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.

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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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Make the Most of Summer Reading Intentions

A large majority of American readers (80%) plan to put away their cell phones to focus on reading this summer, according to an independent survey of 1,500 reading adults commissioned by Barnes & Noble. Of those expressing the desire to make reading a priority, many have vowed not to look at their phones for between 30 minutes and two hours during each reading session.

Types of Books

Among the full sample of readers, 48% said they plan to read books in the mystery genre this summer, 37% in the history genre, 34% in the fantasy genre and 33% in the science fiction genre. Fifteen percent of summer readers said they plan to join a book club this summer, with seven percent saying they are already in a book club.

Sixty-nine percent of summer readers said they will most often read a print book. Nearly a quarter (24%) of summer readers will most often read a book on an electronic device, while seven percent will listen to an audiobook. Of those reading or listening on a device, 34% will use an e-Reader, 34% will use a cell phone and 32% will use a tablet.

Kids and Reading

The survey, conducted in early May by the market research company Atomik Research, also showed nearly 90% of parents with children between six- and 17-years old plan to ask their youngsters not to use electronic devices like cell phones and video games during certain periods of time during the summer.

In fact, 61% of parents surveyed said summer reading is very important to their families, and 70% said summer reading for their kids is just as important as reading during the school year. In a sign that reading is a shared activity in many households, 69% of parents said their families read together during the summer, with more than half of parents (55%) planning to read the same books as their children this summer so they can have a bonding experience.

Summer Reading

Parents also have high expectations of the number of books their children should read this summer.  Of the 1,500 readers surveyed, 38% hope to read one to three books this summer, while 37% hope to read four to six books. Among parents, 35% want their child/children to read four to six books this summer, 26% want them to read 10 or more books, and 25% want them to read one to three books.

Capitalize on Summer Reading

Following are two great ways you can capitalize on the readers’ effort to read more this summer:

1. Offer a summer sale on your books.

Summer is also a great time to offer a discount or coupon on your books. With readers making an effort to read more this summer, they need books to read and a sale or special can more them to purchase and read your book.

2. Host a summer reading program at your church.

As an author, you want to encourage reading. The more people read, the more likely it is that they will read your book(s). You can use the results from this survey to encourage your church library or church children’s ministry to run a summer reading program. Offer to help facilitate the program and donate some of your books for prizes for those who read a certain number of books over the summer. After all, as a Christian, you don’t just want to promote reading, you want to promote reading Christian books to bring hope and encouragement and draw people closer to God.

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This Phrase Can Ruin Your Marketing Efforts

I hear and see this phrase more than I should. Indie authors with great intentions who are enthusiastic about promoting their books often say the phrase.

Sadly, what these authors don’t understand is that this one little phrase can ruin their book marketing efforts. This statement does not destroy all book marketing efforts, only those geared toward retail book buyers (a.k.a. bookstores) and librarians.

Don't Ruin Your Marketing Efforts

Don’t say this phrase. Really, there is never a need to say this phrase. It is not even necessary with readers. Don’t ruin your marketing efforts by saying,

My book is available on Amazon.

If you are attempting to sell your book to a bookstore, or even just trying to get a local bookstore to allow you to conduct a book signing, this simple phrase ruins your chances with the bookstore. Book buyers will not carry your book or host a book signing for you if you say this phrase.

Here is why:

1. Amazon is a bookstore.

Yes, you can “publish” your book through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). You can even request expanded distribution through the platform. However, Amazon is not a distributor, it is a bookstore.

As a bookstore, Amazon is in direct competition with any bookstore that you approach or try to get to sell your book. Brick-and-mortar bookstores have struggled due to Amazon’s stranglehold on book sales. Mentioning that your book is available on Amazon turns a retailer off. It’s like saying “You can buy my book at Target.” Bookstores don’t purchase books from other bookstores.

Available on Amazon

2. You show your ignorance.

I don’t mean to be rude; I am just trying to help. If you say to a bookstore buyer—whether in person or in an advertisement—“My book is available on Amazon”, the buyer immediately knows that you are a self-published author who does not understand the book industry.

Self-published authors and indie authors have sported a bad reputation for years. This is because there is a glut of poorly written, poorly edited, and poorly designed self-published books. In recent years, the stigma of self-publishing has been greatly diminished. However, it still lurks in the shadows. The phrase, “My book is available on Amazon”, causes the beast to come forth.

3. Every book is available on Amazon.

“Every” may be a slight exaggeration, but at least 99% of all books published are available on Amazon. KDP is not the only way to get your book on Amazon. Every publisher makes sure their books are available through Amazon. Publishers know that Amazon commands 50% of all print book sales. So, to harvest the most sales, all publishers make their books available for sale on Amazon.

There really is never a need to make a big deal of your book being available on Amazon—not for readers, not for librarians, and especially not for retailers.

For the most part, readers just assume that any book they hear about will be available where they shop. If they shop on Amazon, that is where they will look for the book. If they shop at Christianbook.com, that is where they will look for the book. Readers that shop at their local brick-and-mortar bookstore will assume your book is available there. Often, they will be surprised that the retailer does not have it in stock. However, if your book is in distribution, they can just ask the store to order it for them.

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Photo courtesy of Angelo_Giordano.

An Audience of One

Everyone.

This is a word I commonly hear from authors when I ask them who the audience is for their book. Authors often tell me that “everyone” would benefit from reading their book.

An Audience of One

Everyone is a huge number. It is around 7.7 billion people—that’s the number of everyone living on the Earth right now.

Reaching everyone is overwhelming and impossible. When we feel overwhelmed, we often get stuck. We don’t know what decision to make or what to do because there is just too much.

“Do the next thing” has become a popular phrase. The phrase encourages people not to get overwhelmed by all there is to do, but to simply start with the next thing in front of them.

Everyone is too many. Thinking about reaching everyone is too much and impossible. Instead, narrow your audience to one. Ask yourself, “Who is the next person who needs to hear about my book?” Then focus on that one.

The North American Mission Board has developed a similar concept for evangelism. They believe that people become overwhelmed when considering all the people who need to hear the Gospel message. Many end up feeling inadequate and don’t do anything. In response, the organization has launched the Who’s Your One? campaign.

The motto of this campaign is “We must do whatever it takes to reach the lost, and it starts with one.” The campaign is designed to help people focus on one person—the next person they want to reach with the Gospel message.

I think the same concept works for marketing for authors. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the numerous marketing tasks you could engage in, focus on an audience of one. Ask yourself:

Who is the next person who needs to know about my book?

After you reach that person, focus on your next audience of one, and so on. Try it. Your audience growth may not be fast, but slowly, you will build a solid audience for your book.

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Photo courtesy of Guilherme Almeida.