Book Marketing Amidst Thorns and Thistles

Over Labor Day weekend, I decided to tackle a long-neglected area of my yard. I pulled out weeds and cleared brush.

The weather was hot, so I wore a short sleeve shirt. Only later did I realize that I must have tangled with some Poison Oak when large red welts began to appear on my arms. The damage was not pretty.

As soon as I noticed the allergic reaction, I began to treat the affected areas. I also prayed—asking Jesus to heal me. In my prayer, I reminded God that I was only doing what he wanted me to do—to subdue the Earth and rule over it (Genesis 1:28).

While praying, I was reminded that God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; …It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (Genesis 3:17-18).

I had certainly run into some nasty thorns and thistles. As I pondered this, I got to thinking that we don’t just run into thorns and thistles while doing yardwork. We also run into thorns and thistles in other areas when we assert dominion.

As a Christian author or publisher, you run into thorns and thistles in the writing, publishing, and marketing of your books. After all, your writing is part of ruling with God on the Earth (Go into all the world and make disciples).

As a Christian author or publisher, you run into all sorts of thorns and thistles like:

  • Computer crashes where work is lost
  • Cancelled events
  • Lost packages when shipping books
  • Money spent on advertising that does not bring results
  • Book launches that flop

It’s good to remember that while we have to deal with thorns and thistles, that is not all that our work produces.

In the same sentence that God tells Adam “It will produce thorns and thistles for you”, God also says:

“…and you will eat the plants of the field.”

We may run into thorns and thistles, but our work will also bring about fruit. So, while you are struggling with the thorns and the thistles, take heart, good crop is also growing. Your efforts—taken for the glory of God—are not made in vain.

Trust God. Ask him to bless your work. He is faithful and tends the seeds that you plant with your books. Good fruit will come—even though you have to fight the thorns and the thistles in the process.

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Photo courtesy of Dimitri.

Is Your Link Universal?

Last June, I wrote a blog post titled “Are You Using the Right URL?“. The article educated authors on how to use the best URL when sending potential buyers to your book on Amazon.

Is Your Link Universal?

The short version of that article is that many authors search for their book on Amazon, then they copy the URL from the search. This URL link is long and complicated. It is much better to use the shorter, correct URL when sending people to Amazon.

I am still amazed at how many authors are not following this advice. I still consistently receive long complicated URLs from authors for their books on Amazon.

Using the best URL when marketing a book is important. So, now I am going to encourage you to go one step further with your Amazon URL.

If you are marketing your book to a large audience, and some of these people might live outside the United Sates (or the country in which you reside if you are not in the U.S.), then it is best to use a Universal Amazon Link.

What is a Universal Link?

A Universal Link automatically takes readers to the Amazon store in the country in which they live.

If you use a regular Amazon.com link in your marketing, people who live outside the United Sates are taken to the U.S. Amazon store. If they want to purchase your book, they have to switch to the Amazon store in their country. Amazon has different URLs for sales in different countries. For example:

You can make it easy for people to purchase your book by using a Univeral Amazon Link in your marketing. The good news is that creating an Amazon Universal Link is free. There are a number of services that you can use to create one for your book. These include:

For example, my book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, can be found on Amazon.com at:Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books

https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Bolme/dp/0991299515

The Universal Amazon Link for my book is:

https://rxe.me/GQJJ29

If you provide a link to Amazon on your author or book website for readers to purchase your book via Amazon, then changing that link to a Universal Amazon Link can help you sell more books.

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Are You Securing Repeat Customers?

Email marketing is one tactic many authors use to connect with their audience. Email marketing allows you to have regular exposure to a group of people who are interested in what you have to say.

Repeat Customers Help You Sell More

Conventional wisdom encourages authors to provide a sign-up form on their website where interested readers can subscribe to your author newsletter or updates.

Smart authors usually go one step further and offer a freebie in exchange for an interested reader’s email. This freebie might be a novella, a recipe, a tips sheets, or something else with entertainment or educational value.

Providing a sign up in this fashion is smart marketing. With social media, you cannot control who sees your posts. With email, your information is sent to everyone on your email list. These people at least see that they have received an email from you, reminding them of you and your books.

Some experts encourage authors to sell books direct from your website. This way, you get to collect the contact information on people who buy your book. You can add these people to your email list and continue to market to them as you produce more books.

However, most authors don’t sell books directly from their website and many people prefer to buy books from a book site like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. So, how do you collect contact information for these buyers?

Enter end-of-book offer.

An end of book offer is where you offer the reader of your book access to a freebie in exchange for their email address. This could be similar to the freebies that you offer on your website, but something of value for someone who has finished your book.

I recently finished reading a book. Now, this is not unusual for me because I read at least one book a week. What was unusual was the offer in this book.

collecting emails

This author offered free access to a series of free online mini-courses on the subject of his book. I was somewhat surprised because this was a generous offer.

However, when I visited the site where the free mini-courses were listed, I realized that this author was using these free mini-courses connected to his book as just a gateway into his much larger program.

It turns out that this author has multiple books and numerous online courses available. By offering free access to his mini-course, he is not only collecting email addresses, he is also building his audience for his other offerings.

If you are a one-book author, this technique for building your audience may not be the best idea. However, if you have multiple books and offer online courses, I think that implementing a similar offer in your books would be smart marketing.

Repeat customers help you sell more. According to Small Business Trends:

  • 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers.
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%.
  • The probability of selling to a new customer is 5–20%.
  • 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of their existing customers.

If you have more than one product to offer, you want to hook your readers into becoming repeat customers. It is just smart marketing.

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Photo courtesy of Brett Jordan.

4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

This summer, I was introduced to an author and his book on spiritual discernment through an article in an online news outlet. The article featured the author and the topic of the book caught my attention. The article did not include the title of the book. Rather, it was a story about the author with the article mentioning that he was the author of a recently released book on spiritual discernment.

4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

I noted the author’s name and decided to check out his book. In my research, I discovered that this author has actually penned a number of books.

Lesson #1: Media exposure sells books.

With my interest piqued, I went to Amazon to check out the author. Amazon was the logical place for me to look first since that website features just about every book published.

The book’s page on Amazon revealed that the book had over 350 reviews with an average rating of 4.8 stars. I was interested in the topic and was convinced that the book would be worth my time and money when I saw the reviews.

Lesson #2:  Positive reviews, especially a large number of positive reviews, sells books.

I bought the book on Amazon. It was just convenient. I could bundle it with other purchases and get free shipping (I am not a Prime Member). When the book arrived, I was excited to read it—and I did.

It was a good book. I enjoyed it. It was an easy read. The chapters were short and the book was only about 100 pages. When I got to the end, I realized the book was only 100 pages. I was a little disappointed that it had cost as much as it did. The book’s retail price is $14.95, but Amazon sells it for about $13.00. This price seems a little steep for a 100-page book.

I realized that I had not paid much attention to the number of pages in the book when I purchased it. Rather, the description and reviews had convinced me that the book was worth buying and reading.

Lesson #3:  Price is not typically a deciding factor in book purchases—unless the book is priced unusually high.

At the end of the book, I realized how this author had been able to accumulate over 350 positive reviews in a short period of time. The book was released in January, and I purchased it six months later. The author had used a launch team.

This book had something that I have not seen before. At the very end of the book, the last six (yes, six) pages of the book were dedicated to “Special Thanks to Our Launch Team”. I counted the names on just one page and counted about 120 names. If you multiply 120 times six pages, you get a launch team of about 720 people.

This author had around 720 people talking about and writing positive reviews for his book when it launched. That is truly impressive.

Lesson #4:  Launch teams (a.k.a. Street teams) help make books successful.

If you are unfamiliar with what a Launch Team is or how to go about gathering and using one. I recommend that you join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) and download our reference guide on Book Launch Teams. This guide covers recruiting a team, communicating with your team, promotional activities for our launch team, and rewarding your team.

Christian Indie Publishing Association’s (CIPA) Book Launch Team Guide is just one of the many resources Members of the Association have access to. You can join CIPA on our website at https://www.christianpublishers.net and have access to this Guide and many more.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels.

Reading Habits By Generation

I came across this infographic that provides an enormous amount of useful information around the reading habits for each generation.

While the infographic focuses on the generations, some things hold true across all generations like:

  • 55% of every generation get book recommendations from friends and family.
  • Print books are still preferred across all generations. 

There is lots of good information to glean for use when marketing your book from this insightful infographic. Check it out.

Reading Across the Generations Infographic

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