Authors Profit From Encouraging Children to Read

Every author and publisher should be concerned about literacy and developing a love of reading in young children.

Whether you write for children or not, encouraging children to read benefits authors writing for any age. After all, children grow up to become adults. Children who love reading grow into adults who enjoy reading for pleasure and personal growth.

Sadly, the number of American children who say they love reading books for fun has dropped almost 10% in the last four years, according to a study of children in the United States by Scholastic. The study found that only 51% of children said they love or like reading books for fun, compared to 58% in 2012, and 60% in 2010.

To help promote literacy and encourage reading, the airline company JetBlue has partnered with Random House Children’s Books to develop a program called Soar with Reading. This program places vending machines that dispense brand-new, free books for kids aged infant to 14 years. Kids are allowed to take as many books as they are interested in from the vending machine with no strings attached.

I think what Soar with Reading is doing is fantastic. I would love to see a Christian organization provide a similar program featuring both wholesome children’s books as well as books that draw children to God. Fortunately, you don’t need to start a program on the scale of Soar with Reading to provide children free books that point to God.

A couple years ago, my community association installed Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood. I make sure that these little libraries constantly have a supply of good Christian books. It is one way that I can spread the Good News message and encourage reading.

You, too, can do your small part to promote the love of reading and share the Gospel. If you write and publish children’s books, why not share them with children via Little Free Libraries in your community? You can find a list of these library stands near you on the Little Free Library website. Be aware though that not all little libraries are registered on the site. I know the ones near my house are not.

While placing free Christian books in Little Free Libraries is for the primary purpose of encouraging reading and drawing children to a relationship with God, you can also use this activity for promotion. If you have a large number of Little Free Libraries near where you live, let your local community newspaper know what you are doing. If the newspaper picks up the story, the article will not only bring you publicity, it will also continue to encourage reading, and inform the community about Little Free Libraries.

Related Posts:
Six Benefits of Reading
Five Benefits of Children’s Books
The State of Fiction Reading

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Amazon: Christian Authors Beware

Amazon is a massive giant and growing. Consider the following facts:

  • Half of all U.S. households are subscribed to Amazon Prime.
  • Half of all online shopping searches start directly on Amazon.
  • Amazon captures nearly one in every two dollars that Americans spend online.
  • Amazon sells more books and toys than any retailer online or off.
  • Amazon sells 67% of all ebooks and 64% of online print book sales.

authors-beware

As an author, you cannot ignore Amazon.

Recently, the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) published the results of a study they conducted. The study “Amazon’s Stranglehold: How the Company’s Tightening Grip is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities” provides in-depth details on how Amazon is monopolizing the economy, undermining job growth, and weakening communities. Consider a few more interesting factoids:

  • Amazon increasingly controls the underlying infrastructure of the economy.
  • Amazon’s Marketplace for third-party sellers has become the dominant platform for digital commerce.
  • Amazon’s Web Services division provides the cloud computing backbone for much of the country, powering everyone from Netflix to the CIA.

ILSR warns that Amazon’s power as a gatekeeper in our economy will increasingly have negative consequences. One example ILSR sites is that “Amazon’s power to manipulate what products we encounter is especially concerning in the book industry, where it now commands more than half of sales, and where it can stifle the exchange of ideas simply by removing a book from its search and recommendation algorithms, as it did two years ago, in its dispute with the publisher Hachette.”

Christian authors, do not take this warning lightly. ISLR is on to something very important here. Amazon is not a Christian company, nor are they friendly to Christian books. Yes, Amazon lists almost every book for sale on its website, but that does not mean that the company is sympathetic toward Christian books. In fact, the opposite is true.

A member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently brought this to my attention. This gentleman had published an ebook on prayer via the Kindle Direct Publishing program. He then signed up to use Amazon’s Marketing Services to run an ad campaign on his book. Amazon denied his ad campaign and cited their “Creative Acceptance Policy”.

I urge you to go to Amazon and read this policy. This policy states the following:

  • Unacceptable Books: Books with content that is threatening, abusive, harassing, or that advocates or discriminates against a protected group, whether based on race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age or any other category.
  • Restricted Ad Content and Books: There are several customer experience sensitive categories that are not appropriate for a general audience. The following categories may be restricted from the homepage and Kindle E-reader placements: Religious or spiritual content.

In addition, the email that Amazon sent this author stated, “we are unable to approve your ad if it contains overtly religious or spiritual ad copy, images, or symbols (for example, the Star of David, a crucifix, the Star and Crescent).”

I believe that moving forward, Amazon will increasingly restrict religious content on their site through the means mentioned above. Personally, I find it sad that the Christian Retail Industry has not done more to embrace small publishers and independent Christian authors. In not doing so, they have partly been responsible for the rise in Amazon’s power, as these publishers and authors were forced to rely on Amazon for book placement and sales.

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Amazon is Still King
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Amazon’s Price Fixing Attempt

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Amazon’s Kindle Instant Preview

Exposing your book to readers is what marketing is all about. Any activity that draws someone’s attention to your book is a marketing activity.

kindle

One way to expose more readers to your book online is through widgets that you can embed into websites and post on social media sites. In the past, I have written about BookBuzzr and Bublish, two sites that allow authors to create widgets that give readers a peek inside a book.

Did you know that Amazon Kindle has a free widget that you can embed on your website to give readers an ability to look inside your book? This widget can also be shared via email. Kindle Instant Preview allows readers to start to read your book instantly without having to open a PDF or other document on your website.

With Kindle Instant Preview, customers can read a sample of your Kindle book without having to leave your website. If they like the sample, a direct link will take them to the purchase the book via Amazon. A link is also included in the Instant Preview that allows readers to share the preview on their own social media sites or via email.

Using the Kindle Instant Preview is easy. However, your book must be available in Kindle format. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Find your Kindle ebook on Amazon.
  2. Look for the Embed link on the right-hand side of the page under the “Buy Now” inset. It is near the Share and social media (Facebook, Twitter) icons.
  3. Click the Embed link.
  4. Then choose either the HTML option or the Link option to use on your website or in your email. There is also a “see more options button” that lets you choose the size of the preview for the HTML option.

Additionally, if you are an Amazon Associate, you can add your Associate ID number to the Kindle Instant Preview and earn commission on sales you drive to your book from your website or email.

Sadly, I could not get the embed to work on this blog. However, if you click on the image of my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace below, it will take you to the Kindle Instant Preview via the usage of the widget’s link feature.

YG3 CoverRelated Posts:
Book Bubbles
Are You Discoverable?
My Simple Marketing Test

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The Value of Book Awards

Every good book marketing plan should include submissions for book awards. Winning a book award increases your visibility, expands your marketability, and solidifies your credibility. Consider the following three reasons to submit your book(s) for a book award.

Value

1. A book award raises the value of your book in the mind of the consumer.

Awards give merit. When consumers see that a book has won an award, they immediately assume the book has better value than a book that has not won an award. When faced with two similar books, one that has won an award and one that has not, consumers will consistently choose to purchase the book that has won an award.

Winning a book award is a boon to an author and publisher. An award opens new doors for publicity and marketing. Placing an award on all your marketing materials and on the book cover itself in subsequent print runs can boost sales and lengthen the life of a book. Of course, the better known the award is to the consumer group you are trying to reach, the bigger the payoff.

2. Book award entry fees are not wasted marketing dollars.

Entry fees for book awards range from $40.00 to over $100.00. Many publishers and authors take umbrage at having to pay to enter their book in an award. These individuals will say that they feel like they are “buying” an award. The fact is, running a book award costs money. It costs both to oversee and to publicize an award. Award programs charge entry fees to cover these expenses. Yes, some awards make quite a bit of money off of running an award. However, a publisher or author can be discerning about which awards to enter and choose not to participate in those that appear to be only for the purpose of making money rather than promoting fine books.

Smart marketers will even use entering a book award to their benefit. One independent publisher and author entered his book into the Christy Awards. He then put on all his marketing material that the book was “nominated for a Christy Award.” His statement was true. What most consumers will not know is that the author himself did the nominating. For many consumers just learning that a book was “nominated” for an award will raise the esteem of the book in their eyes.

3. Book awards bring benefits to everyone involved in the book industry.

Philippians 2:4 states “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Entering your books into book awards is good for the whole literary community. Book awards need nominations to exist. They need books to give their awards to. Most importantly, book awards help promote the value of books to consumers, and this benefits everyone involved in writing, publishing, and selling books.

Now that you know the value of entering a book award. I encourage you to head on over to Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award to nominate your Christian book for the 2016 award. Nominations are accepted in 14 categories. The award is open to Christian books published in 2014 and 2015, written in English, for sale in the United States, and published by an independent author or small publisher. Authors or publishers can nominate a title.

This is the Final Call for Nominations for the Book of the Year Award as nominations must be received by November 15, 2015.

Related Posts:
10 Reasons to Not Enter a Book Award
Book Awards Matter
New Christian Book Award

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