Follow These Four Steps to Success

Success is defined as “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Before you can have “success” you have to define what it is for you. What goal do you want to accomplish?

Once you have set your goal, then follow these four steps to success—accomplishing that goal.

1. Set Specific Goals

A goal is something you are aiming for. If you want to publish a book or sell 1,000 copies of your book, this is your goal. To reach this goal, you need actionable steps consisting of smaller goals to move you toward your larger goal.

If you want to publish a book, your first actionable step or goal is to start writing. You can do this by making the goal that you will write 1,000 words a day for your book. If you want to sell 1,000 or more copies of your book, then your first actionable step goal might be to start blogging once a week or to develop a media kit or speaker kit.

Write your goals down. Tell them to other people. Doing this makes your goals more real and keeps you more accountable. A gentleman I know told me that he made a vow to God at a retreat that he would hold a block party in his neighborhood. The purpose was to get to know his neighbors so that he could start sharing the Gospel with these people. For years, he did not go anything about this vow. Then a new neighbor moved in next door and he told her that he wanted to host a block party. She got excited about the idea and together they hosted a block party. That block party ended up changing the life of a family in his neighborhood. However, it wasn’t until this gentleman began talking about his goal to others that he acted upon it and made it happen.

2. Ditch the Distractions

Once you make a plan with specific goals, then you have to set aside distractions so that you can focus on the tasks you have to do to reach your goal. Cell phones are a huge distraction. Studies show that, depending on age, people check their phone between 35 to 75 times each day. Do what you need to minimize distractions so you can focus. You can turn your phone off. You won’t miss much. I promise. Try it.

3. Be Persistent

Perseverance is required for success. Ninety percent of success is showing up on a regular basis. Show up day after day, do the job, and add value to people’s lives. Obstacles and distractions will come your way, but you can’t let them stop you from your goals. If you get off track, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the ring. Persistence is required. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.

4. Trust God to Help You

If you are doing what God has called you to do, if what you are doing brings Glory to God, and if your purpose is to advance the Kingdom of God, then you can trust that God will help you. He will provide what you need to accomplish your goal. According to Peter, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of Him who has called us to his excellence and glory.

What’s your goal? Write it down. Then follow these four steps to help you have success—the accomplishment of your goal.

Do you have a goal you need to tell others so you start working on it? You can share it with me in the comments below.

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Bible Reading in America

Each year, Barna conducts an annual State of the Bible survey, in partnership with American Bible Society, to examine behaviors and beliefs about the Bible among U.S. adults. The results this year show that, despite shifting cultural trends, Americans still read the Bible.

Among the study’s findings were the following:

1. Half of Americans Are Bible Users

Overall, about half of Americans are “Bible users”—that is, they engage with the Bible on their own by using, listening to, watching, praying or using Bible text or content in any format (not including use at a church service) at least three to four times a year (48%). Bible use has remained relatively consistent since 2011.

2. Bible Use More Likely Among Boomers, City Dwellers and Southerners

City dwellers (53%) and small town or rural (49%) residents report higher use of the Bible than do adults who reside in the suburbs (42%). Above-average use can also be found among residents of the South (55%), particularly compared to the other regions: the Northeast (42%), the West (44%) and the Midwest (49%). Millennials (47%), Gen X (45%) and Elders (48%) are slightly less likely to use the Bible than Boomers (51%).

3. Two-Thirds of Americans Express Bible Curiosity

Two-thirds of Americans (66%) express at least some curiosity to know more about what the Bible says, including one in three (29%) who express a strong desire. A similar number of adults (63%) are interested in knowing more about who Jesus Christ is.

4. Half of Americans Ponder How the Bible Applies to Life

Just over half of adults who used the Bible in the past week (53%) say they give a lot of thought to how it might apply to their lives. Although the number of those who think deeply about scripture in this way is statistically on par with 2017, it has slipped since 2011 (61%). Those with higher levels of Bible engagement are predictably more likely to say they give a lot of thought to the Bible’s application.

I think these findings offer both encouragement and support for small publishers and indie authors. If you are writing and producing Christian books, then, most likely, your books are helping people understand and apply Biblical principles to their lives.

So, be encouraged. Half of all Americans still read the Bible (at least occasionally) and two-thirds are curious about the Bible. Half who read the Bible ponder how the Bible is applicable to their own lives.

What great information to encourage your marketing efforts. You can use this knowledge in your marketing messages to whet people’s appetite for more information. Use phrases in your marketing that raise people’s curiosity in an area where they already want more information. This will hook their attention. A few examples include:

  • Find out how John’s Gospel can change your life.
  • Are you familiar with the eleventh commandment?
  • Discover what Jesus said about pain and suffering.
  • Did you know that the Bible says…

Of course, you will tailor your own phrases to your subject matter.

It is encouraging to know that people in America are still hungry for God’s word and his message. This means that there is still a demand for Christian books that help people learn and grow and get to know God and his Word better.

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Photo courtesy of Ben White.

Are You Relentlessly Pursuing Opportunities?

“Fortune favors the bold.” ~Latin Proverb

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” ~Milton Berle

These quotes speak to the need to pursue and seize opportunities. In marketing, an opportunity is simply a set of circumstances that makes it possible for you to promote your book and gain exposure for your works.

Successful authors don’t just grab every opportunity that comes their way to promote their books, they also relentlessly seek out opportunities for book promotion and exposure.

Are you relentlessly pursuing opportunities to promote your books? You can take the following eight actions to open doors of opportunity to promote your books.

  1. Follow and comment on blogs that speak to your target audience.

Join the conversation. Learn and network through becoming an active participant on blogs that your target audience tunes into to. Remember, commenting on blogs is not about “pushing” your books. It’s about connecting and providing information that is engaging and useful to others. Those who want more information will check out your website or books.

  1. Pursue openings for guest posts on blogs aimed at your target audience.

Most blogs feature guest posts. Using guests helps keep content fresh on a blog and also expands the exposure for the blog. You can query blogs on your topic that feature guest posts. Just be sure to offer a fresh article with great insight or tips.

  1. Chase media connections for interviews and more exposure.

Media need experts to interview. They need interesting stories to tell. Anytime news that ties into your books’ topics is breaking, you can pitch the media as an expert with useful information on the topic. You can also actively seek out guest interviews on television, radio, and podcasts. Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) understand the importance of media interviews for exposure. We offer our Members a list of radio and podcast shows that interview authors.

  1. Seek out individuals to review your book.

Reviews provide more exposure for your books. Seek out individuals to review your book. You can learn how to get more book reviews by watching the MCB University on-demand seminar Book Reviews: Tips for Getting More Reviews. The seminar is free for Members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA); all others pay a small fee.

  1. Look for speaking opportunities.

Speaking engagements are a powerful marketing tool. The number one reason people purchase a book is because they know the author. The reader may know the author because they have read other books by the author, or they may know the author because they have heard the author speak. Start by finding local speaking engagements with your target audience. All sorts of venues seek speakers. Local rotary clubs, schools, retirement centers and churches are a great place to start.

  1. Submit articles for publication.

Magazines, journals and local newspapers are always seeking new content. You can use excerpts from your book as stand-alone articles to draw people into wanting more information. Most publications allow an author byline where you can list your book. The Christian Writers Market Guide is a great place to find Christian magazines seeking articles.

  1. Exhibit at a local craft or book fair.

Many local fairs offer booth or table rentals at an affordable price. You can exhibit at these events and showcase your books to local attendees. One place to find a listing of local festivals is at www.festivals.com.

  1. Hold an event or contest.

You can create your own opportunity for exposure both with readers and with the media by holding an event or a contest. Be creative. Then make sure you use the opportunity to grab as much publicity as you can.

Rarely do great opportunities fall into your lap. Rather, opportunities follow action. Little actions produce small opportunities while bold actions produce larger opportunities. Now go create and pursue opportunities for more exposure for your books.

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Photo courtesy of Mauro Paillex.

Hope: The Vital Message

Mudslides, floods, volcanoes, school shootings, plane crashes, sex scandals, embezzlement, and tragic accidents. The news if full of awful things happening both here in the United States and around the world. With all this negativity, hopelessness is a common commodity.

Hope is defined as “an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.”

Hope is in short supply in our world today. In North Carolina (where I reside), the suicide hotline receives 255 calls each day and someone commits suicide every six hours. That is a lot of hopelessness.

At the NRB Convention earlier this year, Vice President Mike Pence stated, “Your ministry, your message, your values are needed now more than every before. Every day, every hour, you speak strength to the heart of the American people.”

People are looking for hope. As a Christian author, you offer this message of hope. As Christians we know that our hope is not rooted in this world. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. People need this message.

Hope brings change. According to a new study by Barna, one-third (35%) of all U.S. adults say they have made a “big change” in their life because of a conversation about faith. Christian books spark conversations about faith and bring hope.

As an author, don’t lose hope. Your books are valuable. Christian books bring hope. They help people find or renew their faith.

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Are You Using This to Build Your Author Platform?

To get published and sell books, you need a platform.

Most authors and aspiring authors have heard this message at least once, if not multiple times. But, what exactly defines a platform and how does one go about building one?This is the focus of the upcoming Learning Lab I will teach at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference on July 26. This four-hour seminar, “Build Your Author Platform”, will teach attendees six manageable steps to build and grow an online author platform through content marketing.

Content marketing is simply sharing useful information that educates or inspires your target audience so that they begin to trust you and your message. You want people to trust you so that they, in turn, buy your books. After all, studies show that people do business with those they trust.

Brian Jud, president of Book Marketing Works and APSS, says:

“Repetition of your message is important to reach the decision-making tipping point. It may take up to ten “hits” on prospects to get them to buy.”

Using content to reach your audience provides repetition of your message and gains people’s trust.

Many authors feel that using content to market takes too much time and energy. In my seminar, I show authors how to create and repurpose content to save time and get the most out of every piece of content they create.

Repurposing content involves taking one piece of information and showcasing it in a number of different ways. This practice provides many benefits.

  1. It increases productivity and efficiency.

As an author, you have spent hours researching and writing your book. All your knowledge does not need to stay contained within the pages of your book. You can use the information you share in your book and break this down into smaller pieces to share on a regular basis through content marketing on the Internet.

  1. It expands your reach.

Sharing content and repurposing that content in a variety of formats spreads your message. The more places your content is listed, the more people will read and hear what you have to say. This way people are exposed to your message on the channels they prefer and in a way that speaks to them.

  1. It extends the life-cycle of your material.

Large amounts of data and information are uploaded to the Internet on a daily basis. With so much information, your target audience might miss what you are posting. Repurposing your content for multiple channels not only increases the changes that your audience will see it, it also allows your content to be made fresh in new formats, extending its life cycle.

  1. It increases your visibility.

This is a simple marketing principle. The more places your content appears, the more people are likely to see it. Visibility is extremely important in marketing books. The competition is stiff. Visibility allows you to stand out from the crowd.

If you are interested in learning more about how to use your content to market your books and expand your reach, I encourage you to attend my seminar on building an author platform at the upcoming Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

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Photo courtesy of SGPhotography77.