Is Your Audience Growing?

The other day my teenage son was lamenting that he had lost seven subscribers. The boy runs a YouTube channel that boasts a few thousand subscribers. He watches how many people he has following him like a hawk and gets disheartened when followers unsubscribe.

I had a conversation with my son about how you can’t please everyone all the time. I talked with him about how losing subscribers is part of running a YouTube channel (or any business). Sometimes people outgrow your information, other times they change interests, and sometimes they just decide what you have to say is not worth their time.

I encouraged my son to look at the big picture. Was his audience growing or shrinking? He reported that his audience is growing, albeit not as fast as he would like.

The same principles I told my son apply to authors:

  • You can’t please everyone all the time.
  • Your fans can outgrow your information.
  • Your followers may lose interest in what you are sharing.
  • Your readers may re-prioritize their interests and no longer have time for your content.

When evaluating your own marketing efforts and reach, you should ask yourself:
Is my audience growing or shrinking?

If you find that your audience is growing, even though you lose some followers from time to time, then you know that you are on the right path. However, if you find that your audience is shrinking, then it is time to re-evaluate your marketing and book promotion activities. Ask yourself:

  1. Have I lost my passion?
  2. Have I strayed from my unique voice or message?
  3. Have I drifted off track and off topic?
  4. Am I consistently and diligently providing information that entertains, informs, or inspires my audience?

If your audience is shrinking and you answered yes to any of these questions, take some time to refocus and regain your footing. Take an inventory of your marketing activities. Create a new reinvigorated plan to follow.

Do you need some inspiration? Start by reading or re-reading my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace or watch one or more of the on-demand seminars on marketing that Marketing Christian Books University offers.

I asked my son to consider what percent of his audience he had lost in losing seven subscribers. He reported less than one-tenth of a percent. The next morning, he told me that he had gained 15 subscribers overnight—double what he had lost.

I encourage you to check your filter. Are you focusing on the negatives or the positives? When we focus on the negatives, we lose our passion and enthusiasm. This can have negative effects on our efforts. In addition, remember to keep the long view in sight. The short viewed is always skewed.

Related Posts:
Are You Developing an Audience?
Enlarge Your Audience with Micro-Influencers
Get to Know Your Target Audience

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Photo courtesy of Edwin Andrade.

Are You Showing Your Best Face?

Social media. Authors tend to love it or hate it.

Social media is a powerful way to connect with your readers. For many readers, getting to know the author of a book they love or relate to is natural. Once they have read the author’s book, they feel they already know that author on some level. Social media allows them to deepen that connection.

As an author, showing your personality on social media is important. This is easier for some authors than others. Authors who enjoy more privacy often find it difficult to let their personality shine in social media, while those that are more social find it easier.

A recent study by Sprout Social found that consumers want to see the following characteristics from the brands (and celebrities) that they follow on social media:

  • Honesty (86%)
  • Friendly (83%)
  • Helpful (78%)
  • Funny (72%)

What about you? Are you showing these four characteristics in your social media posts and interactions?

We live in a world where people crave authenticity. People want to know that you are “for real” and not a made-up persona. One of the best ways to demonstrate this to your readers is through showing your failures as well as your successes.

I know an aspiring author who has worked diligently to grow her platform on social media in hopes of getting a traditional publisher to sign a contract with her for her novel. This author understands how to show her personality.

One way she has recently connected with her audience is through chronicling her efforts to go from couch potato to running a 5K race. She has even encouraged her family members to join her in the challenge. This aspiring author regularly posts her ups and downs as she attempts to train herself to run three miles.

What about you? What can you share with your readers on social media to show them your authentic self?

Related Posts:
Is Social Media a Waste of Time?
How to Make Your Social Media Interactions More Fruitful
How to Effectively Use Social Media for Your Book

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Photo courtesy of Gratisography.

Are You Limiting Yourself?

“This book is for men,” the author said to my daughter as she stood at the book display looking at his book.

“This book caught my eye because I like to travel,” my daughter responded.

“But it’s really for men,” the author countered. “It would make a great dad gift. It’s really for men.”

At that point, my daughter, feeling embarrassed for showing interest in a book “for men” walked off.

Later, she related this story to me. She told me that the book was a travel book with maps and a journal written by a male author. She stated that the author was actively discouraging her from reading his book, even though she was showing interest.

Clearly, this author knew his target audience—men who enjoyed travel. However, he was so tuned to his target audience, that he was limiting himself to “men only”.

Maybe he was not aware that women read books geared for men and that men read books geared for women. While this author may not want to spend his marketing efforts and advertising dollars on women, he could sell more books by keeping in mind that some women might be interested in his book. This mindset would help him keep from shutting out females who show an interest in his book.

One author at CBA Unite shared that she had written a book for young adult females ages 13 to 18. She, too, knew her target audience. However, she went on to say that many moms and dads also read the book. She stated that one of her best reviews was from a dad who read the book.

Knowing your target audience is important. It helps you hone your marketing message and efforts. However, don’t limit yourself to your target audience. After all, a target is just a place to aim.

You should encourage anyone showing interest in your book to read it because:

  1. God can speak to anyone he chooses to through your written words.
  2. Stereotypes are generalizations. They don’t apply to everyone.
  3. The person may be considering purchasing the book as a gift for someone.
  4. Even if your message is not for the person reading the book, they might recommend the book to someone they know will enjoy it.

Whatever you do, never discourage interest in your book. Don’t limit yourself. Keep an open mind when considering who might be interested in reading your book.

Related Posts:
Get to Know Your Target Audience
Are You Developing an Audience?
Which Mindset Do You Have?

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Photo courtesy of Oscar Keys

Are You Expecting Fast Results?

I recently read the book Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life by Eric Metaxas. In this book, Eric tells numerous stories of modern-day miracles.

One story in the book is about a woman who suffered from two autoimmune disorders. She was deathly sick and had to live in almost complete isolation because her body reacted violently to any chemical. She could only eat a handful of foods.

After this woman accepted Christ, a group of people began praying for her healing weekly. After a year or so of doing this, they saw a little improvement, but not much. One member of the group thought they should call in a lady who had a prayer ministry. The lady came and prayed for the sick woman.

This lady did not pray for just one day with her, she prayed for five full days with the sick woman. At the end of five days the woman was healed.

This story convicted me. I give up too quickly.

I once fasted and prayed weekly for healing for a neighbor. I felt led by God to do this. However, after a little over two years with no results, I became discouraged and gave up.

Yes, I still prayed for her healing, but not with the same intensity and petitioning as previously. Fortunately, God works in spite of our failings (after all, I did not feel him release me, I just quit from discouragement). A couple years after I quite fasting and praying for her healing, my neighbor was miraculously healed by God after nine years of illness.

It’s our culture. We expect everything fast. We move rapidly and thrive on immediate gratification. This is why:

  • We expect fast answers to prayer.
  • Fast food is so popular and a thriving industry.
  • Fast and Furious is such a popular movie series.
  • 53% of mobile Internet users leave a webpage if it does not load in 3 seconds.
  • You only have eight seconds to hook a reader with your book’s cover.
  • We expect fast answers to prayer.

The problem is that the important things don’t come fast or immediately. Consider:

  1. The prophet Samuel’s mother, Hannah, prayed earnestly for children for years before her petition was granted.
  2. On average, a person hears seven to twelve times about a new product before they act and make a purchase.
  3. It takes nine months of blogging on a regular basis to develop a following.
  4. The average nonfiction book sells 3,000 copies over its lifetime, but only 250 copies in the first year.
  5. According to Mark Schaefer in his book, Known: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in a Digital Age, it takes 30 months to become “known”. That is two and one-half years of consistently putting yourself and your books in front of your target audience to drive exposure and sales.

What about you? Are you expecting fast results? Do you get easily frustrated when your book promotion results are not what you expect? Remember, marketing a book is a marathon, not a sprint.

Related Posts:
Are You Competing in a Marathon?
Are You Running with This?
Bigger is Not Necessarily Better

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Photo courtesy of Thomas Borges

Are You Looking for a Formula?

As Americans, we love prescriptions and formulas to follow. Just prescribe a program for people to lose weight, get in shape, de-clutter their house, or extend the life of their vehicle, and thousands race to put the formula into practice.

Sadly, there is no formula for marketing a book to make it a best-seller. Many authors who have found the right mix of marketing strategies for their own book will try to sell you their formula, but never does one marketing formula work for all types of books. If one formula did, it would have already been patented.

Since books are sold mostly through bookstores (whether online or physical), authors and publishers rarely have the ability to find out how their readers discovered their books. Hence, it is difficult for authors and publishers to know which of their marketing efforts are providing the best results.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) asks on our membership application how the applicant heard about CSPA. Here are the responses from the most recent eight applications:

  • Word-of-mouth and internet browsing
  • The Christian Writer’s Market Guide
  • Christian Writers Conference
  • CSPA was referenced in various online forums
  • A friend who is an editor for various ministries and small publishing houses
  • Referral from another independent author
  • Email
  • Internet

As you can see, there is no one referral source. Other than word-of-mouth from various places, the ways that these authors and publishers heard about CSPA varied greatly.

The same is most likely true for your books. While surveys of readers reveal that word-of-mouth is the number one way people decide to purchase a book, this word-of-mouth can vary greatly from a friend, relative, coworker, a blog post, a social media post, or from someone who knows the author.

Remember, there is no formula. No two books can be marketed the exact same way and receive the same results. You must experiment to find the sweet mix of marketing activities that reaches your target audience effectively.

I encourage you to heed the advice of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes, “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

These words, penned thousands of years ago, are still true. In marketing a book, you do not know which activities will succeed, so sow numerous and diverse efforts for the best results. I believe that it is the mix (not one thing) that provides the best results.

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A Good Marketing Guideline
Marketing is Murky
Spending Precious Marketing Dollars

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