What’s Your Spin?

According to King Solomon, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” This includes your storyline or the subject matter in your book.

If there is nothing new under the sun, then the information or story you cover in your book is already available to readers. So, why would they read your book?

Ponder this question for a moment. It’s a good question and one many independently published authors have a hard time answering.

Let me answer it for you—in part.

Readers want to read your book for the spin you put on the subject or storyline. In other words, they will want to read your book for how you solve a problem or tell a story in a way that is unique.

To garner attention in today’s information-rich society, you must tell a unique story. You must handle a topic in a manner different from everyone else.

I recently met an author who is publishing a book on grief. I asked her what made her grief book different then all the others on the market. She stated that her book had to do with grief suffered by suicide survivors (those whose loved ones had committed suicide). I mentioned that there are already plenty of books on this subject and asked how hers is different.

She told me that she is a therapist. In each chapter of her book, she not only deals with a grief issue, she also walks the reader through guided questions she uses in a therapy session. In essence, she said, her book allows people to experience therapy for their grief without having to pay for a therapist.

Now that’s a spin. This approach is unique and a great way for this author to sell her book.

What’s your spin? When you find it, make sure that your voice is consistent and all your marketing content (brand message, website, blog, social media, etc.) reflects your spin. Then you will stand out from the crowd and find readers for your book.

While there is nothing new under the sun, every human being is unique. No other human has the same fingerprint as you. The same can be true for your book. The subject matter will not be new, but you can give it a unique fingerprint.

What’s your spin?

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Photo courtesy of Serge Kutuzov.

 

Have You Written a Memoir?

Memoirs are a growing genre in publishing. This category has grown steadily over the past few years for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the year award (now the Christian Indie Awards). About 10% of the books nominated fall into the Memoir category.

In fact, one magazine stated that “ours is the era of Everybody’s Autobiography”. Many independently published authors write memoirs. These authors feel that they have something to share with others from their own life experiences. Additionally, writing a memoir often helps authors gain a new perspective on their life, while writing about difficult times can provide healing for life’s pain.

BookNet Canada, a non-profit organization that develops technology, standards, and education to serve the Canadian book industry recently released four “Dive Deep” studies. Each of these studies looks at the demographics for book buyers of different genres. So far, the four studies that have been released look at biographies/autobiographies, detective fiction, science fiction, and cookbooks.

In 2016, the Biography category accounted for 3.84 percent of book sales in Canada, which is just about 12 percent of all nonfiction book sales. The “Dive Deep” study for biographies/autobiographies, which tracked 272 biography book purchases in Canada, found that the average buyer for these books was a 49-year-old married female with a university degree.

While this study was conducted in Canada, I think that memoir sales in the United States are probably very similar to those in Canada. After all, our cultures are not that different and Canada’s book market often mirrors the United States’ market.

What do the findings in this study mean for marketing a memoir? I think we can draw two conclusions.

1. Market your memoir more heavily to females.
If you have written a memoir, your primary audience is going to be the female reader. This should not come as a surprise. After all, women read more than men and buy more books than men. Men read memoirs too, but women are more likely to purchase a memoir. Some of these women may be purchasing the book for a man in their life to read. Even if that is the case, you must market to the person who will buy the book.

2. Market your memoir to the GenX crowd.
We don’t hear much about selling to GenXers. We hear a lot about Baby Boomers buying habits and the buying habits of Millennials. The GenX generation often falls through the cracks. (I must add, that as a GenXer, this hurts my feelings). One important thing to keep in mind when marketing to the GenX generation is that they know the value of a dollar and appreciate a good deal. If you are offering a good deal, they will spread the word to all their friends and family readily.

Memoirs only command a small percentage of book sales. These books are not as popular as other categories. As a result, marketing a memoir or biography takes persistence and perseverance. You can use the information from the BookNet study to focus your marketing efforts for your memoir for greater success.

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Why Would Someone Buy Your Book?

The number one reason people buy a book is because they have a connection to the author. This connection can come in a variety of forms:

  • They personally know the author.
  • They have heard the author speak.
  • They have read other books by the author.
  • The author is an influencer they listen to, watch, or follow.
  • They have a friend or family member who has recommended the author or book.
  • A publication or organization they trust recommends the book.

Sometimes people buy books they discover in a bookstore or online because they are looking for a good read or a book on a particular subject to help them with a problem they have. However, the majority of the time, people purchase a book because they have some type of connection to the author.

Are you making connections with readers?

I recently heard a speaker say that there are four reasons people will do business with you. These four reasons are:

  1. They like you.
  2. They trust you.
  3. They find you competent.
  4. They believe you have integrity.

How are you doing on these measures as an author? Are you likable? Are you providing potential readers with competent, trustworthy information that can improve or enrich their lives in some way? Are you a person of integrity?

According to Dictionary.com, one definition of connect is to associate mentally or emotionally. Do you want to make a connection with readers so that they buy your books? Then associate mentally and emotionally with them.

An easy place to start connecting mentally and emotionally with potential readers is through social media. Join the conversation. Spend more time responding to others and being empathetic to their needs. Develop a connection before you bring their attention to your book and what it can do for them.

Remember, Jesus often asked people “What do you want?” when they came to him. He did not assume that he knew their need. He asked them to tell him. Once they told him, he provided. Follow his example.

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Is Social Media a Waste of Time?

“I have heard that social media is important for authors to use in promoting their books, but does using it really help authors sell more books?”

The independent author who asked me this question did not use social media. She had heard that it was important, but she wanted more evidence that spending her time and energy on social media would help her sell more books.

Sadly, I could not give this author hard and fast evidence. While 90% of marketers say social media is important to their business, according to The CMO Survey up to 80% of marketers said they were not able to measure a return on their investment. Basically, a lot of marketers—authors included—are investing time and energy on social media, yet they cannot definitively say doing so has helped them sell more books.

The Harvard Business Review conducted 23 experiments over the past four years. They wanted to know whether attracting and engaging followers on social media leads to increased sales. The researchers focused on Facebook since it is the dominant social network. Here is what they found:

  1. The act of following a brand on Facebook does not affect a customer’s behavior or lead to increased purchasing behavior.
  2. Seeing a friend like or engage with a brand on Facebook had no effect on purchasing habits of other friends.
  3. Boosting or advertising brand content to followers can have an impact. When a brand paid Facebook to display two posts each week to their followers, they found increased participation or spending.

Here is my takeaway from this research.

1. Social Media is about building an audience.
Authors should use social media to build a following, an audience. Don’t expect your social media posts to translate into book sales. Instead, the purpose of your social media posts should be to drive your audience to your website where you can convince them to sign up for your email newsletter. Email newsletters have a much higher conversion rate (engaging recipients to buy your book) than social media posts.

2. Enhancing your social media efforts with advertising provides the best return for your time and energy.
For the best return on your social media efforts, paying for advertisements shown to your followers on social media sites will help increase sales. In other words, social media use combined with paid advertising is the most powerful combination for encouraging your followers to buy something.

So, to answer the question whether social media really helps authors sell more books, the answer is: Not by itself. Social media alone is not enough, you must combine your social media efforts with other marketing efforts—including purchasing advertisements—for your invested time and energy to pay off.

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Photo courtesy of Damian Zalesky.

It’s Never Too Late

Last week, I presented a six-hour training session on “You Can Indie Publish and Market Your Book” at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (I will be presenting it again at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference this summer). One of the keynote speakers at the conference was Louise Looney.

I had the opportunity to meet and get to know this lovely lady. Louise embodies the statement “It’s never too late.”

You see, Louise began writing at age 79. In the past six years, she has written three books. Not only has she penned three books, she has independently published her Christian books through Createspace.

Louise sells most of her books through her speaking engagements. However, she wanted to expand her audience and her reach. Her goal is to reach nonChristians with her message to draw them to Christ. To attain this goal, this octogenarian began a YouTube channel. Now, she posts weekly videos on her Looney Tidbits channel.

Louise is inspiring. As an almost 80-year-old, she did not let the “It’s too late” mindset win. You don’t have to be old to have this mindset. I’ve seen much younger authors with this mindset. Sometimes discouragement creates this attitude. I have seen authors who have done very little or no marketing get discouraged when their books do not sell, and they develop this mindset. They think: “It’s too late now. I should have started earlier.”

It’s never too late. It’s never too late to start eating healthier. It’s never too late to start exercising more. It’s never too late to take the time to build better connections with family members. It’s never too late to get right with God—and, it’s never too late to start a new marketing endeavor.

You can start new marketing endeavors at any point, even years after your book has been published if the material is still relevant. So, if you are struggling with marketing and selling your book, take heart. Like Louise, you too can learn a new marketing technique and implement it. Maybe now is the time to:

1. Start a blog.
2. Start a YouTube channel.
3. Get active on social media.
4. Start a podcast.
5. Request to be a guest on podcasts and radio shows speaking to your audience.
6. Volunteer to speak at local churches and other venues.
7. Seek out more book reviews.
8. Go on a blog tour.

The ideas are endless. Take a risk. Start something new to either jump start your books’ sales or to enlarge your audience to increase your reach and your sales.

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Photo courtesy of Wil Stewart.