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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Age-Old Marketing Wisdom for Authors

Wise King Solomon said that there is nothing new under the sun. His advice is still relevant today, and so are these eight common English proverbs. Let each one give you wisdom for your book marketing journey.

1.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Anything that takes a long time to finish begins with one step. Marketing a book can be overwhelming. The number of tasks can be daunting. Instead of looking at the whole picture, look at one step at a time. Ask yourself: What is my next step? When that one is done, then ask again and repeat the process.

2.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

An image not only tells a story, it draws people in. This is especially true on the Internet with social media. Use images to convey your marketing messages. Studies show that people engage more with social media posts that contain images. In fact one study showed that social media posts with pictures are 40 times more likely to be shared than those posts that don’t feature a picture.

3.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What is “beautiful” is different for each person. That means that not everyone will like your book. Not everyone will find your story beautiful. Don’t take it personally. Know that your book is not meant for everyone and seek the people who will find the beauty in your book.

4.  Better late than never.

Promoting your book should start about a year before you publish it. If you failed to promote your book before you brought it to fruition, take heart. It is better to start marketing your book late than to never market it at all. If you have stopped marketing, it’s not too late to pick it back up again and remind people that your book exists and meets a need for them.

5.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

In marketing, it is a little of this and a little of that makes the most impact. No one marketing channel or task will ensure your book sells well. Don’t just use social media. Don’t just advertise online. You have numerous options for promoting your book. Use as many as you can.

6.  Fortune favors the bold.

Those who are willing to take risks tend to be more successful than those who play it safe. Take some risks with your marketing endeavors. Some will fail, but some will pay off.

7.  Honesty is the best policy.

It is always better to tell the truth than a lie. Make sure that your marketing messages are truthful and that you can fulfill your promise to your reader.

8.  There is no time like the present.

Don’t procrastinate. Don’t wait. Do it now. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. But, if you don’t try, you can’t succeed. Start doing whatever marketing tasks you have been putting off today. Write that press release. Email that influencer. Call that radio producer. Schedule that book signing.

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Photo courtesy of Picography.co.

How Visuals Affect Purchasing Decisions

Advertising photographs are airbrushed. Oranges are dyed “orange” and farm-raised salmon are dyed pink to make them more appealing to shoppers.

Visual appeal affects what we buy. Check out these interesting statistics:

 

  • Colored visuals are proven to increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.
  • The average person views only 20% of a webpage, but will view every image.
  • 67% of product users say images are very important when making a purchasing decision.
  • 63% of consumers said good images are more important than product descriptions.

I have frequently said that your book’s cover is your number one marketing tool. This last statistic—63% of consumers said good images are more important than product descriptions—emphasizes my point. Almost two-thirds of the people who buy your book will be largely influenced by the cover design.

Authors love words. We want to convince buyers with our words. Words are good and must be used effectively in promoting your books, but keep in mind the image is what will draw people in to read your words.

I recently received an e-catalog from a small publisher. To my dismay, the book images in this catalog were minuscule. I do mean tiny. Each book hosted a lengthy description with many words, but the book cover images were so small that I could not even make out the title of the book on each image.

Sadly, this e-catalog will not be very effective. Had an inverse ratio been used—large book cover images and few words—this catalog would pack much more punch. It could convert more viewers to buyers. After all, one study showed that including a photo next to an item on a restaurant menu increased its orders by 30 percent.

Research is showing that the more inundated we have become with information; the more visual decision making is growing. Images are becoming the biggest motivating factor in what we do, where we go, and what we buy.

Consider this. The most popular website after Google is YouTube, a highly visual medium. The two most popular social media platforms for younger generations are Instagram and Snapchat, both photo driven sharing.

If you want to be more effective in promotion your book(s), keep the important of visual decision making and appeal in mind when you create your next social media post, blog post, advertisement, or marketing material. Put an engaging image in every piece of information you share on the internet. Make your images central as well as large and appealing in all your promotional marketing and advertising materials.

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Photos courtesy of Visual Hunt and Pixabay.

Your Book: A Needle in a Haystack

The number of self-published titles continues to grow. Bowker, the company that assigns ISBN numbers recently announced that 786,935 ISBN numbers were assigned to self-published titles in 2016. This is an increase of 59,810 titles, an 8.2% increase over 2015.

According to the 2016 Bowker report, ISBNs assigned for print books rose 11.3% to 638,624 titles, while ISBNs assigned to ebooks fell 3.2% to 148,311. Since Bowker measures the number of self-published books by ISBN, its count does not include ebooks released by authors through Amazon’s KDP program, as Amazon Kindle uses ASIN identifiers rather than ISBNs.

Small publishers—defined as those authors and publishers who purchase their own ISBN numbers (rather than using an ISBN number provided by a publishing platform like CreateSpace) and produce 10 or fewer titles—grew by 7.67%, up 3,863 titles to 54,206 from 2015.

These figures indicate that the self-publishing industry is beginning to stabilize as it is growing to maturity. According to Bowker’s report, self-published titles grew 30% from 2013 to 2014 and 21% from 2014 to 2015. Then this past year, from 2015 to 2016, the growth rate of self-published titles slowed to about 8%.

If you released a book in 2016 or 2017, your book is simply one book in a sea of three-quarters of a million other books released the same year. That is a lot of competition. It is much like being a needle in a haystack.

Marketing a book among millions can seem a daunting task. How can you make your book stand out and get noticed? Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help your book get noticed. Here are three.

1. Build a platform.
Building a platform is all about developing an audience of people who trust and listen to what you have to say. You can develop your audience online with a blog, podcast, or video series, or you can develop an audience through speaking engagements. Readers buy books from authors they trust. For more information on building a platform and developing an audience, watch my on-demand seminar Developing an Audience for Your Books.

2. Go Niche.
Niche means a distinct segment of a market. It’s all about narrowing your audience to focus on those most likely to read your book. For example, if you have a book on parenting, instead of targeting all parents, you would refine your target audience. You might refine it to Christian parents and then refine it further to Christian parents of disabled children and then refine it even further to Christian parents of disabled children who need special care. Refining helps you find the best niche audience for your book.

3. Partner with Influencers.
Seek out those who already have influence with your niche audience and partner with them. Influencers can be other authors already writing to your audience. They can be bloggers speaking to these people. They can also be civic leaders, church leaders, educational leaders, or famous personalities. Work with influencers to receive endorsements, reviews, recommendations, and support for your book. Partnering with influencers helps you expand your audience and gives you and your book credibility.

Your book does not need to get lost in the haystack. A little effort on your part can make your book stand out and receive the attention it deserves.

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com.

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.

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Photo courtesy of Tamarcus Brown.