It’s Not Too Early for Christmas

You are probably thinking, “Halloween has not yet arrived. It’s too early to be shopping for Christmas.

Except, it’s not. Many people are already beginning to think about Christmas and gift buying. On survey by eMarketers found that more than 10 percent of Internet shoppers said they start their holiday shopping before September. Another 40 percent start purchasing holiday gifts before November.

Did you catch that? Just about half of the people who buy gifts for Christmas start shopping before November. And that is not just one study. Research from the National Retail Federation shows that about 40 percent of people start holiday shopping before Halloween each year. That number has stayed consistent for more than 10 years.

It’s not too early to start promoting your book as a great Christmas gift. Start now. Promote and advertise your book as a Christmas gift. Offer a holiday special or bundle to entice early shoppers. This month is a great time to include your specials in your email campaigns, on your website, and through advertisements.

In today’s entertainment saturated world, you might want to remind shoppers why books make great gifts. Feel free to use the reasons listed on the infographic below in your marketing efforts.

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Awareness Is Not Enough

“I need distribution for my book right away. I am doing radio and TV shows and bookstores are wanting to order my book.”

This caller’s frantic plea for help is something that I have run into a number of times. It turns out that this author published her book via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). The only place it was for sale was on Amazon.com.

The author had hired a publicist—spending thousands of dollars. Fortunately, the publicist was doing a good job of lining up radio and television interviews. The problem: no distribution.

So, while this author was getting lots and lots of publicity for her book, her book was not positioned for that publicity.

I have seen this happen to a number of independent authors. It is not a publicist’s job to educate her client on book publishing and distribution. After all, the publicist’s specialty is publicity. As a result, many publicists fail to make sure that their clients’ books are in distribution and widely available for sale in numerous outlets before booking media interviews. Sadly, when this happens, much of the publicity achieved goes to waste.

Publicity alone does not sell books. Most book sales are determined by three factors.

1. Awareness

People have to know your book exists to be able to purchase it. This is where publicity is very helpful. The more exposure you have for your book, the more people you make aware of your book.

2. Decision

Decision comes after awareness. Only after readers know about a book can they decide to purchase the book.

3. Availability

Once a reader decides to buy a book, the book must be available in the format and place he or she wants to buy the book. If readers cannot find the book where they usually shop, the sale is easily lost. Not everyone shops on Amazon.

When it comes to selling books, awareness is not enough. Availability (think ease of purchase) is just as important a factor in the buying process. Having your books available for sale in multiple places enhances your ability to sell your book.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) offers our Members ease of access to distribution through IngramSpark and Lightning Source. Member publishers and authors of CSPA can use their CSPA membership benefit to upload titles for free with these print-on-demand services that also provide distribution through Ingram—ensuring that their books are widely available for sale.

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Photo courtesy of Pablo García Saldaña.

 

Promote Your Books as Christmas Gifts

Christmas gift shopping is big business. The average American spends around $700 on holiday gifts and goodies. According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. holiday sales account for about 20% of all retail sales each year.

As a small publisher or independent author, you can cash in on this gift buying trend to sell more books. By promoting your books as a great Christmas gift idea, you can sell more books.

Many people start Christmas shopping early in the fall, so now is a great time to begin promoting your books as gifts. Here are six ways to capitalize on Christmas gift shopping to sell more books.

1. Position Your Book as a Great Gift

Let your fans know that your book makes a great gift. Feature it as a gift idea on your website, in your newsletter or email updates to your fans, and on your social media posts. Your readers may not automatically think of your book as a gift. You can plant and water this idea for your followers.

Let your readers and fans know that they can give your book as either a print book or a digital book as a gift. Amazon Kindle now allows anyone gift a Kindle book through their new “Buy for Others” feature.

When promoting your book as a gift on social media, be sure to use hashtags related to Christmas and gifts to make sure your posts have wide visibility. A few of these hashtags include:

#Christmas
#ChristmasGift
#ChristmasGiftIdeas
#StockingStuffer
#Gifts
#GiftIdeas
#GiftsForHer
#GiftsForHim

2. Offer a Special Christmas Discount

One way to make your book more appealing as a gift is to offer shoppers a special Christmas discount. You can offer a two-for-one deal, free shipping, or even just a special holiday price. Be sure to make your Christmas special or discount time limited to give shoppers a sense of urgency so that they will act on your prompting to purchase your book as a gift with your holiday discount.

3. Create a Bundle for Gift Giving

Many people don’t like to spend a lot of time Christmas shopping. For these individuals, the easier you make shopping for them, the more likely they will buy. One way to make shopping easy for people is to offer a gift bundle. Then instead of having to buy a book from you and then heading over to another store to purchase another gift, you can make it easy by offering a bundle that provides one-stop shopping for your customer.

You can pair your book with another product as a bundle. For example, if your book is about Godliness for young ladies, offer a bundle consisting of your book and a piece of Christian jewelry. If you have a devotional that focuses on men, offer a gift card to Home Depot along with your book. Your gift bundle can be as creative as you allow it to be.

4. Create a Gift Guide for Your Fans

Some people find gift buying tedious and overwhelming. They feel that they lack good ideas about what to buy their loved ones. You can help these individuals by offering a Gift Guide on your website or blog. Feature a number of products that make good gifts for your target audience. Of course, include your book in your guide. Remember, the goal is to provide information that your followers will find helpful.

5. Display Your Books at Local Christmas Craft Bazaars or Holiday Festivals

Every community has Christmas craft bazaars and holiday-themed festivals where local residents can rent a table or booth and showcase their goods a gifts. You can sign up and display your book at these events to promote your book as a gift and garner some sales.

6. Advertise in Holiday Shopping Guides

Numerous magazines, journals, websites, and blogs feature holiday shopping guides. Some require you to pay to advertise your book as a great gift. Others are put on by bloggers where the blog will feature your product as a gift in exchange for a free copy of your book to the blogger. You can pitch bloggers that feature gift guides to ask if they would be willing to include your book or bundle in their guide.

When promoting your book as a gift, remember that you are not just promoting your book, you are also informing people why your book makes a great gift. Remind people that books make great gifts. If you need some reasons, check out my infographic on Six Reasons Books Make Great Gifts.

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Photo courtesy of George Dolgikh.

Are You Pursuing Radio Exposure?

I recently encouraged an author of an adventure devotional for men who enjoy outdoor adventures to pursue outdoor stores as a venue for book sales. His response was that these general-market stores won’t want to carry a Biblical message.

I pointed him to Barna and encouraged him to use the statistics this research group reports about Biblical interest and belief in God in America. I told him that he can use these statistics to create a convincing argument to show the stores that the majority of their shoppers have an interest in God.

Knowing what people are looking for is useful in marketing. This knowledge informs your message and your approach to gain more exposure for your books. If you are pursuing exposure through guest interviews on radio shows, you can use the research findings from Finney Media to improve your pitch.

Radio is still a great way to reach people. More than 243 million American adults listen to the radio each month. News and talk shows are among the top listened to radio formats.

In 2016, Finney Media Research developed The Finney Media Why Listen?® Survey that delves into why individuals listen and give to Christian-formatted radio shows and programs. The 2018 survey had 26,800 respondents who listen to Christian-formatted radio. Results of the survey reveal:

  • In-car listening to radio dominates.
  • Online radio listening for teaching is growing.
  • Listeners tune out if the tone of the show is negative, angry or judgmental.
  • People report that they listen to Christian radio to help them grow spiritually.
  • The majority of respondents (87%) report it helps them worship God throughout the day.

Finney’s recommendation from these findings is for Christian radio to focus emphasis on spiritual content that is boldly Biblical. Finney believes that radios stations that meet their listeners’ expectations and needs will see genuine spiritual growth as well as an expanded audience.

If you are pursuing radio exposure for your books, you can use these findings to your advantage. When approaching show producers, let them know how your message is boldly Biblical and how it will meet their listener’s needs in using radio to worship God and grow spiritually.

By the way, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) offers our Members a list of over 70 radio and podcast outlets actively interviewing authors. Right now, you can join CSPA for just $120 and receive membership through December 2019. Not only will this allow you to access this list of radio and podcast shows, you will also receive access to all the other great benefits CSPA offers our Members.

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Photo courtesy of Bruce Mars.

Authors: Start Local

At the grocery store the other day, I was reminded that there are opportunities everywhere for authors to promote their books.

As I entered my local Harris Teeter, the rack standing next to the door caught my eye. I usually enter this store from the opposite side, so I don’t often walk by this shelf. The rack was filled with free local magazines for anyone to take.

I have seen many racks like this that mostly contain magazines for people looking for a place to rent or a car to buy. However, this rack had all sorts of interesting local magazines including a local happenings magazine, a parenting magazine, a woman’s magazine, a natural living magazine, and a luxury living magazine. In total, there were 13 different types of magazines on this rack.

I realized that each of these local magazines offered opportunities for authors to promote their books. Local magazines love to tell stories of local people and highlight local events. As an author, you can pick up these free magazines at your local store and find ones that match your target audience. Then you can approach these magazines about either highlighting your story, running an article you have written, or advertising.

Start local. Every large movement began locally. Jesus began his ministry in his hometown region and then, after his death and resurrection, Christianity spread worldwide. The #MeToo movement was actually started in 2006 in Alabama with an organization called Just Be Inc. that teaches young women and helps them develop a sense of self-worth. The #MeToo movement did not go viral until 2017.

There are local marketing opportunities all around you. In addition to local magazines, consider the following venues in your neighborhood, city, or town where you can receive publicity, speak at, or host an event to promote your books:

  • Bookstores
  • Libraries
  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Community Centers
  • Senior Centers
  • Newspapers
  • Radio and TV Stations

Musician Josh Wilson has a song titled “Dream Small”. In the song, he encourages Christians to start serving God right where they are. The chorus of the song says:

So dream small
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time

You can start promoting your book right where you are, one day at a time, allowing Jesus to use your efforts for his glory—and more book sales!

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Photo courtesy of Christian Stahl.