Gifts for You

The giving of gifts at Christmas is not a universally accepted idea. Even Christians are divided on the issue. Those who choose not to give gifts often cite that they feel that gift giving takes the focus off of Jesus Christ and places it on commercialism. Those who choose to give gifts often do so because of the example set by the Magi.

Gift givers believe that we give gifts to each other to celebrate and demonstrate to others the gift Jesus Christ gave to us in becoming incarnate and providing a way for us to have peace with God. I fall into the latter category. I love to give gifts at Christmas as a symbol of my love for others. After all, Jesus gave me the ultimate gift due to his love for me.

This year for Christmas, I have decided to give you, my readers, gifts. Since reading this blog is free, it is an on-going gift to you from me. However, this month, for Christmas, I will be giving you specific resources in each post that can aid you in your publishing and marketing endeavors.

I am sure you have had the experience of receiving a gift of something that you already had in your possession. This month may not be different. For some of you, the resources I am giving may not be new. If that is so, let the gift be a reminder for you, and pass along the information to someone else who may receive it as a gift of an item they do not already have.

My first gift to you will start with the basics. If you are an author or a publisher who is publishing a book that you plan to sell, then you are running a business. As such, you should be approaching the publishing and marketing of your book as a business endeavor.

A new book, Every Book is a Startup, by Todd Sattersten is set to be released in December 2015. This book will strive to provide a roadmap for publishing professionals interested in bringing a fresh, entrepreneurial approach to the business of book publishing, based on techniques proven effective in the world of tech startups.

You can learn what Todd Sattersten has to say about this concept in this free 60-minute presentation.

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Indecision: A Success Killer

You can find articles on mistakes authors and publishers should not make all over the Internet. It seems that almost everyday, I get an email with a link to another article talking about mistakes to not make if you are a publisher or an author.

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I recently read a white paper on “6 Mistakes in Publishing Today.” The paper took a look at the fact that the publishing industry has been turned upside down by new technology and market dynamics and the mistakes many publishers are making in this season of publishing. While this paper was really geared toward larger publishers, one of the mistakes listed stood out to me. I think it is a mistake that many small publishers and independently published authors make.

This mistake is indecisive leadership.

I can hear you saying, “Wait, I am the only employee of my publishing enterprise. I don’t have to worry about leadership.”

You are wrong. If you are the only employee of your publishing endeavor, then you are the leader. It is up to you to have the vision, set the direction, and make the strategic decisions necessary to ensure success of your enterprise.

Two common issues the article included under “indecisive leadership” were:

1. Choosing short term profits over long-term success.

I have seen this many times with small publishers and authors. I have often said that marketing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Those that act like it is a sprint often make decisions that maximize short term returns. Short term profits might feel good, however, focusing on short term goals almost exclusively will not ensure the success of your publishing enterprise over the long haul.

2. More words than actions.

As the saying goes, talk is cheap. It is often easier to make plans than to execute them. If you find yourself thinking more about what you should do to market your books, then actually doing those things, take note. Success follows action. Don’t let fear of failure or indecision about which course of action is the best keep you from executing a plan. Pray over your plan. Then move forward. Trust that God will lead you.

All decision involves risk. In your leadership of yourself and your enterprise, I encourage you to strive to create a clear plan of action and balance short and long term considerations for your publishing endeavor.

Award-Winning Book Covers

Each year the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) hosts the Top Shelf Award program to recognize design excellence among its member publishers in the Christian publishing industry. The winners of this year’s award were recently announced.

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I think it is worthwhile to note these winning titles here for you. Your book’s cover is often your number one marketing tool. People do judge books by their covers. A good cover can draw a potential reader to your book, while a bad cover will turn readers away from your book.

Since cover design is largely art and people have a wide variety of tastes in art, rarely do you find unanimous consensus on whether a book’s cover is alluring. However, there are some standards that are extremely important in book design. Some of these include:

  • Lots of space (an uncluttered look)
  • Easy-to-read fonts
  • Ability to read the title from across a room or in a thumbnail sketch
  • The title and image together should be clever or create emotion

Personally, I don’t find many of these titles that won the Top Shelf Award very alluring. I am not drawn in by many of them. Frankly, some of them don’t even follow the industry standards for good cover images. Some have titles that are really hard to read and don’t hold up to the “thumbnail test” (see The Thumbnail Rule).

What do you think of these award-winning Christian book cover designs?

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Neither a Myth nor a Scam

I recently read an article on “Avoiding Scams and Myths”. The author of this article asserted that if your books are not selling well, you will be tempted to listen to scam artists in hopes of finding the secret formula for success.

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Of course, there is no secret formula for success. Success is a combination of hard-work and being in the right place at the right time. No special formula ensuring that you sell hundreds or thousands of books exists.

The author of the article I recently read went on to state, “The lowest form of scam is hiding behind a religious façade. Don’t be fooled.” Sadly, I have seen such scams in Christian book market. My advice to publishers and independently published authors is to never spend more money producing and marketing a book than you can possibly make back selling the book.

I have heard testimonials from Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) member publishers who have been conned by services that charged heavy fees and delivered little in return. It breaks my heart. Don’t be conned, do your homework and check out plenty of references before you purchase pricey services.

Understanding the challenges in marketing and selling books, especially for those on shoe-string budgets, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is dedicated to bringing affordable services to publishers and independently published authors. We know that there is no secret formula and that it takes a variety of marketing efforts to produce results. That is why all of our services, beginning with our annual membership fee, are offered at a reasonable rate.

CSPA is neither a myth nor a scam. This year we celebrated our 10th anniversary of representing, strengthening, promoting small publishers in the Christian marketplace. We continue to be committed to helping small publishers and independently published authors have affordable ways to market their books to Christians.

If you produce Christian books and are interested in how Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) might be of benefit to you in the coming year, you can read about the services we offer on our website.

Membership for the 2015 calendar year is just $90. You can join today on our website. Just click on this link: http://www.christianpublishers.net/?page_id=982.

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Upcycle Your Old Books

Are you one of those authors that ordered a bunch of print books of a title you wrote and years later, some of those books are still sitting in your garage or spare room? Maybe the book is so old that you no longer are selling it. Maybe you have created an updated edition and so the old edition is out-of-date.

What to do with all those old books? You have some options.

  1. Recycle them. Don’t let me end up in a landfill, at least send them to be recycled.
  2. Donate them. There are many charitable companies that give books away to people who can use them but can’t afford them.
  3. Bundle them. Offer a copy of the old book free with a sale from a newer book you have published.
  4. Upcycle them.

Upcycle you say, what is that? Upcycling is simply the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

Watch this video to get one idea for a way you could upcycle some of your old unsaleable books.

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