Is Social Media a Waste of Time?

“I have heard that social media is important for authors to use in promoting their books, but does using it really help authors sell more books?”

The independent author who asked me this question did not use social media. She had heard that it was important, but she wanted more evidence that spending her time and energy on social media would help her sell more books.

Sadly, I could not give this author hard and fast evidence. While 90% of marketers say social media is important to their business, according to The CMO Survey up to 80% of marketers said they were not able to measure a return on their investment. Basically, a lot of marketers—authors included—are investing time and energy on social media, yet they cannot definitively say doing so has helped them sell more books.

The Harvard Business Review conducted 23 experiments over the past four years. They wanted to know whether attracting and engaging followers on social media leads to increased sales. The researchers focused on Facebook since it is the dominant social network. Here is what they found:

  1. The act of following a brand on Facebook does not affect a customer’s behavior or lead to increased purchasing behavior.
  2. Seeing a friend like or engage with a brand on Facebook had no effect on purchasing habits of other friends.
  3. Boosting or advertising brand content to followers can have an impact. When a brand paid Facebook to display two posts each week to their followers, they found increased participation or spending.

Here is my takeaway from this research.

1. Social Media is about building an audience.
Authors should use social media to build a following, an audience. Don’t expect your social media posts to translate into book sales. Instead, the purpose of your social media posts should be to drive your audience to your website where you can convince them to sign up for your email newsletter. Email newsletters have a much higher conversion rate (engaging recipients to buy your book) than social media posts.

2. Enhancing your social media efforts with advertising provides the best return for your time and energy.
For the best return on your social media efforts, paying for advertisements shown to your followers on social media sites will help increase sales. In other words, social media use combined with paid advertising is the most powerful combination for encouraging your followers to buy something.

So, to answer the question whether social media really helps authors sell more books, the answer is: Not by itself. Social media alone is not enough, you must combine your social media efforts with other marketing efforts—including purchasing advertisements—for your invested time and energy to pay off.

Related Posts:
How to Make Your Social Media Efforts More Fruitful
How to Effectively Use Social Media for Your Book
Evaluating Your Social Media Interactions

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Photo courtesy of Damian Zalesky.

Are You Convincing Enough People?

As an author, your most important online presence is your website. Yes, your website—not social media, not Amazon, not Goodreads.

In fact, the purpose of social media is to get people to your website. The purpose of your website is to turn visitors into customers (people who buy your books).

According to research, 48% of people who enter a physical store buy something. However, on average, only 2 to 3 percent of people who visit a website purchase something. In fact, 96% of people who visit your website are not ready to buy. You have to convince them to purchase your books.

This is the purpose of your author website—to convince people to buy your books.

Experts report that when a visitor comes to your website, you have, on average, less than one minute to convince them to stay on your website. The longer visitors stay on your website, the greater chance you have of convincing them to either buy your book or sign up to receive your emails so you can continue to work on convincing them to buy your book.

The best way to keep people on your website is:

1.  Make sure your website loads quickly.
For every second delay in loading, you lose 7% of your potential visitors. Google analytics allows you to view your site load speed time.

2.  Have a compelling headline.
Your headline needs to be clear and draw your audience in.

3.  Give your visitors something to do.
Tell them what you want them to do. Make it clear. Large buttons that state things like:

  • Buy the Book
  • Download 10 Tips for…
  • Read the First Chapter

4.  Include a video.
Research shows that websites with a video of the product they are selling can increase their purchase rate by 144%. If you need an easy free video for your website, check out Bitable or Powtoon for creating a short video about your book.

Your website is your strongest tool for convincing readers to buy your book. Don’t overlook this important marketing mechanism. Use it wisely to convince your visitors that your book is worth their time and money!

Related Posts:
Bigger is Not Necessarily Better
The Power of Word-of-Mouth
Selling Books in an Overcrowded Market

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Are You Marketing Effectively?

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!”

This old saying still holds truth. It warns you not to put all your prospects or resources in one thing or place—lest you lose everything.

Is all your book promotion done digitally online? If so, you are guilty of placing all your marketing efforts in one basket.

Traditional media—radio, television, and print—is not dead! Do you still watch TV? Do you listen to the radio? Do you read print magazines and catalogs?


If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you can rest assured that your target audience is also utilizing these forms of traditional media. In fact, studies show:

  • Over two-thirds of Americans still read print magazines.
  • 23% of Americans still read a paper copy of a daily newspaper.
  • 48% of Americans listen to local radio.
  • 56% of Americans say receiving snail mail is a pleasure.

Yes, digital media is significant and you should be using content marketing and digital advertising to promote your books. However, don’t neglect print. Utilizing both mediums is a more effective strategy in reaching readers—and you’re not putting all your efforts in one basket.

Following are five easy suggestions for including traditional media in your book promotion activities.

1. Mail postcards to your customers announcing new books or specials you are hosting.

Snail mail is more expensive than an email blast, however, it has a higher open rate. The average open rate for opt-in email newsletters or updates is about 22%. However, the open rate for snail mail is closer to 70%. Surveys show that 79% of snail mail receivers act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45% for email.

2. Advertise in a print catalog or magazine.

Interestingly, VistaPrint, which is a large online printing service recently began sending out print catalog of their products to customers. In the past, they have sent promotional mailings, but recently, they have added a print catalog. Catalogs are still powerful. All the major companies and book publishers still invest in print catalog. That is why Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) provides our members the opportunity to participate in a cooperative print catalog to showcase their books each year.

3. Send a select number of media pitches with your media kits via snail mail to local radio shows and print publications.

Of course, you don’t want to send all your press materials and pitches via regular mail—that would be too costly. However, send a few to local sources and track your responses. After all, 70% of people open most of their mail. If you hand address your envelopes, you will increase your chances of your pitch being read.

4. Participate in in-person events to promote your books.

There are many in-person events that you can attend to promote your books. From local festivals to book fairs to national book trade conventions. This is one reason that Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) provides our members with Trade Show Representation. We make it affordable for our members to attend in-person book events. Coming up in early 2017, members of CSPA will be able to attend the upcoming National Religious Broadcasters Convention with us to showcase their books and connect with media personnel and ministry leaders.

5. Print business cards and hand them out.

Business cards are still widely used. Every time I go to an event and meet people, business cards are still exchanged. A business card helps me remember the people I meet and provides an easy follow up reminder. When printing your business cards, I suggest that you include a coupon or a code for a dollar amount off the purchase of your book. Make the code specific for your business card, then you can track how effective your business cards are.

Overreliance on any one book promotional vehicle reduces your chances for success. Studies show that people need to hear about a new product multiple times in different ways before they are ready to act and purchase the product. The same is true for your book and your target audience. Use multiple vehicles for promotion, including both digital and traditional media, to increase your chances of success.

Related Posts:
Make New Friends, But Keep the Old
Paper is Not Going Away
Societal Trends and the Print Book

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A Tool to Help You Reach More Millennials

The Bible is the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book. It is also the most translated book in the world, having been translated into 531 languages with 2,883 languages having at least some portion of the Bible.

Now a group of devout Christians has developed a new translation of the Bible. In an effort to reach more millennials with God’s word. This group has translated the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible into emoticons and emojis. Yes, you read that right. The Bible is now available in Emojis.

Bible EmojiThe complete emoji Bible is available on iTunes for $2.99. However, the creators of this Bible translation have made their Bible Emjoi Translator available for free to everyone on the Internet. The website,, allows users to put in a Bible verse and receive that verse translated to “emoji awesomeness” instantly.

Of course, all the words in the Bible cannot be translated into Emoji’s since there is a limited number of Emojis (see Can Emojis Help You Reach More People?). The authors of this new translation say that about 10 to 15 percent of the translation is in Emojis while the rest is in regular, old alphabet characters.

While some people may think that this new Bible translation is over–the-top or even sacrilegious, I think it is a tool that authors and publishers can use to reach more Millennials in their marketing efforts.

If you have a Christian book, especially a nonfiction book that uses God’s word, you can use an Emoji-translated Bible verse in your marketing materials and online posts to grab this younger generation’s attention and direct them to your books.

Go ahead, try the Emoji Bible Translator out at, and have some fun!

Related Posts:
Can Emojis Help You Reach More People?
Millennials: A Substantial Market
Being Socially Responsible

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Get to Know Your Target Audience

Content marketing is all the rage. According to

Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.


Content marketing is about creating interesting, useful, and engaging things to share with your target audience. These include photos, statistics, tools, comics, how to guides, and stories. It’s about giving your audience content that they want to share with others and engage with you to get more interesting and useful stuff.

Good content marketing helps you attract and convert people in your target audience to become customers and buy your book. However, you can’t share valuable information with your target audience unless you know them. You have to know your audience to meet them where they hang out, speak their language, and give them the information they want.
If you want to get to know your target audience better so that you can create content that grabs their attention, try these two ideas.

1. Ask your readers questions.

As an author or an inspiring author, you should have already or be in the process of developing a platform online. This means that you have followers on a couple social media sites and maybe even a blog. Start by asking the people who have shown interest in you and your writing questions to get to know them better.

Following are some simple questions you can ask to learn more about your audience. You can ask these questions directly or through the use of polls.

  • What is the last book you read and recommended to your friends?
  • Why did you buy the book you are currently reading?
  • Where do you buy the majority of your books?
  • What is your favorite social media site?
  • What two blogs do you read regularly?
  • What is your favorite TV show?
  • Whose advice do you listen to the most?

Once you know where your audience is hanging out, what they are reading and what they like to watch, you can begin to mold the content that you share to get their attention. For example if your target audience likes to watch “Game of Thrones”, you can create content to grab their attention. You might post about “5 Books You Might Like if You Watch Game of Thrones”.

2. Profile a reader in your target audience.

To profile a reader in your target audience, find someone online who is clearly a fan of your book’s specific genre. Such a person may frequently post reviews on these types of books on Amazon or Goodreads. Study this individual’s profile. Find out what they like and what types of things they share. Figure out where they hangout on the Internet and who they are influenced by. This profiled reader will give you a snapshot of your target audience.

Getting to know your target audience better can take a little effort. Winston Churchill said, “Success always demands a greater effort.” Put in the effort to get to know your target audience and you will find that your marketing efforts reap more success.

Related Posts:
Do You Know Your Audience?
Are You Hitting the Target?
Micro-Target to Get Results

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