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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The Rule of Seven
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Five Additional Free Tools for Authors

I love free! Free resources are a wonderful gift to any indie author or small publisher on a tight budget.

Here are five free tools that can help you improve your writing and marketing efforts.

1. Improve Your Word Usage.

Words are important, especially for authors. Using the right words and the best words matter. The OneLook Dictionary search aggregates information from more than 1,000 dictionaries. You can use this free tool to search for definitions and phrases, as well as words related to a term or concept and then compare various dictionary definitions.

No author wants to overuse a word, which is why every author needs a thesaurus. There are a number of thesauruses online, but Power Thesaurus because it is a crowdsourced online resource, is very powerful. The tool provides every synonym and antonym under the sun and arranges them all based on how useful other writers have found them.

2. Make Sure Your Writing Is Grammatically Correct.

A study by Boomerang, an email management tool, found that mistake-free email subject lines received a 34% response rate, while those with errors only had a 29% response rate. Grammatical and spelling mistakes reduce the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. You can run your emails and social media posts through a quick edit to make sure your writing is grammatically correct with the free tool at Grammark.

3. Optimize Your Social Media Posts.

Twitter has a 280-character limit for tweets. Just because you are allowed 280 characters does not necessarily mean you want to use that many in your tweets. Studies have found that tweets that get the most attention contain just 100 characters. On Facebook, the ideal length of a post is 40 characters. And the best length of an email subject line is 28-39 characters.

A free online tool, Character Count Online, helps count the length of any piece of text you want. This tool not only counts characters, it also counts words, sentences, and paragraphs. It will also tell you how many times you used each word in a chunk of text. Next time you are creating a social media post or email subject line, use this tool to help you optimize your effort.

4. Find the Best Fonts for Design Projects.

Multiple fonts in a quote graphic, blog design, or other online project increase the visual appeal. Using various fonts can make separate ideas or elements distinct. For instance, in a pull quote, you might use one font for the quote and another for the source.
However, for the fonts to work together well, they must follow core design principles regarding symmetry and contrast. If you’re not a font-pairing expert, Fontjoy can generate font pairings for you.

5. Start Podcasting for Free.

Are you thinking about starting a podcast, but don’t want to invest fees in equipment and storage? You can record, store, and distribute podcasts on the Internet for free with Anchor.

Related Posts:
5 Free Tools Every Author Can Use
Five More Free Tools for Authors
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Photo courtesy of Carolina Bonito.

How Readers Choose Books

If we could figure out the formula for how readers choose what book to read next, then almost any author could write and publish a bestseller. Sadly, no formula exists. After all, we are humans and formulas rarely describe human behavior.

So, how do readers choose books? —and if we have an answer to this question—how can it inform us to better market our books so that they are the ones readers choose?

A book reviewer recently conducted an informal poll on fiction reader behavior. She asked a group of Christian fiction readers how they decide what book to purchase next. Here is what the survey found were the top five criteria driving what book readers choose to read:

  • The book was written by a favorite author.
  • The book was classified in a favorite genre.
  • The book sported an attractive cover.
  • The back-cover copy was appealing.
  • The book was recommended by reviewers and bloggers.

Remember, this is not a formula, rather it is a loose guide of what draws readers in to choose a certain book. I believe there are a few marketing takeaways from the answers to this survey. None of these takeaways are new, but reminders are useful and help us keep our minds focused on what is important.

1. Fans are important.

Every author needs fans. Especially with fiction books, fans are necessary to sell more books. Many readers read authors they have read in the past and know they will deliver a good story. For fiction authors, cultivating a group of fans who love and promote your books is crucial. Find ways to reward your fans and keep them engaged between books.

2. A professional, engaging cover design is a must.

Your book cover is your number one marketing tool. Don’t skimp on your book’s cover. Use a professional designer to develop an engaging, eye-popping cover that fits your book’s genre. Test your cover design. Offer your friends and fans two designs of your upcoming book’s cover and have them vote on which one appeals the most to them. You can use a quiz generating service like Interact to run your poll.

3. Crafting a great description for your book is crucial.

People read fiction books for entertainment. They want to read a compelling, memorable story. Good fiction always has tension that comes from the challenges that the main characters face. These characters desire something deeply, but an obstacle stands in the way of allowing them to achieve their desire. In crafting a book description for fiction, show the readers these elements and promise them an intriguing story that they can relate to. Then, make a promise to readers about what they will find in the book. This promise should be intriguing so that the reader wants to read the book to find out more.

4. Reviews are essential.

Word-of-mouth remains the number one driver of book sales. Positive reviews by readers and bloggers are a form of word-of-mouth. They are social proof to readers that your book is worth their investment of time and money. Make obtaining reviews one of your top priorities in your book marketing plan.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) understands the important of reviews. This is why we offer our members the BookCrash program. This books for bloggers review program helps CSPA members get more reviews for their books. In addition, CSPA offers an on-demand seminar, Book Reviews: Tips for Getting More Reviews, free for our members. This seminar teaches easy to implement steps for obtaining more book reviews.

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Why Would Someone Buy Your Book?
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Starting a Movement

Authors need an audience to receive their message (aka books). Creating a following (or platform) to market books has become increasingly important in the book selling world. However, many new authors don’t know how to go about creating a following.

Do you want to build a following? Then you need followers. The more followers you have the better you will be able to spread your message.

Do you need some ideas on how to begin a movement and gather some followers? Watch this TED video that highlights some important lessons for starting a movement and gathering followers.

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Where’s the Money?

Who has money to spend? This is an important marketing question.

If you are selling a book for infants, you don’t market to the infants. They have no money to spend. Instead, you market to the parents and grandparents of infants, because they are the ones with the money to purchase your books.

I recently came across some interesting statistics that point to which population in the United States has money to spend.

In five years, 50% of the U.S. population will be over 50 years old. This consumer group spends about 50% of the money spent on consumer packaged goods (CPG). CPG is the types of goods that are consumed every day by the average customer. These boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will be in control of 70% of the disposable income in the United States, and it is estimated that they will inherit around $15 trillion.

Some studies indicate that most marketing efforts are geared toward the 18- to 49-year-old age group and that less than five percent of advertising is pointed toward the older age group. Yet, between now and 2030, the 18 to 49 group will only grow by 14% while those in the 50+ group will grow by 34%.

Don’t forget the 50+ age group when you are planning your next book marketing campaign. Remember, many of these consumers have children and grandchildren, so even if your book may not interest them personally, they might think it is a good gift for one of their family members. After all, books still make great gifts.

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