Don’t Just Be Anyone

The growth of independent publishing is truly astounding. Consider these figures from Bowker (the ISBN provider):

  • The number of print books independently published grew from 235,639 titles in 2012 to 879,587 in 2017. That is 273% growth in six years.
  • In 2017, 85% of all independently published print books were published through Amazon (CreateSpace) for a total of 751,924 titles.

Amazon has leveled the playing field for publishing a book. Almost anyone can publish a book through Amazon (using Kindle Direct Publishing—previously through CreateSpace). Of course, the ability for anyone to publish a book has both positive and negative consequences.

Positive Consequences

1. Anyone can now be an author.
Anyone means anyone. Amazon does not discriminate with respect to whom they allow to upload a book.

2. No gatekeepers.
No subject is taboo. No one has to approve of the content, style, or quality of the writing.

3. It’s free.
Yes, absolutely free to upload a book to Amazon. It does not cost a cent. All it requires is Internet access.

Negative Consequences

1. Anyone can now be an author.
Anyone can be an author whether or not they take the time to hone the craft of writing, understand proper book design, or learn anything about marketing a book.

2. No gatekeepers.
Anything goes. This means that there is no check on quality. There are no guarantees for buyers.

3. It’s free.
The easier and cheaper it is to publish a book, the more people will publish books. The more books published, the more competition all books have for readers’ eyes.

Here’s the deal: Don’t just be anyone.

In other words, be an informed author. If you are thinking about publishing a book, don’t do it just because you can. Take the time to hone your writing, learn about proper book design and layout, and understand what you need to do to market your book. Both you and your book will be better for it.

Colorado Christian Writers Conference

I am thankful that it is both easy to independently publish a book and it is easy to learn what you need to know to do this. Many sources exist to help independent authors who want to learn.

You have the opportunity to learn directly from me at the upcoming Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park May 15-18, 2019. I will be teaching a Continuing session on “You Can Indie Publish & Market Your Book.” This session will teach you what you need to know to publish an industry standard book and to begin the process of promoting your book.

If you can attend this conference, I encourage you to do so. You will learn valuable information, not just from me, but from the other presenters as well. Don’t take my word for it; here is what a couple people said about my “You Can Indie Publish & Market Your Book” sessions on Facebook:

Don’t just be anyone. Learn what you need to know and be an author that people want to read and share with others.

Related Posts:
Conferences Are Worth It
Are You In a Rush?
Proof! Author Platform Building Works

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of NeONBRAND.

Don’t Hobble Your Marketing Efforts

From time to time, I review books that are related to publishing or marketing of books. Sometimes an author requests that I review their book. Other times, I see a book that might benefit Indie authors or small publishers and ask for a review copy.

Every once in a while, I receive book that has been marked “Review Copy: Not for Sale”. I seriously dislike it when I receive a marred book. A book that is stained in such a manner stops with me. When a book is spoiled, I am not able to pass it along to someone else that could be blessed by it.

book marketing efforts

I believe that authors who mark their books “Review Copy: Not for Sale” hobble their own marketing efforts.

1. A book is a form of compensation for the reviewer’s time.

When you ask for people to review your book (e.g., beta readers, launch teams, influencers, and bloggers) and these people agree to do so, they are doing you a favor. Providing these individuals with a clean, unmarred copy of your book is a form of compensation for these reviewers’ time.

This is not a new idea. Way back in 1916, Publishers Weekly published an article titled “Review Copies and the Trade”. The article stated:

“In other words, the reviewer has a definite and valued place in the selling of books…. The reviewing periodicals are seldom financially able to pay the best reviewers what they are really worth; and by long custom of the craft, the latter have taken partial recompense in the review copies of the books being reviewed…. To see that the reviewer has for his own purposes the copy of the book reviewed seems to him no more than natural justice; and whether the reviewer chooses to keep the book himself or to sell it for what he can get for it seems to him his own affair.”

2. Every book sent out into the world is a marketing tool, not wasted money.

Many Indie authors mark their books “Review Copy: Not for Sale” because they don’t want others to profit off their books. In other words, these authors are afraid that their book will end up being sold as a used or new book by the review individual, cutting the author out of a profit. However, this is twisted thinking.

Whether a reviewer keeps the book, gifts the book to someone, or sells the book, the impact for the author is usually positive. Every book that goes out into the world is a marketing tool. Everyone who sees the book, buys the book, or reads the book has the potential to become a spokesperson for that book. If the reader loves the book, she tells her friends and family, leading to more sales.

Seeding the world with a few books to begin the word of mouth process should be part of every author’s marketing budget. This includes review copies given to readers.

3. Christian authors can operate on Kingdom economic principles.

As Christians, we are to be in the world, but not of the world. Yet, so often we forget this and act just like the world. When it comes to your books, remember Kingdom principles. Luke 6:38 records Jesus as saying:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Ten, fifty, or a couple hundred books, however many you decide to give out, whether for a review, for marketing to bring awareness to your book, or just to bless someone, remember Kingdom truths. Your free book copies are not wasted in God’s Kingdom economics. It is God who directs the paths and sales of your books. Trust Him.

Related Posts:
5 Common Indie Publishing Errors
Does Your Book Have a Firm Foundation?
Are Reviews Important?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Manuel Sardo.

Are You Practicing These Habits of Success?

I have always been a little intrigued by Ecclesiastes 9:11. In this verse, wise King Solomon says:

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.

“Time and chance happen to them all.” It seems to me that this verse suggests that we have some ability to determine the course of our lives. What we do with the time and chance that is given to us is important.

 

Daily habits determine where we end up. What we do day after day create the life we live. The same is true for our books. What you do day after day to write, publish, market and promote your books determines not only the quality of your books, but the reach they have and the influence they exert in other people’s lives.

Tom Corley conducted a 5-year study on the daily habits of wealthy people and poor people. He writes about what he learned on his website Rich Habits. Here are a few of the important habits Tom found in his study.

  • 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.
  • 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.
  • 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.
  • 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.
  • 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.
  • 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.
  • 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.
  • 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.
  • 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.

I believe rather than think of this as wealthy versus poor, we can look at these as habits of successful people.

Do you want to have more success with your books? I suggest you carefully consider this list. Which ones are you practicing on a daily basis? Which ones do you need to start doing to move you in the direction you want to go? Then make the necessary changes.

Related Posts:
What Successful Authors Do
The Iceberg of Success
Do You Have This Habit?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Estée Janssens.

I Don’t Know Anything About Publishing

“I don’t know anything about publishing.” The gentleman standing before me started with this sentence. Then he went on to state, “…but I published a book on CreateSpace.” He reached into his brief bag and brought out a book. Next, he asked, “What can Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) do for me?”

I explained that one of the things CSPA does is help authors like him learn about publishing. That we have on-demand seminars that teach indie authors how to publish an industry-standard book and we offer a Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book as a resource for our members.

“What would you suggest I change on my book?” The author asked next. I gently pointed out the following to him.

  1. His book title needs to be able to be easily read from six to 10 feet away and also in a small thumbnail sketch. I noted that I had difficulty reading his book title two to three feet away due to the fancy font he used and that I definitely could not read it six feet away.
  2. I suggested that his interior was not laid out to industry standards. His margins ran too close to the edges and his font-size and layout made the book look like it was for a middle-grade reader, not an adult.

The author insisted that he did not want to change the font he chose for his title—that he liked it. He stated that he liked the interior layout because he had envisioned such a layout for a larger landscape book (however, this book was a traditional smaller portrait paperback). He kept insisting that he liked what he had done.

I suggested that if he had just published the book for himself and his family, that liking what he had chosen was perfectly acceptable and sufficient. However, if he wanted to sell this book beyond his small circle, as he had indicated to me, then he needed to make the book industry standard.

I explained to him that readers know what a book is “supposed” to look like. When a book does not look like what they expect, they will often pass it up. In publishing, looking different or out of place does not sell books. What sells books is compelling covers and prose.

Next, the author asked me what I would do to help get more attention for his book on Amazon. I suggested the following.

  1. Make sure that his Amazon author page was complete. To have a good author photo, a bio, and links to his websites on his Amazon author page.
  2. Use great keywords to help people discover his book. I explained that his book was an Advent devotional, yet he did not use Advent anywhere in the title or subtitle. As a result, he is missing out on people searching for Advent books. I pointed out to this gentleman that this was the type of information CSPA regularly provides to our members in our monthly newsletter.

The author told me that he did not want to change his title or subtitle, that he liked it. I told him that he did not have to take any of my suggestions. I reminded him that he had asked my advice after telling me he did not know anything about publishing.

Advice is just that—advice. I give it. You don’t have to take it. It’s your book, your life, your goals and dreams. But, let me offer one last piece of advice.

If you want to sell books, you can’t be too tied to your first idea. Let your idea germinate and grow. Let others water it and help nurture it to maturity so that your end product is something that is beautiful and excellent and actively fulfills the purpose for which God birthed it in your heart.

Related Posts:
Is Your Book Cover Too Cluttered?
First Impressions Matter
Sales Text that Sells

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Overcoming Roadblocks to Marketing

The numbers vary, but they are usually small. The average nonfiction book sells around 250 copies per year and around 2,000 copies over its lifetime. The vast majority of indie published books sell far fewer than 200 copies over their lifetime with one large self-publishing house sales averaging 41 copies per title published.

Why the poor sales? I believe there are three main reasons:

1. A glut of books.
No other industry introduces as many new products every year as the book industry. Each year in the United States alone over 750,000 new titles are introduced.

2. Poor quality.
Sadly, many indie published books are inferior in quality—either in writing or design. This hurts sales.

3. Lack of marketing.
Many indie and self-published authors are focused on getting their book to print. Marketing is an afterthought and an activity that many authors despise and don’t understand.

For those indie authors serious about marketing, a number of roadblocks make success difficult. Following are the two biggest obstacles that indie authors face in marketing a book.

1. Scarcity of funds.

Few indie authors have deep pockets. Many sink most of their available money into creating their book through paying for editing and cover design. Few funds then remain to put into marketing.

Enter creative marketing. It is possible to substitute time for dollars in creating a good marketing campaign. There are many no- to low-cost strategies for marketing a book. I outline many in my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. Following are two strategies to get you started:

  • Get influencers to talk about your book. Find bloggers to review your book, interview you or host a guest post by you. Seek out interview opportunities on podcasts and internet radio shows that speak to your target audience.
  • Build an email list by offering quality material in exchange for people’s email addresses. An email list is a great marketing tool. It offers a great way to garner sales by offering coupons, discounts, and specials to your subscribers.

2. Stretched too thin.

While you can substitute time for money in creating an effective marketing plan, most indie and self-published authors simply don’t have much time because they are already stretched too thin. Most already have full-time jobs and families, not to mention church responsibilities. In addition, as an indie author, all the tasks involved in bringing a book to production and marketing fall on you. Most authors simply don’t have much time to invest in marketing.

Enter time management. Just as you must decide to dedicate time to writing to be able to actually pen a book, you must also dedicate time to marketing to effectively promote your book. Either set aside a specified amount of time each day that you are going to dedicate to marketing tasks or determine to do a certain number of marketing tasks each day. Unless you make it a priority, it won’t happen.

Every author faces roadblocks. Your challenge is not to let these obstacles detour you, but to rise above and persevere. Then you will continually move toward your goal of selling your books.

Related Posts:
Are You Thinking Like an Entrepreneur?
Are You Running with This?
Five Tips for Staying Focused

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.