Read an E-Book Week

I recently received an email from Advocace Media that said, “What do the iPod, Kraft Miracle Whip, and the La-Z-Boy reclining chair all have in common?” The answer: They were all launched during a recession time. I believe this current recession will have a huge impact on the sale of ebooks.

Up until now, ebooks have accounted for less than one percent of all books sold. Not a lot in the scope of things. Ebooks have been around for quite a few years, yet they never seem to have taken off in popularity the way industry gurus have consistently predicted they will. However, I believe that three things are colliding together in our society that will spur the sales of ebooks in a new way.

1. The rapid growth of technology. The creation of the Kindle and the large marketing push Amazon is putting behind it, as well as the new smart phone technology (touch screen cell phones like the iPhone and the new Blackberry) will drive more ebook sales due to the convenience and ease of purchasing and downloading these books into a conveniently portable, reading format.

2. The economy. Our current recession, which economists are predicting to be drawn-out over an ever-expanding period of time, has impacted people’s spending. Couple this with the government’s expanding spending policies and we may well see a new era where personal spending money is greatly diminished. With less money to spend, people will look for ways to conserve money while still enjoying their leisure pursuits. Ergo, ebooks will become more attractive due to their bargain price when compared to print books.

3. Green initiative and the growing interest in protecting the environment. The warnings about global warming over the past decade are making Americans more conscientious of our impact on our environment and the resulting repercussions. Warnings of impending fuel crises and rapidly fluctuating fuel prices are causing us to reconsider our publishing practices, as can be seen in the rise of pod printing for books, resulting in less waste. The slogan, “Read an ebook, save a tree,” has already taken root. As people become increasingly environmentally conscious and have less money to spend, reading digitally will be pushed to new limits.

I believe these three things will result in more ebooks being sold in the coming years. In future years, we may look back and add ebooks to the list of products launched or made popular during a recession period.

Read an E-Book Week was first registered with Chase’s Calendar of Events in 2004. This is the first year I have been made aware of this event. I am not new to publishing or the publishing world. My job is to stay informed about the changes and events occurring in this realm, yet, until this year, Read an E-Book Week has not appeared on my radar.

The industry is beginning to see the era of ebooks and with this vision, ebooks and events supporting ebooks are becoming more visible. The purpose of Read an E-Book Week is to officially recognize ebook authors and publishers and give them a certain extra “legitimacy” to promote the new technology of ebooks during this week.

Ebook week is March 8-14. More information can be found on the organizer’s website at www.ebookweek.com. If you are an author or publisher of ebooks, take advantage of this week to promote your ebooks. The website provides ideas for promotion during this week and they provide free downloadable banners like the one displayed here for your use. The neat thing about Read an E-Book Week is that it dovetails with Small Press Month (www.smallpressmonth.org), so if you are a small publisher, you can combine the two for powerful promotion.rebw_bannerad1

What are your plans for promoting your ebooks?

Buyer Beware!

The majority of complaints I receive from publishers are usually about a business that they hired that did not give them what they promised. These complaints range from press release services that did not actually send out releases, printers whose books were of inferior quality, to publicists who asked for payment up front but gave no guarantees of performance and did nothing.

I always ask each publisher or author the same question, “Did you check references or ask for referrals from the company?” Almost always, the response is, “No.”

Each time I have one of these calls or emails, my heart goes out to the individual who has been ripped off. I feel bad for them and their loss of funds, time, and energies. However, my brain knows that the individual I am speaking to is partly at fault for not doing due diligence in checking out the service before handing over a large sum of money.

I wish that I could say that these instances are just limited to general market companies where the people are probably not Christians. However, this is not the case. The vast majority of publicists and companies I hear complaints against claim to be Christian.

Here is my advice for authors and publishers who are employing help in any aspect of their book production or marketing: Do each of the following steps before hiring a service. Don’t skip any!

1. Google™ (or use another search engine) the name of the organization or person you wish to employ. Check the sites that come up to see if there are any complaints against the company or person listed on the Internet.

2. Ask other publishers and authors if they have used the service and what their experience was. This is where belonging to online discussion groups of like-minded individuals engaged in the same pursuits can be a goldmine that you do not have to pay for.

3. Ask for references from the company you are thinking about employing. CALL the references. Simply being given the references is not enough. Call them and ask them questions about their experience with the company and their services.

4. Ask to see copies of the work the company has completed for others. If you are hiring a company to print your book, they should send you samples of other books they have printed so you can inspect the quality.

5. Pray over your decision before proceeding. God will give you direction. Just as Isaiah 30:21 says, Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” God can direct you. If you have a check in your spirit, don’t use the service.

We are all busy. It is tempting to skip some of these steps to save time. Remember the little saying that goes “a stitch in time saves nine.” In this case it means a little time early on may save you lots of money and heartache later.

Have you ever failed to do due diligence with a company that resulted in a bad experience?

Free Publicity

Free publicity. It’s what every author looks to secure. The ultimate is free publicity on a major television talk show like Oprah. But, let’s face it, with about 25,000 Christian books published each year in the United States, an author’s chance of scoring face time on a major television talk show is fairly slim. However, free publicity itself is not elusive.

When I was doing fundraising for a small nonprofit organization, we used to say that the size of the donation was not important. What was more important was the quantity of people giving. Yes, every fundraiser likes to chase that big-time donation but in reality the bulk of donations generally came from individuals who were giving $20 to $100.

The same principle holds true for free book and author publicity, especially on the Internet. Yes, every author would love to have their book splashed across the websites that generate the most traffic. Yet, having your book and author name listed in a number of regular websites can add up to the one large publicity stunt.

Authors can use the free opportunities to list their books and biographies online to generate awareness of their books and increase their presence on the web.

Here are six websites that offer authors the opportunity to list their books for free.

·        OpenLibrary is a database of all books published, providing one web page for every book published. The site allows authors to list a biography and a link to a webpage or blog. If your book is not listed on the site, you can add it. OpenLibrary is an open source database that anyone can edit. http://openlibrary.org

·        Filedby is a new website that is aiming to be another database of all books published. This site also allows authors to post a biography with a link to up to two websites. www.filedby.com

·        BookHitch is a free book database. It is designed as a search engine for finding books. You can have your books listed for free on the website including where they can be purchased. www.bookhitch.com.

·        BooksXYZ is an Internet bookstore. The profits from the books sold on the site are used for education. Authors can submit their books to be sold on the site. BooksXYX pays the author a portion of each sale of the book. www.booksxyz.com.

·        Best Self Published is an online database that promotes self-published books. Self-published authors can list their books for free. http://bestselfpublished.com

·        Self-Pub.net is a website that offers information and resources for self-publishing. Self-published authors can add their book to the list of self-published books on the website for free. www.self-pub.net

There are many more websites that offer authors a free place to list their books and biographies. I did not even touch on the number of new Web 2.0 social networking sites that you can use to increase your publicity (that’s another blog entry). The sites listed here are just a starting place. Start today and use these websites to increase your free publicity and exposure on the web.

Have you used a traditional website not mentioned here that is a great source for free publicity?