Are You Making These Social Media Mistakes?

Are you using social media to draw people’s attention to your books? If you answered in the affirmative, then I suggest you take a moment to evaluate how you are doing.

Ask yourself: “Am I making any of these mistakes?

5 mistakes

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Just How Important Is an Author Platform?

Go to any writer’s conference and you will hear the term “Author Platform” tossed around.

Just how important is an author platform?

Just how important is an author platform?

I have met more than one author who felt led to write a book. These authors began to write what was on their hearts. Then they attended a writer’s conference and heard from agents and editors that they needed a platform in order to be considered for publication by a traditional publishing house.

Many of these authors went home and threw themselves into developing a platform. They worked hard on posting on social media—sharing pictures, creating memes, and posting videos. Some developed the number of followers they were looking for, others did not. Most would agree that their focus became their platform and their writing took a back seat.

A few of these authors ended up receiving contracts for their books from a traditional publishing house. Most did not. Many ended up self-publishing.

Does an author platform guarantee book sales?

Here’s the rub. Most experts agree that the number of followers on social media does not translate to book sales. In other words, there are authors who have thousands of followers on social media, but they aren’t selling thousands of books.

Social media is just that—social. Just because someone likes what you post or followers you on social media does not mean:

  • That they read books.
  • That they buy books.
  • That they read books in your genre.

What’s the best way for an author to build a platform?

An author platform is not so much about numbers as it is about adding value. When you offer something that resonates with a group of people, they will buy what you are offering.

At a recent writer’s conference, I met a gentleman who told me that his wife has been battling cancer for the past decade. During this time, she has written a gratitude blog. The purpose of the blog was twofold. She wanted to remind herself to be grateful in the midst of her suffering, and she wanted to encourage others to count their blessings no matter what they are going through.

An editor at a Christian publishing house discovered her blog through social media. She began to read the posts. The result was that the editor offered this woman a book deal. Why? Because this woman was sharing a message that people desperately need.

Instead of trying to win as many followers as you can on social media to build your platform, focus on your message. Write what is on your heart. If it resonates with people, they will read it and come back for more.

By the way, I will be presenting Three Things to Do Before You Publish at the Write Stuff Conference in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, March 14. If you live in the area, I invite you to sign up for the conference.

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Photos courtesy of Hugo Ataide and John Hain.

A Positive Outlook for Christian Retail

A Christian consumer survey conducted in January 2020 with over 2,600 responses found that 48% of respondents said they shop (or would shop if they had one) at their local bookstore for faith-based content. Only 11% of respondents reported that they would not shop in-store.

Percentage of People shopping in Christian stores

The Parable Group compiled data from analysis of $66 million in Christian product sales, 2.1 million consumer receipts, and survey results from retailers and publishers in their recent 2020 State of Christian Retailing. During a time when the U.S. Census Bureau is reporting that sales in bookstores declined 5.7% in 2019 from sales in 2018, the Parable Group found less discouraging data from Christian bookstores.

The Parable study found that same store sales were only down by 2.5% in 2019 over 2018. That is encouraging news for Christian bookstores when compared to the bookstore market overall.

Three other significant findings in this report may surprise you.

1.  Books are the leading sales for Christian retail, making up one-third of all in-store sales.

Books make up one-third of in-store sales.

2.  Half of all Christian book sales come from three categories: Christian Living, Devotionals, and Fiction

Half of all Christian book sales comes from these three categories.

3.  Hosting more store events is not a high priority for most Christian retail stores.

Store events not a high priority for retail stores.

The Christian retail industry is a niche market. While there have been numerous store closures over the past few years, what remains is not dying.

The landscape is changing as Christian bookstores are now almost exclusively independently owned stores. In fact, 75% of Christian retail respondents in The Parable Group’s survey had a positive outlook for the future. One store stated, “We’re reaching new people and retaining current customers better than ever.

If you are a Christian author and you have a Christian bookstore in your city, I suggest that you become a regular patron. Booksellers need our support. Bookstores help sell books. Whatever we can do as Christian authors to support Christian book sales impacts the Kingdom. If you are part of God’s Kingdom, then you reap the benefits.

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Photos courtesy of The Parable Group.

Double Your Book Marketing with This Little Trick

What would you think if I told you that you could double your marketing efforts with just one little move?

Double Your Book Marketing

It is possible—and indie author David Winters has done it.

David recently published a “making faith real” book for men. Exercise Your Faith: Defeating the Lies Men Believe examines thirty plus lies that can derail effectiveness and steal satisfaction.

Playing on his title, Exercise Your Faith, David decided that using a healthy, fit male as the image for his book’s cover would have the most impact in drawing men to the book. David happens to have a friend who is a fitness guru and owns a gym.

In a brilliant move, David asked his friend Nick Singer if he would like to be on the cover of his book. Of course, David’s fitness friend said yes. After all, who wouldn’t want that type of exposure? Who wouldn’t want to be able to talk about their fame from being featured on the cover of a book?

Exercise Your FaithBut, the exchange was not been just one-way. In being featured on the David’s book cover, Nick Singer became invested in the book.

Nick is a Christian. He wants to serve God and further His kingdom. To that end, he got onboard with helping David promote the book.

One of the marketing activities that the two have done together is to hold the book launch party at the Nick’s gym Fitology. At the launch party, David and Nick did a double book signing. The fitness guru signed the cover (since that is where he is featured) and David, as the author, signed the interior of the book.

So, in addition to selling books to people who know+like+trust the author, David is also able to sell books to people who know+like+trust his friend Nick, the fitness guru.

In case you don’t do math, two people promoting a book to their respective audiences means double the book marketing.

Do you want to sell more books? Then, consider who you might feature on the cover of your next book.

After all, in giving someone celebrity status by featuring them on your book’s cover, you will invest them in the sales of the book.

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Photo courtesy of Jill Wellington.

Personal Growth Books Are Popular

The pace of change in our world is accelerating. Change, like a ball rolling downhill, gathers momentum as rolls. The speed at which information doubles is getting faster and faster. Experts report that the information doubling speed has now reached every one to two years.

Personal Growth Books are Popular

The book publishing and selling industry is not immune from rapid change. Staying abreast of the trends in the book industry is useful for helping you know the challenges and to develop plans and programs for overcoming these challenges in selling books.

Book Sales by Category for 2019

After small annual gains over the past few years, unit sales of print books dipped 1.3% in 2019 compared to 2018 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan, which tracks 80% to 85% of print sales. Here is the breakdown of print book sales by category for 2019:

Adult Nonfiction: sales fell 1%

  • Self-Help: sales rose 11.4%
  • Juvenile Nonfiction: sales rose 4.5%

Adult Fiction: sales fell 2.9%

  • Graphic Novels: sales rose 16.1%
  • Science Fiction: sales fell 19.7%
  • Westerns: sales fell 17.2%
  • Romance: sales fell 12.4%
  • Mystery / Detective: sales fell 3.5%

Print sales of science fiction and romance have seen annual double-digit declines since the advent of ebooks. These books are still selling well in digital format.

Personal Growth Books Popular

The Self-Help or Personal Growth category has experienced continued growth over the past six years. In fact, it has nearly doubled in size since 2013.

Self Help Book Sales Graph

Industry experts report that this is not just a U.S. or Western phenomenon. A similar trend can be seen in China where self-help—especially positive personality imaging and self-worth books—are showing up on the bestseller lists.

The publishing industry is crowded. Whenever a book category becomes popular many publishers and authors jump on it. As a result, the number of Personal Growth titles published has outpaced the rate of the sales growth in this category.

Indeed, the number of ISBNs assigned to books in this category rose from 30,897 in 2013 to 85,253 in 2019. That is more than the 11% annual growth rate this category has seen.

Good News and Bad News

The good news is that if you are an author of a Self-Help / Personal Growth book, people are reading books in this category. People are yearning for meaning, peace, and calm amidst the trials of life. Your book fills a need.

The bad news is that the competition is fierce. Just because Personal Growth books are selling well does not mean that your book will fly off the shelves. People have to first hear about your book. Then they have to trust you as the author to buy the book. Marketing is required.

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Image courtesy of Criativithy.