Have You Given Your Book Feet?

The newspaper article headlines read:

Fire chaplain drives 300 miles to leave crosses for Jacksonville victims

He’s left crosses at Ground Zero in New York City, in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Dallas after a gunman ambushed police officers, and most recently, after the school shooting in Parkland.

Have you given your book feet?

Another headline reads:

Chaplain, Impressed By Pittsburghers’ Strength, Offers Comfort At Synagogue Memorial

With a simple greeting and wearing a navy-blue coat that reads “Chaplain” across the back, Bob Ossler is a constant these days.

Triumph Over TerrorChaplain Bob is the author of Triumph Over Terror, an eyewitness account from a first responder at Group Zero on 9-11 that recounts the questions, fears, struggles, and sacrifices of the families and workers overwhelmed by despair. Bob knows how to give his book feet. Bob is a chaplain with a heart for victims of terror. He lives out what he believes and his book goes with him on his journeys.

Books are inanimate objects. They cannot move or talk on their own. You, the author, must give your book feet.

You may not have the mission or ability to travel as far and wide as Bob does, but you can still give your book feet. You may not be as extroverted and easily able to talk and pray with people as Bob is, but you can still give your book feet.

You can follow Chaplain Bob’s example to give your book feet. Like Bob, you can take your book with you wherever you go, broadening your book’s audience and reach.

  1. Know what need your book meets and who struggles the most with this need. This is your target audience and the people you should focus on as you take your book with you. Bob knows that his target audience are people impacted by terrorist activity.
  2. Always have a copy of your book near. Carry them in your car. Carry your author business card or bookmark featuring your book in your purse or wallet.
  3. Look for opportunities to connect with others around the subject matter of your book. Bob travels to places that have experienced terrorist activity. He brings hope to victims through prayer and kind actions. In this way, he is connecting with others around the subject matter of his book.
  4. Don’t be shy about your actions. If you, like Bob, are doing something good for the community, let the local news know about it. People need to be encouraged and having good-will stories reported encourages people. It can also bring attention to your book.
  5. Share your actions and your book’s journey on social media. Chaplain Bob readily shares on social media about the people his book has touched, about responders and victims he admires, and about his care for those who are impacted by terrorist actions.

Here’s a recent Facebook post from Bob sharing about his book.

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Photo courtesy of Ian Baldwin.

Are Your Marketing Messages Sticky?

Can you finish these catchy advertising slogans?

  • Snap! Crackle! … (Rice Krispies)
  • When you care enough to send … (Hallmark)
  • It’s the real … (Coca-Cola)
  • Melts in your mouth, …. (M&Ms)

These messages are sticky. They stick in your mind. That’s why you can complete them. It is not just the sheer repetition that helps you remember, it is also that these slogans are catchy.

Every marketing message competes with thousands of other marketing messages. Having a message that is sticky is necessary to stand out and grab people’s attention.

In their book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip Heath and Dan Heath present six principles that make a message stick. They are:

  1. The message is simple.
  2. The message is unexpected.
  3. The message is concrete.
  4. The message is credible.
  5. The message is emotional
  6. The message is a good story.

I would add that making your message bold also increases the stickiness factor.

For example, Hallmark’s slogan is “When you care enough to send the very best.” That is a bold statement. They are saying that their cards are the very best!

Some practical types might object. They might say, “DaySpring cards are better.” However, some marketing messages are just an opinion. You can boldly assert your book’s promise or your opinion.

If you want your marketing message to stick, your marketing slogan for your book needs to follow one of the six principles presented in Made to Stick and also be bold.

One of the marketing slogans I use for my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace is:

The essential guide for marketing Christian books.

One reviewer recently made the following statement, which is much bolder and more likely to stick:

The Bible of marketing Christian books.

Play around with your marketing messages. Don’t be afraid to make a bold claim. A simple, bold statement is more likely to stick than just a simple or unexpected statement.

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Lessons From a Glacier for Authors

Thought leader Seth Godin recently wrote the following on his blog:

Glaciers get a bad rap. We often talk about how slow they are. But the speed isn’t the point. The fjord near my house, surrounded by huge cliffs, was formed by a glacier. Not because it was slow, but because it was large, clearly directed, and relentless.

Glaciers make a huge impact. They don’t etch out mere creeks, they carve gorges and canyons.

Lessons from a Glacier for Authors

Authors can take a lesson from glaciers. While you might not be huge like a glacier, you can make an impact by being clearly directed and relentless—even moving at a slow pace.

Are You Clearly Directed?

Do you have a clear direction? Do you have an end goal in mind with well-laid out objectives to reach your goal?

Without a clear goal and direction, we wonder all over the place and end up making less impact. People walk the straightest path when they have their eyes fixed on a distant object. Set a goal and keep your eyes fixed on your goal.

For every activity you do related to your book, ask yourself whether this activity is moving you closer to your goal. Spend your time and energy on the activities that move you in the direction you want to go.

If your desire is to glorify God with your books, then you can be confident that he will direct your steps as your walk in the direction of your goal. You can trust that God will guide you just as Isaiah says:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Are You Relentless?

We expect immediate gratification for our efforts. Our culture has taught us that things should come fast and easy. Get rich quick schemes abound. There are hundreds of gurus on the Internet willing to teach you a few easy steps to grow your business exponentially. The sad truth is that it only works for a handful of businesses. Most business grow slowly and steadily over time.

Glaciers are slow. You don’t see the impact they are making right away. It can take years before you see the change that a slow-moving glacier is making on the earth. The same may be true for your efforts. It may take years before you see the impact your books and writings are having on people.

Being relentless is about perseverance. Writing and marketing your books takes a lot of perseverance. It takes an average of seven contacts to secure a media interview. It takes about nine months of regular blogging to develop a following.

David says in Psalm 127:

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

If your books bring glory to God, then it is God who is building your house. Your job is to be diligent and God’s job is to do the building.

You can make an impact. Don’t rush it. Move carefully and deliberately, trust God, and when you look back, you will see the fruit of your efforts.

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Are You Thinking Like an Entrepreneur?

You may not think of yourself as an entrepreneur, but if you have independently published a book, you are.

I often tell people that every book is like a start up business. A book needs a mission statement, a marketing plan, and a budget. As the producer of a book, these are your responsibility, making you an entrepreneur. Are you thinking like one?

Successful entrepreneurs have a number of things in common. These individuals have a way of thinking and acting that is different from other people. The good news is that anyone can learn to think and act like an entrepreneur and reap the benefits. Following are six distinct traits of entrepreneurs.

1. Have Passion

Entrepreneurs tend to be highly passionate about their work. In truth, this passion is what often propels them to success. After all, passion is contagious. As an author, no one else is going to be as passionate about your book as you are. Don’t expect others to sell your book for you. As the author, you are the one with the belief in your message. Let your energy shine through when you talk with others.

2. Willing to Take Risks

Little is gained without risk. Entrepreneurs have to be willing to take risks to move their business forward. As an author, both publishing and marketing your book involve risks. Sometimes you have to risk money for advertising and promotion with no guarantee that you will have a return on your money. Be willing to take risks, but be wise about the risks you take. Do your homework to minimize your losses.

3. Network with Others

Business is all about relationships. Solid relationships are the pathway to success. After all, the number one reason people buy a book is because they are familiar with the author. The more you work on building relationships with readers, the wider your audience will be for your book. Building relationships with other authors can also help pave the way for more success. Collaboration is a powerful tool.

4. Think Outside the Box

Entrepreneurs are creative problem solvers. They are able to apply unconventional approaches to overcome challenges. As an author, your challenge is to get your book noticed. This takes creative, out-of-the-box thinking. Being able to brainstorm creative techniques for your book promotion strategies is important.

5. Ready for Roadblocks

Entrepreneurs understand that they will face problems and challenges. Being mentally prepared to deal with these setbacks is crucial for success. Life and business are not easy. As an author, you will run into roadblocks and become frustrated when your efforts don’t produce fruit. A mindset that is ready to overcome challenges will serve you well.

6. Are Determined

Determination is all about the firmness of your purpose. Determined individuals don’t easily give up. They stick it out for the long haul. Entrepreneurs know they must do hard work to succeed. Determination will get you where brains and brawn cannot. So, be determined, be resolved to do what it takes to get your book and message to the people who need it.

I encourage you to incorporate these six traits into your life and act like the entrepreneur you are. With God’s help, you can succeed.

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Photo courtesy of David McEachan.

Creative Marketing with Bookmarks

Effectively promoting a book takes dedication and effort—and not just a little effort, a lot of effort.

There are more books available today than at any other time in history. Some estimate that Amazon has over 11 million titles available for purchase on its site with a new book added every five minutes. With so many books competing for readers’ attention, creative efforts are necessary to grab that attention.

I am always on the lookout for creative marketing ideas. I like to pass these ideas on to authors, so that you can either copy the idea or use it to get your own creative juices flowing for out-of-the-box marketing ideas for your own books. I frequently highlight innovative ideas that I come across on this blog and a number are listed in my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

Recently, I ran across an author who suggested that since bookmarks are cheap to produce (you can purchase a thousand bookmarks for under $100), that authors should make use of them in their book promotion activities. This author said that he had printed a number of bookmarks with the image of his book and a little information about it, along with the URL of his book’s website. He then offered a stack of these bookmarks to his local public library.

This author figured that since public libraries have tight budgets, they can’t afford to purchase trinkets to give to patrons. So, offering his bookmarks as a freebie that his local library could give to their patrons was a win-win proposition.

This sounds like a good idea. Since many people still read print books, bookmarks are a great handout. However, many public libraries might be reluctant to accept a bookmark for a book that promotes Christianity and/or is not available for checkout in their library system. So, where else might Christian authors use bookmarks to promote their books?
Here are four ideas I came up with.

  1. Offer your bookmarks to your local church’s library or bookstore to give to patrons.
  2. If you have a book for children or young adults, offer your bookmarks to local Christian schools to give to the students in whatever grades your book is geared to.
  3. If you have a book geared for seniors, offer your bookmarks to your local senior center to give to seniors who frequent the center.
  4. Put a stack of your bookmarks in your local Little Free Library for your neighbors to use.

If you have more ideas on how Christian authors can use bookmarks to promote a book, please share them.

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