Persuasion in an Age of Information Overload

We live in an age of information overload. The average person is bombarded with more information than they can retain every day.

Information scientists have found that, in 2011, American’s took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986 (think pre- and post-internet). This is equivalent to 174 newspapers. During just leisure time, the average person processes 34 gigabytes or 100,000 words every day.

In order to persuade readers to buy your books, you have to cut through information overload. Getting your book to stand out amidst a sea of competing messages can be daunting. To improve your ability to persuade people to buy your book, focus on these three elements.

1. Message

Your message must stand out and grab attention. For your book, this means the message you are delivering through your book’s title, subtitle, blurbs, and your opening paragraph.

Some studies suggest that about four in every 10 book buyers bought their latest book based on its message. This means that your book’s cover is tremendously important in converting browsers to buyers. It’s not just the design or cover art, its the whole makeup and feel of your cover that is important. It’s the message that your title and cover art combined send.

2. Repetition

Studies show that people need to be exposed to a new product seven to twelve times before they make a purchase decision. The same is true for your book. Repeat exposure is required to convert a browser to a buyer.

Interestingly, the higher the book’s price point, the more exposures are required. Even bargains require repeat exposures. A book priced under $2 through a daily deal discount email campaign needs an average of at least two exposures before a reader will purchase.

With digital marketing, repetition is achievable. Mentions of your book on blogs, social media, and in your email newsletter all help increase your ability to persuade your target audience to buy your book.

3. Availability

In an environment of information overload, we easily forget new information. Research shows that many consumers make near instant purchasing decisions based on their intuition. This means that the reader will attempt to make the purchase as soon as they decide.

If your book is not available where these people shop, they will move on to the next thing. This is why distribution is so important. A book needs to be available in as many outlets and channels as possible (not just on your website and Amazon). Distracted shoppers that cannot get what they want the moment they want it, move on.

The task of being heard amidst the noise of information overload seems daunting. Focus on your message, repetition of your message, and availability. Then watch what God will do.

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Selling Thousands of Books

I recently read the following statement made by author Tom McAllister:

“I don’t think there is any way to convince all the people in your life to buy your book, let alone care about it half as much as you do. Though their validation feels great, it’s important to remember that it’s also not the point. As a writer, you need to approach every project with the understanding that you’re doing this work for yourself, and everything that happens once it’s in the world is out of your control.”

I think what he says is very true. Most people are not going to care about your book half as much as you do. After all, you birthed your book. Just like you love your children more than your neighbors do, so too, you care far more about your book than anyone else.

However, for Christian authors, I do not fully agree with Tom’s last sentence. As a Christian writer, you should approach every project with the understanding that you are doing this work for God. God has called you to write and so, you are doing everything for the Glory of God. Yes, everything that happens once your book is in the world is out of your control, but it is in God’s control.

Your job is to produce the book and spread the word that it is available for those who need the message. God’s job is to take that message and touch people’s lives with it. Remember, God does not allow His Word to return void. He will accomplish the purpose for which he asked you to write the words.

Sometimes a book has a big purpose to accomplish, sometimes it is a smaller purpose.

A Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently shared with other CSPA Members in CSPA’s monthly newsletter the steps she took to sell thousands of copies of her self-published Bible Study. Karen Finn will tell you that she exerted much effort and time into the planning and preparation for her book, the writing of her book, and the publishing and marketing of her book.

Her efforts, blessed by God, have paid off. She has sold over 7,000 copies of her Is Your Fruit Sweet or Sour?: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Christian Living Bible Study book. In her article, Karen states:

Membership with Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has been a worthwhile investment. I am able to keep abreast of the ongoing trends in the publishing business and obtain additional support and information specifically relating to my marketing efforts.”

Membership in an author or publishing association is an important step to selling thousands of books. Associations provide their members with:

• A level of professionalism
• Cutting-edge information
• Cost-saving benefits

Right now, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is offering our Summer Membership Special! For just $120 indie authors and small publishers can receive membership through December 2019. It’s a great deal. I encourage you to join today if you write and publish Christian books.

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Photo courtesy of paulbence.

Google’s New Talk to Books

Sometimes I feel like I am beginning to live in a Science Fiction movie. The speed at which artificial intelligence (AI) is developing and becoming incorporated into our daily lives is accelerating.

Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are now allowing individuals to have conversations with artificial intelligence. Google has even taken their AI one step further and unveiled a new program: Talk to Books.

This new AI tool provides the ability to search based on semantic (meaning of phrase or sentence) rather than on keywords. Talk to Books allows anyone to search a database of books for information at a sentence level rather than an author or topic level. Using this tool, a user can input a statement or a question and Talk to Books searches over 100,000 books for sentences that best provide a response.

As you may be aware, over the past two decades, Google has digitalized thousands of books with or without the copyright holder’s permission. By integrating their new Talk to Books tool with these digitalized books, Google is providing a powerful search engine to help anyone seeking information to find that information within the pages of these books.

Google already has a book search engine. This search engine, https://books.google.com, allows you to search books by topic, author, or title by typing in text to the search engine. Talk to Books is slightly different. Instead of looking for books by author or topic, it searches within books for passages that are related to the question asked.

For example, if I type into the Google Book Search Engine the name of a bestselling Christian author like Max Lucado, I am rewarded with a list of books that he has authored. However, if I type or speak his name into Talk to Books at https://books.google.com/talktobooks, the results show passages from books that either talk about Max Lucado or quote from one of his books.

Some publishing industry experts believe that this new Talk to Books tool by Google will boost book discoverability. In other words, when individuals use Talk to Books to find information on various issues or topics, they are exposed to passages from books, increasing these books’ discoverability by readers and increasing the likelihood that the individual exposed to these books may make a purchase.

Sadly, Google has implemented a “popularity measure” in Talk to Books. This measure gives a boost to books produced by “professional publishing houses”—sorry Indies.

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Photo courtesy of Piotr Cichosz.

Marketing Tips to Reach Each Generation

I am a GenXer, a middle-child wedged between Baby Boomers and Millennials. I embody most of the Gen X characteristics including hard working, independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. Sadly, my generation is also known as the forgotten generation when it comes to marketing.

Few companies specifically target Generation X in their marketing efforts. Yet, if companies don’t speak to me in a way that I will listen, I won’t stand up and take notice of what they are offering.

Marketing is not a one size fits all program. Effective marketing takes knowing how to talk to each generation so they will listen. Following are some tips to effectively reach each generation with your marketing messages.

Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, this generation makes up a significant portion of the purchasing public. Baby Boomers have longer attention spans than younger generations. After all, they did not grow up with the Internet and technology at their fingertips.

Baby Boomers are still tuned in to traditional marketing methods. As a result, radio and television ads and print ads in newspapers and magazine speak to this generation. In marketing to Baby Boomers, you can go into more depth with your information and even feature longer videos. Keep in mind that Baby Boomers are nearing or in retirement, so two big messages that this generation tunes into is how they can enjoy their leisure time and how they can save money to stretch their retirement funds.

Generation X

This generation, born between 1965 and 1980, is all about bargains. These people want to save money, time, and effort. So, in reaching this generation, offer coupons and ways for them to obtain your books and products without much effort or time invested on their part. This is a cross-over generation that can be reached through both traditional marketing and online marketing.

Millennials

Born between 1981 and 1997, this generation is on the cusp of surpassing Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation, according to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the texting generation. In fact, 100 percent of Millennials who own a smart phone communicate via text.

Millennials want content that is relevant and authentic. They like customized messages, not generic messages. Word-of-mouth is a driving influencer in Millennials purchases. Social proof—others talking positively about a product—is extremely important to this group. So, be sure to include testimonials in your marketing messages.

Generation Z

These are the new kids in town—those born after 1997. While young, this group is still a powerful buying force. These individuals are true digital natives. They have grown up with technology at their fingertips. This generation prefers to communicate through images rather than text. They are huge YouTube users. Use of video and images must be prominent in your marketing to reach this generation.

Generation Z is also the least churched generation in American history. This generation has grown up in a post-Christian, post-modern environment where many of them have not even been exposed to Christianity or to church.

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Are You Overlooking This Powerful Marketing Tool?

“I’m not tech savvy. Are there other ways to market a book besides social media?”

This is a question I frequently encounter, mostly from mature authors, but once in a while from younger authors who feel that social media has not been productive for them. My standard answer is always, “Yes, there are many ways to market a book, and no author should put all of their eggs in one basket.”

Social media is just one tool in an author’s marketing toolbox. There are numerous tools in that toolbox. Over reliance on one tool is not good. After all, not all situations need a screwdriver.

One often overlooked marketing tool is using articles to promote your book. Articles are an excellent means of spreading your message and introducing readers to your books. Sadly, many authors are either unaware of the power of articles for promotion or they simply omit this influential tool.

In her book Articles, Articles, Articles, Linda Gilden walks authors and potential authors through everything they need to know to write and publish articles. From information on brainstorming ideas to formatting and writing an article to submitting an article for publication, Linda’s book is a comprehensive guide on writing articles. The book covers writing articles for print magazines, e-zines, and blogs.

This book includes some wise advice from author DiAnn Mills. She says, “When I finish and send in the first draft to the editor, the next thing I do I make a list of all the blogs and articles I can write that would help and assist a reader, but it is also woven in with the theme of my book.” Linda’s chapter on brainstorming ideas for articles expounds on this idea.

Linda reminds authors that you don’t have to limit yourself to just the area of the subject matter in your book. Linda encourages you to think outside the box. Once you have exhausted the specific area of your book’s coverage for articles, go wider. Is your book your own story of overcoming depression? Then you can also interview experts on the subject for articles. You can write a piece on rehab centers for Christians experiencing depression. You might even go niche and write an article on the special issues pastors face when struggling with depression.

The great thing about articles is that most publications allow you an author byline that lets you tell the publication’s readers a little about yourself. You can use your author byline to introduce people to your book. Linda points out in her book that articles can help you build your author platform by introducing you (and your book) to thousands upon thousands of readers.

If you are interested in using articles to promote your books, I suggest that you head on over to your favorite bookstore and purchase a copy of Linda Gilden’s book Articles, Articles, Articles. It gives you all the information you need to use this influential marketing tool to introduce more readers to your books.

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Photo courtesy of Hunter Haley.