Stop Waiting and Start Risking

Opportunity knocks but once.

This proverb implies that when an opportunity is presented, you must act quickly or you will not get another chance. The truth is, opportunity rarely knocks. Instead, it comes across your path disguised as a risk.

Risk involves the potential for loss

Most of us are risk avoiders. We crave safety and security. We feel safe in our “comfort zone.” It takes effort to move out of this zone and take a risk.

Risk involves the potential for loss. In risking, we may lose something we value:

  • Our comfort
  • Our money
  • Our reputation
  • Our connections
  • Our social status
  • Our sense of significance

We are hard wired to avoid risk. Scientific studies show that the pain of loss is almost twice as great as the reward of gain.

Most opportunities come when take a step that involves risk. In his new book on risking titled Living a Life of Yes, David Rupert writes:

Living a Life of Yes

 

“We often wait around waiting for God to open doors. While ‘I’m waiting around for Him to show me what to do next’ sound spiritual, it really limits your opportunities to experience what He has in store for you.”

 Are you waiting for opportunity to knock? Are you sitting around waiting for your big break? Maybe you hope that a journalist, radio host, or organization is going to stumble upon your amazing blog article, book, or social media post and ask to interview you or invite you to speak. Maybe you are waiting for that “perfect” opportunity to promote your book.

Here’s the hard truth: The knock is not coming. Instead, you must venture forth and take a risk to find it. What risk do you need to take to find opportunities to promote and market your book? Do you need to:

  • Start blogging, podcasting, or live-streaming videos?
  • Start contacting podcast and radio shows to request a guest interview?
  • Start asking people to endorse or review your book?
  • Start creating a budget for some paid advertising and marketing?
  • Start asking local bookstores to host a book signing for you?
  • Start asking local schools to host you for an author appearance?

After all, book sales don’t just happen. They take work and involve risk. Opportunity rarely knocks.

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Photo courtesy of skeeze.

This Phrase Can Ruin Your Marketing Efforts

I hear and see this phrase more than I should. Indie authors with great intentions who are enthusiastic about promoting their books often say the phrase.

Sadly, what these authors don’t understand is that this one little phrase can ruin their book marketing efforts. This statement does not destroy all book marketing efforts, only those geared toward retail book buyers (a.k.a. bookstores) and librarians.

Don't Ruin Your Marketing Efforts

Don’t say this phrase. Really, there is never a need to say this phrase. It is not even necessary with readers. Don’t ruin your marketing efforts by saying,

My book is available on Amazon.

If you are attempting to sell your book to a bookstore, or even just trying to get a local bookstore to allow you to conduct a book signing, this simple phrase ruins your chances with the bookstore. Book buyers will not carry your book or host a book signing for you if you say this phrase.

Here is why:

1. Amazon is a bookstore.

Yes, you can “publish” your book through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). You can even request expanded distribution through the platform. However, Amazon is not a distributor, it is a bookstore.

As a bookstore, Amazon is in direct competition with any bookstore that you approach or try to get to sell your book. Brick-and-mortar bookstores have struggled due to Amazon’s stranglehold on book sales. Mentioning that your book is available on Amazon turns a retailer off. It’s like saying “You can buy my book at Target.” Bookstores don’t purchase books from other bookstores.

Available on Amazon

2. You show your ignorance.

I don’t mean to be rude; I am just trying to help. If you say to a bookstore buyer—whether in person or in an advertisement—“My book is available on Amazon”, the buyer immediately knows that you are a self-published author who does not understand the book industry.

Self-published authors and indie authors have sported a bad reputation for years. This is because there is a glut of poorly written, poorly edited, and poorly designed self-published books. In recent years, the stigma of self-publishing has been greatly diminished. However, it still lurks in the shadows. The phrase, “My book is available on Amazon”, causes the beast to come forth.

3. Every book is available on Amazon.

“Every” may be a slight exaggeration, but at least 99% of all books published are available on Amazon. KDP is not the only way to get your book on Amazon. Every publisher makes sure their books are available through Amazon. Publishers know that Amazon commands 50% of all print book sales. So, to harvest the most sales, all publishers make their books available for sale on Amazon.

There really is never a need to make a big deal of your book being available on Amazon—not for readers, not for librarians, and especially not for retailers.

For the most part, readers just assume that any book they hear about will be available where they shop. If they shop on Amazon, that is where they will look for the book. If they shop at Christianbook.com, that is where they will look for the book. Readers that shop at their local brick-and-mortar bookstore will assume your book is available there. Often, they will be surprised that the retailer does not have it in stock. However, if your book is in distribution, they can just ask the store to order it for them.

Related Posts:
Amazon Is Not a Distributor
Christian Retail Is Not Dead
Amazon: King of Book Sales

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Photo courtesy of Angelo_Giordano.

Are You Using the Right URL?

Your first impression depends on how firm your handshake is.” ~@Yushi

Presentation matters. I recently took my son to a new doctor for a consultation. The doctor entered the room with baggy scrubs and a Star Wars head rap and he barely touched my hand for the handshake. Within seconds my brain had formed an opinion.

Use the right URL.

My brain took in this information and made the decision that this doctor was not competent. Of course, these first impressions had nothing to do with this doctor’s competence. He probably just came from surgery. Clearly, he was a Star Wars fan. And maybe he was afraid of getting germs or just did not like physical contact, so he barely touched my hand for a handshake.

After talking with this doctor for a few minutes, my confidence in his knowledge and abilities began to grow. However, I had to make the conscious decision to give this doctor a chance because my brain had already made a decision based on my first impression.

As an author, you may or may not get time to change a person’s initial impression from their contact with you. It is important that you appear competent from the get go.

Being competent means that you have the necessary ability, knowledge or skill to do something successfully. You have a short window of opportunity on first impression to demonstrate to your audience that you are competent.

One area that I often see Indie author’s look incompetent is through the URL address they give for their book, especially an Amazon URL.

Frequently, an author will give a long Amazon URL like this:

https://www.amazon.com/Your-Guide-Marketing-Christian-Books/dp/0991299515/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=sarah+bolme&qid=1560436167&s=gateway&sr=8-1

What the author did was go to Amazon.com and enter in her name or book title in the search bar. Then the author clicked on the correct book that came up in the search, which took them to this long URL.

URL

 

However, this is not the URL for the book on Amazon. Rather, it is a URL from a search for the book. Yes, the URL will take someone to the book’s page, but to anyone who understands URLs, it will look dumb. The second part of the URL starting with the word “ref=” is not needed.

https://www.amazon.com/Your-Guide-Marketing-Christian-Books/dp/0991299515/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=sarah+bolme&qid=1560436167&s=gateway&sr=8-1

The proper URL to use to direct people to your book on Amazon is the first portion that ends with the last 10-digits of your book’s 13-digit ISBN. The proper link should look like this:

https://www.amazon.com/Your-Guide-Marketing-Christian-Books/dp/0991299515/

If you want, you can make the URL even shorter by removing the book title in the link and make it:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0991299515

If you are using an exceptionally long URL and are not sure what the correct portion is to use, then head on over to a URL shortening service and create a short URL to use instead. Free URL shorting services include:

Present a competent image in your use of URL links to purchase your book. Use the correct link or shorten the link for ease of use.

Related Posts:
First Impressions Matter
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Amazon: King of Book Sales

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Audiobook Listening Keeps Growing

The June issue of the Christian Indie Publishing Journal, a monthly newsletter for the Members of Christian Indie Publishing Association, featured an article on “Is Your Website Ready for Voice Search?” Voice search is growing and will continue to grow due to smart speakers.

Half of all Americans have listened to an audiobook.

The article cited that around 52 million adult Americans own some kind of a smart speaker such as Google Home, Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo. The number of U.S. households owning voice-enabled digital assistants is expected to reach 55 percent by 2022.

Voice search is not the only thing that will be affected by the growing number of smart speaker users. The Audio Publishers Association (APA) believes that the increase in smart-speaker penetration will also increase the desire for audio products such as audiobooks as smart speaker penetration among audiobook consumers is nearly twice the U.S. average. Some 42% of audiobook listeners age 18 and older own a smart speaker.

Audiobook listening is on the rise, as supported by data from The Infinite Dial 2019, which shows 50% of Americans age 12 and older have listened to an audiobook. This growth partly due to increased listening in cars. According to the APA survey, 74% of audiobook consumers listen in their car. This makes car listening now the number one audiobook listening location.

With audiobook consumption growing, the market for audiobooks is also growing. More and more small publishers and indie authors are releasing audiobook versions of their books hoping to increase both the reach of their messages and book sales by tapping into this market.

June is Audiobook Month

Releasing an audiobook version of book is a great strategy for broader penetration to consumers. However, releasing an audiobook is not enough. You still have to market your audiobook. Visibility is the key to finding more readers and listeners. You can start with these two steps for increasing the visibility of your audiobook.

1. Link Your Audiobook to Your Print and eBook on Amazon

Having your audiobook linked so that it appears on your book’s page on Amazon—rather than on its own orphan page—helps your audiobook sales. Readers looking for your book can immediately see that it is also offered in audiobook format and some will choose to purchase your book in that format.

Many readers of books who also listen to audiobook use Amazon’s Whispersync technology. Whispersync allows a reader to alternate between an ebook and an audiobook version of a book without breaking stride. This function will only be available for readers who purchase both the ebook and audiobook version if your audiobook is linked to your ebook on Amazon.

If your audiobook is not linked to your print and ebook on Amazon, you can send an email to KDP-support@amazon.com to request an orphaned audiobook page be combined with the page that hosts your print and ebook versions.

2. List Your Audiobook on Goodreads

Add your audiobook edition to your author dashboard on Goodreads. You can do the same for your author profiles on the other book social networking sites like LibraryThing or BookLikes. While you are at it, host a book giveaway of the audiobook version of your book on these sites. Goodreads charges a fee, but authors can still give books away for free on LibraryThing and BookLikes.

Related Posts:
Audiobook Listening on the Rise
Should You Publish an Audiobook?
Five Christian Book Marketing Trends for 2019

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Photo courtesy of sik-life.

Good News: Reading Is Still Popular

Reading is still popular. In fact, most people have good intentions about reading!

A study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Rakuten Kobo found that 71% of Americans say they’d like to read more than they currently do. Our busy and distracted lives present barriers to reading more. Survey respondents reported that these main barriers include:

  • Scrolling through social media (49%)
  • Playing games on a phone (30%)
  • Watching TV shows (29%)
  • Sitting in Traffic (28%)
  • Constantly checking their phone (26%)

The good news is that the majority of Americans are still reading. Check out these five findings on books and reading in the United States.

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Effective Marketing to a Declining Reading Populace
Is Reading in Trouble?

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