Are You Running with This?

Marketing is not a nasty word—and it is not just a secular construct. Marketing is simply telling people about your product, service, or book. Some might argue that Evangelism is marketing. It is marketing for God. Evangelism is telling people about what Jesus did on the cross for them—connecting people to God.

Seth Godin recently listed four steps of marketing on his blog. He said:

4 step marketing

  1. Invent something worthwhile.
  2. Design and build it so that people will benefit from care about it.
  3. Tell the story to the right people in the right way about it.
  4. Show up regularly, consistently and generously for years and years to organize and lead the change you seek to make.

It’s number four that often gets dropped by independently published authors. Showing up regularly, consistently, and generously day-in and day-out for years is hard. This takes perseverance.

It is difficult to persevere when we don’t see the results we expect. Maybe you feel that God called you to write and publish a book. Now, you have done that and are excited about the change it can make in people’s lives. Yet, few people notice or pay attention to you, your book, and your message.

What happens? You get discouraged and quit showing up. I see this over and over again with independently published authors. They give it a good go for about a year. When they don’t see the results they want or expect, they just stop showing up. They stop marketing their book.

Perseverence

Missionary Adoniram Judson felt called of God to take the Gospel message to the East. He ended up in Burma where he labored for six long, soul-crushing, heart-breaking years before he had his first convert to Christianity. After twelve years, he had 18 converts. Adoniram endured the death of his wife and three children during that time. Yet, he showed up day after day, year after year, doing the work that God called him to do.

Paul in Hebrews 12 tells us to “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Has God called you to write and publish something? If so, this is your race. Run it with perseverance. Show up day after day, year after year, even if only a few people hear your message. Those few people will be blessed for what you have given.

Related Posts:
Are You Competing in a Marathon?
The Art of Marketing
Are You Regular?

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Opportunity: It’s Before You

I have been reading some dismal statistics about reading and book sales lately. One statistic I ran across was reported by Brian Judd, Executive Director of APSS. He stated that according to BookScan, 93% of books published sell less than 100 copies. To be honest, I am finding that statistic a little hard to swallow.

doorknock

However, when I step back and consider the sheer volume of books self-published each year, I can almost believe this statistic. There are hundreds of self-publishing companies in the United States willing to take authors’ money to produce a book. For the most part, that is all these companies do—publish the book. Many of these companies churn out thousands of self-published books each year. That is what they do—help aspire authors achieve a dream. However, these companies often don’t do anything to create sales for a book.

On the other hand, many self-published authors only have their sights on a book. They don’t think past getting a book published to actually selling the book. When reality hits and they realize that they actually have to do something to sell the book, many self-published authors don’t really know what to do to promote a book.

Almost always, the differences between the books that sell over 100 copies and those that sell less are quality and marketing.

First and foremost, a book must be quality. Compelling writing with a unique angle on a subject that has been talked about before is a must. The book must also conform to industry standards with grammatical matter, the cover design, and interior layout.

Then, marketing is needed. Without marketing, no one knows about the book. People don’t buy something they don’t know about. Marketing takes work and time. As Thomas A. Edition said:

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

The opportunity to create book sales comes with the hard work of marketing.

Knowing that many self-published authors are not schooled in marketing, I decided almost a decade ago to write and published Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. The purpose of this book is to teach Christian authors what to do to market their books to help them sell more than 100 copies. However, my book is not the only book providing information on how to market books.

If you are an author and want to sell more books, I suggest you read more than one book on marketing for authors. Educate yourself and then take advantage of the opportunity that is before you to lead people to your books. Don’t be part of this dismal statistic.

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How Happy are Your Customers?

I hear so many complaints about customer service. Friends complain about the checkers at the grocery stores not helping them find products. They complain about barristas with bad attitudes who don’t serve the coffee with a smile. They talk about restaurant servers who get an attitude when they point out an error was made with their order.

Customer Service

Customer service is extremely important to a successful business. Whether you are selling coffee or books, great customer service is essential. On average, a business loses about 20% of their customers just by failing to tend to customer relationships.

As publishers and authors, we must also be customer service conscious. From time to time, as Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I will field a call from a customer of one of our member publishers. These customers have taken the time to look CSPA up in a desperate attempt to acquire help in getting their issues resolved with a publisher. Usually the complaint has to do with a problem with an order and the publisher is not returning the customer’s phone calls or emails. Sometimes, the grievance is that their emails are not being returned and a phone number is not listed on the publisher’s website.

A recent Customer Experience Impact Report by Oracle found that consumers will commit (or return and buy again) to a brand if the company provides the following:

  • Friendly employees or customer service representatives (73%)
  • The ability to easily find the information or help they need (i.e. phone calls and emails returned) (55%)
  •  Personalized experiences (36%)

Do you want to improve your customer relations? Then start with being available to your customers.

Your website should contain a physical address where you can be reached, a phone number where you can be reached, and an email contact. This allows your customers to choose when, where, and how they want to contact you. Once you have done this, be sure to answer inquiries from customers and potential customers that come to you through these various venues.

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A New Work

Do you feel that God is calling you to do something new?

I recently had the privilege of being a guest on the God in The Midst radio show during the month of July. The host asked me to share with the audience a message that God had laid on my heart. You can listen to the entire message at this link: God In The Midst.

newproduct

I shared with God in The Midst’s audience that God has prepared good works for us to do long before we were born (Romans 8:10). When the time is right, God calls us to do these works. We will know that God is asking us to do one of the good works he has prepared for us because it will be outside of our comfort zone, and we will not feel equal to the task.

Looking at God’s call to Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey as recorded in Exodus 3 and 4, I shared the following points about when God calls us to do a work he has prepared for us to do.

  1. God does not command us, he invites us to do the work he has for us. God says to Moses, “Come, I will send you…”
  2. We will not feel equal to the task. Moses’ response to God was “Who am I” that I should go and do this thing.
  3. We will feel scared. When God calls us to do something new that is out of our comfort zone, it feels like more than we are capable of doing. We will be scared and we may even find an excuse not to do the task like Moses did. Moses told God that he was not eloquent but slow of speech and tongue.
  4. God promises us that we will not have to do the task in our own strength. Not only will God be with us, his power will also accompany us. He reassures us that he created us to do the thing he is asking us to do. Just as he told Moses that he would be his mouth and he would teach him to speak.
  5. God will send others to help us. God sent Moses’ brother Aaron to help him. He, too, will send people your way to help you do the task he is calling you to do. People to support you. People to encourage you. People to help you.

Is God calling you to a new work today? Maybe he is calling you to write or publish in a new genre. Maybe he is calling you to start a publishing company. Maybe he is calling you to start a new ministry.

Whatever God is calling you to do, be encouraged. God has prepared you for this task. You will not have to do it in your own strength alone. He will be with you and he will send others to help and support you in the work.

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Getting What You Paid For?

I recently received the following email:

“I was told about CSPA by another publisher and haven’t really been able to market my book, just what benefits do you provide for helping a self-publisher market a book?”

I believe that there are two kinds of self-published authors. One is the person who wants someone else to market their book for them and is willing to pay large sums of money to have this done. The other is the self-published author who is willing to learn what they need to do and go and do it.

Fannie-Pick-pocket

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is not for the first type of author. We do not provide marketing for our members. Rather, what we do is provide information and services to help authors and publishers market their books.

I recently came across a self-publishing company that also provided marketing services for their authors. Here is what they charged:

  1. A review in Kirkus Reviews for $849.
  2. An interview on The Author Show for $349.
  3. Five media contacts for $600.
  4. A marketing package that includes a one-page website, press release, and 200 bookmarks for $549.

In contrast, here is what one-year membership in Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) for only $90 will buy:

  1. The truth that Kirkus Reviews, if you submit the request yourself, only costs $425.
  2. The truth that a basic interview on The Author Show is free.
  3. Media contacts listed in every issue of the CSPA Circular, our monthly newsletter. This year so far, our members have received over 12 media contacts.
  4. The truth that you can create your own website for free using a site such as wordpress.com or blogger.com, directions on how to find a press release template so you can write your own for free, and the information that VistaPrint will print 250 bookmarks for $60.00.

If you are not a member of CSPA, consider this, I just gave you over $1,600 worth of free information (donations are cheerfully accepted).

The bottom line is that there are plenty of companies out there willing to take your money. Go ahead; give them your money if you want to. However, if you are on a tighter budget and are willing to read and learn, then joining an organization like Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) will be a better fit for you.

After all, our members tell us:

  • “I just wanted to write and personally thank you for the invaluable information contained within the CSPA monthly newsletter. It never ceases to amaze me how many tips and general info bits I can glean from this wonderful resource.” —Deb
  • “The newsletter for the Christian Small Publishers Association is worth the price of membership all by itself—we get gems from every issue. Thanks for what you are doing for the industry!” —Melanie
  • “I received $75 worth of information in the first CSPA Circular!” —Sam

So, if you want some additional support in marketing your Christian books, I encourage you to check out the useful benefits Christian Small Publishers Association can provide you in marketing your books, or you can just pay someone else to do it for you.

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