Coronavirus and Book Publishing

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting everyone. It has hit every business and is impacting our world and economy.

For fun, I compiled the top COVID-19 book-related headlines from this past week.

COVID-19 Book-Related Headlines

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Are You at Risk of Being Locked Out?

On February 26, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Internet giants like Google (owns YouTube) and Facebook (owns Instagram) can censor content on their platforms.

Locked Out

Conservatives claim the tech companies have violated their First Amendment rights by removing certain messages or videos, or shutting down their accounts. The court ruled unanimously that these companies are private forums, not public forums, and therefore not subject to judicial scrutiny under the First Amendment.

This ruling means that individuals and organizations cannot sue big Internet tech companies under the First Amendment for decisions on content moderation. In other words, if YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter remove your content or shut down your account, you have little to no recourse.

Maybe you are wondering how this affects you. I think this ruling has some big implications for Christian authors.

1. Your Social Media Account Could be Shut Down or Censored.

As a Christian voice on social media platforms, Christian authors risk being shut out and losing out. I know Christian authors who have had this happen to them on both Facebook and Twitter.

2. Amazon Could Remove Your Book from Its Website.

Last summer, Amazon removed a number of books written by former LGBTQ people, after being pressured by LGBTQ activists. Amazon already limits where ads for Christian books can show up on their website. This Internet giant—that sells about 50% of print book sales and 80% of ebook sales—could choose to not allow any advertising for Christian books or remove more or all of the Christian books from their website.

Jesus told his disciples: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

When it comes to censorship by tech companies on the Internet, this instruction would translate to: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Eggs in one basket

You are putting all your eggs in one basket if:

  • Your books are for sale exclusively on Amazon.
  • You mainly rely on social media to promote your books.

Shrewd authors diversify. They make sure all their eggs are not in the same basket by:

  • Having their books for sales in multiple outlets online.
  • Having a robust website where they collect email addresses and send out regular messages directly to everyone on their list.

Sports enthusiasts will tell you that your best defense is a good offense. The same is true for marketing. An offense-oriented marketing plan utilizes multiple avenues for selling and promoting books. Do you have an offensive marketing plan?

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Photo courtesy of MasterTux.

The Responsibility Rest on You!

I recently had a conversation with a Christian author. This gentleman makes his living through writing. He does not have another job. He supports his family through the sales of his books.

The Responsibility Rests on You

This author is traditionally published. He waxed eloquently about the changes in the Christian book publishing industry and how they have affected him. He reported that his publisher, a large Christian publishing house, no longer bothers with hiring a sales rep to sell their books into bookstores. Almost all their efforts are focused on selling books directly to consumer—and they largely leave this up to the authors.

Gone are the days when an author could find a publisher to bear the weight of the publishing and publicity costs for a new book. Now, the vast majority of the marketing falls on the author’s shoulders even when the publishing company foots the bill to publish the book.

One of the authors that Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) recently represented at the NRB Convention was published by a traditional small publishing house that is a member of CIPA. This first-time author’s book had just been released, and she was excited to be at the show.

Christian Indie Publishing Association

The author showed up without a clear understanding of how she was going to promote her books or where she needed to be when. She told me that she thought the publisher, who was also attending the show, would lead and she would follow. However, her publisher was busy networking and taking care of other business.

This new author said, “I should have taken the time to better prepare before I came instead of expecting my publisher to do it for me.

It doesn’t matter if you are traditionally published or self-published. The responsibility is yours.

If your book is not selling as well as you would like, look no farther than yourself. Ask yourself:

  • What am I doing on a daily basis to market my book?
  • What more could I do?
  • Which marketing activities are bringing most of my sales?
  • What new marketing strategy can I try?

John Kremer wrote a book called 1001 Ways to Market Your Book. If you need ideas, just consult the book. It has more ideas than you could ever implement. If you want ideas and specific resources for reaching more Christian consumers, my book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, will provide you with plenty to keep you busy for a long time.

Yes, the responsibility for marketing and selling your book rests on your shoulders. But, remember, that you rest on Christ. Partner with him. Do what you can and trust that he will multiply the work of your hands for the glory of his Kingdom.

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Photo courtesy of Adi Goldstein.

How to Give a Killer Presentation

Are you using speaking engagements to enlarge your audience and sell more books? If so, check out this infographic on How to Give a Killer Presentation. Follow the 11 steps outlined and you will better engage your audience.

How to Give a Killer Presentation

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Just Show Up

Over the many years that I have worked with authors, I have interacted with writers of every personality type—both introverts and extroverts.

Showing Up Brings Opportunities

I have observed:

  • Authors who are excellent sales people and can really sell their books.
  • Authors who are go-getters and can network and make fabulous connections for sales opportunities.
  • Authors who are quiet, yet are able to connect one-on-one when given the opportunity.
  • Authors who are very introverted and don’t converse much with others.

The one thing these authors had in common was that they “showed up”. By this I mean, they accepted an opportunity for exposure and showed up.

Common wisdom says that showing up is 90% of success. Why? Because simply showing up opens up more opportunities.

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) recently represented Members of the Association at the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) Convention. The authors that attended were diverse in their personality, skills, and abilities when it came to marketing. Yet, each came away with new opportunities just because they came to the show and made themselves available.

CIPA at NRB

These authors experienced:

  • Multiple interviews with media for radio shows and podcasts
  • Invitations to appear on television shows
  • Invitations to speak at conferences
  • Discussion about purchasing books in bulk to use with a ministry

Prior to the convention, I spoke with an author who was considering attending with Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA). He ended up deciding not to attend because he wasn’t ready to promote his book full-time. I assured him that he did not need to be committed to promoting his book full-time to be able to reap the benefits of attending a convention and gaining more exposure for his book.

This author still decided not to attend. As a result, he missed out on a great opportunity to make connections and receive more opportunities for book promotion and sales.

If you are an introverted author who is not comfortable “selling” your book, don’t let that stop you from showing up. Look at events like trade shows, conventions, book fairs, book signings, and even media interviews as simply an opportunity for people to learn about your book and your message. You don’t have to sell. You just have to show up and answer questions.

Next time an opportunity for you to showcase your book comes your way, just do it. Show up and allow God to work.

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