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.

Are You Using This to Build Your Author Platform?

To get published and sell books, you need a platform.

Most authors and aspiring authors have heard this message at least once, if not multiple times. But, what exactly defines a platform and how does one go about building one?This is the focus of the upcoming Learning Lab I will teach at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference on July 26. This four-hour seminar, “Build Your Author Platform”, will teach attendees six manageable steps to build and grow an online author platform through content marketing.

Content marketing is simply sharing useful information that educates or inspires your target audience so that they begin to trust you and your message. You want people to trust you so that they, in turn, buy your books. After all, studies show that people do business with those they trust.

Brian Jud, president of Book Marketing Works and APSS, says:

“Repetition of your message is important to reach the decision-making tipping point. It may take up to ten “hits” on prospects to get them to buy.”

Using content to reach your audience provides repetition of your message and gains people’s trust.

Many authors feel that using content to market takes too much time and energy. In my seminar, I show authors how to create and repurpose content to save time and get the most out of every piece of content they create.

Repurposing content involves taking one piece of information and showcasing it in a number of different ways. This practice provides many benefits.

  1. It increases productivity and efficiency.

As an author, you have spent hours researching and writing your book. All your knowledge does not need to stay contained within the pages of your book. You can use the information you share in your book and break this down into smaller pieces to share on a regular basis through content marketing on the Internet.

  1. It expands your reach.

Sharing content and repurposing that content in a variety of formats spreads your message. The more places your content is listed, the more people will read and hear what you have to say. This way people are exposed to your message on the channels they prefer and in a way that speaks to them.

  1. It extends the life-cycle of your material.

Large amounts of data and information are uploaded to the Internet on a daily basis. With so much information, your target audience might miss what you are posting. Repurposing your content for multiple channels not only increases the changes that your audience will see it, it also allows your content to be made fresh in new formats, extending its life cycle.

  1. It increases your visibility.

This is a simple marketing principle. The more places your content appears, the more people are likely to see it. Visibility is extremely important in marketing books. The competition is stiff. Visibility allows you to stand out from the crowd.

If you are interested in learning more about how to use your content to market your books and expand your reach, I encourage you to attend my seminar on building an author platform at the upcoming Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

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Print Is Not Disappearing

“The paperless society is about as plausible as the paperless bathroom.” ~Jesse Shera

The predictions of a paperless society have been around for decades. Back in 2012, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicted that the U.S. ebook market would surpass the printed book market in 2017. That fell far short of reality.

From 2012 to 2104, the sales of ebooks grew, but then instead of continuing to grow, ebook sales began to flatten and even decline in 2015. In 2017, unit sales of print books rose while unit sales of ebooks by traditional publishers fell 10% over 2016. For traditionally published books, ebook sales only made up 19% of all book sales in 2017. Author Earnings believes that ebook sales still account for about 25% of all book sales when indie published books are also taken into account.

It appears that print is not going way.

FedEx Office recently conducted a survey of consumers and small business owners about their preferences and purchasing habits regarding professional printing services. The survey, conducted by polling firm PSB, shows that consumers and small business owners prefer to use printed materials over digital. The study found:

  • Ninety percent of consumers and small business owners agreed that they “like to have the option to have printed materials” and preferred reading materials, most notably official documents and contracts, on paper versus on a screen.
  • The majority (90%) of consumers also agreed there will always be a need for printed materials and almost half (49%) said a world without paper would make them feel stressed or annoyed.

In fact, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently sent a notice out to Christian retailers that our 2018 Book Catalog was available to view online. In response, we received a number of emails from retailers requesting that we send them a print version of the catalog because they still preferred looking through print catalogs when making purchasing decisions.

Print is still popular. The shift to all digital has not yet surpassed print. As an Indie author or publisher, this means that print should still be part of your business strategy—both print books and print marketing materials.

Offering books in a variety of formats is a wise strategy, as is participating in both digital and print marketing. Is print still a part of your marketing strategy? Do you utilize:

  • Business cards
  • Print brochures
  • Bookmarks
  • Print catalogs
  • Print advertising?

If your print marketing efforts have fall by the wayside in favor of easier digital strategies, I encourage you to rethink your marketing efforts. A combination of both print and digital will reap the most benefits as we still operate in a world where people use both mediums.

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7 Social Media Facts You Should Know

Nothing stays static when it comes to technology. Just when you think you have the latest gadget or social media site figured out, either the current one changes its interface or a new one comes along that you have to adapt to.

Social networking is a constantly changing and evolving tool. To stay relevant and use social media to best connect with a target audience, authors can’t stay stagnant. Instead, we must adapt our strategies to fit the trends.

Following are seven social media facts from a recent Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults. I encourage you to use the findings from this survey to inform you of best practices in using social media to reach readers.

1. Facebook Is Still the Most Popular Social Network Site.

A little more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) are Facebook users. Nearly 75% of these users check Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans of all generations use Facebook. Facebook is still an important place for authors and publishers to connect with readers.

2. Most Americans Use Three of the Major Social Platforms.

The average American uses three of the eight major social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and WhatsApp). Know your target audience. Find out which three social networks these people use the most and be present on these sites.

3. Instagram Shows the Most User Growth.

Pew Research has been collecting social media data since 2016. Over the course of the past three years, seven percent more U.S. adults now use Instagram then did in 2016. The percentage of adults who use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest remains the same as it was in 2016. Instagram is now the second most popular social platform for Americans.

4. Women Are the Primary Users of Pinterest.

Pinterest has always been heavily used by women. The Pew study found that 41 percent of women use Pinterest compared to just 16 percent of men. Since women influence 83 percent of all consumer spending in the United States, books geared for men can still be promoted on Pinterest.

5. LinkedIn Is Most Popular With College Graduates.

Around 50 percent of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just nine percent of those with a high school diploma or less. Studies have shown that people with higher education read more. LinkedIn remains a great place to connect with people who read.

6. Most of Senior Citizens Don’t Use Social Media.

Only 37 percent of those over 65 use social media. If your target audience is retired folks, then don’t spend a lot of time on social media promoting your books. Use more traditional channels to reach this age group.

7. Few People Have a Lot of Trust in the Information on Social Media.

I found this finding the most surprising. Only three percent of social media users say they have a lot of trust in the information they find on social media. It appears that earning people’s trust via social media may be an uphill battle—and trust is required for people to buy your books.

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Photo courtesy of Tracy Le Blanc.

Five More Free Tools for Authors

Indie authors wear many hats including writer, publisher, book designer, production manager, publicist, marketing manager, and social media manager. It’s a lot to do with multiple tasks to keep track of.

The more help you have with these tasks, the more efficient you can be. Following are five free tools to help you in your Indie author roles.

1. Organize Your Brainstorm Ideas.

All authors brainstorm ideas. Brainstorming is an important part of developing a book. But, where can you put all those ideas and organize them? Enter mind maps. Mind maps are a graphical representation of ideas and concepts. They are a visual thinking tool for structuring information, helping you to better understand, remember, and generate new ideas. You can use the Bubbl.us mind map online for free.

2. Find Out How Amazon Kindle Sales Rank Translates to Actual Sales.

Every Kindle book listed on Amazon has a sales rank. How does this sales rank correlate to daily sales? You can now find out with the Kindle Sales Rank Calculator by Kindlepreneur. This free to use tool helps authors understand the connection between Amazon’s best sellers rank number and Kindle ebooks sold per day. Try the free KDP Calculator.

3. Know the Tone Your Words are Communicating.

Written words carry tone, which conveys emotions. To make sure your next email, text, or social post carries the correct tone, use the Tone Analyzer tool. Just copy and paste your message in the box and click the “Analyzer” button. The Analyzer lets you know what emotion your text conveys.

4. Save Stuff from the Internet to View Later.

If you are like me, you probably stumble over lots of interesting things on the web that you don’t have time to digest at the moment. If you use your browser bookmark tool, it can become unwieldy. A better way to save and organize anything on the web—articles, videos, social media posts—for later enjoyment is Pocket. Once saved in Pocket, your list of content is visible on any device—phone, tablet, or computer—for viewing. The service has free and premium options.

5. Find Out Which Libraries Carry Your Books. 

Have you been pursuing library sales for your books? Do you want to know if any libraries have ordered copies of your books? You can find out which libraries have copies of your book in circulation at WorldCat database.

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