My Checklist Fiasco

I recently purchased a used car. The old vehicle my teenagers have been driving is on its last leg, so another one needed to be found.

It has been years since I purchased a vehicle from a private seller rather than a dealership, so I tried to do due diligence to make sure we had all the paperwork required by the state I live in. I looked on the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website and found a list of paperwork needed when purchasing a car from a private seller. I felt prepared. The purchase of the vehicle was painlessly completed including a trip to the bank to have the car title transfer notarized.

My next step, after purchasing the vehicle, was to make a trip to the Division of Motor Vehicles to have the title transferred and to register the vehicle. Just to make sure I had everything I needed for this trip, I checked the DMV website again. This time, I found a list of the paperwork needed to brought to the DMV to transfer the title of the vehicle.

Lo and behold, this list had two forms on it that the first list I used did not. It turns out I needed two more pieces of paper. One needed the signature of the seller, and the other one needed to be notarized. This meant that I had to get back in touch with the seller and make another trip to the bank. The whole process was quite frustrating.

The DMV is not the only place where people run into issues with finding out that they do not have all the information they need upfront. It often happens in the publishing world also.

Vehicle

Last year, I talked with an author who told me that, when he was publishing his book, he had to complete four revisions before the book was right. This was four revisions after he had already uploaded the book to IngramSpark for printing and distribution.

At the time, this gentleman was not a Member of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA), so he did not have the Member benefit of free uploads and revisions with IngramSpark. He ended up paying over twice the amount an annual membership with CIPA costs just to print and distribute his book.

This author reported that he kept finding out about things he had missed putting in his book that are standard for books (as well as some mistakes). While you might be tempted to judge this gentleman for not doing his due diligence prior to uploading his book, I feel sympathy for him.

There are many elements that go into making sure a book is industry-standard. New authors and publishers can easily miss one or more of these elements because finding a complete list in one place is not easy—just like with my DMV experience.

Because we understand the process for new authors and publishers, Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) has developed checklists to help. Two checklists the Association offers to ensure you have all the elements you need prior to uploading a book for print and distribution are:Checklist

  • Checklist for Creating a Professional-Looking Book
  • Metadata Checklist

Members of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) can access these checklists as part of their Membership. If you are considering publishing a new book this year, I encourage you to join Christian Indie Publishing Association so you can be better prepared.

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Are You Paying Attention to Details?
Does Your Book Have a Firm Foundation?
You Have to Spend Money to…

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Three Challenges in Selling Books

Selling books is challenging. A challenge is something that requires special effort. Special effort is required to sell your books.

Challenges in Selling Books

The book selling climate is fiercely competitive. Every author must meet and overcome the following three challenges to sell books.

1. Attention

In today’s economy, attention is a valuable commodity. People have numerous entertainment options all clamoring for their attention: social media, movies, television, podcasts, sports, hobbies… and the list goes on. Reading faces stiff competition for attention from other entertainment activities.

Every author faces the challenge of hooking an audience into noticing their books. Catching people’s attention is becoming more and more challenging. With over 4,200 books published every day in the United States, even avid readers have a vast array of books they can pay attention to.

2. Time

Twenty-first century life is busy. Between work, family, church, and other activities, people have less time to devote to leisure activities like reading.

In fact, a recent study found that people spent 9% less time reading in 2019 than they did in 2018. Time is a precious asset. More and more, people are spending bite-sized minutes on content. For example, Facebook users spend an average of 2.5 seconds on any given piece of content.

3. Declining Readership

The number of people who do not read a single book in a given year is growing. In 1978, that figure was 8%. In other words, only 8 out of every 100 people did not read a book during the year. Now that number is closer to 25%. This means that one out of every four people in the United States did not read a book last year.

Woman reading

In addition, readership for Christian books is declining. Only 49% of the largest consumer group in America—the Millennials—identify as “Christian.” In the past decade, the percentage of all Americans who identify as “Christian” has dropped from 77% to 65%. The upshot is that the number of people in the target audience for any given Christian book is shrinking.

Overcoming these Challenges

The good news is that these challenges are not insurmountable. In fact, religious books have been selling well over the past five years. Following are three suggestions to help you overcome each of these challenges.

1. Increase your Familiarity Factor

The number one reason people buy a book is because they are familiar with the author. The best way to grab attention is by being known. Become known by writing and publishing multiple books. Those people who read one of your books and like it will go on and read your other books, helping you sell more books.

2. Shorter is Better

Time is tight for most people. As a result, we are consuming content in bite-sized chunks. Write to accommodate this new way of reading. Use shorter chapters that can be finished in a few minutes. Also keep your paragraphs short so that readers don’t become overwhelmed when viewing a page. Remember, most people are going to read your book in spurts using short chunks of time.

3. Become Irresistible

Write and publish a compelling book. Your book should not just be good. It should be “too good to not read.” When people feel they are missing out on something good, they will make time for it. Make your book so good that people won’t want to miss out.

Related Posts:
Author: Are You Doing These Marketing Activities?
Selling Books is Challenging
Your Christian Book is Crucial!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

May your year be filled with peace,
prosperity and love. May God’s
blessings shower upon you and bestow
upon each of you a bright, healthy and peaceful new year.

Flash Sale!

I am offering a 5-day Flash sale on my book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books!

Between today and January 6, 2020, you can order the print book for just $20.99 with free shipping. That is a $4.00 savings. Just click on the link below.

Sales Techniques to Help You Sell More Books

Check out my guest article on The Book Designer website today and learn four sales techniques that can help you sell more books.

You can read the article at:

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2020/01/sales-techniques-to-help-you-sell-more-books/

Related Posts:
Publishing News You May Have Missed in 2019
Resolutions Every Author Can Use
Book Publishing Trends You Need to Know for 2020

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Publishing News You May Have Missed in 2019

The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.”  ―Heraclitus

The publishing industry is no exception. It is in a constant state of flux. This past year contained numerous changes for the book industry, especially for the Christian retail industry.

Publishing News from 2019

Following is a quick recap of important publishing news from 2019 that you should be aware of if you write and publish books.

Associations:

Publishing Association Rebranded:  After fifteen years of service Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) was rebranded to Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) to better reflect the changing book industry.

New Christian Bookselling Association Formed: With the demise of CBA, the Association for Christian Retail in 2019, Munce created a new association, Christian Retail Association (CRA) for independent Christian bookstores and upgraded their Christian Product Expo (CPE) to an International show.

Bookstores:

LifeWay Stores Close: LifeWay Christian Resources announced that they would close all 170 of their brick-and-mortar stores in 2019. The company will continue to offer products through their online store at LifeWay.com.

Independent Christian Retail Stores Counted: The Get It Local Today program for Christian retail launched an interactive map showcasing existing retail locations that sell mostly Christian products. The program identified more than 1,800 stores across America.

Baker & Taylor Ceased Distribution to Bookstores: Baker & Taylor decided to exit the retail book distribution business in the US, to focus on library sales. This leaves Ingram as the only major print book distributor to bookstores in the US.

Ingram Launched a Stock Check App: Ingram, the largest book distributor, released an app that anyone can use to check Ingram’s on-hand quantity for any title in the company’s vast inventory. Once downloaded, you can search for any title by scanning the book’s barcode or manually entering the ISBN (EAN), book title, or author name to check the stock instantly.

Book Promotion:

Amazon Eliminated Two Book Promotion Services: Amazon closed its Kindle Matchbook program and ceased allowing Amazon Giveaways. On the flip side, Amazon expanded their advertising for authors to the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany.

Barnes & Noble Implemented an Advertising Portal for Authors: Barnes & Noble Press introduced an advertising portal giving authors the opportunity to create ad campaigns. Ads appear on relevant BN.com pages based on chosen genres.

BookBub Introduced Chirp for Audiobooks: BookBub responded to surging audiobook listening by extending its platform for book discovery and promotion to audiobooks through Chirp.

Google+ Shut Down:  Google+ shuttered in April 2019 due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations.

Christian Indie Publishing Association

One of the services that Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) provides our Members is up-to-date book industry information related to publishing and marketing books. Each month, our newsletter provides our Members with this valuable information. If you are not a Member of the Association, I encourage you to join for the 2020 year. You can sign up today at www.christianpublishers.net.

Related Posts:
5 Book Publishing Trends You Need to Know for 2020
Good News: Religious Book Sales Are Strong
How Many Christian Bookstores Remain?

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Photo courtesy of Markus Spiske.

Resolutions Every Author Can Use

Research shows that about 60% of people make New Year’s resolutions, but only about 8% are successful in achieving them. These dismal statistics cause some people to eschew New Year’s resolutions.

Sadly, goalless people wander and then wonder why they are not achieving what they had hoped. Goals keep us on track, moving in the direction we want to go. As an author, I suggest that you make New Year’s resolutions about writing and publishing. Here are five that every author can benefit from making.

1. Write More

There is always room to write more. Whether you are writing to publish more books or writing more content for your blog or other publications to promote your books, writing more is a good aspiration. Make it a resolution to write more in 2020 than you did in 2019.

2. Publish More

People buy books from authors they are familiar with. This means that they have had some type of contact with the author. Often, this contact comes from reading a book by the author. Studies show that people tend to read more than one book by a given author. Many authors report seeing a bump in sales of their older books every time they publish a new book.

Christian Indie Publishing Association

Make it your aim this year to publish more. If you are an independent author or small publisher, you can have access to print-on-demand sales distribution through Membership in Christian Indie Publishers Association (CIPA). CIPA Members receive free title setup with both IngramSpark and Lightning Source. You can join CIPA today at www.christianpublishers.net.

3. Promote More

There is no such thing as too much marketing. Every effort you put into promoting your book(s) means that more people are exposed to you and your books. Studies show that people need seven to twelve exposures before they make a purchase. Thus, the more you promote, the more sales you will reap.

If the idea of spending more time on social media to promote your book does not excite you, then I suggest you read my book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books. This book is full of book promotion and marketing ideas that go way beyond social media and the Internet.

4. Learn More

Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” There is always more to learn. Technology is bringing rapid changes to every area of life—including the publishing industry. In publishing, if you stop learning, then you become out-of-date and out-of-sync with the standards and protocols involved in publishing and promoting books.

Henry Ford Quote

Make it your ambition this year to keep learning. Learn to be a better writer. Learn to be a better book promoter. Step into all the roles associated with publishing a book with confidence and grace. Stay abreast of industry changes and trends by joining an author or publishing association and by attending Christian writers conferences.

5. Read More

Reading is good for you. Studies show that reading reduces stress and increases life expectancy. So read more this year. In fact, reading more is one of the top ten New Year’s resolutions the people make!

As an author, your fans look to you for book recommendations. You can provide more book recommendations to your readers by reading more. This year, read for free. Sign up to be a BookCrash reviewer and you can get free books in exchange for a fair review. Learn more at www.bookcrash.com.

Related Posts:
Goals: Guideposts on Your Journey
New Year’s Resolutions for Every Author
Book Publishing Trends You Need to Know for 2020

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