Are You Using This to Build Your Author Platform?

To get published and sell books, you need a platform.

Most authors and aspiring authors have heard this message at least once, if not multiple times. But, what exactly defines a platform and how does one go about building one?This is the focus of the upcoming Learning Lab I will teach at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference on July 26. This four-hour seminar, “Build Your Author Platform”, will teach attendees six manageable steps to build and grow an online author platform through content marketing.

Content marketing is simply sharing useful information that educates or inspires your target audience so that they begin to trust you and your message. You want people to trust you so that they, in turn, buy your books. After all, studies show that people do business with those they trust.

Brian Jud, president of Book Marketing Works and APSS, says:

“Repetition of your message is important to reach the decision-making tipping point. It may take up to ten “hits” on prospects to get them to buy.”

Using content to reach your audience provides repetition of your message and gains people’s trust.

Many authors feel that using content to market takes too much time and energy. In my seminar, I show authors how to create and repurpose content to save time and get the most out of every piece of content they create.

Repurposing content involves taking one piece of information and showcasing it in a number of different ways. This practice provides many benefits.

  1. It increases productivity and efficiency.

As an author, you have spent hours researching and writing your book. All your knowledge does not need to stay contained within the pages of your book. You can use the information you share in your book and break this down into smaller pieces to share on a regular basis through content marketing on the Internet.

  1. It expands your reach.

Sharing content and repurposing that content in a variety of formats spreads your message. The more places your content is listed, the more people will read and hear what you have to say. This way people are exposed to your message on the channels they prefer and in a way that speaks to them.

  1. It extends the life-cycle of your material.

Large amounts of data and information are uploaded to the Internet on a daily basis. With so much information, your target audience might miss what you are posting. Repurposing your content for multiple channels not only increases the changes that your audience will see it, it also allows your content to be made fresh in new formats, extending its life cycle.

  1. It increases your visibility.

This is a simple marketing principle. The more places your content appears, the more people are likely to see it. Visibility is extremely important in marketing books. The competition is stiff. Visibility allows you to stand out from the crowd.

If you are interested in learning more about how to use your content to market your books and expand your reach, I encourage you to attend my seminar on building an author platform at the upcoming Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

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Print Is Not Disappearing

“The paperless society is about as plausible as the paperless bathroom.” ~Jesse Shera

The predictions of a paperless society have been around for decades. Back in 2012, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicted that the U.S. ebook market would surpass the printed book market in 2017. That fell far short of reality.

From 2012 to 2104, the sales of ebooks grew, but then instead of continuing to grow, ebook sales began to flatten and even decline in 2015. In 2017, unit sales of print books rose while unit sales of ebooks by traditional publishers fell 10% over 2016. For traditionally published books, ebook sales only made up 19% of all book sales in 2017. Author Earnings believes that ebook sales still account for about 25% of all book sales when indie published books are also taken into account.

It appears that print is not going way.

FedEx Office recently conducted a survey of consumers and small business owners about their preferences and purchasing habits regarding professional printing services. The survey, conducted by polling firm PSB, shows that consumers and small business owners prefer to use printed materials over digital. The study found:

  • Ninety percent of consumers and small business owners agreed that they “like to have the option to have printed materials” and preferred reading materials, most notably official documents and contracts, on paper versus on a screen.
  • The majority (90%) of consumers also agreed there will always be a need for printed materials and almost half (49%) said a world without paper would make them feel stressed or annoyed.

In fact, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently sent a notice out to Christian retailers that our 2018 Book Catalog was available to view online. In response, we received a number of emails from retailers requesting that we send them a print version of the catalog because they still preferred looking through print catalogs when making purchasing decisions.

Print is still popular. The shift to all digital has not yet surpassed print. As an Indie author or publisher, this means that print should still be part of your business strategy—both print books and print marketing materials.

Offering books in a variety of formats is a wise strategy, as is participating in both digital and print marketing. Is print still a part of your marketing strategy? Do you utilize:

  • Business cards
  • Print brochures
  • Bookmarks
  • Print catalogs
  • Print advertising?

If your print marketing efforts have fall by the wayside in favor of easier digital strategies, I encourage you to rethink your marketing efforts. A combination of both print and digital will reap the most benefits as we still operate in a world where people use both mediums.

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Google’s New Talk to Books

Sometimes I feel like I am beginning to live in a Science Fiction movie. The speed at which artificial intelligence (AI) is developing and becoming incorporated into our daily lives is accelerating.

Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are now allowing individuals to have conversations with artificial intelligence. Google has even taken their AI one step further and unveiled a new program: Talk to Books.

This new AI tool provides the ability to search based on semantic (meaning of phrase or sentence) rather than on keywords. Talk to Books allows anyone to search a database of books for information at a sentence level rather than an author or topic level. Using this tool, a user can input a statement or a question and Talk to Books searches over 100,000 books for sentences that best provide a response.

As you may be aware, over the past two decades, Google has digitalized thousands of books with or without the copyright holder’s permission. By integrating their new Talk to Books tool with these digitalized books, Google is providing a powerful search engine to help anyone seeking information to find that information within the pages of these books.

Google already has a book search engine. This search engine,, allows you to search books by topic, author, or title by typing in text to the search engine. Talk to Books is slightly different. Instead of looking for books by author or topic, it searches within books for passages that are related to the question asked.

For example, if I type into the Google Book Search Engine the name of a bestselling Christian author like Max Lucado, I am rewarded with a list of books that he has authored. However, if I type or speak his name into Talk to Books at, the results show passages from books that either talk about Max Lucado or quote from one of his books.

Some publishing industry experts believe that this new Talk to Books tool by Google will boost book discoverability. In other words, when individuals use Talk to Books to find information on various issues or topics, they are exposed to passages from books, increasing these books’ discoverability by readers and increasing the likelihood that the individual exposed to these books may make a purchase.

Sadly, Google has implemented a “popularity measure” in Talk to Books. This measure gives a boost to books produced by “professional publishing houses”—sorry Indies.

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Photo courtesy of Piotr Cichosz.

Marketing Tips to Reach Each Generation

I am a GenXer, a middle-child wedged between Baby Boomers and Millennials. I embody most of the Gen X characteristics including hard working, independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. Sadly, my generation is also known as the forgotten generation when it comes to marketing.

Few companies specifically target Generation X in their marketing efforts. Yet, if companies don’t speak to me in a way that I will listen, I won’t stand up and take notice of what they are offering.

Marketing is not a one size fits all program. Effective marketing takes knowing how to talk to each generation so they will listen. Following are some tips to effectively reach each generation with your marketing messages.

Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, this generation makes up a significant portion of the purchasing public. Baby Boomers have longer attention spans than younger generations. After all, they did not grow up with the Internet and technology at their fingertips.

Baby Boomers are still tuned in to traditional marketing methods. As a result, radio and television ads and print ads in newspapers and magazine speak to this generation. In marketing to Baby Boomers, you can go into more depth with your information and even feature longer videos. Keep in mind that Baby Boomers are nearing or in retirement, so two big messages that this generation tunes into is how they can enjoy their leisure time and how they can save money to stretch their retirement funds.

Generation X

This generation, born between 1965 and 1980, is all about bargains. These people want to save money, time, and effort. So, in reaching this generation, offer coupons and ways for them to obtain your books and products without much effort or time invested on their part. This is a cross-over generation that can be reached through both traditional marketing and online marketing.


Born between 1981 and 1997, this generation is on the cusp of surpassing Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation, according to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the texting generation. In fact, 100 percent of Millennials who own a smart phone communicate via text.

Millennials want content that is relevant and authentic. They like customized messages, not generic messages. Word-of-mouth is a driving influencer in Millennials purchases. Social proof—others talking positively about a product—is extremely important to this group. So, be sure to include testimonials in your marketing messages.

Generation Z

These are the new kids in town—those born after 1997. While young, this group is still a powerful buying force. These individuals are true digital natives. They have grown up with technology at their fingertips. This generation prefers to communicate through images rather than text. They are huge YouTube users. Use of video and images must be prominent in your marketing to reach this generation.

Generation Z is also the least churched generation in American history. This generation has grown up in a post-Christian, post-modern environment where many of them have not even been exposed to Christianity or to church.

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Poetry Sales On the Rise

Have you ever attended a Poetry Slam?

In case you don’t know what a Poetry Slam is, it is a competition where poets read or recite their original works. The concept began in the early 1980s when American poet Marc Smith began experimenting with turning existing open microphone poetry readings into a competition.

In 1997, Poetry Slam, Inc. was founded to promote the creation and performance of poetry that engages communities and provides a platform for voices to be heard beyond social, cultural, political, and economic barriers. This nonprofit organization hosts a YouTube channel as well as live and online poetry events.

Poetry Slam, Inc., is a secular organization. However, some Christian poets and churches around the country host Christian Spoken Word Contests. One Facebook Page highlights Christian Spoken Word poetry and encourages anyone with a video performance to post on the Page to share with others.

Poetry sales are booming. Last year marked the best sales on record for poetry. There appears to be a new appetite for the works of living poets. Many poets are acquiring large audiences of online followers. In addition, poetry is becoming more popular through poetry slams and at live festivals. In fact, according to Nielson BookScan, poetry book sales have seen a 66% increase in the past five years.

With this rise in Poetry sales and interest in poetry, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has added a Poetry category to the Christian Indie Awards. Over the years, we have had a number of authors and publishers ask us about adding a Poetry category and we believe the time is ripe to do so.

For the 2019 Christian Indie Awards, four new categories have been added. These are:

  • Mystery and Suspense
  • Business / Finance
  • Self-Help
  • Poetry

In addition, the Bible Study / Theology category has been split into two separate categories, bringing the total categories for the Christian Indie Awards to 18 categories. You can view all 18 categories and their descriptions on the Christian Indie Awards website at

Nominations for the 2019 Christian Indie Awards are now open. If you are an Indie author or small publisher with a Christian book with a copyright of 2017 or 2018, you can nominate your book at

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Photo courtesy of Katzenfee50.