Are You Speaking the Right Language?

In a recent conversation I had with an indie author, the author told me that she had sent a query to a number of podcasts. This author was working on scheduling a podcast tour.

I asked her if she meant that she had sent a pitch to these shows. The author asked me to explain the difference between a query and a pitch to her.

Are You Speaking the Right Language?

I explained that a query is the request (letter or email) that a person sends to print publication to inquire about submitting an article or book to be considered for publication. A pitch is the request (usually email) that one sends to media outlets—radio, television, and podcast shows—when one is seeking a guest interview or spotlight on the show.

The author and I then commiserated together about how much there is to learn about publishing!

Every industry has its own language. There is medical lingo, legalese, and car talk. The publishing industry has its own terms like:

  • Derivative work
  • Exclusive rights
  • Frontispiece
  • Gatefold flaps
  • Interrobang
  • Moral turpitude clause
  • Plagiarize

Every author and publisher should take the time to educate themselves so that they are familiar with the publishing industry language. Whether you are traditionally published or indie published, you will have conversations with industry experts. Knowing the publishing industry language allows you to both understand what the other person is saying and to talk intelligently to that person in return.The Publishing Dictionary

Mary Hollingsworth has compiled a resource to help you. The Publishing Dictionary is an information, easy-to-understand reference that includes Christian publishing terms.

The book is designed to help anyone—authors, editors, proofreaders, marketers, publishers, and freelancers—understand and communicate accurately and effectively with others in the industry.

If you want to make sure that you are speaking the correct language, I suggest that you get a copy of this book and keep it as a handy reference guide.

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Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels.

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.

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Photo courtesy of Malte Luk.

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?

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Photo courtesy of Anna Schvets.

Should You Create an Audiobook?

Audiobook listening has been growing for the past decade. The 2018 Annual Audiobook Sales Results published by the Audio Publishers Association showed that audiobooks experienced double-digit sales growth since 2012.

Audiobook Infographic

June is Audiobook Month—a month dedicated to highlighting audiobooks. Audio publishing is a growing segment of the book industry. Many indie authors are dipping their toes into creating audiobook versions of their print books.

Should you make your book into an audiobook? Here are two questions to ask yourself to determine if creating an audiobook is right for you.

1. Is My Book Selling Well?

If you are only selling a couple copies of your book a month—or have sold less than 1,000 copies of your book or book series overall—then creating an audiobook is probably not the best use of your publishing and marketing funds. A better use of your money and time might be to invest in a robust marketing campaign to increase sales of your print and ebook.

Remember, an audiobook is just another format of your book. People still have to know about it to purchase your book in audiobook format. In other words, creating an audiobook version of your book does not guarantee more sales.

2. Am I Willing to Invest a Chunk of Money into Creating an Audiobook?

Creating an audiobook is not cheap. According to Findaway Voices, an average audiobook created with their service has about 50,000 words and costs between $1,000 and $2,000.

The narrator often makes or breaks an audiobook. Most traditionally published audiobooks have professional narrators. Sometimes an author will narrate their title. Even with an author narrating, the cost to professionally edit the audiobook to remove extra sounds and make it smooth starts at about $250 per hour.

There are ways to save money when producing an audiobook. For example, with ACX, indie authors can find narrators willing to split royalty payments instead of being paid upfront. This can help save money when producing an audiobook.

A new service has recently popped up. Indiepub claims that they can make audiobooks 100 times more quickly with 10% of the regular cost to produce an audiobook using artificial intelligence. This new service claims they will turn your print book into an audiobook in 15 minutes for $499 (currently offering an introductory price of $99). However, I was unable to find a sample of an audiobook recorded with a digital voice on their site—so I have no idea how it sounds.

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The Story Behind the Book

Stories are important. They help us make sense of our world and understand one another.

We think in narratives all the time. In fact, studies show that: “Personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful techniques we have as humans to communicate and motivate.Christian Indie Publishing Association

For authors, sometimes it is our backstory—the story behind our book—that draws people to want to read what we have written.

If you are interested in the backstory behind Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) and my book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, then I invite you to watch the interview below.

Kent and Katie Philpott, Members of CIPA, recently interviewed me on their show “Why We Are Christians”. In the interview, I share how I became involved in writing and publishing.

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