Are You Making Use of Fiction Apps?

Reading habits are changing. The time that people spend reading each day is decreasing with reading time spent in shorter spurts or in soundbites. Often, rather than sitting down and reading for the sake of reading, many people are reading in-between their many other activities.

BookNet Canada, a non-profit book industry research organization recently surveyed 750 Canadians about how they use their leisure time. Since BookNet Canada is interested in books and reading, the survey asked a number of questions about reading habits. Here are are a few interesting findings from the survey.

  • Reading is the fifth most popular choice for leisure-time activity, after browsing the Internet, spending time with family, watching TV, and watching a movie.
  • The use of smartphones to read ebooks rose 6% over last year’s survey, meaning that 20% of respondents read books on their smartphones.
  • Word-of-mouth remains the most common way survey respondents learn about new books to read (50%). Interestingly, respondents were evenly split on finding new books through browsing online and brick-and-mortar stores (38%). While another 30 percent found new books via social media and 21 percent reported learning about new books to read through online communities like Goodreads.
  • Finding books through e-reading apps is growing. Eleven percent of survey respondents reported that they discovered new books through these apps.

I believe this combination of reading in short spurts of time in-between activities and the rise of reading on smartphones has led to the growth of serialized fiction apps. If you write fiction, you can use these serialized fiction apps to grow your audience for your books.

Serialized fiction apps allow writers to write, share, and monetize bite-sized serial fiction stories. Most of these apps use a freemium model, where readers begin reading for free, but can then purchase installments of stories that they really enjoy, tipping, or an ad-based model for revenue earning.

One of the largest online sites and apps for sharing stories is Wattpad. With Wattpad, authors earn money from ads. Two newer serialized fiction apps that are open to all authors are Radish and Tapas.

As an author, you can take a story you have already written and break it down into bite-sized chunks for one or more of these apps, or you can write a serialized story specifically for the app. I think BookNet’s finding that 11 percent of survey respondents had discovered new books (and authors) on an e-reading app shows that putting your stories on these apps can indeed help you grow your audience.

Are you an author who has already put your writings on a serialized app? If so, I would love to hear which app you used and what your experience has been. You can share your experience with me in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Is Christian Fiction Growing or Dying?
The State of Christian Fiction
The State of Fiction Reading

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Do You Know Your Target Audience?

Who is your target audience? I am continually surprised at how many authors have trouble answering this question. So many authors have a burning to write a book, yet they fail to identify whom they are writing their book for.

“Everyone” is not a target audience. Neither is “all Christians.” Your target audience is the group of people who will benefit the most from what you have to say. Maybe it’s those Christians who want to start seeing answers to their prayers. Maybe it’s single moms who are weary of fighting the parenting battle alone.

Knowing your target audience not only makes your writing stronger and clearer, it helps you market your book effectively to this group of people. When considering their target audience, authors and publishers should look at things like:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Economic status
  • Relationship status
  • Spiritual level or interest

If you are writing Christian books, then a subset of “Christians” is your primary target audience. A new study shines an interesting light on the ethnic diversity of this community in the United States.

A recent report by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) states “The American religious landscape has undergone dramatic changes in the last decade, and is more diverse today than at any time since modern sociological measurements began.” In fact, the organization’s 2016 American Values Atlas found that one-third of all Evangelical Protestants in America are people of color.

About a quarter of Americans (26%) self-identify as evangelical. Around two-thirds of these evangelicals are white (64%), while 19 percent are Black, and 10 percent are Hispanic, and the remaining 6 percent are Asian, mixed race, or other ethnicity.
Interestingly, the study found that half of evangelicals under 30 years old are nonwhite (50%). So, younger generations of evangelicals are even more ethnically diverse than the population taken as a whole.

What does this have to do with your target audience? It most likely means that your target audience is more ethnically diverse than you might have considered. Additionally, the younger the audience you are targeting, the more ethnically diverse it is.

Knowing your target audience allows you to promote your book to the group of people who have the most interest in your message. Knowing specifics about this target audience allows you to tailor your marketing messages and material to effectively speak to this group of people. If you want to be successful in promoting your books, then make sure your marketing materials are speaking to your target audience.

Related Posts:
Get to Know Your Target Audience
How to Gain More Readers for Your Books
Micro-Target to Get Results

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Photo courtesy of Tamarcus Brown.

How to Gain More Readers for Your Books

All authors face the one same challenge: Finding readers for their books.

All sorts of gimmicks exist to lure customers to purchase products. Advertising experts even study which words and phrases work best for grabbing people’s attention. Tested Selling Institute and Word Laboratory Inc. looked at words and phrases salespeople could use to get customers to buy. They discovered a few magic words that tend to grab attention include:

  • New
  • Advice
  • At last
  • Truth
  • Love
  • Facts you should know

Advertising legend Robert Collier believed that writing advertising text was like a science. He used the studies done by Tested Selling Institute and Word Laboratory Inc. and applied their findings to printed advertising. Collier’s own research revealed that the word “how” in an advertising headline appeared to be the most useful word in improving the success of an advertising piece.

Each of these words reveals that people are searching for answers. People want practical solutions to their problems. They want to improve their lives.

I frequently say that marketing is simply letting people know that you have the answer to a need in their life. If you publish books, your book meets a need in someone’s life.

We all know that advertising is expensive and often does not have a very high return, especially for books. After all, people need to see and hear about a product multiple times before they decide to make a purchase (with the exception of impulse buys). So, what other marketing techniques can authors use to grab readers’ attention?

Enter content marketing. Content marketing is about sharing information that educates, inspires, and entertains readers. Content marketing allows an author to develop trust with an audience so that these people buy the author’s books.

If you are interested in learning more about content marketing and how you can use this powerful tool to grow the audience for your books, I encourage you to watch my new on-demand seminar Grow Your Audience with Content Marketing. This 40-minute seminar will walk you through six practical steps for sharing content on a regular basis to grow your audience.

As always, these on-demand seminars are free for Members of Christian Small Publishers Association. Other publishers and authors can access this seminar, Grow Your Audience with Content Marketing, for just $15 online at https://mcbuniversity.selz.com.

Related Posts:
What’s Your Spin?
Is Your Audience Growing?
Are You Developing an Audience?

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Creative Marketing with Bookmarks

Effectively promoting a book takes dedication and effort—and not just a little effort, a lot of effort.

There are more books available today than at any other time in history. Some estimate that Amazon has over 11 million titles available for purchase on its site with a new book added every five minutes. With so many books competing for readers’ attention, creative efforts are necessary to grab that attention.

I am always on the lookout for creative marketing ideas. I like to pass these ideas on to authors, so that you can either copy the idea or use it to get your own creative juices flowing for out-of-the-box marketing ideas for your own books. I frequently highlight innovative ideas that I come across on this blog and a number are listed in my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

Recently, I ran across an author who suggested that since bookmarks are cheap to produce (you can purchase a thousand bookmarks for under $100), that authors should make use of them in their book promotion activities. This author said that he had printed a number of bookmarks with the image of his book and a little information about it, along with the URL of his book’s website. He then offered a stack of these bookmarks to his local public library.

This author figured that since public libraries have tight budgets, they can’t afford to purchase trinkets to give to patrons. So, offering his bookmarks as a freebie that his local library could give to their patrons was a win-win proposition.

This sounds like a good idea. Since many people still read print books, bookmarks are a great handout. However, many public libraries might be reluctant to accept a bookmark for a book that promotes Christianity and/or is not available for checkout in their library system. So, where else might Christian authors use bookmarks to promote their books?
Here are four ideas I came up with.

  1. Offer your bookmarks to your local church’s library or bookstore to give to patrons.
  2. If you have a book for children or young adults, offer your bookmarks to local Christian schools to give to the students in whatever grades your book is geared to.
  3. If you have a book geared for seniors, offer your bookmarks to your local senior center to give to seniors who frequent the center.
  4. Put a stack of your bookmarks in your local Little Free Library for your neighbors to use.

If you have more ideas on how Christian authors can use bookmarks to promote a book, please share them.

Related Posts:
Publicity Stunts
Another Creative Book Promotion Idea
Extreme Marketing

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An Important Element in Publishing Nonfiction

Experts say that most healthy teenagers and adults are unable to sustain attention on one thing for more than about 20 minutes at a time—usually up to about an hour at most. However, overall, our attention spans are getting shorter. Recent research reveals:

1. People generally lose concentration after eight seconds.
The average attention span for a goldfish is nine seconds. A study by Microsoft Corporation found that since the year 2000 the average online attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.

2. The average time spent reading is on the decline.
A study by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics found that, on average, Americans read only 19 minutes per day, down from 10 years ago. Young people spend even less time reading. On weekends, Americans between the ages of 25 to 34 read for just eight minutes a day on average. Older Americans read more. Those over 75 spend more than an hour a day reading over weekends and holidays.

3. Most people read only part of a nonfiction book.
In fact, a study by Kobo found that Religion books were the most abandoned of any genre. In North America, only a little over one-third of all religion books are read all the way to completion.

With decreased time spent reading, decreased attention span, and knowing that the majority of readers don’t read a Christian nonfiction book in its entirety, every author should pay attention to this important element for nonfiction books.

Keep it short.

Yep, you read that right. If your book is for the average Christian individual, keep it short. Unless you are marketing a reference book or a scholarly tomb to pastors, scholars, professors, or others in academia, shorter is better.

Many nonfiction authors have good and useful information. However, if a reader is not reading your entire book, some of your information is lost. To help readers glean more from your nonfiction books— in addition to writing compelling prose—make the following adjustments to your books:

  • Keep your nonfiction book under 200 pages, but closer to 120 to 150 pages.
  • Keep the chapters short. More chapters with fewer pages per chapter is better. People often read in soundbites.
  • If you have a long nonfiction book that is over 200 pages and not selling well, either reduce the size or turn it into two books.
  • Keep the price down. Since you are selling a shorter book, don’t price it as high as a book that is 200+ pages. Keep the price just a little lower so that readers perceive value for their money.

Our culture is changing and, if we want to be relevant and sell books, our books must accommodate these changes.

Related Posts:
Important Information for Christian Authors
What are People Reading?
Are You Paying Attention?

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Photo courtesy of Charles Deluvio.