Print or Digital? No Choice Required

Black or white. Hot or cold. Night and day. Rich or poor. Digital or print.

When approaching marketing, many authors have an either-or mentality. They either invest in digital or they invest in print.

Print informs our digital activity.

The most successful book marketing is not an either-or mentality, but a both-and mindset. Print and digital work together to bring the best results.

A popular journal for church leaders recently switched to a digital-only format. Previously, the journal had been mailed to subscribing church leaders. With the switch the publication is now only available for reading online.

In moving to a digital-only magazine, it would make sense that the entire process would become digital. In other words, subscribing church leaders would be reminded to read the online journal via their email.

However, the creators of this publication knew better than to embrace an either-or mindset. They knew that switching from a print publication to a digital publication would cause them to lose a number of readers unless they embraced a both-and mindset.

So, instead of moving to all digital, this publication decided to mail print postcards to subscribers each month to remind them to read the latest edition of the journal online. Then, the publication polled their subscribers to find out what they thought of this new model: a postcard reminding them to read the publication online.

Magazine

About 1,000 subscribers responded to the poll and 92% reported that they were fine with the postcard reminder to view the latest issue of the publication online. Only about 8% reported that they preferred the print copy mailed to them.

Here is the takeaway lesson from this situation:

Print informs our digital activity.

Have you noticed that signs and billboard include URLs? Have you seen URLs in other printed ads? We don’t live in an either-or world. We live in a both-and world where what we see in print influences what we do in the digital world.

What does this mean for book marketing?

Just like authors and publishers must embrace both-and for producing books in both digital and physical format to reap the most sales, so too, you must embrace this mindset for marketing. Use print to drive readers to purchase your books in the digital world. Combine both print and digital marketing strategies for the best success.

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Photos courtesy of gillnisha and stevepb.

How to Get Book Clubs to Choose Your Book

A friend recently told me that her book group had chosen to read the book The Devil In Pew Number Seven. The book is a memoir by a North Carolina preacher’s daughter. I was a little surprised at the choice because I had read the book years ago, so I knew it was not a newer book.

The Devil in Pew Number 7I asked my friend how her book group had decided on that particular book. She reported that each member in her book club nominates a book that they have read and then the group votes on which book to read.

Getting a book club to read your book is a great way to increase both your book’s exposure and your readership. Yet, promoting a book to book clubs can be a daunting task. First you have to find resources that reach book clubs; and then you have to advertise.

A new study on book clubs by BookBrowse that was published in the report “The Inner Lives of Book Clubs” shows that reaching book clubs may not be a difficult as many authors think. The study found that, when it comes to choosing what books they will read, most book clubs require a member to have read a book before recommending it to the group—or, at a minimum to have thoroughly researched it.

This means that you don’t have to promote your book to book clubs. You just have to reach a reader who is involved in a book club. And, book club members discover books in the same way that most readers discover new books.

Book clubs read both fiction and nonfiction books. The BookBrowse study showed that 70% of book clubs primarily read fiction, and 93% read nonfiction at least occasionally.

Book Club

So, what type of books do book clubs prefer? BookBrowse’s study showed the following:

  • 97% of book club members want a book that will provoke a good conversation.
  • 73% actively seek out books that challenge.
  • 55% look for books that are controversial.

Now, BookBrowse is a secular organization. The book clubs that they interviewed for their study were primarily secular book clubs, not Christian ones. I imagine that most private Christian book clubs operate similar to secular book clubs. However, in the Christian community, I think the vast majority of book clubs operate as small groups.

Many churches’ small groups—whether these are home groups, life groups, women’s groups, or men’s groups—read and discuss books. This raises the question of who chooses the books for these groups. Do the individuals in the group recommend the book, or do the church leaders decide?

In my church experience, I have been involved in small groups where the group chose the book and in groups where the church leadership chose the book. The groups I have been involved in where the church leadership chose the book far outweighed those where the group got to choose.

Since leaders appear to be the primary decision makers when it comes to what books a church’s small groups will read, marketing your book to church leaders is a necessary ingredient to get church groups to read your book.

This is just one example of how marketing a Christian book is different than marketing a secular book. If you need to learn more about how to market your Christian book effectively, I suggest that you check out my book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books.

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Photo courtesy of Nathan23.

Are Children Still Reading?

Generation Z, those children born after 1995, are digital natives. The first generation to grow up with ready access to the Internet, smartphones, tablets, and social media, concern has been raised about this generation’s short attention span and disinterest in reading.

Sales of Children's Books Have Grown

Interestingly, the rumors of the demise of reading with Generation Z may be exaggerated. The American Association of Publishers (AAP) reports that sales of Children’s and Young Adult books have grown over the past five years. Specifically, unit sales for Children’s and Young Adult nonfiction grew 17.8 percent.

A study by Scholastic and YouGov in 2017 found that 86 percent of Canadian children aged 6-17 years old were reading or had finished reading a book for fun recently. Another study by Common Sense Media in 2015 of U.S. children found one in four tweens and one in five teens reported reading for pleasure regularly. Both studies found that the majority of these children read print books (67% in Canada and 83% in the United States).

While it is good news that Generation Z is reading, we know that overall reading has decreased in the past few decades. One study on young people’s reading habits over the last 50 years summarized in “The Rise of Digital Media, the Decline of TV, and the (Near) Demise of Print.” cited a depressing finding. There has been a decline of daily reading of some form of print—whether magazine, book, etc.—from 60 percent in the late 1970s to 12 percent today. The authors use the notion of “displacement theory” to explain this decline—82 percent of young people use social media today (not to mention video games), which more than likely displaces time they might formerly have given to reading.

If you are a children’s author, these studies hold both good news and sad news. The good news is that Generation Z is still reading, and that they prefer print books. The sad news is that reading continues to fall wayside to other forms of entertainment.

Books Still Make Great Gifts

What can you as a children’s author do about this? I have two suggestions.

1. Help create a love of reading in children.

Studies show that children with classroom libraries are more likely to be frequent readers. Yet, only 43% of school-age children have access to a classroom library. You can be part of the solution. Volunteer to help build a classroom library for a teacher at a local Christian school. Donate some of your books as well as other age-appropriate books the teacher and kids are interested in.

2. Promote your books as great gifts.

Studies show that busy Millennial moms like online gift guides. In fact, some big box retailers like Toys R Us have gone out of business because many Millennials prefer to shop online. If you are a children’s author, put together an online Christmas gift guide for moms. Offer a range of gift ideas for the age-range your books target, and be sure to include your books in the guide.

Whether you are a children’s author, a young adult author, or an author of adult books, helping increase literacy and reading in children is a good cause to participate in. After all, children grow up to be adults, and you want to have adults read your books in years to come.

Related Posts:
What Every Children’s Author Needs to Know
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Photo by Porapak Apichodilok.

What Shoppers Want

I am a coupon clipper. Every Sunday I go through the ads in the newspaper (yes, I still get a print newspaper) and clip the ones that I think I will use. I put these on my refrigerator so they are handy when I go to the grocery store. Sadly, half the time I forget to grab the coupons on my way out the door to the store.

Could offering coupons for your books spur more sales?

Clearly, extreme couponing is not for me. My intentions are good. It’s my follow through that needs some work. Usually, I remember I forgot the coupons about halfway to the grocery store. At that point, I don’t feel like going back to get them. So they sit unused  on my refrigerator.

I am not alone in coupon clipping or in using them (although I could improve in this aspect). Recent research by Inmar found that shoppers today are driven by the use of coupons. According to this research:

  • 60% of shoppers reported using paper as well as digital coupons.
  • 28% of shoppers reporting using paper coupons exclusively.
  • 13% said they use only digital coupons.

Coupon use is regular and ongoing for many consumers:

  • 42% of surveyed shoppers reported they “always” or “usually” use digital coupons.
  • 37% said the same about coupon inserts from the Sunday newspaper.

It’s clear that consumers see value in coupons. In fact, 80% of consumers in the Inmar study reported that coupons changed their behavior in some way. This raises the question: Could offering coupons for your books spur more sales?

Offer coupons

There are many ways you can use coupons to sell your books. You can offer a digital coupon in your email newsletter. You can offer a coupon in a print mailing such as on a postcard. You can even offer a coupon at a live event where you are selling your book.

Giving consumers what they want is a great way to encourage them to buy your book. Creating a coupon is not difficult. Free online services like Send a Coupon make creating a coupon easy. Send a Coupon allows you to create free coupons that you can email or tweet to your followers.

Try it. You might reap a few more sales just by giving out coupons.

Related Posts:
Use Coupons to Promote Your Books
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Marketing Tips to Reach Each Generation

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A Book Marketing Recipe

I once met an author who wrote a book that she was promoting as a Christian book. I spoke with this author and really liked her. She had a charming, likable nature. She was very personable. However, during our conversation, she told me that she did not read the Bible. In fact, she did not even know some of the more familiar Bible stories such as Esther.

A Marketing Recipe

When I discovered this piece of information, I decided to not read her book. Why? Because I did not trust that her book was really a Christian book. On another level, I did not trust this author. After all, she was promoting her book as a Christian book, yet she did not read the Bible.

Relationships follow a predictable pattern. First you must meet someone and get to know them. As you get to know the person, you start to like him or her. Then, as you spend more time with that person, your trust in the individual grows.

This pattern—Know + Like + Trust—is repeated over and over in our life with each new person we meet and befriend. The same pattern is replicated in selling products. After all, we buy products from people we know, like, and trust.

When you think about marketing your book, this simple pattern should permeate what you do. Your marketing efforts need to help people first get to know you, then to like you and what you offer, and lastly to trust your message and writing.

Let’s examine each step a little more closely.

Know:

People have to meet you to know you. This meeting does not have to be in the physical world; it can be in the print or digital world. There are many ways for people to meet you. They might read an article you wrote or see one of your social media posts. They might hear you interviewed on a podcast. For people to meet you, you have to show up. The more places you show up at, the more people will get to know you.

Like:

We like people who help us. As an author, you help people by enriching their lives with your useful information, stress-relieving humor, or compelling stories that speak to hearts. We help people by showing up regularly and offering value to their lives. When we help our audience, they like us.

Trust:

Trust builds as like deepens. When we are consistent and people can rely on us, they trust us more. Your message matters. When your message speaks to someone’s heart, they feel that you know them and their struggles, and they begin to trust you.

This pattern is rarely completed in a quick getting. Sometimes the Know + Like + Trust pattern can all happen in a one-time meeting. Usually, it develops over time. Repeated exposure is necessary. Consistency is key.

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