Can This One Little Word Help You Sell More Books?

Every marketer must overcome obstacles to making a sale. People don’t readily part with their money unless they are convinced to do so. In his book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman’s states that 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious.

95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious.

Other research has shown that people make purchases on their emotions even though they think they are making a logical choice. Humans are driven by feelings. In order to get people to engage with you and your book, you must appeal to their emotions.

If you are only marketing the attributes of your book, your sales results may end up being lackluster. If, instead, you combine the attributes of your book with appealing to a reader’s emotions, you can have greater success with your book sales.

One way to appeal to people’s emotions is to give them a reason to act. In 1978, three Professors of Psychology at Harvard, published a research study about the power of the word “because“.

The professors had research participants request to break in on a line of people waiting to use a busy copy machine on a college campus. The researchers had the people use three different, carefully worded requests to break in line:

  • Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”
  • “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
  • “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”

Interestingly, the first phrase achieved 60% compliance with the request. The second and third phrases achieved 93% and 94% compliance. The researchers concluded that using the word “because” and giving a reason resulted in significantly more compliance.

Gregory Ciotti of copyblogger says that certain words hold more sway over our decision-making process than others. “Because” appears to be one of those words. Other words that have power in helping people make a decision to purchase are:

  • You
  • Free
  • Instantly
  • New

If you want to improve your book sales and persuade people to buy your book, try using the word “because”. In other words, give them a compelling reason to part with their money in exchange for a copy of your book.

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Photo courtesy of aykapog.

A Branding Lesson

We live in an ever-changing world. New people are born, others die. Businesses come and go. Technology continually grows, changing the way we interact with others and do business. New products are invented. And new books are written daily.

A Branding Lesson

One Christian book company has had to make the move to change their branding after developments in the United States outside the book industry began to impact the book company’s business.

For twenty years, Christianbook.com has operated under three distinct brands: Christian Book Distributors, CBD, and Christianbook.com. The company recently announced that they are moving all their brands to one brand: Christianbook.

The company made the following statement about their branding move:

Over the last 12 months, there has been a rise in popularity of a medicinally used product derived from the cannabis plant—cannabidiol, commonly referred to as “CBD.” Across the country, people see signs for “CBD sold here,” which creates brand confusion. In the past, a Google search for “CBD” would place our company at the top of the results page. Now “our CBD” is nowhere to be found in the search results, only sites for the cannabis product are listed, and paid ads are no longer allowed. As this wave of popularity over the “other CBD” is not likely to subside, we will stop referring to ourselves as “CBD” and will also drop the word “Distributors” from our company name. Going forward, we will operate under the name of “Christianbook.”

Christianbook is not alone. Any company that has been in business for a number of years has the potential to run into branding confusion. As our world grows—now 7.7 billion people, a growth of 54% in the past 30 years—so do the number of businesses, brands, and acronyms.

The lesson for small publishers and authors is not to hold too tightly to your brand.

As CBD became more widely known for the product derived from the cannabis plant than a Christian book company, changing their brand was the wise choice for Christianbook.  Wise authors and publishers will monitor their brand and be willing to make changes should a more popular similar name or acronym become more of an impediment to their brand than an asset.

Changing a brand does not destroy a business. In fact, sometimes it can help a business by bringing more attention to it. When a business changes their branding, it creates an opportunity for both media exposure and messaging to their audience.

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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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Stop Waiting and Start Risking

Opportunity knocks but once.

This proverb implies that when an opportunity is presented, you must act quickly or you will not get another chance. The truth is, opportunity rarely knocks. Instead, it comes across your path disguised as a risk.

Risk involves the potential for loss

Most of us are risk avoiders. We crave safety and security. We feel safe in our “comfort zone.” It takes effort to move out of this zone and take a risk.

Risk involves the potential for loss. In risking, we may lose something we value:

  • Our comfort
  • Our money
  • Our reputation
  • Our connections
  • Our social status
  • Our sense of significance

We are hard wired to avoid risk. Scientific studies show that the pain of loss is almost twice as great as the reward of gain.

Most opportunities come when take a step that involves risk. In his new book on risking titled Living a Life of Yes, David Rupert writes:

Living a Life of Yes

 

“We often wait around waiting for God to open doors. While ‘I’m waiting around for Him to show me what to do next’ sound spiritual, it really limits your opportunities to experience what He has in store for you.”

 Are you waiting for opportunity to knock? Are you sitting around waiting for your big break? Maybe you hope that a journalist, radio host, or organization is going to stumble upon your amazing blog article, book, or social media post and ask to interview you or invite you to speak. Maybe you are waiting for that “perfect” opportunity to promote your book.

Here’s the hard truth: The knock is not coming. Instead, you must venture forth and take a risk to find it. What risk do you need to take to find opportunities to promote and market your book? Do you need to:

  • Start blogging, podcasting, or live-streaming videos?
  • Start contacting podcast and radio shows to request a guest interview?
  • Start asking people to endorse or review your book?
  • Start creating a budget for some paid advertising and marketing?
  • Start asking local bookstores to host a book signing for you?
  • Start asking local schools to host you for an author appearance?

After all, book sales don’t just happen. They take work and involve risk. Opportunity rarely knocks.

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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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