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.

Related Posts:
Amazon Is Not a Distributor
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Amazon: King of Book Sales

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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.

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.

Related Posts:
The Rule of Seven
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Are You Running with This?

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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
Are You Overlooking This Powerful Marketing Tool

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Photo courtesy of Carolina Bonito.