It’s Not Too Early for Christmas

You are probably thinking, “Halloween has not yet arrived. It’s too early to be shopping for Christmas.

Except, it’s not. Many people are already beginning to think about Christmas and gift buying. On survey by eMarketers found that more than 10 percent of Internet shoppers said they start their holiday shopping before September. Another 40 percent start purchasing holiday gifts before November.

Did you catch that? Just about half of the people who buy gifts for Christmas start shopping before November. And that is not just one study. Research from the National Retail Federation shows that about 40 percent of people start holiday shopping before Halloween each year. That number has stayed consistent for more than 10 years.

It’s not too early to start promoting your book as a great Christmas gift. Start now. Promote and advertise your book as a Christmas gift. Offer a holiday special or bundle to entice early shoppers. This month is a great time to include your specials in your email campaigns, on your website, and through advertisements.

In today’s entertainment saturated world, you might want to remind shoppers why books make great gifts. Feel free to use the reasons listed on the infographic below in your marketing efforts.

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Are You Doing This with Your Website?

Do you know what the top mission of your website is?

If you answered: To sell my books. You are wrong.

The most important duty of your website is to develop trust with your website visitors. First-time visitors make up 60 to 70 percent of traffic every month for the average website. When these new people reach your website, your job is to introduce them to you and your books. But, more importantly, you must build trust with these visitors. Trust is required for a sale to happen.

To develop trust with your website visitors, make sure that you are providing these four things on your website.

1. Relevant Content

If the majority of the daily visitors to your website are brand new, they are most likely unfamiliar with you and your books. Your primary job is to build trust with these people through information. Providing content that answers their questions and informs and educates them helps you build trust. When website visitors scan your information—and they do scan—and find valuable advice that is relevant to their situation, they begin to trust you and your message.

2. Free Samples

Be open with what you provide in your books. Studies show that providing samples improves sales. If people are confident that they will like what they are spending their money on, they are more likely to purchase. In some cases, offering a sample can boost sales by 2,000 percent. A sample raises people’s confidence. Offer one to a few chapters of your books so that people can sample what you have published to increase their trust and confidence in you.

3. Testimonials

Social proof increases consumers’ trust in a brand or product. Social proof is the construct that persuasion of an idea or behavior for an individual is linked with how others are responding to it. In essence, social proof reduces the perception of risk associated with a purchase. Testimonials are one form of social proof. They tell potential customers that others are benefiting from your books, increasing customers’ trust in you and your books.

4. Friendly, Prompt Support

If you sell books directly from your website, provide a way for people to contact you. From time to time, as Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I receive calls from people who are trying to reach a Member of CSPA. These people tell me that they have tried to purchase a book, or made a purchase, or have an issue with their purchase, yet are unable to get a hold of the publisher or author. They have called me to obtain help in this matter.

One recent study by Corra found that 52.4% of shoppers prefer to communicate through live chat on a website, while 32.8% preferred email for communicating, and 14.5% choose a phone call. If you are not providing live chat on your website, at least make sure that you provide a telephone number and an email. Then, be sure to check your emails and phone messages regularly so that you don’t leave customers or potential customers languishing. Prompt responses help to build trust.

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Persuasion in an Age of Information Overload

We live in an age of information overload. The average person is bombarded with more information than they can retain every day.

Information scientists have found that, in 2011, American’s took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986 (think pre- and post-internet). This is equivalent to 174 newspapers. During just leisure time, the average person processes 34 gigabytes or 100,000 words every day.

In order to persuade readers to buy your books, you have to cut through information overload. Getting your book to stand out amidst a sea of competing messages can be daunting. To improve your ability to persuade people to buy your book, focus on these three elements.

1. Message

Your message must stand out and grab attention. For your book, this means the message you are delivering through your book’s title, subtitle, blurbs, and your opening paragraph.

Some studies suggest that about four in every 10 book buyers bought their latest book based on its message. This means that your book’s cover is tremendously important in converting browsers to buyers. It’s not just the design or cover art, its the whole makeup and feel of your cover that is important. It’s the message that your title and cover art combined send.

2. Repetition

Studies show that people need to be exposed to a new product seven to twelve times before they make a purchase decision. The same is true for your book. Repeat exposure is required to convert a browser to a buyer.

Interestingly, the higher the book’s price point, the more exposures are required. Even bargains require repeat exposures. A book priced under $2 through a daily deal discount email campaign needs an average of at least two exposures before a reader will purchase.

With digital marketing, repetition is achievable. Mentions of your book on blogs, social media, and in your email newsletter all help increase your ability to persuade your target audience to buy your book.

3. Availability

In an environment of information overload, we easily forget new information. Research shows that many consumers make near instant purchasing decisions based on their intuition. This means that the reader will attempt to make the purchase as soon as they decide.

If your book is not available where these people shop, they will move on to the next thing. This is why distribution is so important. A book needs to be available in as many outlets and channels as possible (not just on your website and Amazon). Distracted shoppers that cannot get what they want the moment they want it, move on.

The task of being heard amidst the noise of information overload seems daunting. Focus on your message, repetition of your message, and availability. Then watch what God will do.

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But, Can You Sell It?

“My story is perfect just the way it is.”

These words were spoken to me by an aspiring author. I was meeting with this lady on the request of a friend. This aspiring author had penned a lovely rhyming story for children aged three to six. She was seeking feedback and direction.

At the start of our meeting, the author informed me that she thought she should find herself a literary agent for the book. She asked me how she would go about finding one.
I let her know that I could give her information on finding a literary agent, but I could also save her some time by giving her some feedback on her story that would help her in securing the services of a literary agent. This is when she made the statement that her story was perfect.

I attempted to explain to this aspiring author, that while her story might be wonderful, a literary agent and a publisher look at potential books from a number of angles. One important thing they always consider is the sellability of a book. In other words, literary agents and publishers evaluate first and foremost whether people will buy the story or topic in the format presented.

To begin with, this author’s story was 1,600 words in length. I explained to her that this length was much too long for a picture book for her target age group. Therefore, for a literary agent to be willing to represent it, she would need to cut the story length.

This author then suggested that instead of one book, she would make it into a series of seven books. Again, I talked about the ability to sell a book. Selling one picture book is much easier than selling a set of seven picture books. Parents are more likely to invest in one book than in a set of seven.

Stuck on her original idea, this lady really did not want to change her story. Hence, she began to have the same thought as many authors: “Maybe I should just publish it myself.”

The truth of the matter is, sellability matters whether you publish a book yourself or someone else publishes the book.

Readers have expectations. They have expectations about how a picture book should read for their child’s age. They have expectations about the flow of a story. They have expectations about the layout of a book. A book needs to meet these expectations to sell well.

If you are publishing a book, ask yourself: Can I sell it? Will people buy it?

The answer to this makes all the difference.

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What Is Your Next Action?

I recently met a poet who wants to become published. This lady is trusting that God will guide her steps on her quest to become a published poet. She has tried a number of avenues and most have been dead ends.

She told me that, not too long ago, she decided to share one of her poems at a local open mic night. This was not a Christian event; it was a general market affair. This author writes Christian prose. She took the opportunity afforded her and spoke one of her poems at the event.

At the end of the evening, a gentleman approached her. He asked if she had ever recorded any of her poems. The poet answered that she had not. This gentleman stated that he thought her lyrics were powerful and should be recorded. He then invited her to use the studio in the basement of his house to records some poems.

Later the poet asked the man with the studio if he was a regular at open mic night. His response was that the night she spoke had been the first and only time he had attended the event.

The way God works is often mysterious and awesome. One thing we do know is that often, before God works, he requires us to act. We have to step out in faith and do something. Then God shows up. He provides or performs a miracle, or simply points us down the next path he wants us to take.

The process starts with an action on our part. Sadly, we often don’t act because we are scared. We fear failure, or embarrassment, or even not doing what God wants.

A Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently took a giant leap with her publishing business. She told me that she often questions whether this is what she should be doing or if it is what God wants her to be doing. I assured her that anytime we are doing something with the intent of bringing Glory to God, our actions are pleasing to God.

Just as this poet had to move out of her comfort zone and perform her poetry in public for a door to open, so too, you must act. What action do you need to take?

Is fear holding you back? If so, ponder these lyrics from Zach Williams’ song Fear is a Liar. The chorus states:

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar

Don’t let fear keep you from experiencing the blessings that God has for you and your books.

I would love to hear your testimony. If you have stepped out in faith, taken action, and God has met you, please share in the comments section.

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