The State of Fiction Reading

My teenage daughter loves to read fiction. However, as a young teenager, she is finding it difficult to fine good novels to enjoy. She feels that she has outgrown children’s novels, yet at the same time doesn’t like many of the mature themes presented in many Young Adult novels. Lately my daughter has been complaining about the “lack of good writing” in the books she has been reading.

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Interestingly, a recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts reveals that the number of people reading fiction in the United States is on the decline. The study found that in 2012, only 47% of people surveyed (survey size of 37,000) reported reading a fiction book, down from 50% in 2008. Yet back in 2002, only about 47% of people also reported reading a fiction book.

So I wonder. Is the number of people reading fiction really on the decline—or—do these figures better reflect on the type and number of good fiction titles release each year the survey was completed?

I suspect that that answer is really the latter, especially since the decline is only a matter of a few percentage points. Maybe 2008 was a year that had a few more really popular novels released. Years in which novels like The Twilight Series, The Shack, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Fifty Shades of Gray, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the like are released may have more people responding that they have read a fiction book. After all, some people only read a book when they have heard from family and friends that it is a “must read.” Some years I read more fiction than other years. So some people may only read a fiction book once every few years.

On the whole, this study seems to indicate that about half the population in the United States reads a fiction book each year. The study also found that men are more likely to read nonfiction books and women are more likely to read fiction.

The only way to increase reading rates—whether that is for a book you publisher or just fiction books in general—is to give readers what they seek: a compelling story.

Anyone publishing a fiction book faces huge competition for readership. So, be sure that your book has a compelling story and that it stands out from the crowd before you take the plunge. And, be prepared for negative reviews. People’s enjoyment of stories is very personal and subjective based on their tastes, experiences, and worldviews.

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Christian Belief in America

Is Christianity in decline in America? Many people believe it is.

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However, a new Pew Research study recently found that a large percentage of Americans still hold to traditional beliefs about Jesus. The study found that:

  • 73 percent of U.S. adults believe Jesus was born to a virgin.
  • 81 percent believe the baby Jesus was actually laid in a manger.
  • 75 percent believe wise men guided by a star brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
  • 74 percent believe an angel announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds nearby.

The study indicates that 65 percent of American believe all four of these elements of the birth of Jesus, while a mere 14 percent believe none of them.

Hollywood has caught onto this strong and possibly growing faith element in American society. Have you noticed how many faith-based movies Hollywood has been producing lately?

The results of this survey bring good news for authors and publishers of Christian material. After all, who reads Christian materials? For the most part, Christian books are created for those who already have some belief in Jesus. The whole purpose of Christian books is to help those who know God gain a deeper relationship with Him and for those who are seeking to find Him. The more people that profess some belief in Jesus, the larger the audience is for Christian books.

From the results of this study, it looks like Christian books will continue to have a strong standing for the next few years. So, if you write or publish Christian books, take heart. While you will still need to identify your target audience and market to that audience, in actuality, that audience may be larger than you think.

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Cast Your Vote!

If you read or sell Christian books, you are invited to VOTE for the 2015 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award.

Cast a VoteYou can vote online right now at www.BookoftheYear.net. Voting on the Book of the Year Award is open through March 31, 2015.

Although small publishers are often less well known than larger publishing houses, they produce fresh and innovative books to inspire readers or fill niche needs. The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award honors books produced by small publishers for outstanding contribution to Christian life.

The 2015 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award features 126 books in 13 categories.

The winners of this award are determined solely by the votes of Christian book lovers and retailers alike. The winners of the 2015 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award will be announced on April 20, 2015.

The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award is sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA).

What are you waiting for? Go Vote! And, invite your friends to vote also!

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So You Want to Be an Author…

Now that the ceiling for having a book published has been lowered to the floor, self-publishing is growing exponentially. After all, self-published books topped 450,000 in 2013.

While I applaud the ability for anyone who wishes to be able to produce a book, I also recognize that hundreds of aspiring authors are just throwing their words together and making a book. As a result, the overall quality of books published is taking a hit.

I stumbled across this humorous look at how a number of aspiring authors decide to publish a book. I think it is worth the watch. I know what this video says is true, because, every week, I talk to aspiring authors who want to publish a book. Many of them share these same misconceptions.

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Predictions for 2015

No one can predict the future. Only God knows the future. Still, every year, people make all sorts of predictions about the coming year. I don’t make predictions. I don’t feel qualified to do so. Besides, usually only about half of the predictions made come true, meaning anyone has a 50-50 chance of making a true prediction.

2015

Here are a few predictions I have seen for 2015:

  1. Reviews will become more important and powerful for businesses—this includes books as well. Surveys show that 78% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews.
  2. Author and marketing guru, Seth Godin, thinks that 2015 will be a big year for breakout self-published titles. We are already starting to see this trend.
  3. Amazon’s ebook market share will continue to grow. Amazon already holds a 65% share of ebook sales.
  4. Humor will be needed to create an authentic connection with Millennials and secure their business. Some believe 2015 will be the year of humor in digital marketing.
  5. Something bigger is going to happen with GoodReads. Some predict it will more tightly integrate with parent company Amazon.
  6. The United States economy will continue to grow. This growth will be driven by increased consumer spending. More money being spent is always good for book sales.
  7. Jeb Bush, Republican, will run against Hillary Clinton, Democrat, in the 2016 Presidential race. This would mean a repeat of a Bush-Clinton race.

Based on these predictions, I don’t see any major new shifts for publishing and marketing books. I believe independently published books will continue to grow as will book sales via the Internet. Currently, less than 10% of books are sold through brick-and-mortar bookstores.

If you plan to publish for the first time this coming year, or you are just continuing to publish—and you produce Christian materials—I encourage you to consider membership in Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) as part of your business plans for the coming year.

CSPA provides both small publishers and independently published authors with a number of resources to help you be more successful in both publishing and marketing your books. You can read our complete list of membership benefits on our website by clicking here.

Membership for the 2015 calendar year is just $90. I encourage you to become a member today by clicking here.

Do you need to read testimonials (reviews) before you decide to join? These are also available on our website. Just click here.

The one thing I am certain of for 2015 is that God holds our hands. May you find strength and comfort in this.

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