You Have Seconds to Make a Good Impression

Whether we think we do or not, we judge stuff all the time. Studies show that we decide within the first four to eight seconds of meeting someone what we think of that person.

The same is true for you and your books. When viewing your book cover, your website, or any of your marketing material, readers will immediately be drawn to your book or turned away.

You have seconds to make a good impression

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Houston recorded the electrical brain activity from 431 gallery visitors last year as they explored an exhibit of works by conceptual artist Dario Robleto at the Menil Collection, near downtown Houston. The results were remarkable.

The study found that the brain is quick to judge. Shown an artwork for the first time, be it a landscape painting, a portrait or an abstract rendering of almost any style, people usually make a snap judgment of its aesthetic appeal. Brain-wave recordings suggest that the neural calculation takes 200 to 330 milliseconds, about as long as a photo flash.

This research suggests that when people view creative work, they know right away whether they like it or not. Your book’s cover is a piece of artwork.  People will make a snap judgment of its aesthetic appeal. This quick decision will determine whether they pause to learn more about your book or move on to the next image or book.

Marekting Designs

Recently, I consulted with a new ministry that is opening its doors in a couple months. The ministry was putting together a brochure about their services.

The prototype I was shown was a trifold brochure that looked like it was from the 1990s. I pointed this out to the ministry and suggested that they use a newer design of a card stock two-sided flyer that is more modern. I knew that many people viewing the trifold brochure would be put off simply by the dated design.

The same is true for books, website, and marketing material. Technology is rapidly changing. With these changes, the design of book covers, websites, and marketing materials is also evolving.

To be most effective and make a good first impression, make sure that all your marketing designs are modern. Remember, no matter how great your message or brilliant your book, you must hook people in the first initial seconds of exposure to win them over.

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Photos courtesy of Ryan McGuire and FreePik.

Are You Giving Up Too Soon?

At Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA), we recently received this notice from a Member:

I got two email notices and a postcard, but I still kept forgetting to renew my membership until today. Life gets past me sometimes.

Life Gets Past Me

Stop for just a moment and take note of this message.

This individual wanted to renew his membership in Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA). He was a repeat customer who knows and likes the benefits of membership.

Yet, he still failed to act in a timely fashion even with multiple reminders to act. He stated in his message that “Life gets past me sometimes.”

Contemplate this for a moment.

If this individual, who was motivated to act, needed multiple reminders to remember to act, how many more times do people who are less motivated need to be reminded?

Often it takes exposure over time with multiple reminders before people act. The same is true for buying your books. Many may hear about your book for months or even years before they finally decide to buy and read it.

We are all busy. We are all inundated with more information than we can handle.

Back in the 1940s—long before neuroimaging confirmed it—Edgar Dale, an American Educator, developed the Cone of Experience, which predicts how much people remember. Dale thought that people retain:

  • 10 percent of what they READ
  • 20 percent of what they HEAR
  • 30 percent of what they SEE
  • 50 percent of what they SEE and HEAR
  • 70 percent of what they SAY and WRITE
  • 90 percent of what they DO.

Edgar Dale Cone of Experience

This means that you can reliably predict:

  • Only 10% of people who READ about your book will remember it.
  • Only 20% of people who HEAR about your book will remember it.
  • Only 30% of people who SEE your book will remember it.

To increase this percentages, you need repeat exposure. Each time a person is exposed to your book, the more likely it is they will remember it and act to buy it.

Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Persistence is required in marketing.

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Photo courtesy of Flood G.

Is Your Text Causing Cognitive Overload?

I have a confession. I know that podcasts are extremely popular. However, I have not been able to bring myself to jump on board.

I rarely listen to podcasts. I am a very busy person (as are many Americans). In my opinion, podcasts just take too long to serve the “meat.”

Is your text causing cognitive overload?

If I want information on a topic, I find reading easier. With reading, I can scan an article or web page and find the important information I am looking for. With a podcast, I am locked in to listening until the meat is finally dished out—which is usually most of the way through the podcast.

I am not alone in scanning or skimming when reading to find information. Research shows that 79% of people scan a web page, while only 16% read word-for-word. Interestingly, another study found that people scan email newsletters similar to web pages.

Too much information results in cognitive overload. Today, we have more information in front of us than ever before in the history of the world. As a result, we can easily become overloaded with information, causing our brain to not work as efficiently.

In an effort to reduce our cognitive load, we scan information. This results in more efficient processing of that information by the brain.

Is your text scannable?

Reading a book is different from reading web copy, marketing copy, or emails. When people choose to read a book, they are making the choice to read word-for-word. When people seek specific information, they scan to find what they are looking for.

To engage more people, it is important that all your marketing material can be scanned easily so that your important points stand out. Marketing material includes:

  • Blog posts
  • Website copy
  • Book descriptions
  • Book back cover copy
  • Author bios
  • Online and print advertisements
  • Author media sheets

Text becomes more scannable when it is broken up. In your marketing text, don’t use big blocks of text like you do in a book. Instead, focus on breaking up the text as follows:

  • Use headings and subheadings.
  • Pull out points and make them a bullet list.
  • Keep your paragraphs short.
  • Highlight keywords.
  • Put your most important point first.

A good rule of thumb is that your marketing materials should contain half the word count (or less) then when writing conventionally.

Armed with this information, I suggest that you revisit your marketing material to ensure that it is not causing cognitive overload.

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Photo courtesy of Silviarita and Geralt.

Are You Leaning into Your Authority?

One of the best ways to be seen as an authority in a subject is by writing an excellent book on the topic. So, once you publish a book on a given topic, people perceive you as an expert.

Leaning into Authority

In fact, research from The Visible Expert by Hinge Marketing shows that books deliver the highest overall impact for building visibility and authority. This research shows that books have a greater impact on perceived authority on a given topic than:

  • keynote addresses
  • company websites
  • blogs and articles

As an author, you can parlay your authority on your topic to gain more visibility for your book and to help people improve their lives. The perceived authority you possess allows you to speak on your book’s subject to numerous audiences via:

  • Podcasts
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Journalists
  • Articles
  • Speaking engagements

The media will interview you because you are an author. Magazines and websites will print your articles because you are an author. Event coordinators will book you to speak because you are an author.

The question to ask yourself is: Am I leaning into this authority? In other words, are you taking advantage of the opportunities that being an author brings?

man speaking

You wrote a book because you had something to say on your book’s topic. Your desire was that what you had to share would impact and change people. Now that your book is published, you can use your author authority to continue to influence people.

Lean into your authority and seek opportunities to share. Where can you find these opportunities? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Use the Christian Writers Market Guide to find magazines accepting articles on your topic.
  2. Find resources for guest blog posts in my book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books.
  3. Become a Member of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) and use our big list of podcast and radio shows interviewing authors to secure media exposure.
  4. Attend a Christian Writers Conference and gather ideas and resources from the workshops and attendees.
  5. Step out of your comfort zone and contact local organizations about speaking—churches, senior centers, schools, libraries, local clubs (e.g. Lions Club and Rotary), etc.

There are so many possibilities for leaning into your authority for more exposure and influence. Make a list, then get to work.

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Effective Content Marketing

“I’m blogging and sharing on social media, but it just does not seem to help me sell books.”

I have heard this complaint from more than one author. These authors are creating content, but not finding it as effective at driving sales of their books as they had hoped.

Content Marketing is Free.

The beauty of creating content to market a book is that doing so is free. All it costs you is your time.

The downside of creating content to market a book is that it takes time and does not always reap the reward (sales) an author hopes.

Content marketing—creating valuable content that speaks to your readers’ needs and offering this information for free—is a long-term strategy for building trust and relationships with customers and potential customers. In fact, one study by Forrester found that, on average, a person consumes 11.4 pieces of content before buying.

This number is an average. This means that some people will consume less, but others will consume more before they decide to buy. Also, this study did not look at people who did not buy. It only looked at people who bought a product.

The study looked at how many pieces of content people consumed before they purchased the product or service. This average was between eleven and twelve pieces of content—written, audio, or video. Remember, you will always have people who will just read or view your free material and never buy your book(s).

If you are creating content and sharing this information via your blog, email newsletter, or social media sites, you want your content to be as effective as possible. So, before you create or share a piece of content, ask yourself whether your information or material answers one of these four questions.

  1. Does this piece of content boost awareness about my book’s subject?
  2. Does this piece of content help build people’s trust in me as an author on my book’s subject?
  3. Does this piece of content help convert visitors to my site to subscribers?
  4. Does this piece of content encourage readers to buy my book?

If your content does not satisfy one of these objectives, then developing that material may be a waste of your time. To be effective, every piece of content that you create should be relevant to your target audience as well as your book’s subject matter.

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Photo by bruce mars.