Are You Showing Up?

The Internet is littered with abandoned blogs and social media accounts. Often when authors contact me about issues with promoting and selling their books, one of the first things I do is check them out online. It is no surprise when I discover that often these authors have stopped showing up.

I have often heard it said that 90% of success is just showing up!

One author recently told me, “I knock on doors, and then in spite of my fear of failure or making a fool of myself, I still show up!”

Think about this. Showing up is most of the work. Once you show up, things usually flow.

When we get discouraged, showing up takes a lot of effort. When we fear rejection, showing up takes determination. The more you believe in your book and your message, the easier it is to show up.

Adoniram Judson was the first missionary sent to a foreign country from America. He went to Burma to tell people about Jesus. Success was slow. It took six years of Adoniram showing up regularly before he experienced his first convert to Christianity. Remember Judson’s perseverance when you feel like giving up.

Brené Brown—whose 2010 TED Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the most watched talks on Ted.com—has 10 Rules for Success. The number one rule on that list is “Show up!”

Are you showing up regularly?

  • Are you updating your blog, podcast, or video series at least once a month?
  • Are you posting on your social media sites at least once each day?
  • Are you checking your emails and responding to them daily?
  • Are you participating in a forum or blog conversation reaching your target audience at least weekly?
  • Are you attending events for authors?

Do you want to experience more success in promoting and selling your books? Show up. Be there. When you are not there, you miss opportunities.

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Oh, The Places Your Book Will Go!

On a recent weekend excursion, I stayed in a HomeAway basement apartment in Virginia. For those of you who aren’t familiar with HomeAway, it is a competitor of Airbnb. Both services help people rent anything from a bed in their home up to their complete house to travelers.

It was obvious that the main room of this basement apartment doubled as a bonus room for the family when they were not renting their basement to travelers. One wall held bookcases that were full of books.

Being a book person, I spent a few minutes perusing the books on these bookshelves. I gleaned a number of things about the family whose house I was staying in from the books they had on these shelves.

I learned that the family followed Christ. At least one of the spouses had attended a Christian university (the yearbooks were housed on these shelves) and there were numerous Christian books on the shelves.

As I was browsing the various titles, much to my delight, I encountered a title that had won the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award (now renamed the Christian Indie Awards). I pulled the book off the shelf, and sure enough, the award sticker was proudly displayed on the book’s cover.

I love to see books by small publishers and independently-published authors on bookshelves in homes I visit. What a treat to find this gem among other great Christian books!

The number of independently published books is on the rise. Recent studies have found that almost one out of every five books (17+%) purchased is an independently published book. As a result, I am sure more and more bookshelves will be housing independently published book, including winners of award for these types of books like the Christian Indie Awards.

By the way, nominations are still open for the 2018 Christian Indie Awards. You can nominate any Christian book you have published in 2016 or 2017 for the awards through November 15, 2017. Nominations can be made by either the author or the publisher. The award is open to independently published books as well as books published by small presses.

Make your nomination today at https://www.christianaward.com.

Have you ever seen a book you published displayed or stored someplace that pleasantly surprised you?

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Creative Marketing with Bookmarks

Effectively promoting a book takes dedication and effort—and not just a little effort, a lot of effort.

There are more books available today than at any other time in history. Some estimate that Amazon has over 11 million titles available for purchase on its site with a new book added every five minutes. With so many books competing for readers’ attention, creative efforts are necessary to grab that attention.

I am always on the lookout for creative marketing ideas. I like to pass these ideas on to authors, so that you can either copy the idea or use it to get your own creative juices flowing for out-of-the-box marketing ideas for your own books. I frequently highlight innovative ideas that I come across on this blog and a number are listed in my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

Recently, I ran across an author who suggested that since bookmarks are cheap to produce (you can purchase a thousand bookmarks for under $100), that authors should make use of them in their book promotion activities. This author said that he had printed a number of bookmarks with the image of his book and a little information about it, along with the URL of his book’s website. He then offered a stack of these bookmarks to his local public library.

This author figured that since public libraries have tight budgets, they can’t afford to purchase trinkets to give to patrons. So, offering his bookmarks as a freebie that his local library could give to their patrons was a win-win proposition.

This sounds like a good idea. Since many people still read print books, bookmarks are a great handout. However, many public libraries might be reluctant to accept a bookmark for a book that promotes Christianity and/or is not available for checkout in their library system. So, where else might Christian authors use bookmarks to promote their books?
Here are four ideas I came up with.

  1. Offer your bookmarks to your local church’s library or bookstore to give to patrons.
  2. If you have a book for children or young adults, offer your bookmarks to local Christian schools to give to the students in whatever grades your book is geared to.
  3. If you have a book geared for seniors, offer your bookmarks to your local senior center to give to seniors who frequent the center.
  4. Put a stack of your bookmarks in your local Little Free Library for your neighbors to use.

If you have more ideas on how Christian authors can use bookmarks to promote a book, please share them.

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Are You Capturing Hearts?

He failed to win my heart.

I had just completed reading a full-page biography of a Christian author. His bio looked like a listing of who’s who in the Christian world. This gentleman had worked with numerous Christian organizations and for well-known Christian leaders. He had spoken at numerous Christian gatherings and penned a couple books. Yet, the author failed to win my heart because reading his bio felt like I was reading a résumé.

At the close of reading this Christian author’s bio, I had no clue what he was passionate about or what his message was. All I knew was that he hung around some well-known people and places.

To engage people, you must connect with them on an emotional level. As an author, even your author bio should conjure emotions in the reader. What you are passionate about must shine through for a connection to be made. You must win the heart of readers so they are drawn to know more about you and your message or books.

When crafting your author bio, consider these three important elements:

1. It’s Not About You.

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? After all, it’s your bio. It is your bio, but it should not just be about you. After all, few people care where you live, how long you have been married (unless it relates to your book’s topic), or how many pets you own.

Ultimately, your bio is a tool to tell the reader about yourself. Yet, more importantly, it is a means to let readers know how what you are or do relates to who they are and what they do or want to do. Your bio is a tool to draw readers in to capture their hearts.

2. Let Your Personality Shine Through.

Your author bio should reflect your personality. Readers should feel they know you a little more when done reading your bio. If you write with humor, be playful in your bio. If you write about your personal struggles, be transparent. Share your passion.

3. Include Your Relevant Expertise.

Use your author bio to tell your readers the expertise you possess to write on the topics your books cover. This requires a difficult balance. You want to build credibility without overtly bragging. Provide just enough information to let your readers know you possess the knowledge and experience to speak with authority on the subject. Keep it relevant.

People do business with the people they like and trust. The goal of your author bio is to help people like and trust you. Use your author bio to create an emotional connection with your readers and book sales will follow.

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Photo courtesy of Jakob Owens.

What Successful Authors Do

If you are an author, one really important question is:

What do successful authors do differently?

This burning question prompted a survey of independent authors by BookBaby, a self-publishing platform for both print and ebooks. BookBaby received 7,789 responses to their recent survey, however, only 4,472 of the respondents were published authors.

Of these 4,472 published respondents, BookBaby found that 38 percent reported that they had made less than $100 on their most recent published book. Another 26 percent reported that they had made between $100 and $500 on their most recent published book. Only 862 (19%) of the respondents reported that they made over $1,000 on their most recent published book.

Based on the answers to the survey, BookBaby dug deep to find out what these 800+ authors are doing differently. The survey found that successful authors generally:

  • Had published five or more titles.
  • Published their titles in both print and ebook format (many also did audiobook format).
  • Paid for professional editing and cover designs for their books.

The survey also looked at what promotional activities these successful authors engaged in. The data showed that, by-and-large, these authors did the following activities to promote their books:

  • Offered the book for pre-sale.
  • Solicited reviews.
  • Held a book launch party.
  • Sent out a press release.
  • Held a Goodreads giveaway.
  • Offered a Kindle giveaway.
  • Took a blog tour.
  • Conducted book signing tours.
  • Created a book trailer for their book.

Interestingly, only 24 percent of these successful authors used a publicist. This means that you don’t have to spend big bucks on hiring a publicist to sell books and make money. This is good news for every independent author and small publisher operating on a shoe-string budget.

Do you want to sell more books? I think that we can learn from other successful authors. If you are not selling as many books as you want, ask yourself: Am I doing all these promotional activities that successful authors are engaging in? If not, then start. These are all actions that any author can take.

It is never too late to start promoting your book. Make a game plan and start working it. The more exposure you get for your book, the more people know about your book, the more sales you will make.

It’s not easy, but the effort is worth it. Promoting a book takes dedication, time, and effort. Decide what you are willing to do and start. You won’t regret it.

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