How Responsive Are You?

24 hours. That is the length of a day. It’s also the time-frame in which people expect a response.

How Responsive Are You?

Whether it is:

  • a phone call
  • an email
  • a text
  • a direct message on social media
  • comments on social media

most people expect a response within a day. Slower responses equate with poor customer service in consumers’ minds.

A recent study by Clutch that surveyed U.S. adults found that 83% of the respondents said that if they interact with a brand on social media, they expect a response within a day. Over one-third actually expect a response sooner—38% expect a response within an hour.

Not surprisingly, younger consumers are more likely than older consumers to expect brands to respond quickly. Some 90% of consumers ages 18 to 29 expect brands to respond to their comments on social media within a day or less.

Responsiveness can mean the difference between acquiring and losing a customer.

The phrase “Strike while the iron’s hot” can be applied to inquiries you receive. Whether you are contacted by a potential reader, a journalist, a media host, a reviewer, an influencer, or an event planner, the timeliness of your response will have a direct impact on your sales and exposure.

Recently, I was contacted by a gentleman who produces a magazine for readers that features Christian books. He was looking to open a dialog about how to feature more Indie published books in his magazine.

I sent a timely response. Then I waited. I did not hear back from this gentleman for a couple of weeks. In his follow-up email, he told me that publishing the magazine was his side business, which is why he had not gotten back to me sooner.

I responded to his second email in a timely fashion. That was about a month ago. I still have not heard back from him.

Due to the lengthy time-frame in which this gentleman communicates, I have become reluctant to pursue further discussion with him. His lack of timely response makes me question whether he will follow through on any agreement that we come to. It also makes me question whether he will have success with his venture moving forward.

Writing, publishing, and marketing books is a side-venture or “second” job for most Indie authors. Don’t treat it as such. Give the same timely attention to inquiries as you would if it was your primary job. Otherwise, you will lose out.

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The Law of Unity

United we stand; divided we fall.

This Kentucky state motto is often used to inspire unity and collaboration.

Unity works in God’s kingdom. United, our light shines brighter and we have a greater impact on the world. Sadly, instead of uniting, often Christians view other Christians as their competitors, not their teammates.

I have witnessed this with Christian authors and publishers. Often authors and publishers view other in the industry as their competition. Instead, we should be embracing each other, seeking for ways to build each other up, and exploring ways to work together for Kingdom purposes.

If you are a Christian author or publisher, other Christians writing and producing Christian books are not your competition. These people are on the same team as you. We are all working toward the same goal—or we should be. Our common goal is to draw people to God.

The law of unity is simple. When we are united, our efforts are multiplied. In other words, when we join forces with other Christians working for the same goal, collectively our impact for the Gospel and God’s Kingdom will be much greater.

Jesus’ desire was for unity among his followers. In his prayer in John 17, he says, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.

Since we are on the same team, we should be helping and cheering each other on. Are you cheering or helping your fellow Christian authors?

Consider these five easy ways to unite and cheer on your fellow Christian authors and publishers:

  1. Review and recommend others books to your followers.
  2. Invite other Christian authors to be a guest on your blog or podcast.
  3. Share fellow Christian authors’ social media posts with your followers.
  4. Give other authors a shout out when they have a noteworthy accomplishment.
  5. Offer words of encouragement and advice to others who are writing and publishing Christian books.

As teammates, we should be looking after each other’s interests as well as our own. When we do, our collective efforts will be multiplied. Remember, there is room for everyone in God’s kingdom.

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Awareness Is Always the First Step

“Have you tried Topgolf?”, my friend asked. I had not even heard of the place until she mentioned it.

It turns out that Topgolf is a popular new game. Players rent a bay in what resembles a driving range to play a golf game. Players score points by hitting micro-chipped golf balls at giant targets in a field. Points are scored based on the distance of the target and how close the ball is to the bulls-eye of the target.

Awareness is the first step

Until someone asked me about it, I was blissfully unaware that Topgolf existed. Now I know. Now I have one more place I can choose to spend my leisure dollars.

Awareness is always the first step in a buyer’s journey. After all, I can’t buy something I don’t know exists.

Eugene Schwartz, an advertising specialist, described five levels of awareness that buyers journey through in his book Breakthrough Advertising. The five levels are:

  1. Unaware: Buyers don’t know your product or service exists, or that they have a need for it.
  2. Problem aware: Buyers are aware they have a problem, but they don’t know the solutions.
  3. Solution aware: Buyers are aware of some solutions to their problem, but are not aware of your specific solution.
  4. Product aware: Buyers have become aware of your product, but they have not bought it yet.
  5. Most aware: Buyers who have purchased and used your product.

I traveled through these five steps with Topgolf.

  1. Unaware: I did not even know that Topgolf existed.
  2. Problem aware: I needed a fun local activity for my son and his friends during Spring break.
  3. Solution aware: I knew of a couple things we could do, but wanted more options.
  4. Product aware: A friend mentioned Topgolf, so I checked it out since my son enjoys golf.
  5. Most aware: We rented a bay at Topgolf over Spring break and played a couple games. It was fun. We may do it again.

This first step in a buyer’s journey is your marketing challenge. Making people aware of your books and how they solve a problem for buyers is the goal of your marketing activities.

Exposure is key. Word-of-mouth is your best tool for raising awareness. Get people talking about your books and people will become aware they exist.

Offering free review copies of your book and giving away your book to key influencers is powerful and drives word-of-mouth. Don’t skimp on this step of your marketing plan. Give books away and watch the Biblical principle of “give and it will be given to you” play out.

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It Takes a Step of Faith

The big break! It is what every author longs for. Whether it is connecting with the right influencer to drive sales, securing a foreign rights or film deal, or landing on that national television show guaranteed to bring big exposure, every author dreams of that deal that will take them to the next level.

Step of Faith

Yet, often these breaks come in unexpected ways. Usually they come only after an author takes a step of faith. God meets us when we move out in faith.

Consider examples from the Bible. The Israelites had to follow God’s instruction to march around Jericho each day for seven days before the walls fell. Gideon had to trust God and reduce his army from 32,000 men to 300 men to have victory over the Midianites. Esther had to believe that God had made her queen for a reason and risk her life by going to the King without a summons to save the Jewish people.

Each took a step of faith. This means that they did something without being assured of the outcome. They risked and God showed up.

The same is true for you as an author. You also may need to step out in faith and take a risk before God opens a new door or shows you the next step.

For most authors and publishers, attending a trade show is a step of faith. Money is spent and time is taken from a busy schedule to travel and attend a trade show without any guarantee of a return on the investment.

Authors and publishers who take this step of faith have no assurance that they will secure additional sales or deals as a result of attending a show. Yet, time and time again, I have seen divine appointments happen at trade shows for attending authors.

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) recently returned from the National Religious Broadcasters 2019 Proclaim Convention where we represented CIPA Members who attended the show with us. Each one of these authors took a step of faith in attending the show—and God did not disappoint. He showed up and great connections were made.

CIPA Members made the following connections:

  • Radio and television interviews with invitations for more after the show.
  • New platforms to take a podcast or radio show to the next level.
  • An invitation to teach at a Bible school in India.
  • A connection with a film maker who wants to create a documentary.
  • Request for rights to translate a book into a foreign language to be published and distributed in another country.

These connections are not magic. Each author will need to follow up and tend the invitation or idea that was discussed. And more opportunities may still come for these authors from the books that were placed in the hands of influencers at the show.

Where is God calling you to step out in faith with your book? I encourage you to take that step. Pray over your action, commit it to God, and watch with anticipation to see what God will do!

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Photo courtesy of Daniel Reche.

Your Next Big Break

Your big break—that media interview, that stellar endorsement, an influencer willing to work with you, a large book order, that awesome speaking engagement—might be right around the corner. You never know when it will happen… but I can guarantee it won’t happen if you don’t plant seeds.

To harvest fruit, you must first plant seeds. All your marketing efforts—both small and large—are seeds you are planting.

Marketing is planting seeds

I have sent out scores of press releases. Many never get a response. Not too long ago, I sent out another press release to the media. I really wasn’t anticipating much from it. After all, I know that press releases are about planting seeds and watering those seeds.

A few weeks later, I received an email. It said:

I am doing a story on indie publishing in the Christian market. I’ll talk to a number of sources for the story, and would love to include you and the newly named CIPA.

An interview was scheduled. A conversation took place. Then, an article was published. I was quoted in the article.

Not a big break, but a nice one that brought more exposure. You can read the article here.

Too many authors are “one and done”. They try something once. When they don’t get the result they expected, they decide that the marketing technique did not work and don’t try it again.

In marketing, “one and done” will kill your efforts. No farmer plants one seed and expects a good crop. Farmers do not know which seeds will germinate or which seeds will lie fallow or end up getting eaten. So, they plant many, many seeds, sometimes overseeding so they can ensure a crop.

Wise King Solomon knew this principle. He said:

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don’t know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good.

writing at night

In book marketing language, this statement reads:

In the morning conduct your marketing activities, and at evening don’t think you are done, because you do not know which activity will succeed, whether one or the other, or if all of them will be equally good.

You can’t have a big break unless you are constantly pursuing opportunities. So, keep doing marketing activities like:

  • Sending out those press releases.
  • Pitching for interviews.
  • Asking for those endorsements.
  • Pursuing those speaking engagements.
  • Seeking collaboration with other authors.
  • Showing up day in, day out on social media adding value to other’s lives.

And remember that God is the Lord of the Harvest. Your success rests in his hands. Trust him.

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Photo courtesy of Dương Trí and Bruce Mars.