Do You Have the Proper Margins?

Have you ever read a book or document that ran the text right up to the edges of the page?

Do you have the proper margins?

Did you notice that looking at such a book or document made you tense and possibly left you feeling overwhelmed?

Margins are important—both in books and in life.

1. Proper margins in your book allow readers to absorb the information.

Margins on a page or screen are the white space that surrounds the printed content. Each page or screen has top, bottom, and side margins. These white spaces are meaningful and serve several purposes.

  • Enhance Visual Appeal

White spaces on the edges of text on a page create balance. They give our eyes a place to rest.

  • Improve Readability

Margins provide a contrast to the printed words on a page. Words within a frame help the eyes focus better.

  • Provide a Place for Notes

Some people like to annotate their books. Margins in a book or document allow readers to record their thoughts as they read to enhance their retention of the material or take notes for later reference.

  • Create a Buffer Zone for Manufacturing

Whether you are printing a book on a large printing machine or printing a document on a home printer, margins leave room for error. Adequate margins make sure that words do not get cut off in the printing process. Thus, white space ensures that you have a readable product.

When designing a book, don’t skimp on the size of the margins. Yes, you can cram more words on a page and have a shorter book if you have small margins. Sadly, if you choose this route, your book will not be as attractive or readable, resulting in fewer sales.

God speaks in the stillness and quiet

2. Proper margins in your life give space for Jesus to show up.

Books need margin, but so do lives. If you run your life up to the edges, you will not be as effective or happy as when you allow margins.

If you want God to show up more in your life. If you want to feel his presence, see him at work, or feel that he is using you, then you must allow the time and space for this to happen. Time and space where you are not busy, but can rest, relax, and sit quietly.

When Elijah went to Mount Horeb to meet with God (I Kings 19), he did not find God in the mighty wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Instead, God showed up and spoke with Elijah in a soft whisper.

We need the margins to be able to hear God’s whisper both in books and in our lives.

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Photos courtesy of Kaboompics.com and Cindy Lever.

My Checklist Fiasco

I recently purchased a used car. The old vehicle my teenagers have been driving is on its last leg, so another one needed to be found.

It has been years since I purchased a vehicle from a private seller rather than a dealership, so I tried to do due diligence to make sure we had all the paperwork required by the state I live in. I looked on the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website and found a list of paperwork needed when purchasing a car from a private seller. I felt prepared. The purchase of the vehicle was painlessly completed including a trip to the bank to have the car title transfer notarized.

My next step, after purchasing the vehicle, was to make a trip to the Division of Motor Vehicles to have the title transferred and to register the vehicle. Just to make sure I had everything I needed for this trip, I checked the DMV website again. This time, I found a list of the paperwork needed to brought to the DMV to transfer the title of the vehicle.

Lo and behold, this list had two forms on it that the first list I used did not. It turns out I needed two more pieces of paper. One needed the signature of the seller, and the other one needed to be notarized. This meant that I had to get back in touch with the seller and make another trip to the bank. The whole process was quite frustrating.

The DMV is not the only place where people run into issues with finding out that they do not have all the information they need upfront. It often happens in the publishing world also.

Vehicle

Last year, I talked with an author who told me that, when he was publishing his book, he had to complete four revisions before the book was right. This was four revisions after he had already uploaded the book to IngramSpark for printing and distribution.

At the time, this gentleman was not a Member of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA), so he did not have the Member benefit of free uploads and revisions with IngramSpark. He ended up paying over twice the amount an annual membership with CIPA costs just to print and distribute his book.

This author reported that he kept finding out about things he had missed putting in his book that are standard for books (as well as some mistakes). While you might be tempted to judge this gentleman for not doing his due diligence prior to uploading his book, I feel sympathy for him.

There are many elements that go into making sure a book is industry-standard. New authors and publishers can easily miss one or more of these elements because finding a complete list in one place is not easy—just like with my DMV experience.

Because we understand the process for new authors and publishers, Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) has developed checklists to help. Two checklists the Association offers to ensure you have all the elements you need prior to uploading a book for print and distribution are:Checklist

  • Checklist for Creating a Professional-Looking Book
  • Metadata Checklist

Members of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) can access these checklists as part of their Membership. If you are considering publishing a new book this year, I encourage you to join Christian Indie Publishing Association so you can be better prepared.

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Publishing News You May Have Missed in 2019

The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.”  ―Heraclitus

The publishing industry is no exception. It is in a constant state of flux. This past year contained numerous changes for the book industry, especially for the Christian retail industry.

Publishing News from 2019

Following is a quick recap of important publishing news from 2019 that you should be aware of if you write and publish books.

Associations:

Publishing Association Rebranded:  After fifteen years of service Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) was rebranded to Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) to better reflect the changing book industry.

New Christian Bookselling Association Formed: With the demise of CBA, the Association for Christian Retail in 2019, Munce created a new association, Christian Retail Association (CRA) for independent Christian bookstores and upgraded their Christian Product Expo (CPE) to an International show.

Bookstores:

LifeWay Stores Close: LifeWay Christian Resources announced that they would close all 170 of their brick-and-mortar stores in 2019. The company will continue to offer products through their online store at LifeWay.com.

Independent Christian Retail Stores Counted: The Get It Local Today program for Christian retail launched an interactive map showcasing existing retail locations that sell mostly Christian products. The program identified more than 1,800 stores across America.

Baker & Taylor Ceased Distribution to Bookstores: Baker & Taylor decided to exit the retail book distribution business in the US, to focus on library sales. This leaves Ingram as the only major print book distributor to bookstores in the US.

Ingram Launched a Stock Check App: Ingram, the largest book distributor, released an app that anyone can use to check Ingram’s on-hand quantity for any title in the company’s vast inventory. Once downloaded, you can search for any title by scanning the book’s barcode or manually entering the ISBN (EAN), book title, or author name to check the stock instantly.

Book Promotion:

Amazon Eliminated Two Book Promotion Services: Amazon closed its Kindle Matchbook program and ceased allowing Amazon Giveaways. On the flip side, Amazon expanded their advertising for authors to the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany.

Barnes & Noble Implemented an Advertising Portal for Authors: Barnes & Noble Press introduced an advertising portal giving authors the opportunity to create ad campaigns. Ads appear on relevant BN.com pages based on chosen genres.

BookBub Introduced Chirp for Audiobooks: BookBub responded to surging audiobook listening by extending its platform for book discovery and promotion to audiobooks through Chirp.

Google+ Shut Down:  Google+ shuttered in April 2019 due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations.

Christian Indie Publishing Association

One of the services that Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) provides our Members is up-to-date book industry information related to publishing and marketing books. Each month, our newsletter provides our Members with this valuable information. If you are not a Member of the Association, I encourage you to join for the 2020 year. You can sign up today at www.christianpublishers.net.

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Good News: Religious Book Sales Are Strong
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Photo courtesy of Markus Spiske.

Resolutions Every Author Can Use

Research shows that about 60% of people make New Year’s resolutions, but only about 8% are successful in achieving them. These dismal statistics cause some people to eschew New Year’s resolutions.

Sadly, goalless people wander and then wonder why they are not achieving what they had hoped. Goals keep us on track, moving in the direction we want to go. As an author, I suggest that you make New Year’s resolutions about writing and publishing. Here are five that every author can benefit from making.

1. Write More

There is always room to write more. Whether you are writing to publish more books or writing more content for your blog or other publications to promote your books, writing more is a good aspiration. Make it a resolution to write more in 2020 than you did in 2019.

2. Publish More

People buy books from authors they are familiar with. This means that they have had some type of contact with the author. Often, this contact comes from reading a book by the author. Studies show that people tend to read more than one book by a given author. Many authors report seeing a bump in sales of their older books every time they publish a new book.

Christian Indie Publishing Association

Make it your aim this year to publish more. If you are an independent author or small publisher, you can have access to print-on-demand sales distribution through Membership in Christian Indie Publishers Association (CIPA). CIPA Members receive free title setup with both IngramSpark and Lightning Source. You can join CIPA today at www.christianpublishers.net.

3. Promote More

There is no such thing as too much marketing. Every effort you put into promoting your book(s) means that more people are exposed to you and your books. Studies show that people need seven to twelve exposures before they make a purchase. Thus, the more you promote, the more sales you will reap.

If the idea of spending more time on social media to promote your book does not excite you, then I suggest you read my book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books. This book is full of book promotion and marketing ideas that go way beyond social media and the Internet.

4. Learn More

Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” There is always more to learn. Technology is bringing rapid changes to every area of life—including the publishing industry. In publishing, if you stop learning, then you become out-of-date and out-of-sync with the standards and protocols involved in publishing and promoting books.

Henry Ford Quote

Make it your ambition this year to keep learning. Learn to be a better writer. Learn to be a better book promoter. Step into all the roles associated with publishing a book with confidence and grace. Stay abreast of industry changes and trends by joining an author or publishing association and by attending Christian writers conferences.

5. Read More

Reading is good for you. Studies show that reading reduces stress and increases life expectancy. So read more this year. In fact, reading more is one of the top ten New Year’s resolutions the people make!

As an author, your fans look to you for book recommendations. You can provide more book recommendations to your readers by reading more. This year, read for free. Sign up to be a BookCrash reviewer and you can get free books in exchange for a fair review. Learn more at www.bookcrash.com.

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Your Christian Book Is Crucial

The United States is steadily becoming less Christian and less religiously observant, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Only 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christian today. This represents a 12-point decrease in the past decade. In 2009, 77% of American adults identified as Christian.

65% of Americans are Chrisitan

In this same period, those who describe themselves as having no religion, referred to as “nones” in the United States have grown. Currently about 17% of the American adult population identifies as “nothing in particular” when asked about their religion. This is up five points from 12% in 2009.

The Pew Research Center data shows a wide gap between older Americans and younger generations. More than eight out of ten members (84%) of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945) describe themselves as Christians, as do three-quarters (76%) of Baby Boomers. In contrast, only half of Millennials (49%) describe themselves as Christians, while four out of ten are religious “nones”.

The need for Christian witness in the United States in great. Christian books are needed today as much—if not more—then they ever have been.

Christian books are lights—shining beacons that accomplish two important purposes:

1. Christian books point people to God.

Studies show that Millennials read. In fact, adults aged 18 to 35 purchase and read more books each year than those in other age groups. Your Christian books can be a tool in proclaiming the Gospel and drawing people to God.

2. Christian books strengthen believers.

Christian books reveal truth about God’s Word to believers. Your Christian book serves to encourage and strengthen Christ followers so that they can shine the light of Jesus to the dark world around them.

Christian author, don’t give up. Your Christian book is needed in America today. Our country (and the whole world) needs to know God and his son Jesus.

My prayer is that your Christian books would touch people’s lives. I pray the Caleb Prayer for our country. I invite you to pray it with me.

O High King of heaven,
Have mercy on our land.
Revive your church;
Send the Holy Spirit
For the sake of the children.
May your kingdom come to our nation.
In Jesus’ might name.
Amen.

P.S. If you live in or around the Capital of our country, I invite you to join me at the Capital Christian Writers Fellowship Conference on January 25, 2020. I will be presenting a keynote talk on “What Makes a Book Christian?”

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