Are You Willing to Commit?

Ask yourself the following question:

What am I willing to commit in time and energy each day or week to keep my book alive?

It’s a great question. Dan Poynter, self-publishing guru, said, “Books don’t sell themselves; people sell books.

How much time and energy are you putting into promoting your book each day or week? Are you putting in as much commitment in time and energy every day or week to promote your book as you did to write your book?

Marketing a book takes time and energy. So many authors give a great effort to promoting when they first publish their book, but then slowly their efforts dwindle to nothing. At that point, they cease selling books.

Do you want to keep your book alive? Then you must commit to doing marketing activities daily or weekly. Not sure what to do? Here are ten ideas:

  1. Publish a new blog post or podcast at least once a week.
  2. Share your blog post on Reddit or StumbleUpon.
  3. Send a newsletter to your email list sharing your new blog post or podcast and reminding them of your book.
  4. Comment at least once a day on your social media accounts.
  5. Send a request to a book reviewer or blogger asking them to review your book.
  6. Join the discussion on online groups (Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads) that speak to your target audience or topic. Respond to a thread or start a new thread regularly.
  7. Write insightful comments on a blog that targets your audience or speak on your topic a couple times each week.
  8. Write articles and guest blog posts.
  9. Send a request to be a guest on a podcast that speaks to your topic or audience.
  10. Send thank you notes to people who share your social media posts, give you a shout out, air your blog post, interview you, or review your books.

Need more ideas? You can find plenty more in my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace and in Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) monthly newsletter for our member publishers and authors. In fact, one member recently wrote, “This latest newsletter is the best marketing newsletter I have ever read. You provided so many ideas, topics, tips, etc, that it’ll take me two weeks to put all of them into practice.—Michael

How much time and energy are you willing to commit to keep your book alive? Decide. Then, start doing promotion activities. Remember, any activity that draws people’s attention to your book is marketing.

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Photo courtesy of Carl Cerstrand

You Get What You Pay For

You get what you pay for”—so the saying goes.

While there are a few exceptions, this statement is generally true, especially for what you get for free.

What is offered for free is never top-of-the-line. Free products are usually samples. They are a taste of what the full model offers. When a full model product is offered for free, it is usually an older model—the one that has already been replaced by a newer, better version.

The same principle holds true for free information. Free information posted on the Internet is not the premium stuff. Don’t get me wrong, this free information can be useful, but the providers usually save the best information for their books or services.

I provide a lot of free information on this blog. It is good valuable information, if a little basic, but it’s only a drop in the bucket. I provide the most valuable information in my book (Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace), my on-demand webinars (MCB University), CSPA’s monthly newsletter (the CSPA Circular) for Members of the organization, and my workshops at writers’ conferences (see the upcoming seminars at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference).

Independent authors who think that everything they need to be successful is available online are operating under a false assumption. Free will only take you so far. The truth is that with online research:

  1. You won’t find all the valuable information in any reference or resource book on publishing or marketing.
  2. You won’t find the information all in one place. You will have to spend a lot of time researching.
  3. Some of the advice on the internet is bad advice. Listening to bad advice can cost you money.

Spending some money to purchase a book, membership, or conference attendance where you will hear from experts will save you time and money in the long run. Additionally, you can be confident that the information comes from reputable experts.

I run into a lot of newly published independent authors who are operating under many false assumptions and information, which causes them to flounder. Take the time to find and purchase the valuable information you need. It’s worth the investment.

If you are planning on publishing a book or have already published a book and need information on how the Christian marketplace works and how to effectively promote your book, I suggest you invest in one or more of the resources listed in this post.

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Photo courtesy of Timothy Muza

Using Videos to Promote Your Book

Internet video consumption just keeps growing. Here are some interesting statistics:

  • YouTube is the second-largest social networking site (behind Facebook).
  • 63% of Internet users view videos on YouTube.
  • Experts estimate that by 2019, video watching will account for 80% of Internet traffic.

The bottom line is that many people prefer watching videos online to reading text. More importantly video drives sales. It drives sales of products, including books.

Savvy authors are using videos to promote their books. Yes, many are making book trailers, but that is not the only type of video you can use to promote a book. If you are a nonfiction author, you can upload how to and tip videos to promote your book. You can actually upload any video related to the subject of your book to promote your book.

However, uploading a video is not enough. You want each video that you upload to point back to your book. Otherwise, you are simply just sharing something that is interesting or entertaining. Fortunately, YouTube makes it easy for you to promote your book in each video you upload to your YouTube channel.

Many authors will put information about their book (including a website) at the beginning or end of a video. That is great, and I encourage you to do that. But, when viewers only watch part of a video, they may miss the information about your book. With YouTube’s Branding Watermark tool, you can point people to your book throughout your entire video.

The YouTube Branding Watermark allows you to place an image in your YouTube videos. This image shows up on the bottom right hand side of the video as it plays (see photo below). You can choose whatever image you want to include in your videos. However, since this is a branding watermark, the one image you choose will appear in all the videos on your channel. You can’t choose different branding images for different videos on the same channel.

As an author, you can place your book’s cover image as your Branding Watermark in your videos. That way, each video you upload will carry the image of your book’s cover throughout the video, pointing viewers to your book.

Here are the steps to include a Branding Watermark in your YouTube videos:

  1. Go to “Creator Studio” on your YouTube Channel (you can access this by clicking on your channel icon picture in the upper right hand corner).
  2. Then select “Channel” from the list that appears.
  3. Under “Channel” select “Branding”.
  4. The Branding Watermark screen will appear. This screen allows you to choose a file on your computer to upload.
  5. Choose the file on your computer that contains your book’s cover image.

Don’t waste space in your YouTube videos. Use the Branding Watermark tool on YouTube so that your viewers are continually pointed to your book.

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Should You Use Live-Stream Video?

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Photo courtesy of Seth Doyle

Desire: A Tool for Book Promotion

Desires. We all have them. We may desire to lose weight, exercise more, be better at time management, or read the Bible more.

Interestingly, a recent study by Barna revealed that reading the Bible more is a desire of many Americans. In fact, the study found that about six in 10 American adults (61%) of people surveyed reported that they desire to read the Bible more than they currently do.

bible-reading

As a Christian author producing materials that seek to help people live in closer relationship with God, this study reveals that there is a need for what you offer. Of course, we all know that reading a “Christian” book does not equate with reading the Bible.

However, your Christian book can draw your readers to read the Bible. You can help your readers meet this desire. It’s a win-win situation. You can use readers’ desire to read the Bible more to draw them to your books, and then your books can encourage your readers to read the Bible more.

Marketing is about letting your audience know how you can meet a need in their life. If your audience desires to read the Bible more, let them know that your book contains Biblical truth and encouragement from God’s word. You can do this with marketing messages for your book that include phrases like:

  • Learn what the Bible has to say about…
  • 10 Things the Bible says about…
  • Grow in your faith through applying Biblical truth about…

Your book can then help your readers spend more time in God’s word. You can encourage your readers to do this in your book. Here are four ways:

  1. Incorporate scripture into the passages in your book.
  2. Provide scripture references at the end of your chapters for further reading on the topic you discuss.
  3. Provide an “Additional Reading” section in the back of your book listing Bible passages that relate to what your book discussed.
  4. Encourage your readers to sign up for your email newsletter and, in this resource, provide scripture passages on a regular basis for your fans to read.

Interestingly, the Barna study found that most people attribute their growing use of the Bible to a realization that Scriptures are an important part of their faith journey (67% of study participants). So, this means that anytime your book helps people understand that knowing what the Bible says is important in their faith journey, you are helping your readers to grow and act on their desire to read the Bible more.

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Fresh Insight into Book Buying Behavior

I have a confession to make. I have never purchased an ebook. I read ebooks on a Kindle app, but every ebook on my Kindle app I acquired for free. I do buy books. However, if I am going to spend money on a book, I buy a print book.

My behavior is not outside the bounds of normalcy for book buying. The Codex-Group, which conducts book audience strategy research, has found that most book buyers read far more books each month than they buy. According to the research that Codex shared at Digital Book World 2017, most book buyers only purchase one out of every four books they read.

book-buying

This means that three out of every four books book buyers read the reader obtains for free. Where do readers get these books? Most people receive free books from four main sources:

  • Borrow from a library
  • On loan from a friend
  • Free download offer
  • Book received as a gift

Additional data from Codex’s research shows consumer’s favorite ways to get books:

  • 18% prefer to read for free
  • 25% claim they never pay full price—buy used or join a subscription service
  • 16% prefer to purchase ebooks only
  • 22% state they are impulse buyers—purchasing a book as soon as they see it

While at first glance this data may seem discouraging, I believe it contains some valuable nuggets for publishers:

1. Not every reader who reads your book will have paid for your book.

This is okay. Expect to give some books away for free; it helps with publicity. Readers who read your book for free can help you secure more sales. If these readers like your book and recommend it to others, you have scored a win.

2. Focus on the impulse buyers.

Codex’s data shows that 22% of book buyers are impulse buyers. In addition, Codex reports that these impulse buyers are more likely to purchase nonfiction titles than other genres. If you are a nonfiction author, these impulse buyers can boost your sales.

The truth is that selling books is hard work. The number of people reading books is holding steady while the number of books published is increasing exponentially. There is a glut of free books available online.

If God has called you to write and publish a book, his plan is for your book to impact lives for his Kingdom. Keep in mind that impacting lives provides an eternal payoff that is greater than the money you make selling your books.

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Christian Book-Buying Behavior

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