Do You Look Professional?

In my experience, many independently published authors are so focused on publishing their book and offering it for sale, that they miss other important steps in the process. With platforms like CreateSpace and Lulu, anyone can upload a book to sell. The process is easy and quick.


But publishing a book does not mean sales will follow. Authors must work at marketing and promoting their books for people to become aware of each book. Awareness comes first. Sales follow awareness.

With the ease of publishing platforms like Createspace, many authors aren’t putting much thought into the business side of publishing and selling books. I am surprised at the number of independently published authors nominating their books for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award who don’t have a professional website or email address. Instead, they only sell their book on Amazon and use a personal email for book-related issues.

If you are going to take producing and selling your book seriously, at a minimum, you need the following:

1. A name
Every product sold has a creator and a producer. The product is sold under one of those names. When selling books, having a brand or name to sell your book under is important. This can be your author name, the name of your book series (think Chicken Soup for the Soul), the name of a publishing company you have created, or the name of a ministry you run.

2. A professional-looking website
Websites are easy to create and host. However, don’t use a free website hosting service like Wix that runs ads on the bottom of your website. Doing so signals to your site visitors that you are engaged in a hobby, not a business.

3. A professional-looking email address
A professional email address simply is one that contains your name not one that contains a cute saying like “” or is simply a string of numbers and letters like “”.

4. Business cards
Creating an attractive business card is easy. Services such as Vistaprint help you create and print business cards at extremely low rates.

5. Letterhead stationery
Creating professional-looking letterhead is not difficult. Your letterhead stationery should tote the business name you are using. Use your letterhead when you are sending out print copies of your book for reviews or other considerations (like endorsements).

Professional review services like the Midwest Book Review will not even consider a book that does not have a cover letter on letterhead accompanying it. A lack of letterhead stationery tells the recipient that the author is a novice or amateur. This can be a critical turn-off for book review publications, not to mention librarians, and other booksellers.

Jim Cox of the Midwest Book Review states:

“The use of letterhead stationery provides the distinctive impression that the book to be reviewed is coming in from someone who is experienced, professional, and knowledgeable about publishing in general, and book reviewing in particular.”

Professional-looking letterhead will be on quality paper and sport a logo. It will include the name of the publisher (even if that is just an author name), the publisher’s address, website, email, and phone number. Additionally, including the logo from a publishing association (such as Christian Small Publishers Association) sends an even stronger signal that the author is serious about publishing and promoting his or her book.

If you have not yet developed a business name, a professional website and email address, business cards or letterhead to use with your book, I encourage you to do so today.

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Hashtags. They are all over the Internet. You can find hashtags on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Periscope, to name a few social media sites touting these # signs.

book cover

Hashtags are linguistic shortcuts used on social network and microblogging services which make it easier for users to find conversations and information based on a specific theme or content. They also allow users to create a conversation thread around a specific theme or topic.

Adding hashtags to social media posts is one way to broaden your audience. Avid social media users follow hashtags on topics that they are interested in to see more posts on that subject and be part of the conversation. Hence, users will stumble across your content via the hashtags you use.

A few authors are using the hashtag trend to gain even more exposure for their books. These authors are assigning their books a hashtag title.

The first book I saw containing a hashtag title was at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) this summer. The book was titled #struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World. It was written by Craig Groeschel and published by Zondervan. It is officially releasing next month.

Shortly after the convention, #CompletelySingle: Learning How to Become the Right One Before Meeting the Right One by Damien K.H. Nash crossed my desk. This book was published by a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA).

I think using a hashtag for a book title is an interesting idea. It is one way to increase exposure for a book, especially if the author chooses a hashtag that is fairly popular and widely used. It will be interesting to watch to see if this #hashtag title becomes a trend.

In the meantime, make sure that you are using effective hashtags with your social media posts. If you are not sure which hashtags you should use, you can find popular and trending hashtags on Hastagify and

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The Iceberg of Success

Success. However you define it, it is what most authors and publishers strive for.

I love this word picture by Syliva Duckworth that I recently stumbled across. It so adequately depicts success. What people see of success is only a small part when compared to the work that goes into becoming a success.

SuccessThe one thing I think the bottom-half of this picture is missing is prayer. As a Christian, I believe that prayer is an essential foundation of the iceberg of success. Can you achieve success without prayer? Yes. However, if you want to have success and remain successful, I think prayer must be a foundation.

I Samuel 18:14 in speaking of King Saul says, “In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” What happened to Saul when he stopped following God’s ways and did things his own way? He lost that success.

Too often, I have seen authors, pastors, and other Christian leaders reach a point of success and follow in King Saul’s footsteps.  In their success, when their books and message are reaching and touching many lives, they stumble. That author or pastor is caught in a sinful scandal, wiping out much of what he or she has accomplished.

May we always remember the words of Isaiah 26:12. “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” Yes, you will work hard to achieve success, but through it all, remember where your praise should lie.

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Expectations: We all have them. You have them about the books you write, publish, and sell. Most likely you expect your book to be well received by readers, you expect it to touch people’s hearts and lives, you expect it to get good reviews, and you expect your book to sell well.

Often many of our expectations are not met. This can lead to frustration and discouragement. We can even begin to question whether God really called us to write and publish what we thought we were called to do.

Most new products follow a typical curve of expectation, disappointment, and reality. It looks like this:

Expectation curveThis curve is not just true for books. It is true for most new product releases.

Yes, God may well have put the desire in your heart to write and publish. If you are in the trough of disappointment right now with your book, ask yourself: Did your expectations come from God or yourself?

Take heart. Remember that God will accomplish the purpose he ordained for your book. His ways are not our ways. God will establish and bless the work of your hands in His way. This may not always line up with your expectations, but it will accomplish the purpose God has intended for it.

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