Book Marketing Amidst Thorns and Thistles

Over Labor Day weekend, I decided to tackle a long-neglected area of my yard. I pulled out weeds and cleared brush.

The weather was hot, so I wore a short sleeve shirt. Only later did I realize that I must have tangled with some Poison Oak when large red welts began to appear on my arms. The damage was not pretty.

As soon as I noticed the allergic reaction, I began to treat the affected areas. I also prayed—asking Jesus to heal me. In my prayer, I reminded God that I was only doing what he wanted me to do—to subdue the Earth and rule over it (Genesis 1:28).

While praying, I was reminded that God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; …It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (Genesis 3:17-18).

I had certainly run into some nasty thorns and thistles. As I pondered this, I got to thinking that we don’t just run into thorns and thistles while doing yardwork. We also run into thorns and thistles in other areas when we assert dominion.

As a Christian author or publisher, you run into thorns and thistles in the writing, publishing, and marketing of your books. After all, your writing is part of ruling with God on the Earth (Go into all the world and make disciples).

As a Christian author or publisher, you run into all sorts of thorns and thistles like:

  • Computer crashes where work is lost
  • Cancelled events
  • Lost packages when shipping books
  • Money spent on advertising that does not bring results
  • Book launches that flop

It’s good to remember that while we have to deal with thorns and thistles, that is not all that our work produces.

In the same sentence that God tells Adam “It will produce thorns and thistles for you”, God also says:

“…and you will eat the plants of the field.”

We may run into thorns and thistles, but our work will also bring about fruit. So, while you are struggling with the thorns and the thistles, take heart, good crop is also growing. Your efforts—taken for the glory of God—are not made in vain.

Trust God. Ask him to bless your work. He is faithful and tends the seeds that you plant with your books. Good fruit will come—even though you have to fight the thorns and the thistles in the process.

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Photo courtesy of Dimitri.

Are You Securing Repeat Customers?

Email marketing is one tactic many authors use to connect with their audience. Email marketing allows you to have regular exposure to a group of people who are interested in what you have to say.

Repeat Customers Help You Sell More

Conventional wisdom encourages authors to provide a sign-up form on their website where interested readers can subscribe to your author newsletter or updates.

Smart authors usually go one step further and offer a freebie in exchange for an interested reader’s email. This freebie might be a novella, a recipe, a tips sheets, or something else with entertainment or educational value.

Providing a sign up in this fashion is smart marketing. With social media, you cannot control who sees your posts. With email, your information is sent to everyone on your email list. These people at least see that they have received an email from you, reminding them of you and your books.

Some experts encourage authors to sell books direct from your website. This way, you get to collect the contact information on people who buy your book. You can add these people to your email list and continue to market to them as you produce more books.

However, most authors don’t sell books directly from their website and many people prefer to buy books from a book site like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. So, how do you collect contact information for these buyers?

Enter end-of-book offer.

An end of book offer is where you offer the reader of your book access to a freebie in exchange for their email address. This could be similar to the freebies that you offer on your website, but something of value for someone who has finished your book.

I recently finished reading a book. Now, this is not unusual for me because I read at least one book a week. What was unusual was the offer in this book.

collecting emails

This author offered free access to a series of free online mini-courses on the subject of his book. I was somewhat surprised because this was a generous offer.

However, when I visited the site where the free mini-courses were listed, I realized that this author was using these free mini-courses connected to his book as just a gateway into his much larger program.

It turns out that this author has multiple books and numerous online courses available. By offering free access to his mini-course, he is not only collecting email addresses, he is also building his audience for his other offerings.

If you are a one-book author, this technique for building your audience may not be the best idea. However, if you have multiple books and offer online courses, I think that implementing a similar offer in your books would be smart marketing.

Repeat customers help you sell more. According to Small Business Trends:

  • 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers.
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%.
  • The probability of selling to a new customer is 5–20%.
  • 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of their existing customers.

If you have more than one product to offer, you want to hook your readers into becoming repeat customers. It is just smart marketing.

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Photo courtesy of Brett Jordan.

4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

This summer, I was introduced to an author and his book on spiritual discernment through an article in an online news outlet. The article featured the author and the topic of the book caught my attention. The article did not include the title of the book. Rather, it was a story about the author with the article mentioning that he was the author of a recently released book on spiritual discernment.

4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

I noted the author’s name and decided to check out his book. In my research, I discovered that this author has actually penned a number of books.

Lesson #1: Media exposure sells books.

With my interest piqued, I went to Amazon to check out the author. Amazon was the logical place for me to look first since that website features just about every book published.

The book’s page on Amazon revealed that the book had over 350 reviews with an average rating of 4.8 stars. I was interested in the topic and was convinced that the book would be worth my time and money when I saw the reviews.

Lesson #2:  Positive reviews, especially a large number of positive reviews, sells books.

I bought the book on Amazon. It was just convenient. I could bundle it with other purchases and get free shipping (I am not a Prime Member). When the book arrived, I was excited to read it—and I did.

It was a good book. I enjoyed it. It was an easy read. The chapters were short and the book was only about 100 pages. When I got to the end, I realized the book was only 100 pages. I was a little disappointed that it had cost as much as it did. The book’s retail price is $14.95, but Amazon sells it for about $13.00. This price seems a little steep for a 100-page book.

I realized that I had not paid much attention to the number of pages in the book when I purchased it. Rather, the description and reviews had convinced me that the book was worth buying and reading.

Lesson #3:  Price is not typically a deciding factor in book purchases—unless the book is priced unusually high.

At the end of the book, I realized how this author had been able to accumulate over 350 positive reviews in a short period of time. The book was released in January, and I purchased it six months later. The author had used a launch team.

This book had something that I have not seen before. At the very end of the book, the last six (yes, six) pages of the book were dedicated to “Special Thanks to Our Launch Team”. I counted the names on just one page and counted about 120 names. If you multiply 120 times six pages, you get a launch team of about 720 people.

This author had around 720 people talking about and writing positive reviews for his book when it launched. That is truly impressive.

Lesson #4:  Launch teams (a.k.a. Street teams) help make books successful.

If you are unfamiliar with what a Launch Team is or how to go about gathering and using one. I recommend that you join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) and download our reference guide on Book Launch Teams. This guide covers recruiting a team, communicating with your team, promotional activities for our launch team, and rewarding your team.

Christian Indie Publishing Association’s (CIPA) Book Launch Team Guide is just one of the many resources Members of the Association have access to. You can join CIPA on our website at https://www.christianpublishers.net and have access to this Guide and many more.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels.

Reading Habits By Generation

I came across this infographic that provides an enormous amount of useful information around the reading habits for each generation.

While the infographic focuses on the generations, some things hold true across all generations like:

  • 55% of every generation get book recommendations from friends and family.
  • Print books are still preferred across all generations. 

There is lots of good information to glean for use when marketing your book from this insightful infographic. Check it out.

Reading Across the Generations Infographic

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How Effective Is Your Website?

Your website is important. It is the face that you present to the world.

Your readers judge you and your books by your website. In fact, the people who visit your website will form their opinion within 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) of viewing your web page.

How Effective Is Your Website?

If you want more visitors to stay on your website so that you can convince them to engage with you and eventually buy your books, then it is important that your website is effective in retaining visitors.

To find out how effective your website is, ask yourself these four questions.

1.  Does my website load quickly?

 Statistic:  47% of users expect a maximum of 2 seconds loading time for an
average website.

The longer it takes for your website to load, the more potential visitors bail. People want quick responses. When they don’t get them, they move on to the next thing.

You can test your website load speed on the following free services:

Often the culprit for a website slow load time is that the image files on the website are large. If your website is slow, try compressing your images with this free tool found at Optimizilla.

2.  Is my website content written for easy scanning?

Statistic: Users spend an average of 5.59 seconds looking at a website’s written content.

Research shows that 79% of people scan a web page, while only 16% read word-for-word. Too much information results in cognitive overload. In an effort to reduce our cognitive load, we scan information. This results in more efficient processing of that information by the brain.

To maximize the effectiveness of your website, make your content scannable. Break paragraphs down into two or three sentences. Use headers and bullet points.

3. Does my website include a call to action?

Statistic:  70% of small business websites lack a call to action (CTA) on their homepage.

Good marketing always includes a call to action. Whether this is in an advertisement, in an email, on a social media site, or on your website. A call to action urges the reader to act now.

Include a call to action on your website. What do you want your visitors to do?

  • Sign up for your newsletter.
  • Give their email in exchange for a free ebook.
  • Buy your book today to receive a special discount, bundle, or extra material.

4.  Does my website display well on all devices?

Statistic: Nearly 8 in 10 customers stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device.

Websites look different on different devices. Your website will look different on a lap top computer versus a smart phone. You can view how your website appears on various mobile devices with the free tool found at Responsinator.

Did you know that your website may also look different in different browsers? You can view how your website appears in different browsers—Chrome, Firefox, Edge, etc.—with the free tool found at Browser Shots.

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