Are You Making Use of Fiction Apps?

Reading habits are changing. The time that people spend reading each day is decreasing with reading time spent in shorter spurts or in soundbites. Often, rather than sitting down and reading for the sake of reading, many people are reading in-between their many other activities.

BookNet Canada, a non-profit book industry research organization recently surveyed 750 Canadians about how they use their leisure time. Since BookNet Canada is interested in books and reading, the survey asked a number of questions about reading habits. Here are are a few interesting findings from the survey.

  • Reading is the fifth most popular choice for leisure-time activity, after browsing the Internet, spending time with family, watching TV, and watching a movie.
  • The use of smartphones to read ebooks rose 6% over last year’s survey, meaning that 20% of respondents read books on their smartphones.
  • Word-of-mouth remains the most common way survey respondents learn about new books to read (50%). Interestingly, respondents were evenly split on finding new books through browsing online and brick-and-mortar stores (38%). While another 30 percent found new books via social media and 21 percent reported learning about new books to read through online communities like Goodreads.
  • Finding books through e-reading apps is growing. Eleven percent of survey respondents reported that they discovered new books through these apps.

I believe this combination of reading in short spurts of time in-between activities and the rise of reading on smartphones has led to the growth of serialized fiction apps. If you write fiction, you can use these serialized fiction apps to grow your audience for your books.

Serialized fiction apps allow writers to write, share, and monetize bite-sized serial fiction stories. Most of these apps use a freemium model, where readers begin reading for free, but can then purchase installments of stories that they really enjoy, tipping, or an ad-based model for revenue earning.

One of the largest online sites and apps for sharing stories is Wattpad. With Wattpad, authors earn money from ads. Two newer serialized fiction apps that are open to all authors are Radish and Tapas.

As an author, you can take a story you have already written and break it down into bite-sized chunks for one or more of these apps, or you can write a serialized story specifically for the app. I think BookNet’s finding that 11 percent of survey respondents had discovered new books (and authors) on an e-reading app shows that putting your stories on these apps can indeed help you grow your audience.

Are you an author who has already put your writings on a serialized app? If so, I would love to hear which app you used and what your experience has been. You can share your experience with me in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Is Christian Fiction Growing or Dying?
The State of Christian Fiction
The State of Fiction Reading

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Finding New Readers for Your Books

My son loves music. He would probably implant his headphones into his ears permanently so that he could have music 24/7 if he could. Due to his love of music, we are always looking for new and interesting musicians to check out.

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In this quest, I read about a website called NoiseTrade. Started by an indie musician who wanted to get more exposure for his music and other indie musicians’ music, the idea behind NoiseTrade was to offer free songs by these musicians to introduce the listening public their music.

Noisetrade is doing what it set out to do and has grown exponentially. There are hundreds of musicians on the site, featuring all types of music, and offering free samples from a few songs to a whole album. While all song downloads on the site are free, NoiseTrade does recommend that listeners donate a few dollars for the music they enjoy.

NoiseTrade may have begun with music, but it did not stop there. It has now expanded to books. Fast becoming for indie authors what it is for indie musicians—introducing the reading public to the writings of indie authors—the site now features ebooks that can be downloaded for free (with a suggested donation if the reader likes the book) as a way for authors to acquire new readers.

One of the nice features of NoiseTrade is that you do not have to offer a full book on the site. You can offer a sample (a few chapters) of a book to introduce readers to your work.
Placing an ebook on NoiseTrade is easy. Any independent author or publisher can sign up at Books.Noisetrade.com. Just click on the “Author Sign-up/Login” button on the top of the front page and follow the instructions.

Whether you choose to give away an entire book or just a sample of your book on NoiseTrade, this site may be able to help you find more readers for your book. At any rate, check it out. Browse the NoiseTrade books and see what other authors are offering.

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Musings on BookCrash

BookCrash is a books-for-bloggers review program. Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) began the program in June 2011 with the intent of helping our member publishers receive wider exposure and more reviews for their books.

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The program operates on the premise that bloggers agree to give a fair review of a book on their blog and on one retail site (Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, etc.) in exchange for a free copy of a book. BookCrash allows bloggers to request books that they are interested in. The program does not require that a given blogger read any specific book; rather, bloggers are free to choose books that interest them. The idea behind this is that bloggers are more likely to enjoy and write positive reviews for books they want to read and are interested in.

As with all such programs, there are pros and cons to the system.

Some of the cons include:

  1. CSPA cannot force bloggers to review a book they have requested, since the agreement is based on goodwill. The only leverage BookCrash has is that the bloggers cannot receive another book until they have reviewed a requested book. Over time, we have had some bloggers who have received a book that never wrote a review.
  2. Since bloggers are allowed to pick a book they are interested in, not all books in the BookCrash program receive the same interest. Some books are highly requested, while others receive only a handful of requests.
  3. BookCrash does not require that bloggers give a positive review, just a fair review. BookCrash bloggers tend either to love or hate a book. Therefore, opinionated negative reviews are sometimes given.

Overall, I believe the pros outweigh the cons. Some of the pros include:

  1. Increased exposure for a book. Each blogger has a regular reading audience. These range from 10 readers to over 20,000, with an average of 1,250 readers. When a blogger writes about a book, the readers of the blog are exposed to the book.
  2. Positive reviews can bring sales. Blog readers tend to trust the opinions of the bloggers they follow. Therefore, a positive review can result in the blog’s audience purchasing and reading the book.
  3. Increased reviews on retail sites. Having customer reviews on Amazon and other retail sites is important for shoppers (see my previous blog post “Are Reviews Really Important?”). Reviews on retail sites increase consumers’ confidence in the product, resulting in more sales.
  4. The cost to list a book as available for review on BookCrash is affordable. CSPA does not charge a large fee because we want our services to be accessible to all small publishers, but also because the BookCrash program does not guarantee that bloggers will want to read any given book or give it a positive review.

The important thing to remember is that a review is an opinion. After all, J.R.R. Tolkien said of his trilogy Lord of the Rings, “Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.”

Opinions vary from person to person. BookCrash has had bloggers who have loved the illustrations in a children’s book and others who have thought those same illustrations were amateurish and uninspiring. When it comes to Christian books and theology, there are many different views. Hence, any book with an opinion on Christianity or a Biblical passage is going to be met with people who agree and those who disagree.

The bottom line is that Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) will continue to offer our BookCrash program as long as we feel that the benefits of the service outweigh the negatives. Any author or publisher who places a book on BookCrash does run the risk of receiving negative reviews.

If you are only looking for neat, tidy reviews, then BookCrash is not the program for you. You would be better off paying $300 or more for a professional review by a review service such as Kirkus or ForeWord’s Clarion Review. Of course, you only receive one review for your money, the review is not a consumer review, and you do not receive the same exposure as a blog review.

The choice is yours.

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Do Book Giveaways Work?

Have you wondered whether hosting a free book giveaway will really increase the sales for a book?

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The answer to the question of whether book giveaways work is a little more complicated than yes or no.

A new survey conducted by hybrid authors (those who have been published by a traditional publisher and have self-published), while small in size (3,000 readers), unearthed some interesting consumer book-buying information.

  • While a quarter of readers reported they would not pay more than $4.99 for a book, half said that if they really wanted a book, they didn’t care what it cost.
  • Two-thirds of readers don’t pay attention to who publishes a book; only 4% said that a publisher’s “seal of approval” matters.
  • A full 50% say reviews posted by other readers to retail sites are most important to them when selecting a book to read.
  • Some 80% buy books from Amazon and 23% from Barnes & Noble.
  • Free books enticed 35% of readers to sample a new author for the first time, with 21% finding a new author through free books more than 10 times. If readers liked what they read in the free book, the survey found 85% were extremely likely to buy another book from that author.
  • Sixty percent of those surveyed said they do not follow their favorite authors on Twitter, whereas 87% say they follow their favorite authors on Facebook.

I believe one of the important takeaways from this survey is the finding that over one-third of the respondents report that they were enticed to try a new author because of a free book giveaway.

Giveaways do work. However, since readers don’t pay much attention to the “publisher” of a book, I believe giveaways work best for authors with multiple books. The consumer who reads the free book is likely to read the other books by that same author if they liked the free book they read. Thus, book giveaways can help you acquiring a wider audience for an author’s existing and forthcoming books.

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Interesting Book Promotion Idea

It has been suggested over and over again that giving away free copies of a book spurs sales of the book.

Recently, another publisher has embraced this idea to spur sales of a new novel. Algonquin Publishing teamed up with Great Lakes Airline over the Easter weekend to offer 1,000 copies of their novel, Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West.

Interestingly, this book was originally self-published and sold more than 40,000 copies before being picked up by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill and re-released in January. It is based on the true story of a Montana town brought together by its boys’ basketball team.

Reading and hearing what publishers are doing to promote books is a great way to find inspiration and ideas for promoting your next book. You might not have the clout to team up with an airline to give away copies of your books, but other opportunities abound.

Have you written a book for teenagers? Give free copies to all the youth attending the next youth conference at your church.

If you have a book geared for women, offer to give away free copies of your book to women attending a local church’s women’s retreat or seminar.

Have you published a book geared to homeschoolers? Give free copies of your book to the first 50 people who register for a local homeschool convention in your area.

The ideas are endless. Most conventions, seminars, and other gatherings welcome free products to give to their attendees. Step out of your comfort zone and give away some copies of your next book to generate some sales.

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