallet.
  3. Look for opportunities to connect with others around the subject matter of your book. Bob travels to places that have experienced terrorist activity. He brings hope to victims through prayer and kind actions. In this way, he is connecting with others around the subject matter of his book.
  4. Don’t be shy about your actions. If you, like Bob, are doing something good for the community, let the local news know about it. People need to be encouraged and having good-will stories reported encourages people. It can also bring attention to your book.
  5. Share your actions and your book’s journey on social media. Chaplain Bob readily shares on social media about the people his book has touched, about responders and victims he admires, and about his care for those who are impacted by terrorist actions.

Here’s a recent Facebook post from Bob sharing about his book.

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Photo courtesy of Ian Baldwin.

Marketing Wisdom

There is so much wisdom in this world. Here are six pieces of wisdom for you to ponder and act on as you take your next step in writing, publishing, and marketing your books.

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