Are You Expecting Fast Results?

I recently read the book Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life by Eric Metaxas. In this book, Eric tells numerous stories of modern-day miracles.

One story in the book is about a woman who suffered from two autoimmune disorders. She was deathly sick and had to live in almost complete isolation because her body reacted violently to any chemical. She could only eat a handful of foods.

After this woman accepted Christ, a group of people began praying for her healing weekly. After a year or so of doing this, they saw a little improvement, but not much. One member of the group thought they should call in a lady who had a prayer ministry. The lady came and prayed for the sick woman.

This lady did not pray for just one day with her, she prayed for five full days with the sick woman. At the end of five days the woman was healed.

This story convicted me. I give up too quickly.

I once fasted and prayed weekly for healing for a neighbor. I felt led by God to do this. However, after a little over two years with no results, I became discouraged and gave up.

Yes, I still prayed for her healing, but not with the same intensity and petitioning as previously. Fortunately, God works in spite of our failings (after all, I did not feel him release me, I just quit from discouragement). A couple years after I quite fasting and praying for her healing, my neighbor was miraculously healed by God after nine years of illness.

It’s our culture. We expect everything fast. We move rapidly and thrive on immediate gratification. This is why:

  • We expect fast answers to prayer.
  • Fast food is so popular and a thriving industry.
  • Fast and Furious is such a popular movie series.
  • 53% of mobile Internet users leave a webpage if it does not load in 3 seconds.
  • You only have eight seconds to hook a reader with your book’s cover.
  • We expect fast answers to prayer.

The problem is that the important things don’t come fast or immediately. Consider:

  1. The prophet Samuel’s mother, Hannah, prayed earnestly for children for years before her petition was granted.
  2. On average, a person hears seven to twelve times about a new product before they act and make a purchase.
  3. It takes nine months of blogging on a regular basis to develop a following.
  4. The average nonfiction book sells 3,000 copies over its lifetime, but only 250 copies in the first year.
  5. According to Mark Schaefer in his book, Known: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in a Digital Age, it takes 30 months to become “known”. That is two and one-half years of consistently putting yourself and your books in front of your target audience to drive exposure and sales.

What about you? Are you expecting fast results? Do you get easily frustrated when your book promotion results are not what you expect? Remember, marketing a book is a marathon, not a sprint.

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Photo courtesy of Thomas Borges

Are You Looking for a Formula?

As Americans, we love prescriptions and formulas to follow. Just prescribe a program for people to lose weight, get in shape, de-clutter their house, or extend the life of their vehicle, and thousands race to put the formula into practice.

Sadly, there is no formula for marketing a book to make it a best-seller. Many authors who have found the right mix of marketing strategies for their own book will try to sell you their formula, but never does one marketing formula work for all types of books. If one formula did, it would have already been patented.

Since books are sold mostly through bookstores (whether online or physical), authors and publishers rarely have the ability to find out how their readers discovered their books. Hence, it is difficult for authors and publishers to know which of their marketing efforts are providing the best results.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) asks on our membership application how the applicant heard about CSPA. Here are the responses from the most recent eight applications:

  • Word-of-mouth and internet browsing
  • The Christian Writer’s Market Guide
  • Christian Writers Conference
  • CSPA was referenced in various online forums
  • A friend who is an editor for various ministries and small publishing houses
  • Referral from another independent author
  • Email
  • Internet

As you can see, there is no one referral source. Other than word-of-mouth from various places, the ways that these authors and publishers heard about CSPA varied greatly.

The same is most likely true for your books. While surveys of readers reveal that word-of-mouth is the number one way people decide to purchase a book, this word-of-mouth can vary greatly from a friend, relative, coworker, a blog post, a social media post, or from someone who knows the author.

Remember, there is no formula. No two books can be marketed the exact same way and receive the same results. You must experiment to find the sweet mix of marketing activities that reaches your target audience effectively.

I encourage you to heed the advice of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes, “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

These words, penned thousands of years ago, are still true. In marketing a book, you do not know which activities will succeed, so sow numerous and diverse efforts for the best results. I believe that it is the mix (not one thing) that provides the best results.

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Start with Why, Not What

A professional artist recently shared the following statement on Facebook:

“People who are good at selling stuff tell me I need a story. That people buy the story, not the art. Well, here’s my story: I’m a guy who likes to paint. The end.”

He’s right. Marketing experts are pushing “the story” when it comes to selling things. While this artist isn’t ready to give his story, he does have one. He even has a separate story for each painting. His story can be as simple as what inspired him to paint a certain picture.

You, too, as an author have a story. It is why you wrote your book. This story should be part of your marketing pitch.

Most people selling a product—including authors selling books—start with the What. They tell people what they are selling. Marketing experts think that instead of starting with the What, you should start with the Why. Why did you create what you are selling?

Simon Sinek in his Ted Talk “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe” shares that Dell and Microsoft market their products starting with What. “We make computers. Our computers have Intel processors. Buy one.” On the other hand, Apple markets its products starting with the Why. “Everything we do challenges the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. Our products are beautifully designed and user-friendly.”

Simon goes on to say that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
This statement is true for authors as well. You will hook more people into buying and reading your book if you start with your story—why you wrote the book.

Telling potential readers that they should read your book on forgiveness because it will help them be able to finally forgive and let go of the bitterness they have been holding is a good message. But, it is not as powerful as telling them that you held onto unforgiveness toward a parent for years until you suffered a heart attack. This was the wake up call you needed to learn to forgive. You are now sharing the six steps to forgiveness that you learned with others.

Notice that the Why does not exclude the What. In other words, in telling the Why, you will incorporate the What. People will know what you are offering, but now they will also understand why, which tugs at their emotions.

I wrote Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace because I wanted other new small publishers and authors to have the information I wished was available to me when I started out on my independent publishing journey. That’s my Why. What’s yours?

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Photo courtesy of Suhyeon Choi

Impacting Lives

Why do you write and publish? Most authors write and publish to impact people’s lives. If you write nonfiction, you want to help improve an area of someone’s life. If you write fiction, you probably don’t want to just entertain, but also inspire people to live better lives. For Christians, our writing is also aimed at bringing people into a closer relationship or understanding of God.

As an author, I want to impact people’s lives. My book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace is a handbook that is designed to help Christian authors and publishers effectively promote their books to reach people. I love to hear feedback from my readers—especially feedback that tells me that my book has made a difference to them in their book marketing journey.

Here is a video testimony from one of the readers of my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. I recently met Lee Ann Mancini, the author and publisher of the Adventures of the Sea Kids series, at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). After she told me how much my book had helped her in her journey, I asked her to share it with others. Here is what Lee Ann had to say about Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

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Book Therapy

I recently discovered a new term. It is a form of psychological treatment that encourages reading to promote healing for individuals. It is called bibliotherapy.

book therapy

Most Christians already know that reading the Bible and having a relationship with Jesus promotes spiritual and emotional healing. We also know that truth is truth. Therefore, reading good literature that speaks truth and understanding can also promote healing.

In other words, reading books can help you cope with grief, improve your relationships, eat healthier, exercise better, and improve your ability to relate to others. These can come about from information in nonfiction books or from relating to stories and characters in fiction books.

Additionally, studies have shown that reading puts our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation—bringing with it the same health benefits of deep relaxation. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.

In bibliotherapy, a trained individual listens to a person’s issues and then gives him a list of recommended books to read—mostly fiction books. The books on the list are aimed at helping the individual with his problems.Psychotherapists also recommend books to their clients, but generally these are nonfiction books. The difference between psychotherapy and bibliotherapy is that the bibliotherapist generally does not engage in “talk therapy” beyond an initial assessment. Instead, the therapy is based on providing the client a recommended reading list and the client reading the books.

As an author, you can use this concept of bibliotherapy in your promotion efforts. What problems does your book address? Does your hero or heroine struggle with an emotional or life issue that people can relate to? What personal struggle might your book help someone overcome?

Once you answer these questions, let your readers know what problems your book can help them overcome. If nothing else, use the idea that reading regularly helps one sleep better and have lower stress levels. Remember, good marketing is all about letting your potential readers know how your book meets a need they have.

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