Do You Have a Teachable Spirit?

As the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I run into all sorts of authors and publishers. Each one is somewhere on the journey of penning, publishing, and promoting books. Some are just starting, others have published a few books, and still others have been publishing for years.

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The most surprising thing I run into are authors and publishers who have some knowledge and yet, they think they know all they need to know. Their spirits are not very teachable. These authors and publishers know the basics, but don’t take the time to educate themselves on the finer points.

Some of these finer points include:

  1. Crafting an intriguing book title.
  2. Writing an engaging author bio.
  3. Composing sales text that addresses people’s needs.
  4. Adding value to people’s lives in social media campaigns.
  5. Building trust with consumers.
  6. Learning effective marketing and sales strategies.

Almost anyone can slap together a book. Being open to learning the finer points in publishing and promoting books is what will make the difference between having a successful book or just having a book.

Even if you have been publishing for years, there are always new things to learn. When I first published Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, one woman who read the book wrote me and told me that even though she had been in the publishing business for nine years, she learned things she did not know before from reading my book.

The book Outliers made popular the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Very few independently published authors or small publishers have spent 10,000 hours on their craft. Even those that master a skill can still always improve and learn more.

Having a teachable spirit is important to success not only in publishing and promoting a book, but also in life.

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Creating an Augmented Reading Experience

Books have been around in one form or another for thousands of years—ever since man began writing. I believe books will continue into the future, but their form may change.

Originally books were written on stone tablets, then papyrus, then scrolls, until they evolved into the print books we know today. However, book forms have not stopped evolving. We now have digital books and audiobooks.

Google appears to have created a new technology that will bring the print book reading experience into the augmented reality of the 21st Century. Google’s recently patented a new technology called “Storytelling Device” or “Interactive Book”.

This “Storytelling Device” outfits a physical book with numerous page sensors, touch sensors, and motion sensors. Based on the reader’s movements and the story line of the book, the system adds augmented reality elements over the pages.

The augmented reality comes from a small hamburger-shaped device that plugs into an interface over the spine of the book and projects imagery over the pages, while a small speaker adds sound to the experience.

Googles patentOver the years, I have seen many companies come up with ways to integrate books and technology. Most are aimed at children as a way to get them interested and engaged in the reading experience. However, I have yet to see one that actually becomes popular and replaces the act of simply reading a book.

What do you think? Do you think Google’s patent has a potential to reinvent children’s books?

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Are You Considering Publishing a Book?

The first self-published author I ever met in person was in the mid-1990s. At that time, becoming an author was one of the items on my bucket list. I was open to exploring all possibilities to make this happen.

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I inquired of this gentleman how much self-publishing his book had cost him. Fortunately, he was gracious enough to share this information with me. He told me that for $15,000, he had 3,000 copies of his book in his garage. When I heard this figure, I just about had a heart attack. Immediately I ruled out self-publishing as an option for me.

Fast forward ten years to about 2004. The publishing landscape had drastically changed due to rapidly advancing technology. No longer did it cost thousands of dollars to publish a book. Thanks to print-on-demand, publishing a book had become within the reach of most people—including me.

The self-publishing field has grown drastically in the 21st Century. In 2015, author-published books accounted for 18% of the entire book market in the United States.

Consider these additional statistics on independently published books in a recent Author Earnings report:

  • 33% of all paid ebook unit sales on Amazon.com are indie self-published ebooks.
  • 20% of all consumer dollars spent on ebooks on Amazon.com are being spent on indie self-published ebooks.
  • 40% of all dollars earned by authors from ebooks on Amazon.com are earned by indie self-published ebooks.
  • The Big Five traditional publishers now account for only 16% of the e-books on Amazon’s bestseller lists.

Amazon is the biggest player in the author-published market. Between its three publishing platforms—CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX)—Amazon produces an estimated 85% of self-published titles.

Publishing a book today is within your reach. The self-publishing stigma has faded. Self-published authors now land on the best-seller lists regularly. While publishing your own book can now be done with ease, you do need to educate yourself on the process.

To help aspiring authors who are considering publishing their own book, I have created a FREE online on-demand seminar. You can access this seminar anytime it is convenient for you. You can even watch the seminar multiple times if you need to refresh your memory on any of the information given.

To watch this informative seminar, DIY: Publish Your Book Affordably, simply CLICK HERE. Anyone considering publishing their own book will benefit from this information.

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What’s Holding You Back?

One of the questions I often ask aspiring authors when I speak at writers’ conferences is “What is holding you back from taking the next step?”

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This question is an important question not just for writing, producing, and promoting a book or expanding your publishing business, but for any area of your life. What is holding you back? What is keeping you from taking that next step toward your goal or dream?

Whether it is penning a first book, publishing a first or next book, writing another book, or engaging in marketing and promoting a book, I have found that the answers most aspiring and published authors give fall into one of the following five categories.

1. Fear

Fear is a powerful emotion that can hold you hostage. This can be fear of failure, fear of looking ridiculous, fear of ridicule, or fear of not measuring up. Often aspiring authors feel like there are numerous people more talented than they are or better able to complete the job; so they stay stuck.

Most people don’t feel up to a task that God calls them to do. After all, when God told Moses that he was to go to Egypt and free the Israelites, Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt?” When God insisted he was the man, Moses told God that he could not do the job since he was “slow of speech and tongue.”

God sees the bigger picture. If he has called you to do something, he has already uniquely gifted or prepared you for the task. If God has placed it on your heart to write a book, then you are the person he has chosen for that task. Don’t let fear hold you back from experiencing God’s best.

2. Time

“If only I had more time.” I hear this phrase a lot. I think I even say this more than I should. We all lead busy lives. Many authors and aspiring authors are waiting for things to slow down or for a day in the future when they will have the time to work toward their goal.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but reality is that such a day is not coming. There will always be urgent and pressing matters that need to be taken care of. We are all given the same amount of time to spend. We can’t save time up in a bank to spend on an activity to reach our goal.

Instead, we have to make the next step in our goal or dream a priority. We must schedule time into our day for it. Maybe this means that you get up thirty minutes or an hour earlier each day to spend time writing. Maybe it means you give up watching a TV show a couple times a week to work on promotional activities for your book. Don’t wait to have the time. It won’t happen. You must carve the time out of your existing schedule.

3. Knowledge

Sometimes the lack of knowledge holds us back from obtaining our dream. Fortunately, this is the easiest of all the impediments to overcome. The antidote for lack of knowledge is to educate yourself. There is so much information available to help you become a better writer, to teach you how to publish a book, or to provide you with the steps you need to take to promote and market the book you have published. Don’t let lack of knowledge get in your way. Read a book, become involved in a writers group, attend a conference, watch a webinar, or listen to podcasts. The information you need to grow your knowledge is at your fingertips.

4. Money

Money is another common obstacle people cite for not moving forward to take the next step toward their goal. Money is similar to time. We fritter time away, and we squander our money. If God is calling you to take the next step toward your dream, then pray that he will provide you the finances for it. After all, God is the ultimate owner of the money of this world. Then, think about your spending habits and find ways that you might be able to cut back to begin saving money for your goal.

Sometimes, authors think they need more money to accomplish their dream than is really needed. There are very affordable ways to publish and market books. Again, a little education in this area can save you a lot of money.

5. Vision

A vision is a picture of the end result, or where you want to be. When you lack a clear vision for your dream or goal, you can’t move toward it. If my vision is to be an author, that is not clear. To have a clear vision, I must make a decision about what type of book I want to write. When the vision becomes clear, the steps to reaching your goal also become clear. Without clear steps, you can’t move toward your dream. With clear steps, your actions become congruent with your goal, leading you to attain it.

What’s hold you back? Identify it; and then take action to rectify it. A parked car doesn’t go anywhere. The same is true for inaction. At the heart of all personal or business development strategies is the idea that to realize a goal you have to do something.

Did any of these obstacles ring true for you?

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Interesting Data on Reading

Data has been collected from the beginning of time. After all, a census is data collection. It is collecting data on population size. We can benefit from good data. Good data can help us make informed business decisions.

man readingOver the past couple of years, I have written a few times on the data that digital reading provides book sellers, authors, and publishers. Sellers like Amazon and Kobo that have proprietary readers can track users reading habits. This compiled data can be extremely beneficial to authors and publishers.

Amazon does not share much readership data. Kobo shares a little. The one entity that is sharing the most data is Jellybooks. I have previously shared data from Jellybooks on this blog. Jellybooks provides readers with ebooks free of charge in exchange for tracking and sharing their reading data. The company embeds a piece of Javascript software into the ebook file. The software records the readers’ data when the users click a button at the end of the chapter.

Most recently, Jellybooks explored whether gender affects reading. As you probably already know, 58% of book purchases are made by women. So, it is not surprising that the Jellybook readership is made up of 80% women and 20% men. Jellybooks looked at their data to determine who was more likely to finish a book: a man or a woman.

Interestingly, Jellybooks is finding that gender does not make a difference in book completion rates. Both sexes have equal probability of finishing a book they start. This finding holds true across all genres.

Jellybooks did find one interesting gender-specific difference in reading. They discovered that men decide much faster than women if they like a book or not. In a previous post, I reported that Jellybooks has found that most readers decide in the first 10 to 40 percent if they like a book enough to finish it or not. Looking at gender specific data, Jellybooks has found that men give up on a book much sooner than women do.

As I have said before, having a strong beginning to your book is essential for hooking readers. This is especially true if you have a book for men. This new data from Jellybooks shows that you must capture a man’s attention quickly, or you will lose him. Get to the point right out of the gate, don’t ramble, and build suspense early to keep your male readers hooked.

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