You Can Make a Difference!

Studies show that 80% of people feel that they have a book inside of them.

Book inside

Surprisingly, the biggest motivating factor to write a book is not fame or money. Most authors are driven to write for one of the following reasons:

  1. To share expertise or pass on knowledge.
  2. To motivate or inspire others.
  3. To tell a story.
  4. To market a business.

My main objective in writing Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books was to pass on knowledge. As someone who has been immersed in the world of indie publishing and marketing for the past 15+ years, I want to give authors and new publishers the resources they need to be successful in promoting their Christian books. I also hope that the book motivates and inspires readers to do the hard work of marketing.

Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books

It is always satisfying when one receives confirmation that the purpose of their book is being fulfilled. A few recent reviews of Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books inspires me to keep going. After all, most authors—myself included—want our books to make a difference.

Following are a few recent review quotes for Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books:

  • Your book is amazing! You saved me hours (maybe years) of research.” ~Crystal Bowman
  • This is a book that will become a dog-eared reference for authors to use during every phase of their book’s publication. I highly recommend this book as a practical and valuable reference!” ~Ava Pennington
  • The competition for readers has never been greater than it is today. Sarah Bolme shows you how to get your book the visibility it needs to sell.”  ~Jacquelyn Lynn
  • This exceptionally well organized and presented guide walks authors and publishers step-by-step through the various aspects of book promotion. It is an ideal and thoroughly ‘user friendly’ resource for authors and publishers.” ~James Cox, Midwest Book Review

What about you? Do you feel that your books are fulfilling the purpose for which you wrote them? Do you long to publish a book that is inside of you?

If you feel that your book has not reached its potential, or if you desire to publish the book that is inside you or in manuscript form, then you can get the information you need to do just that.

1. Attend one of my upcoming intensive workshops on “You Can Indie Publish and Market Your Book”. I will be teaching this extended workshop at the following two upcoming Christian Writers Conferences:

2. Get a copy of my book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books and read it. Learn the important steps in marketing your book so that it leaves your hands and goes into the world to fulfill the purpose for which it was published.

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Are You Backed Up?

More than one author has told me a tale of losing all their work when their computer crashed in the middle of a project. I hope that this has not happened to you.

A couple years ago, my house was hit by lightning. It fried the Internet router box, a phone, my computer, and a printer. Everything on the computer was lost. Fortunately, I had backed up all the data on my computer.

World Backup Day

As a publisher or author, you create vast amounts of data regularly. All of this data can be lost in a moment to a natural disaster, a virus, a computer crash, or even a theft. It’s not uncommon.

  • One in ten computers is infected with a virus each month.
  • 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute.
  • 29% of disasters are caused by accident.

Yet, 30 percent of people have never backed up their data. The best precaution you can take so that you do not lose material on your computer is to actively back up your data.

Keeping your data safe is important. March 31 has been declared World Backup Day. The purpose of World Backup Day is to raise awareness of the need to back up data.

A backup is a second copy of your important files—both for files on your computer as well as for files on your website. A backup allows you to keep another copy of everything somewhere safe.

Did you know that only one in four people regularly backup their data? Is your data safe? Do you have backup copies?

The 3-2-1 Rule

The 3-2-1 Rule is widely hailed as industry best practice for data storage. The rule states that you should have three (3) copies of your data at all times. This data should be kept on at least two (2) different types of storage, and that you have at least one (1) copy of the data offsite.

3-2-1 Rule

Many people choose to keep a backup copy of their data on a USB thumb drive, an external hard drive, or an SD card. This copy is kept in their home or office. Then, they also opt for cloud-based backup for keeping a copy of their data offsite such as Google Drive or Apple’s iCloud service.

Do you have a website? Don’t forget to backup the data on your website. It, too, is not immune from hackers or viruses. Most web hosting companies provide some type of backup or at least a referral to a website backup service they recommend.

World Backup Day asks everyone to take this pledge:

 “I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.”

Don’t just do it on March 31. Do it regularly and you won’t ever lose your important manuscripts and book documents.

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Don’t Just Be Anyone

The growth of independent publishing is truly astounding. Consider these figures from Bowker (the ISBN provider):

  • The number of print books independently published grew from 235,639 titles in 2012 to 879,587 in 2017. That is 273% growth in six years.
  • In 2017, 85% of all independently published print books were published through Amazon (CreateSpace) for a total of 751,924 titles.

Amazon has leveled the playing field for publishing a book. Almost anyone can publish a book through Amazon (using Kindle Direct Publishing—previously through CreateSpace). Of course, the ability for anyone to publish a book has both positive and negative consequences.

Positive Consequences

1. Anyone can now be an author.
Anyone means anyone. Amazon does not discriminate with respect to whom they allow to upload a book.

2. No gatekeepers.
No subject is taboo. No one has to approve of the content, style, or quality of the writing.

3. It’s free.
Yes, absolutely free to upload a book to Amazon. It does not cost a cent. All it requires is Internet access.

Negative Consequences

1. Anyone can now be an author.
Anyone can be an author whether or not they take the time to hone the craft of writing, understand proper book design, or learn anything about marketing a book.

2. No gatekeepers.
Anything goes. This means that there is no check on quality. There are no guarantees for buyers.

3. It’s free.
The easier and cheaper it is to publish a book, the more people will publish books. The more books published, the more competition all books have for readers’ eyes.

Here’s the deal: Don’t just be anyone.

In other words, be an informed author. If you are thinking about publishing a book, don’t do it just because you can. Take the time to hone your writing, learn about proper book design and layout, and understand what you need to do to market your book. Both you and your book will be better for it.

Colorado Christian Writers Conference

I am thankful that it is both easy to independently publish a book and it is easy to learn what you need to know to do this. Many sources exist to help independent authors who want to learn.

You have the opportunity to learn directly from me at the upcoming Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park May 15-18, 2019. I will be teaching a Continuing session on “You Can Indie Publish & Market Your Book.” This session will teach you what you need to know to publish an industry standard book and to begin the process of promoting your book.

If you can attend this conference, I encourage you to do so. You will learn valuable information, not just from me, but from the other presenters as well. Don’t take my word for it; here is what a couple people said about my “You Can Indie Publish & Market Your Book” sessions on Facebook:

Don’t just be anyone. Learn what you need to know and be an author that people want to read and share with others.

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Photo courtesy of NeONBRAND.

What To Do When Your Book is Pirated

Authors should be more concerned about obscurity than piracy. This is the conventional wisdom. However, piracy does happen. When it happens to you, do you know what to do about it?

Not too long ago, I received a Google Alert that my books had recently been listed on some websites I had never heard of; so I checked it out. It turns out that the websites were pirate sites that allow free PDF downloads of books.

Lo and behold, my books had been pirated. They were being offered for anyone to download free-of-charge on these sites.

Fortunately, I knew what to do and flew into action. I immediately sent each site a DMCA Takedown Notice. Both sites responded—surprisingly—quickly to my notices and reported that they had removed the books.

Do you know what to do if your books are pirated? Here are my suggestions.

1. Sign up for alerts.

To stay on top of where you and your books are appearing on the world wide web, you should subscribe to an alert service. Alert services include:

These services search the Internet for the words you give them and let you know where these words are showing up online. These sites will send you an email notifying you each time a new listing is found.

If you use your name or the title of your book, the alert service will send you a notice when it finds a new listing of the phrase on the web. These alerts allow you to know who is talking about you and your books, and they allow you to monitor if your books are being pirated.

2. Send a DMCA Takedown Notice.

If you find a site that is listing your books as a free ebook download, you need to take immediate action. The best thing to do is to send a DMCA Takedown Notice to the site administrators. DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

To make it easy for small publishers and independent authors, Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) offers a free downloadable Reference Guide on DMCA Takedown Notices to our Members. This Reference Guide includes a DMCA Takedown Notice template to follow when sending such notices.

If you write and publish Christian books, you can join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) for just $90 for the calendar year. Then you will have access to this Reference Guide and the many other supports and guides that the organization offers its Members.

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Are You Using Publishing Industry Standards?

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” ~Stephen Hawking

Standards. Every industry is governed by standards. These are a set of criteria within an industry that defines the standard functioning and carrying out of operations.

The publishing industry has standards. Anyone involved in publishing and selling books should be aware of these standards.

Sadly, many independent authors don’t take the time to educate themselves on publishing industry standards. This lack of knowledge often becomes apparent when these authors interact with others in the industry. Then, these authors’ ignorance reflects poorly on themselves and their books.

One place where I frequently see a lack of knowledge on industry standards with independently published authors is the ISBN. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. This is a unique number assigned to a book that identifies the book within the industry. All industry players use the ISBN number to identify a book, much like the government uses a social security number to identify an individual.

The ISBN is a 13-digit number, not a 10-digit number. Yes, Amazon lists both a 10-digit ISBN and a 13-digit ISBN. Yes, Amazon lists the 10-digit ISBN first. This does not mean that it is the industry standard. The industry standard is a 13-digit ISBN.

Go to a bookstore. Pick up any book in that bookstore and look at the barcode on the back. You will see a 13-digit ISBN, not a 10-digit ISBN.

The publishing industry switched from 10-digit ISBNs to 13-digit ISBNs back in January 2007. That almost 12 years ago folks. The only reason that Amazon provides both the 10-digit and 13-digit ISBNs is because they want to be repository for every book published. As a result, they house many books that were published prior to the change to the 13-digit ISBN. Therefore, these books host a 10-digit ISBN. So, Amazon provides both so that any book can be located in their system.

I am surprised by how many independent authors list the 10-digit ISBN when nominating their book for the Christian Indie Awards. The awards do not specify whether to give the 10-digit or the 13-digit number because the 13-digit is industry standard. Since only authors and publishers are allowed to nominate titles, every person nominating a book should know that the 13-digit ISBN is industry standard. Yet, they don’t.

If you are going to publish and market a book, do yourself a favor and take the time to become familiar with industry standards. Read some books or join a publishing association like Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA). Don’t let your lack of knowledge become a stumbling block that hinders your ability to secure publicity in any form.

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