Are You Using Social Media Correctly?

Contrary to popular belief, social media is not a marketing channel.

You are probably thinking, “What?! I thought social media is how you build an audience for books.”

Exactly! Social media is an audience building tool, not an advertising tool. Unless you are purchasing ads on social media sites or offering your followers an announcement or special on your books, the information you share via social media should not be broadcast marketing messages.

Many authors don’t understand this concept. These authors use social media to shout about their books. Recently, an indie author had the courtesy of asking if she could post about her book on Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) Facebook Page.

This author wrote:

“Good evening! I’d love to post a blurb about a faith-based children’s book that I wrote and published on your Facebook page. Is this something you allow publishers to do?”

I wrote her back and informed her that the purpose of CSPA’s Facebook Page was a place for sharing information and encouragement related to publishing and marketing Christian books, not a place for book promotion. The author then asked:

“Do you happen to know of any Christian associations that do allow promotion for books of faith? I have self-published and am having a hard time getting the word out there.”

This author was not a Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) nor are the Members of CSPA her target audience. She has no relationship with the audience for the CSPA Facebook page and was simply trying to use the Page to advertise her book.

Getting the word out about your book is not an easy task. However, posting information about your book on various social media pages, wall, and feeds is not the answer to this problem.

Social media is not a sales channel. Rather, social media is a marketing support. It is best used as a channel to amplify your message and broaden your visibility and exposure.

It’s like being a speaker at an event. As a speaker, you are there to share information and entertainment with the audience. Yes, you can mention your books, but that is not the focus of your talk. Instead, you are sharing your knowledge and experience with the audience.

Social media is to marketing what the microphone is to your speaking. The microphone allows more people in the audience hear what you have to say. The same is true for social media. It makes what you are already saying louder so more people can hear.
People do discover products on social media and then buy them. In fact, one survey found that 78% of surveyed adults discovered a product on Facebook (compared to 59% on Instagram and Pinterest). Over half of these people ended up buying the product later, but only 11% did so immediately.

As an author, you want to use social media to develop an audience that trusts you and looks to you for answers. These answers come in the form of your books. If you use social media correctly, you will enlarge your audience and expose more people to your books—and some will buy!

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Does Your Book Have a Firm Foundation?

You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. A building requires a firm foundation to withstand nature and hold up under use. A cracked or insufficient foundation results in a structure that is unsuitable for habitation.

Everything we build requires a solid foundation to survive. Books require a firm foundation to stand against the competition. This firm foundation begins with your writing and the promise you make to your readers. It extends to the physical package of your message (layout and design of the book) and includes the price readers pay for the book.

To ensure your book has a solid foundation from which to launch, ask yourself the following six questions.

1. Is my book well-edited and free from grammatical and spelling errors?

A poorly written book or one that contains numerous grammatical and spelling errors will not gain readers’ approval. Books that are not well-edited do not become solid fixtures in the book industry. Instead, they tumble and fall into oblivion.

2. What promise does my book make to readers?

Does your book promise something that readers’ value and need? Do you offer a solid promise for information or entertainment that is not readily accessible elsewhere? Your book’s promise is an important piece of your foundation.

3. Does my book deliver on this promise?

Information or entertainment that fills a need is not enough. Your book has to deliver on its promise. It has to live up to what the reader is expecting.

4. Does my book speak its target audience’s language?

To reach people, we must speak their heart language. This is the language that they hear the best. Your book must use the lingo your target audience knows and share stories or examples that they can relate to.

5. Does my book look professional?

In the book world, books that look vastly different stick out like sore thumbs. Books must conform to basic requirements for them to look professional. If you are unsure what elements a book needs to look professional, I encourage you to learn. Members of Christian Small Publishers Association have access to a “Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book” as well as on-demand seminars that teach them how to produce a book that meets industry standards.

6. Is my book priced competitively?

Pricing is an important part of a book’s foundation. A book that is priced much higher or lower than the competition will not do well. Your book must be priced competitively to stand strong.

In Matthew 7, Jesus tells his audience:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Your book is like a house. It needs a firm foundation to withstand the assaults from the competition and from critics. Is your book’s foundation firm?

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Selling Thousands of Books

I recently read the following statement made by author Tom McAllister:

“I don’t think there is any way to convince all the people in your life to buy your book, let alone care about it half as much as you do. Though their validation feels great, it’s important to remember that it’s also not the point. As a writer, you need to approach every project with the understanding that you’re doing this work for yourself, and everything that happens once it’s in the world is out of your control.”

I think what he says is very true. Most people are not going to care about your book half as much as you do. After all, you birthed your book. Just like you love your children more than your neighbors do, so too, you care far more about your book than anyone else.

However, for Christian authors, I do not fully agree with Tom’s last sentence. As a Christian writer, you should approach every project with the understanding that you are doing this work for God. God has called you to write and so, you are doing everything for the Glory of God. Yes, everything that happens once your book is in the world is out of your control, but it is in God’s control.

Your job is to produce the book and spread the word that it is available for those who need the message. God’s job is to take that message and touch people’s lives with it. Remember, God does not allow His Word to return void. He will accomplish the purpose for which he asked you to write the words.

Sometimes a book has a big purpose to accomplish, sometimes it is a smaller purpose.

A Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently shared with other CSPA Members in CSPA’s monthly newsletter the steps she took to sell thousands of copies of her self-published Bible Study. Karen Finn will tell you that she exerted much effort and time into the planning and preparation for her book, the writing of her book, and the publishing and marketing of her book.

Her efforts, blessed by God, have paid off. She has sold over 7,000 copies of her Is Your Fruit Sweet or Sour?: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Christian Living Bible Study book. In her article, Karen states:

Membership with Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has been a worthwhile investment. I am able to keep abreast of the ongoing trends in the publishing business and obtain additional support and information specifically relating to my marketing efforts.”

Membership in an author or publishing association is an important step to selling thousands of books. Associations provide their members with:

• A level of professionalism
• Cutting-edge information
• Cost-saving benefits

Right now, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is offering our Summer Membership Special! For just $120 indie authors and small publishers can receive membership through December 2019. It’s a great deal. I encourage you to join today if you write and publish Christian books.

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Photo courtesy of paulbence.

Are You Using This to Build Your Author Platform?

To get published and sell books, you need a platform.

Most authors and aspiring authors have heard this message at least once, if not multiple times. But, what exactly defines a platform and how does one go about building one?This is the focus of the upcoming Learning Lab I will teach at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference on July 26. This four-hour seminar, “Build Your Author Platform”, will teach attendees six manageable steps to build and grow an online author platform through content marketing.

Content marketing is simply sharing useful information that educates or inspires your target audience so that they begin to trust you and your message. You want people to trust you so that they, in turn, buy your books. After all, studies show that people do business with those they trust.

Brian Jud, president of Book Marketing Works and APSS, says:

“Repetition of your message is important to reach the decision-making tipping point. It may take up to ten “hits” on prospects to get them to buy.”

Using content to reach your audience provides repetition of your message and gains people’s trust.

Many authors feel that using content to market takes too much time and energy. In my seminar, I show authors how to create and repurpose content to save time and get the most out of every piece of content they create.

Repurposing content involves taking one piece of information and showcasing it in a number of different ways. This practice provides many benefits.

  1. It increases productivity and efficiency.

As an author, you have spent hours researching and writing your book. All your knowledge does not need to stay contained within the pages of your book. You can use the information you share in your book and break this down into smaller pieces to share on a regular basis through content marketing on the Internet.

  1. It expands your reach.

Sharing content and repurposing that content in a variety of formats spreads your message. The more places your content is listed, the more people will read and hear what you have to say. This way people are exposed to your message on the channels they prefer and in a way that speaks to them.

  1. It extends the life-cycle of your material.

Large amounts of data and information are uploaded to the Internet on a daily basis. With so much information, your target audience might miss what you are posting. Repurposing your content for multiple channels not only increases the changes that your audience will see it, it also allows your content to be made fresh in new formats, extending its life cycle.

  1. It increases your visibility.

This is a simple marketing principle. The more places your content appears, the more people are likely to see it. Visibility is extremely important in marketing books. The competition is stiff. Visibility allows you to stand out from the crowd.

If you are interested in learning more about how to use your content to market your books and expand your reach, I encourage you to attend my seminar on building an author platform at the upcoming Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

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Photo courtesy of SGPhotography77.

Print Is Not Disappearing

“The paperless society is about as plausible as the paperless bathroom.” ~Jesse Shera

The predictions of a paperless society have been around for decades. Back in 2012, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicted that the U.S. ebook market would surpass the printed book market in 2017. That fell far short of reality.

From 2012 to 2104, the sales of ebooks grew, but then instead of continuing to grow, ebook sales began to flatten and even decline in 2015. In 2017, unit sales of print books rose while unit sales of ebooks by traditional publishers fell 10% over 2016. For traditionally published books, ebook sales only made up 19% of all book sales in 2017. Author Earnings believes that ebook sales still account for about 25% of all book sales when indie published books are also taken into account.

It appears that print is not going way.

FedEx Office recently conducted a survey of consumers and small business owners about their preferences and purchasing habits regarding professional printing services. The survey, conducted by polling firm PSB, shows that consumers and small business owners prefer to use printed materials over digital. The study found:

  • Ninety percent of consumers and small business owners agreed that they “like to have the option to have printed materials” and preferred reading materials, most notably official documents and contracts, on paper versus on a screen.
  • The majority (90%) of consumers also agreed there will always be a need for printed materials and almost half (49%) said a world without paper would make them feel stressed or annoyed.

In fact, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently sent a notice out to Christian retailers that our 2018 Book Catalog was available to view online. In response, we received a number of emails from retailers requesting that we send them a print version of the catalog because they still preferred looking through print catalogs when making purchasing decisions.

Print is still popular. The shift to all digital has not yet surpassed print. As an Indie author or publisher, this means that print should still be part of your business strategy—both print books and print marketing materials.

Offering books in a variety of formats is a wise strategy, as is participating in both digital and print marketing. Is print still a part of your marketing strategy? Do you utilize:

  • Business cards
  • Print brochures
  • Bookmarks
  • Print catalogs
  • Print advertising?

If your print marketing efforts have fall by the wayside in favor of easier digital strategies, I encourage you to rethink your marketing efforts. A combination of both print and digital will reap the most benefits as we still operate in a world where people use both mediums.

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