Does Your Book Need Refreshing?

Is your book selling as well as you would like? If your book sales have slowed down or are lacking, maybe your book needs refreshing.

Does Your Book Need Refreshing?

Ponder the following four points to determine if you need to engage in updating or refreshing your book to improve sales.

1.  Book Reviews

I am amazed at the number of books that have no reviews on Amazon. Some of these are indie authors that are paying for advertising for their books, yet their books have no reviews on the largest book selling website. Reviews are essential for selling books.

My advice is that before you launch a marketing campaign for your book, get reviews. Give readers a free copy of your book in exchange for a review. You need reviews.

If the average rating of reviews for your book on Amazon or any other bookseller site is less than four stars, this means either your book needs some work or you are not targeting the right audience for your message.

The competition is stiff. Readers have exponentially more choices of books to read than they have time to read. An average rating of less than four stars means your book is just that—average. Your book needs to be more than average to sell well. It needs to be compelling.

2.  Provide a Sample

Buyers like to have some assurance that what they are buying is worth their money. This is why when browsing for books in a physical bookstore or library, readers will not only read the book’s cover, they will open the book and read a section of the interior to decide if they want to invest in the book.

Buyers need this same access to the interior of your book when browsing online. Give your potential buyers the ability to sample your work so they can make an informed decision that leads to a purchase. You can offer the following samples for potential readers:

  • Enable the Amazon Look Inside feature for your book.
  • Offer a link to read the first chapter of your book.
  • Offer a digital prequel, short story, or tip sheet for free to potential readers.

3.  Update Your Cover

First and foremost, your book should be sporting a professional cover image. Your cover should look as good as or better than the top 10 sellers in your category or genre. Your cover needs to be eye-catching to rise above your competition.

Sometimes book sales lag because your book’s cover—your number one marketing tool—does not accurately reflect the contents of your book. Make sure the image on your cover conveys the emotion off your message to the reader. If you are selling a romance story, your cover should speak romance. If you are selling a thriller, your cover should feel suspenseful.

Do a quick review of your book’s cover. Sometimes updating or changing the image can spur sales.

4.  Listen to feedback

In response to feedback around editing, I have had authors say, “This is the message God gave me.” Good editing does not change the message. Instead, it makes your message more relatable and compelling.

Once I told an author who requested my help that her book was too long for her target age group. I suggested that she either condense it or break it into a series of books. Her response was that children needed the whole message so she was going to leave it the way she had it.

Clearly, she was not open to my suggestion. I would rather my children eat part of their meal than none of it. At least by eating part they are getting some nutrition. The same can be true for a message. Pieces eventually add up to the whole.

Listen to the feedback you receive from your readers. Take the strengths from the positive reviews and improve the weaknesses pointed out in the negative reviews. Your book (and you) will be better for it.

Related Posts:
What Influences Book Purchasing Decisions?
Easy Ways to Get More Book Reviews
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Photo courtesy of Malte Luk.

Don’t Lose Focus

The events in our world and our country in 2020 cannot be ignored. They are affecting all of us.  Yet, I would encourage you to not allow these events to sidetrack you from the message that God has given you.

Don't Lose Focus

I recently read a post by an influencer in the indie publishing world. This individual was advocating that indie authors take a break from marketing their books to spend some time dealing with the pressing issues in our country.

While this advice might be beneficial for secular authors, I don’t think it is good advice for Christian authors.

2 Timothy 2:4 says “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” In season and out of season means when it is favorable to do so and when it is not favorable to do so – or when it is convenient to do so and when it is not convenient to do so.

We are in an out of season time. There is pressure all around us to jump on the hot topic of the moment. Don’t get sidetracked.

It is easy to get dragged down by worldly concerns involving conflicts and fears. When this happens, we get distracted from the hope we have in Christ.

Do not lose your focus. As a Christian author, your gaze should remain fixed on spiritual things that offer the hope, security, and peace people need in this trying time.

Whatever your message was before the events happening this year, it is still needed. People’s spiritual needs have not diminished with current events—in fact, these needs are growing since churches have not been open and people have been isolated.

People are still struggling with relationships, parenting, finances, health problems and other issues related to Christian living and spiritual growth. They need the hope you offer in your books. Hope both for this life and the life to come.

So, I encourage you to not veer from the message God has given you. Your message is timely. Your message is needed. God’s word never goes out of season.

Related Posts:
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The Responsibility Rests on You!
Sticking to the Basics

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Photo courtesy of Elena Taranenko.

The Pandemic’s Lasting Effect on Book Marketing

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing our world. Some of these changes will be long-term while others will cease once the pandemic is past. It is difficult to determine which changes will last and which won’t.

Many experts predict that many changes will be long-term. These long-term changes will transform the book marketing and selling landscape.

Pandemic Effect

Following are some of the changes that experts predict will be long-term. Since we are not God—who sees the beginning to the end—we are left to guess. I, for one, am hoping that not all these predictions will be true long-term.

1.  Working from home will continue.

 As many companies see the cost-saving without a loss of productivity from their workers, many will move to a new model of work from home.

2.  Print book sales to schools and universities will become obsolete.

As more institutions move to online learning models, fewer will host print books in their classrooms and libraries. Learning will become increasingly digital, including both textbooks and supplemental reading material.

3.  Large conventions and conferences will become a thing of the past.

With fears of spreading viruses, large conventions and conferences will become virtual events. Smaller venues may still be held in-person. This will leave fewer avenues—think book fairs, writers’ conferences, trade shows—for authors to promote their books in person.

Many experts predict that moving forward, events will be hybrid—meaning they will feature both in-person and online participation options. Hybrid events will broaden conferences’ ability to widen their reach by integrating virtual attendees with physical attendees.

For authors who specialize in speaking engagements to earn money and sell books, this will signal a big change. With virtual events, speaking engagements will be virtual, which means fewer impulse book buyers at the end of your talk.

4.  Physical bookstores will continue to decline in number.

Over 50% of books were purchased online before the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, the majority of book sales moved online. Bookstores will have difficulty recovering and the new online book buying habit may stick, meaning fewer bookstores will survive in the new economy.

Fewer bookstores signal fewer venues for authors to host events such as book signings, book readings, and book launches.

In a nutshell, experts predict that the nature of our interactions will become increasingly more virtual. I think that it is harder to connect with people in a virtual setting. There is something to rubbing shoulders and physical connection that is lost in the virtual world.

Moving forward, those authors who embrace virtual interactions and conferences will be the most successful at marketing and selling their books.

I would love to hear from you. Which changes do you think will last?

Related Posts:
Grow Your Audience in Spite of a Pandemic
5 Book Publishing Trends You Need to Know for 2020
A Prayer for Writers

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Photo courtesy of Anna Schvets.

A Prayer for Writers

My son graduated from high school this year and is enrolled in a university for his college degree. One of the courses that this university offers as an elective course (and which fulfills a required general education credit) unnerves me:

A Prayer for Writers

 

“Magic and Religion Ancient incantations and adjurations, spells and amulets, magic words, prophecy, divination – in what ways can and do religious practices, ideas and ritual intersect with magic? To answer these questions (or, at least, try to), we’ll begin by studying what ‘religion’ and ‘magic’ mean for scholars. Then we’ll explore how magic and religion overlap in both ancient and modern societies – including some of our own time.”

Sadly, I did not see a similar general education course offered on Christianity or the Bible for students to choose from.

As Christian authors and publishers we sometimes need to be reminded that our work is important. We are in a war. Our fight is about demolishing arguments and every proud thing that is raised against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Earlier this year—before the pandemic hit—I was honored to be a key note speaker at the Capital Christian Writers Fellowship writers conference. This group of writers had compiled a handbook for praying for your writing life titled Prayers for Writers.

The following prayer, written by Jean Soehnlin, is from that book. May it bless you and your writing efforts.Prayers for Writers

Heavenly Father,

Bless me with confidence in the anointing You have given me to write. Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. (Luke 1:38)

Open my eyes and ears and heart to hear Your whispers of truth and love You have for me and those You want me to share them with.

Protect me from the lies and deceit of the evil one. May I rest confidently in Your truths and in my anointing, rather than getting sidetracked by doubts, insecurities, and distractions.

Bless my writing ministry, Father God. May my pen flow with Your words and message burning in my heart to share with others, to bring healing and hope to hurting hearts.

Bless my writing time, that it would be productive and fruitful.

May I be able to grasp how wide and deep and long is Your love for me as I write and always.

Amen.

Related Posts:
Does Your Passion Need a New Spark?
It’s All About Hope
Do You Need Inspiration?

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Photo courtesy of Ben White.

 

Free Tools Any Author Can Use

No one is good at everything. We all need help, whether that is with our grammar, our time management, or just concentrating so we can be productive.

Following are five free tools. Check them out. You might find one or more of them helpful in your quest to be the best author that you can be.

Free Tools Any Author Can Use

1.  Make Sure Your Titles Are Capitalized Correctly.

Are you confused about which words to capitalize in a headline? Do you guess when capitalizing a title or headline?  Check out Capitalize My Title. This program applies the correct capitalization based on the style you want to use: Chicago, APA, MLA or AP.

2.  Reduce the Number of Clichés in Your Writing.

Too many clichés can make your writing uninteresting. Don’t be trite. Ditch the clichés. Cliché Finder is a free program that finds and highlights clichés in your writing so you can remove them.

3.  Get Organized.

An organized writer is a more productive writer. There are many tools that can help you become more organized. Milanote is an easy-to-use creative writing app to organize your research, ideas, characters and outline in one place.

4.  Be More Productive with Time Management Help.

Many people struggle with time management. Marinara Timer is a free time management timer promotes productivity. The timer allows you to choose to work for 25 minutes with a 5-minute break at the end, or you can choose your own time limits.

5.  Block Out Background Noise so You Can Focus Better.

Do background noises interrupt your concentration when writing? Noisli can help. This program provides free background sounds that help to mask annoying noises in order to keep you sane, improve your focus, and boost your productivity.

Related Posts:
5 Free Tools Every Author Can Use
Five More Free Tools for Authors
Five Additional Free Tools for Authors

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