Your Second Most Important Marketing Tool

“Wow. That book has 280 reviews with an average of 4.8 stars! Definitely a book to put on our list.”

I am part of a book group. We are a club of ladies that meets weekly. We read and discuss Christian nonfiction books that we, as a group, select. The above comment was in response to a book suggestion. The individual uttering this statement had just checked the book on Amazon on her phone.

Book Reviews

This behavior is typical. One research firm (Thornley Fallis) found that 81% of people perform a search online before buying a product. This is exactly what my book group members were doing. They were searching online to find out more about the book that was suggested.

Searching online is not the only typical behavior. Reviews influence our purchase decisions. In fact, research shows:

  • 97% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase decision (Conductor).
  • 88% of shoppers say they believe reviews as much as personal recommendation from a friend (Search Engine Land).
  • 67% of consumers admit that reviews influence their decision to leave or buy a product (Moz.com).

So, the path my book group followed to determine whether we wanted to read a suggested book was typical.

As an author or publisher, this is important information. Don’t underestimate the power of book reviews. If you want to sell books, you need reviews.

I believe that book reviews are your second most important marketing tool (your book’s cover is your number one marketing tool).

If you are struggling to get more reviews for your book, try these two suggestions.

1. Ask, Ask, Ask

I am sure you have heard the phrase, “You have not because you ask not.” It’s true. James says “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). First, ask God for his guidance and help. Then, ask people to review your book. Ask in your author  or writers’ groups. Ask on your social media sites. Ask when readers contact you. Asking them says that you value their opinion.

2. Host a Giveaway

You can host a book giveaway on one of the online communities for book lovers—Goodreads, LibraryThing, or BookLikes. Interested readers on these sites can enter to win a copy of your book. While these readers are not required to review your book, some will, increasing the number of reviews your book receives.

These two suggestions are just a few of the suggestions for acquiring more book reviews that I present in my seminar “Book Reviews: Tips for Getting More Reviews”. This seminar is free to Members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). Join CSPA now for just $90 for the 2019 calendar year and have free access to this and other great resources.

If you are not a Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), you can watch this on-demand seminar for a fee at https://mcbuniversity.selz.com.

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Does Your Passion Need a New Spark?

Most Christians don’t start writing and publishing to get rich. Many Christian authors and publishers start publishing because they feel a calling or nudge from God.

Following God’s calling or nudging is a rewarding venture. However, sometimes are emotions get in the way. Discouragement, disappointment, and just sheer lack of energy can weigh us down and cause us to flounder and consider quitting.

passion needing spark

Often, when God calls us to do something, we burn with passion at the start the journey. Yet, over time, we can slowly lose this passion in the midst of roadblocks and the overwhelming number of tasks required. If you find that your candle is burning less brightly, that your passion has dimmed, you are not alone.

Consider the prophet Elijah. He was a man full of passion. He confronted the wicked King Ahab and told him that it would not rain on the land for three and a half years. Elijah prayed passionately and his prayers were answered. Yet, after those long grueling years, Elijah lost his passion. From Elijah’s story in I Kings 19, I see three activities he engaged in when his passion was spent.

1. Take Time to Rest

The first thing Elijah does is rest. He is tired. He is worn out. He gets alone and lies down under a broom tree. Here he sleeps for quite a while.

If you are weary, worn out, or burned out from the spiritual battle you have been engaging in, then I encourage you to rest. Build rest into your regular routine. We can’t burn the candle at both ends and expect to have passion for our calling. We have physical bodies with physical limitations. We must take proper care of our bodies so we can continue fighting the good fight.

2. Get Regular Nourishment

Elijah received regular nourishment from God. First at the Brook Cherith, and then at the Widow’s home. But, when he has lost his passion and is worn out, God sends an angel to prepare food for him to eat. God knows that Elijah requires nourishment to continue.

We too, need regular nourishment, not just physical food for our bodies, but spiritual nourishment and intellectual nourishment. If you are writing and publishing books for God, you should be feasting regularly on God’s word and other teachings that help you improve your craft. You can never run dry if you take in more nourishment than you put out.

3. Seek God

When Elijah has lost his passion. When he is worn out and discouraged, he seeks God by traveling to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. Mount Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai is where God spoke to Moses and gave the children of Israel the 10 commandments. It is a Holy Place.

When we seek God, he rewards us. God meets Elijah at Mount Horeb and speaks with him. God both adjusts Elijah’s expectations and gives him new marching orders. If you are flagging in passion, seek God. He will either adjust your expectations and renew your calling, or he may give you new marching orders.

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Photo courtesy of JefferyTurner.

Are Your Marketing Messages Sticky?

Can you finish these catchy advertising slogans?

  • Snap! Crackle! … (Rice Krispies)
  • When you care enough to send … (Hallmark)
  • It’s the real … (Coca-Cola)
  • Melts in your mouth, …. (M&Ms)

These messages are sticky. They stick in your mind. That’s why you can complete them. It is not just the sheer repetition that helps you remember, it is also that these slogans are catchy.

Every marketing message competes with thousands of other marketing messages. Having a message that is sticky is necessary to stand out and grab people’s attention.

In their book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip Heath and Dan Heath present six principles that make a message stick. They are:

  1. The message is simple.
  2. The message is unexpected.
  3. The message is concrete.
  4. The message is credible.
  5. The message is emotional
  6. The message is a good story.

I would add that making your message bold also increases the stickiness factor.

For example, Hallmark’s slogan is “When you care enough to send the very best.” That is a bold statement. They are saying that their cards are the very best!

Some practical types might object. They might say, “DaySpring cards are better.” However, some marketing messages are just an opinion. You can boldly assert your book’s promise or your opinion.

If you want your marketing message to stick, your marketing slogan for your book needs to follow one of the six principles presented in Made to Stick and also be bold.

One of the marketing slogans I use for my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace is:

The essential guide for marketing Christian books.

One reviewer recently made the following statement, which is much bolder and more likely to stick:

The Bible of marketing Christian books.

Play around with your marketing messages. Don’t be afraid to make a bold claim. A simple, bold statement is more likely to stick than just a simple or unexpected statement.

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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.

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.

Related Posts:
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Photo courtesy of SGPhotography77.