Your Book Matters

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on our world. COVID is damaging our human connections.

Your Book Matters

A recent study by Barna found:

The relational well-being of Americans was already strained prior to the pandemic. U.S. adults and practicing Christians alike noted anxiety and depression as the most commonly faced challenges to relational satisfaction, with 40 percent of all U.S. adults and 34 percent of practicing Christians saying this is true.

More than half of all U.S. adults (58%) and practicing Christians (54%) say they have at least one relational or emotional / mental health issue that impacts their relationships. Younger generations were also already reporting higher levels of loneliness and a longing for connection.

A pandemic shakes up our sense of safety. It brings a new struggle to life. Struggles often highlight deep wounds and problems that lurk in our lives. Issues like:

  • Ungrieved losses.
  • Unresolved conflict.
  • Unforgiven hurts.
  • Unconfronted sin.

Christians and non-believers alike need the Good News that you share in your book. This Good News includes:

  • You are not alone.
  • Jesus loves you.
  • Jesus still heals.
  • Jesus gives new and abundant life.
  • Joy is available for the taking.
  • Heaven—a place with no more sorrows—awaits you.

Studies reveal that during this pandemic, people are reading more. In fact, Unit sales of print books were up 6.4% in the first nine months of 2020.

This means that the interest in books has increased this year. Now is a great time to let people know about your book and how your book can give them a solution to a struggle they face.

Right now, people desperately need hope. God’s timing is not wrong. Your book is just what someone needs today to improve their life.

Don’t shrink from promoting your book as this pandemic continues to rage. Someone needs to hear the words of encouragement, healing, and hope that your book offers.

In January of this year, I presented a keynote address at the Capital Christian Writers Fellowship Conference. The topic of the keynote was “What Makes a Book Christian?”

What Makes a Book Christian?

In my talk, I proposed that the following three things make a book “Christian”:

  1. Points People to God
  2. Reveals Biblical Truth
  3. Offers Hope

This last one—hope—is in short supply today. Globally one million people commit suicide every year—that is one person every 40 seconds. Calls to suicide hotlines have skyrocketed during the pandemic.

By the way, Members of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) have access to the audio file of the complete 40-minute talk.

If you are struggling with how best to promote your book, I suggest that you read my book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books. It is full of great ideas with specific resources to help you get the word out about your book.

Related Posts:

It’s All About Hope
Hope: The Vital Message
Your Christian Book is Crucial

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Photo by Christina Morillo.

How to Spot a Self-Published Book

After viewing hundreds of self-published books, I can almost always tell if a book is self-published upon first glance.

While self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it did a decade ago, if you are interested in your book being part of the overall book market—meaning selling beyond Amazon—then having a book that conforms to industry standards is important.

Industry professionals—book buyers, librarians, distributors, book reviewers—all know what a traditionally published book looks like. There is an industry standard that all big house publishers use when designing their books.

These industry standards include things like:

  • A Title Page
  • A Copyright Page
  • Margins that are not too wide or too narrow
  • Spacing between body text lines not to wide or narrow

The way I can always spot a self-published book is simply by looking at the back cover. Most self-published books lack two things on their back covers:

  • A BISAC subject
  • A retail price

These are industry standard because brick-and-mortar retailers require these to sell the books in their stores—and, historically, traditionally published books were largely sold in physical bookstores.

If you are new to publishing books and are not sure of these industry standards, I suggest that you educate yourself. There are many ways to do this. Here are some resources I have created to provide this information.

  1. Watch this “10 Steps to Indie Publishing Your Christian Book” video. This is free! Be aware, there is no talking. You must read the information.
  2. Download the “Steps to Indie Publishing a Book” checklist. This is a free PDF!

 

For more in-depth information on formatting your book and making sure that it conforms to industry standards, I suggest that you join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) with your Membership, you have access to:

  1. Video course on “How to Create a Professional-Looking Book.”
  2. Downloadable “Checklist for Creating a Professional-Looking Book.”

Related Posts:

Lessons from Self-Publishing
Is Self-Publishing a Gamble?
Self-Publishing Keeps Growing

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Marketing Ideas for the Technology-Challenged Author

One of the questions that I frequently encounter when I speak at writers conferences is:

 “I’m not tech savvy. Are there other ways to market a book besides social media?”

Marketing for Technology-Challenged Authors

My answer is always “of course”. Social media is just one tool in an author’s marketing toolbox. There are numerous tools in a toolbox. Over reliance on one tool is not good. After all, not all situations need a screwdriver. In the same respect, not all readers use social media, and social media is not the only way to reach readers.

If you can relate to these authors who are not tech savvy or if social media is not your preferred method to gain exposure for your books, take heart. There are other tools. Following are five book marketing methods that don’t require you to be engaged online.

1.  Speaking

 Speaking engagements are a powerful marketing tool. The number one reason people purchase a book is because they know the author. The reader may know the author because they have read other books by the author, or they may know the author because they have heard the author speak.

Start by finding local speaking engagements with your target audience. All sorts of venues seek speakers. Local rotary clubs, schools, retirement centers and churches are a great place to start.

2.  Media Interviews

 Radio is still alive and well. If you include online radio shows and podcasts, radio is growing. Every talk radio show needs guests. Research your local radio stations and find those that interview authors. Then approach the show’s producer with a request to be a guest.

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) provides Members with a list of over 100 podcast and radio shows seeking guests. This list includes contact information for each show’s producer. In addition, CIPA provides its Members Guides on how to make a pitch for a guest spot on a radio or podcast show. You can Join the Association today for just $110 for Membership through December 2021.

3.  Local Print Interviews

 Most communities across America either have a local newspaper or magazine for their residents. Many of these publications feature articles about local residents and their interesting ventures.

As an author, you qualify as newsworthy. Approach your local magazine or newspaper and let them know that you are a local author to see if they may be interested in featuring you in their publication.

4.  Articles

Christian Writers Market GuidePrint is not dead. Over two-thirds of Americans still read print magazines. Magazines are always in need of material. Most magazines accept article submissions from writers. You can write articles related to your book’s topic and submit them to magazines for publication.

In your byline, be sure to mention that you are an author and include the name of your book. You can find a listing of Christian magazines and the type of articles each one is seeking in the Christian Writers Market Guide.

5.  Mailings

Over half of all Americans (56%) say receiving snail mail is a pleasure. Snail mail boasts a higher open rate then email. You can rent a mailing list of your target audience and send out a mailing announcing your book.

When my book, The Adoption Option, was published, I rented a mailing list of adoption agencies around the country. I then sent a postcard to each of these agencies with information about my book.

As an author, you have numerous tools at your disposal for marketing. All your book marketing does not have to be done online. Be creative. Look around and see what other companies with products are doing in the physical world and mimic their ideas to gain more exposure for your books.

Related Posts:

Are You Overlooking This Powerful Marketing Tool?
How to Land Local Media Coverage
Do You Suffer from Fear of Public Speaking?

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Lessons from Self-Publishing

Whenever you embark on a new adventure, there is usually a steep learning curve. Often those who have already completed the adventure forget that steep learning curve and can make the process seem easy.

I have often run into this with self-publishing books. Self-publishing a book is not easy. There is a lot to learn and understand not just about book design and the publishing process, but also on marketing a book.

Lessons from Self-Publishing

Sandra Beckwith on her blog, Build Book Buzz, recently shared statements from 25 self-published authors on “I wish I’d known before I self-published.” These statements not only show how much there is to learn, but also how important it is to get support in the publishing and marketing process.

A couple of the 25 statements made by these self-published authors caught my eye. I believe they illustrate why belonging to a professional association is important in navigating the publishing and marketing maze.

1.  Get Your Information from Experts.

One “I wish I’d known before I self-published…” author said:

“Use IngramSpark for your print books! I just learned this valuable lesson. Bookstores and libraries don’t buy from Amazon – they use IngramSpark to purchase books, and if you don’t publish there, you are missing out on many sales.”

Sadly, this author has it mostly correct, but not completely correct. IngramSpark is a print-on-demand platform. They are not a distributor. However, IngramSpark will place your books into distribution through their parent company Ingram (and Spring Arbor for Christian books). Retailers and librarians order books through Ingram (the distribution arm) not IngramSpark.

This is important information to know. When you are promoting your book to retailers and librarians, you want to let them know that your book is available for order through Ingram, not IngramSpark.

In addition to getting your information from experts, membership in a professional organization like Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) can save you money. Members of CIPA receive free title uploads to IngramSpark a savings of $49 per book.

2.  Don’t Reinvent the Wheel.

Another “I wish I’d known before I self-published…” author said:

“Writing the book was the easy part. When you decide to embark on the self-publishing journey, you need to have a marketing plan zipped up and ready to launch.”

In addition to having a solid marketing plan, your marketing needs to start long before the launch of your book. The good news is that you don’t need to come up with a marketing plan from scratch. There are numerous book marketing and book launch plan templates that provide you a guide to help steer your personalized strategic book marketing plan.

Here is where a professional association can, again, provide you the information you need. Members of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA), have access to numerous reference guides and checklists including:

  • Checklist for Creating a Professional-Looking Book
  • Book Launch Marketing Checklist
  • Metadata Checklist

Both are great templates to make sure you have the basics covered when publishing and marketing a book.

If you are not a Member of a professional publishing association and are independently publishing books or thinking about publishing a book, I encourage you to join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA).

Christian Indie Publishing Association

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA)’s goal is to provide authors and publishers with the tools you need for success in publishing and marketing Christian books. The organization provides numerous resources to help those who are embarking on the publishing journey find success.

Right now, CIPA is offering a Fall Membership Special. For just $110 you can gain Membership in the organization through December 2021. Join today and get the tools and resources you need to be more successful in publishing and marketing your books.

Related Posts:
5 Common Indie Publishing Errors
Are You Using Publishing Industry Standards?
4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska.

Is Self-Publishing a Gamble?

I recently came across an article in the New York Times titled:

“Self-Publishing Is a Gamble. Why Is Donald Trump Jr. Doing It?”

It appears that Donald Trump, Jr., has written a book titled Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and the Democrats’ Defense of the Indefensible. He plans to release the book in early September.

Is Self-Publishing a Gamble?

Interestingly, even though Center House, an imprint of Hachette—the publishing house that published Trump Jr.’s first book, Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us—made an offer to publish Liberal Privilege, Trump Jr. turned them down.

Why?

Because self-publishing is not the gamble that the authors of the article believe.

Trump Jr.’s book Triggered has sold 286,000 copies since last November when it released, according to NPD BookScan. It is still selling steadily.

By self-publishing, Donald Trump, Jr., a public figure, can easily sell thousands of copies and make a much larger profit then he can with a traditional publishing contract.

The New York Times article states:

Authors who sign with a publisher typically receive an advance payment before the book goes on sale, then about 10 to 15 percent of hardcover sales after they earn back their advance. If the book is self-published, there is no advance but an author can generally walk away with anywhere from 35 percent to as much as 70 percent of the sales.

Trump Jr. is a savvy business man. He already has his own platform, so, he does not need the publicity that a major publisher can create. He is a New York Times best-selling author as his book Triggered was a No. 1 best seller last year. In addition, the Republican National Committee will use this new book for fund-raising—ensuring Trump Jr. large quantity orders of his book.

Of course, self-publishing comes with its own challenges, including editing and proofing. This summer, Trump Jr. posted a photo on Twitter of his new book. The cover image contained a typo. The apostrophe was in the wrong place. The cover has since been corrected.

Book Cover Error

What this story demonstrates is that self-publishing, rather than being a gamble, has become mainstream. As with starting any business, self-publishing a book comes with risks. You have no guarantee your venture will succeed. But, neither does any other startup.

The good news is that indie authors are no longer on the fringe. After all, even public figures are ditching traditional book contracts to self-publish.

Related Posts:
Self-Publishing Keeps Growing!
Three Principles for Self-Publishing Success
5 Common Indie Publishing Errors

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Photo by fotografierende.