Making Smart Use of Your Marketing Dollars

The number of books for sale every year grows exponentially. Add to that, the books previously published don’t vanish. With digital and print-on-demand technology, books remain available for sale in the cloud indefinitely.

Consider these numbers of books published independently from just four years:

  • 2016: 786,935 books
  • 2015: 727,125 books
  • 2014: 599,721 books
  • 2013: 460,064 books

This means that each year about a half-million books get added to the existing books available for sale. So, this year, there will be another half-million more books competing for readers’ attention.

Since the reading rate in America is holding steady (and has been since 2012), while the number of books is growing exponentially, this means that the ability to attract any given reader’s attention with your title diminishes exponentially each year.

Any time competition heats up, the cost to compete increases also. For example, it is becoming more expensive to reach readers with both Facebook Ads and Amazon Ads as these ads have gained in popularity. Again, thousands of Indie authors, along with traditional publishers, are using these ads and competing for readers’ attention.

The folks over at Written Word Media put it this way:

“The upshot of this increased competition is that authors will have to spend significantly more time on marketing to maintain the results they saw in 2017.”

The CMO of Reedsy, Ricardo Fayet, predicts that as Indie publishing becomes more competitive and requires more and more business and marketing skills, many Indie authors will experience marketing burnout.

I believe that it is more important than ever for Indie authors to be connected to an association or group that provides them support in their efforts. Staying on top of trends and making smart use of your marketing dollars is a must moving forward.

If you are an Independent author or small publisher producing Christian books, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is a resource for you. Membership is just $90 for the calendar year and provides you great return value including:

  1. Cutting-edge information and training on marketing your books.
  2. Cooperative marketing opportunities to save you money.
  3. Discounts on advertising and other services.
  4. Free title uploads and revisions for IngramSpark.

Here is the deal. If you are publishing a book via IngramSpark, the cost to upload your title (print and ebook) is $49. If you find mistakes and upload two revisions, that cost is another $50. So, the cost to print and distribute your book via IngramSpark ends up costing you a total of $99.

Instead, you can double the return for that money by joining Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). With your membership, you will get your book printed and distributed via IngramSpark for free plus get all the other great benefits of membership with CSPA.

It’s better than a two-for-one deal. Don’t miss out. Join CSPA today at

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Distribution is More Important Than You Think

For years I have been saying that distribution is key to increasing sales for your book.

Distribution increases the likelihood that your book is available where someone prefers to shop, making it easy for them to purchase. We are an immediate gratification society. If we don’t find what we are looking for right away, we will take the closest substitute.

Now a new study backs up what I already knew to be true. Wilke Global discovered that there was a lack of research on what consumers do when they are unable to find a particular product in both the brick-and-mortar and online worlds. So, the company embarked on a focused study in 2016 to learn more.

A few key findings from the Wilke Global study show that distribution is fundamental in winning with consumers. These findings include:

  1. Half of consumers (48% in 2016 and 49% in 2017) reported that they would buy another brand if the product they were searching for was not available on the shelf of the grocery or drug store where they were shopping.
  2. When faced with a product they don’t find at their retailer of choice, relatively few consumers seek to complete their purchase online (7% in 2016 and 10% in 2017). Basically, if a consumer sets out to buy a product in a store, they don’t readily make the shift to purchasing that product online if they can’t find it in the store.

While well over half of all books are now purchased online, some consumers are still brick-and-mortar book purchasers. What this research confirms is that when these readers hear about your book and can’t find it in the bookstore of their choice, they will  buy another book on the same topic that is available in the store instead.

This is why distribution is so important for small publishers and independently published authors. Simply having your book available on is not enough to reach all readers. If you book is not available for purchase in multiple online and brick-and-mortar bookstores (even for the store to order it when a customer asks) you are losing out on sales.

The Wilke Global study also discovered that consumers who purchase online are not terribly likely to visit the brand website (only 8% in 2016 and 6% in 2017 did so). Instead people shopping online generally start with Amazon, Google, or Walmart to find the product they are looking for.

As an author, the more places your book is for sale, the more sales you will catch. Make sure your book is in established book distribution channels so you don’t lose out on sales.

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Photo courtesy of Rhys Moult.

How Readers Discover Books

Do you recommend books to your family and friends? Have your family members or friends recently recommended a book to you?

Studies show that the number one way people discover books is through recommendations from family members and friends (including co-workers). Last year, Penguin Random House conducted a survey to find out more about how people discover books. Below is the Infographic that compiles the findings.

One of the more interesting findings in this study is how many people discovered a book via Goodreads. If you are not yet active on this book networking channel, I recommend that you join and benefit from this powerful tool that connects readers and books.

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Is Your Business Card Impressive?

Business cards are still in fashion. I find it surprising that even in this digital age with everyone carrying a smart phone, business cards are still a marketing essential.

If you are an author, you should have a business card. Your business card should include your author or book website and contact information. Business cards are a great marketing tool. Carry them with you wherever you go. You never know who you will meet or what connection you may make.

Did you know that 72 percent of people judge a person based on the quality of their business card? The infographic below tells you what you need to know to create an impressive business card.

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Are You Showing Up?

The Internet is littered with abandoned blogs and social media accounts. Often when authors contact me about issues with promoting and selling their books, one of the first things I do is check them out online. It is no surprise when I discover that often these authors have stopped showing up.

I have often heard it said that 90% of success is just showing up!

One author recently told me, “I knock on doors, and then in spite of my fear of failure or making a fool of myself, I still show up!”

Think about this. Showing up is most of the work. Once you show up, things usually flow.

When we get discouraged, showing up takes a lot of effort. When we fear rejection, showing up takes determination. The more you believe in your book and your message, the easier it is to show up.

Adoniram Judson was the first missionary sent to a foreign country from America. He went to Burma to tell people about Jesus. Success was slow. It took six years of Adoniram showing up regularly before he experienced his first convert to Christianity. Remember Judson’s perseverance when you feel like giving up.

Brené Brown—whose 2010 TED Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the most watched talks on—has 10 Rules for Success. The number one rule on that list is “Show up!”

Are you showing up regularly?

  • Are you updating your blog, podcast, or video series at least once a month?
  • Are you posting on your social media sites at least once each day?
  • Are you checking your emails and responding to them daily?
  • Are you participating in a forum or blog conversation reaching your target audience at least weekly?
  • Are you attending events for authors?

Do you want to experience more success in promoting and selling your books? Show up. Be there. When you are not there, you miss opportunities.

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