What Is Your Next Action?

I recently met a poet who wants to become published. This lady is trusting that God will guide her steps on her quest to become a published poet. She has tried a number of avenues and most have been dead ends.

She told me that, not too long ago, she decided to share one of her poems at a local open mic night. This was not a Christian event; it was a general market affair. This author writes Christian prose. She took the opportunity afforded her and spoke one of her poems at the event.

At the end of the evening, a gentleman approached her. He asked if she had ever recorded any of her poems. The poet answered that she had not. This gentleman stated that he thought her lyrics were powerful and should be recorded. He then invited her to use the studio in the basement of his house to records some poems.

Later the poet asked the man with the studio if he was a regular at open mic night. His response was that the night she spoke had been the first and only time he had attended the event.

The way God works is often mysterious and awesome. One thing we do know is that often, before God works, he requires us to act. We have to step out in faith and do something. Then God shows up. He provides or performs a miracle, or simply points us down the next path he wants us to take.

The process starts with an action on our part. Sadly, we often don’t act because we are scared. We fear failure, or embarrassment, or even not doing what God wants.

A Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently took a giant leap with her publishing business. She told me that she often questions whether this is what she should be doing or if it is what God wants her to be doing. I assured her that anytime we are doing something with the intent of bringing Glory to God, our actions are pleasing to God.

Just as this poet had to move out of her comfort zone and perform her poetry in public for a door to open, so too, you must act. What action do you need to take?

Is fear holding you back? If so, ponder these lyrics from Zach Williams’ song Fear is a Liar. The chorus states:

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar

Don’t let fear keep you from experiencing the blessings that God has for you and your books.

I would love to hear your testimony. If you have stepped out in faith, taken action, and God has met you, please share in the comments section.

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How to Improve Your Social Media Success

How much time do you spend on social media each day?

How much time should you spend to on social media for marketing purposes?

Every author struggles with knowing how much time to invest in social media. Social media is a time vortex. You can spend hours upon hours each week creating, publishing, monitoring and engaging with content on social media. The important question to ask yourself is whether you see a proportional return for the time you spend on social media.

 

Maybe you feel like you are wasting your time with social media. You are not having much engagement with your material and you are not seeing any return on your investment.

To ensure that you are not wasting your time on social media, first define your goal. Do you want:

  • To increase awareness of your books?
  • To increase engagement with a community of fans and readers?
  • To increase web traffic and book sales?

Know which one of these you want to focus on the most and then plan your strategy based on your goal.

Awareness

If you are looking for awareness on social media, then your goal is to post things that people will share. The more people share your content, the more people see you, increasing awareness. The type of posts that people are most likely to share are:

  • Entertaining
  • Inspiring
  • Storytelling
  • Educational

So, tailor your posts to these themes if you want to raise awareness.

Engagement

If you are seeking more engagement from your followers on social media, then tailor your posts to match those that people engage with the most. A recent study by Sprout Social showed the following:

  • 58% of people prefer visual content, specifically graphics, images and produced videos.
  • 90% of people are more likely to engage with company personality posts.
  • 50% of people are likely to engage with new product posts.
  • 31% are likely to engage with storytelling content.

Create posts that generate engagement. Ask questions, take polls, and share stories to encourage your fans and followers to comment on, react to, and even share your posts.

Web Traffic and Sales

To increase your web traffic and sales offer freebies that are available only through your website. Create incentives for people to come to your website in your posts. Use services like Pay with a Tweet that encourage people to get your freebie as well as share it wider on social media to increase your website traffic.

With as little as 30 minutes a day spent on social media, you can begin to see more success for your efforts as long as you stay focused and create content that engages people toward your goal.

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Photo courtesy of Alexa Suter.

Are You Pursuing Radio Exposure?

I recently encouraged an author of an adventure devotional for men who enjoy outdoor adventures to pursue outdoor stores as a venue for book sales. His response was that these general-market stores won’t want to carry a Biblical message.

I pointed him to Barna and encouraged him to use the statistics this research group reports about Biblical interest and belief in God in America. I told him that he can use these statistics to create a convincing argument to show the stores that the majority of their shoppers have an interest in God.

Knowing what people are looking for is useful in marketing. This knowledge informs your message and your approach to gain more exposure for your books. If you are pursuing exposure through guest interviews on radio shows, you can use the research findings from Finney Media to improve your pitch.

Radio is still a great way to reach people. More than 243 million American adults listen to the radio each month. News and talk shows are among the top listened to radio formats.

In 2016, Finney Media Research developed The Finney Media Why Listen?® Survey that delves into why individuals listen and give to Christian-formatted radio shows and programs. The 2018 survey had 26,800 respondents who listen to Christian-formatted radio. Results of the survey reveal:

  • In-car listening to radio dominates.
  • Online radio listening for teaching is growing.
  • Listeners tune out if the tone of the show is negative, angry or judgmental.
  • People report that they listen to Christian radio to help them grow spiritually.
  • The majority of respondents (87%) report it helps them worship God throughout the day.

Finney’s recommendation from these findings is for Christian radio to focus emphasis on spiritual content that is boldly Biblical. Finney believes that radios stations that meet their listeners’ expectations and needs will see genuine spiritual growth as well as an expanded audience.

If you are pursuing radio exposure for your books, you can use these findings to your advantage. When approaching show producers, let them know how your message is boldly Biblical and how it will meet their listener’s needs in using radio to worship God and grow spiritually.

By the way, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) offers our Members a list of over 70 radio and podcast outlets actively interviewing authors. Right now, you can join CSPA for just $120 and receive membership through December 2019. Not only will this allow you to access this list of radio and podcast shows, you will also receive access to all the other great benefits CSPA offers our Members.

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Photo courtesy of Bruce Mars.

Authors: Start Local

At the grocery store the other day, I was reminded that there are opportunities everywhere for authors to promote their books.

As I entered my local Harris Teeter, the rack standing next to the door caught my eye. I usually enter this store from the opposite side, so I don’t often walk by this shelf. The rack was filled with free local magazines for anyone to take.

I have seen many racks like this that mostly contain magazines for people looking for a place to rent or a car to buy. However, this rack had all sorts of interesting local magazines including a local happenings magazine, a parenting magazine, a woman’s magazine, a natural living magazine, and a luxury living magazine. In total, there were 13 different types of magazines on this rack.

I realized that each of these local magazines offered opportunities for authors to promote their books. Local magazines love to tell stories of local people and highlight local events. As an author, you can pick up these free magazines at your local store and find ones that match your target audience. Then you can approach these magazines about either highlighting your story, running an article you have written, or advertising.

Start local. Every large movement began locally. Jesus began his ministry in his hometown region and then, after his death and resurrection, Christianity spread worldwide. The #MeToo movement was actually started in 2006 in Alabama with an organization called Just Be Inc. that teaches young women and helps them develop a sense of self-worth. The #MeToo movement did not go viral until 2017.

There are local marketing opportunities all around you. In addition to local magazines, consider the following venues in your neighborhood, city, or town where you can receive publicity, speak at, or host an event to promote your books:

  • Bookstores
  • Libraries
  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Community Centers
  • Senior Centers
  • Newspapers
  • Radio and TV Stations

Musician Josh Wilson has a song titled “Dream Small”. In the song, he encourages Christians to start serving God right where they are. The chorus of the song says:

So dream small
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time

You can start promoting your book right where you are, one day at a time, allowing Jesus to use your efforts for his glory—and more book sales!

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Photo courtesy of Christian Stahl.

Do You Need Marketing Confidence?

You have heard the clichés “Dress for success” and “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” While familiar and maybe a little overused, they are still true.

Similar to dressing for success, there are steps that you can take to build your confidence for success in marketing your books. If you find yourself lacking marketing confidence, implement these three suggestions that will boost your confidence the way dressing does.

1. Present a Professional Image.

A professional image is about dressing sharply. As an author, your website, business card, letterhead, email signature, and social networking sites are where your audience receives their first impression of you. Make sure these look sharp and professional. Use a professional author photo. Have consistency across all your platforms in image, color, and theme so that you present a branded image.

Studies show that the clothes we wear affect our behavior, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and even the way we interact with others. In other words, the image you present to the world affects how you think and act. So, present a professional author image and you will gain confidence.

2. Stay in The Know.

Nothing builds confidence like knowledge. The more you know, the more secure you are in stepping into that knowledge. Staying up-to-date on publishing and marketing trends helps you act more confidently. Learn what others are doing successfully and then mimic these tactics with your target audience for successful exposure.

Join writers’ or publishers’ associations to receive cutting-edge information and join with others in group marketing efforts. Network with members of the organization to learn what is working for them and for collaborative opportunities. Right now, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is offering a summer membership special for small publishers and independent authors producing Christian books. For just $120 you can join CSPA through December 2019.

3. Show Your Passion.

As an author, you should be passionate about your book and the message it conveys. A passionate person displays confidence in the subject they are passionate about. Let your passion shine through as you communicate with people. Enthusiasm is catchy. As your fervor for your book shines, others will also catch your excitement and want to know more about your book and how their lives might benefit from your message.

Pursue and respond to opportunities to let your passion shine. Write guest blog posts and articles aimed at your target audience. Look for speaking opportunities to share your message.

Developing a professional, well-dressed image will build your confidence and help establish trust with your readers and other professionals you interact with as you market your books.

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