Connecting with Readers

Every author wants to make a difference. You want your book to encourage, inspire, or delight your readers.

The only way to know if your book is making the difference you want is to actually hear from your readers.

I love hearing from readers how my books have made a difference in their lives. Recently, a parent sent my husband and I a picture of their child reading one of our books. It is clear in the photo that the little girl is enjoying the book.

bbbb-child-3My husband and I produced Baby Bible Board Books with the hope that they would do the following:

  1. Be just the right size for little hands to hold by themselves to inspire a love for books and reading.
  2. Introduce little ones to Jesus and help them develop a connection with him.

When we receive feedback from readers—like this photo—we know that all the effort, time, and money we poured into the project was worth it.

Are you hearing from your readers? I certainly hope so. If not, consider the following ideas to help your readers connect with you:

1. Ask your readers to contact you in your book.
You can put an invitation in your author bio for readers to connect with you and let you know their thoughts about your book.

2. Invite your readers to connect with you on your website.
Include an appeal to your readers right on your website encouraging them to let you know how they liked or benefited from your book.

3. Include a call to action for readers to give you feedback in your emails and social media posts.
If you are active on social media, or if you use a regular email newsletter to connect with your audience, use some of this space to invite your readers to connect with you on a personal level.

Reviews are great and help you sell books. Sometimes just hearing personally from readers about how your book touched them or changed their lives is just the motivation you need to continue your call to write and produce books for the Glory of God.

Related Posts:
Easy Ways to Get More Book Reviews
Are Reviews Important?
Are You Selling or Connecting?

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The Best Feedback

God calls you to write or publish a book. You obey and follow his leading.

However, you have your own expectations of what will happen to this book you have produced. Sometimes, our expectations don’t match up with what God’s intentions were for the purpose of a book.

I want to encourage you. Don’t get discouraged. God has his purposes. These may not match your expectations or desires, but God’s purpose for your book will be accomplished.

As an author and a publisher, I know that the best encouragement I can receive is feedback from the people who buy my books and find them helpful or useful. Unsolicited feedback is the best.

Recently, I received the following video from a reader of Baby Bible Board Books: Stories of Jesus (the books my husband and I produced a decade ago for infants and toddlers). What a thrill it was to watch this parent using our books to teach his child about God.

This type of feedback makes it all worthwhile. It helps me see the purpose God had in prompting my husband and I to produce these books, even if all my expectations were not  met.

Have you recently received any encouraging feedback from one of your readers?

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Dear Publisher

Dear CREST Publications:

I had your Baby Bible Board Books when I was a baby. Then I read them to my little brother. Now I read them to my ten-month-old brother…

Talon

So began a recent letter that my publishing company, CREST Publications, received from an 8-year-old girl.

That is what I call success—a family that has read, and re-read, and re-read our set of four board books to each family member.

Too often, we define success in numbers. A book that sells 5,000 or more copies is considered a best-seller. Yet, studies show that the average nonfiction book (counting self-published and royalty published titles) sells about 250 books.

So then, how are we to define success?

I think anytime we follow God’s prompting and publish a book that draws people toward a deeper relationship with their Creator, we can consider that a victory. For, we have triumphed over the evil one and his desire to thwart our purposes to lead people into a relationship with their Creator.

If your books are not selling as well as you would like, reconsider. Then, go to God in prayer and ask that he would put your books into the hands of those who need your message the most. That His word, which you have published, will not return void, but will accomplish the purpose for which he sent it out (Isaiah 55:11).

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Extending the Life of a Book

The other day I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my mail and found a royalty check for a good sum of money. This royalty check was from our foreign rights agent. It was for payment for copies of Baby Bible Board Books: Stories of Jesus that had been sold in Indonesia.

When we secured the foreign rights for Baby Bible Board Books, we were originally paid an advance royalty on the books by the Indonesian publisher who acquired the rights to translate, print, and sell the books in Indonesia. I figured that this advance royalty was all we were ever going to see.

I never imagined that this Indonesian publisher would sell enough copies of the book to continue to pay royalties beyond the initial payment. I was wrong.

There are a number of ways to extend the life of a book. These include:

  1. Placing the title on your back-list.
  2. Continuing to actively promote the title by tying it into current events and issues.
  3. Bundling the title with a newer book and offering it for a reduced rate.
  4. Selling foreign rights for the title.

Selling foreign rights for a title is a great way to extend the life of a book. Not only does the publisher or author continue to sell copies of the title, they do so without any ongoing efforts on their part.

I believe the best way to secure foreign rights for a title is through a foreign rights agent. These agents work to establish relationships with publishers in various countries. They know which publishers in these countries are reputable and will abide by their agreements. In addition, they negotiate the contracts and act as the liaison between the publishers.

Have you sold foreign rights for any of your books? What was your experience? I would be interested in hearing about it.

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Are Your Book Sales Struggling?

“I’m doing all the right things, but the book sales just aren’t following.”

This is a common complaint I hear from self-published authors. When this happens, discouragement can quickly set in derailing continued marketing efforts. Some authors even get so discouraged that they give up.

If you feel this complaint could be coming out of your mouth, let me offer you a dose of encouragement.

When God calls you to write and publish something, he has a reason. Sometimes that reason can be more about what He wants to do in you through the process than what he will do with your book. Other times that reason may be more for a small, select audience that needs to hear the message in your book.

I remember when I was new to the self-publishing world and the reality of how hard selling a Christian book was began to sink in. I often felt like I was spinning my wheels but only advancing mere inches.

I had given a copy of my board book set, Baby Bible Board Books: Stories of Jesus, as a baby shower gift to a young lady in my church. This woman also happened to have a toddler. The next week, this mother approached me just gushing about the books. She told me that her two-year old daughter loved the books so much that she would take them to bed with her.

What a blessing those words were to my heart. That is exactly what I had envisioned when we designed the books. I wanted these books to help the youngest children fall in love with Jesus. To hear that God was blessing my desire for children to fall in love with him through my books provided just the encouragement I needed to keep on putting effort into promoting the books.

I think Deborah McCarragher would agree with me. Deborah wrote a book encouraging Christian women to continue to pray for the salvation of their unsaved husbands. Deborah tirelessly promotes her book. One of her readers wrote and told her, “After 11 years of praying for my husband, I had given up hope. God placed your book in my hands at just the right moment. Biblical material written for women under our particular circumstances is hard to find. Mission Possible is full of scripture and practical advice. Thank you for being a part of restoring my hope.”

After publishing her book Parenting Moment by Moment, Carla MacLachlan received this message from a reader. “God has used your teaching to challenge me to apply Scripture in my life in a way that is life changing. I now have committed to daily share who God is, share His Word, and share what He is doing in our lives with my daughter.” Exactly the purpose Carla intended for her book.

Tom Clarke published his book, A Garden of Love, to help people experience the love of God through flowers. Tom has run into roadblock after roadblock in promoting his book, yet God sent a reader to encourage him. This reader wrote, “My husband and I were touched by the depth of spiritual application for each flower in your book. God’s creation has so much it can teach us!”

Take encouragement from these stories. Promoting your book is not just a physical thing. It is a spiritual battle. There is a Prince of Darkness who does not want your book to bring glory to God.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 (NIV) Be encouraged today and persevere.

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