Advice from an Expert

Jim Cox has been involved in the business of reviewing books and advising small publishers and authors for over 40 years. Jim runs the Midwest Book Review, which was established in 1976 and is committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing.

Watch this interview with Jim and listen to his wisdom and advice!

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How to Take Flattering Photos for Marketing

With the popularity of smart phones, the number of photos taken every year grows. InfoTrends estimates that over one trillion photos are taken each year.

Do you post photos of yourself to help promote your book on social media? Do you do live or recorded videos to engage your fans? Do you wish these photos or videos were more flattering?

Houston TV news anchor Dominque Sachse provides some great tips on taking flattering photos in the video below. Watch this video to learn:

  • How to angle your body, whether sitting or standing, to look your best.
  • How avoid a double-chin in photos.
  • How to increase or decrease how curvy your body appears.
  • How to appear the most natural.
  • How to portray relationship in a photo.
  • How to take the best selfies.

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Social Proof Can Help You Sell More Books

Smart authors know that social proof is an important marketing tactic that eases the minds of worried customers.

Social proof is defined as the influence that the actions and attitudes of the people around us (either in real life or online) have on our own behavior.

There are basically five types of social proof:

  1. Expert: When an industry expert or well-known personality recommends your product or services.
  2. Celebrity: When a celebrity people like endorses a product or service.
  3. User: When current users of the product or service praise it.
  4. Crowd: When a large crowd of people are using a product or service as shown through social media or events.
  5. Certification: When a person or product is given a stamp of approval by an authority in the industry, such as winning a book award or obtaining a seal of approval.

Social proof is extremely important when selling books. As humans, we want to know that what we are getting ourselves into will be worthwhile—especially when it comes to buying a product or a service. Buyers want to know what others are saying about the product or service.

Even wise King Solomon understood this concept when he wrote “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2)

The two easiest types of social proof for authors to secure are expert and user. You gain expert social proof by obtaining endorsements. You gain user social proof through reader reviews.

Sadly, few independent authors take the time to secure expert social proof (endorsements). A recent quick survey of books submitted for the Christian Indie Awards showed that only about one-third (one out of every three books submitted) featured any type of endorsement or review on the book’s cover (front or back) or in the front pages of the book.

If you are not securing endorsements, you are losing out on a very important social proof that will help you sell your book.

It’s never too late to secure endorsements. With today’s print-on-demand technology, you can still get endorsements after you have published your book and then adjust your book cover to feature these endorsements.

If you are unsure about how to go about securing endorsements, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) provides our Members help. Members can watch the on-demand seminar Endorsements Help You Sell More Books to learn how to obtain endorsements. The webinar includes a sample template letter to use when requesting an endorsement.

The on-demand seminar is also available to authors who are not Members of CSPA. You can pay a fee to watch it at

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Are you accessible? In other words, are you easy to approach, reach, or speak with?
As an author, this can be important.

Headphones with Code

Early on in my writing life, I received some interesting advice. I met an author who told me that she felt that it was important to place an author photograph on the back cover of her books. She stated that this little technique served to give the reader an instant connection to her, the author, increasing the likelihood that they would purchase the book.

As I have grown and learned much about marketing books over the years, I believe that this author was on to something. Readers do want to feel a connection to an author. They want to know that the author is human and someone who is accessible.

Today, with social media, the author-fan interaction is much easier to facilitate. Social media allows authors to be much more accessible to their readers, then in bygone years.

However, social media is not the only method authors can use to make themselves available to their readers. One little used technique to increase an author’s accessibility that can be quite powerful is to place a recorded message in your books for your readers. It is really quite simple. Here is how to do it:

First, record a voice message for your readers. You can do this using a number of free services online including:

Second, upload the recorded message to your website or blog.

Third, create a QR code that links to the recorded message on your website or blog. You can make QR codes for free at:

Last, include the QR code in your book’s Foreword or Introduction letting the reader know that they simply need to scan the QR code to hear your special audio message for them.

Just like an author photo on your book’s cover can help readers feel a connection with you, so can a recorded audio message shared in your book.

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Advice for Authors

Are you considering an author reading or do you have one scheduled?

If so, take this great advice on “How Not to Read Poetry” which can be applied to any author reading. And remember, when reading to an audience, keep it relatively brief and engaging. You don’t want to put anyone to sleep.

Watch what not to do at your next author reading.


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