Attitude: Is Yours Helping or Hurting?

Thirty-five miles of dirt and gravel. The Virginia Creeper Trail runs along an old train rail from Whitetop to Abingdon, Virginia. The plan was to ride the complete 35 miles on bicycle in one day.

As often happens, the plan got derailed. One teenage boy wiped out when he hit a tree root in the trail. One trip to urgent care and three stitches later he was patched up and on the mend.

This one event could have ruined our family vacation had we let it. We choose not to. The teenager struggled at first, but decided to master his attitude and make the most of the rest of our time.

Attitude is important. After all, God’s Word talks about our attitude:

  • “Make your attitude that of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:4-6)
  • “Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Ephesians 6:7)
  • “You were taught…to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” (Ephesians 4:22-23)

Studies show that a positive attitude produces more favorable results. According to a Stanford Research Institute study, the path to success is comprised of 88 percent attitude and only 12 percent education. This is not saying that education is not important, rather, the study points to the importance of attitude.

What about your attitude?

  • Do you believe deep down that you have an important message for your readers?
  • Are you excited to share your passion with your readers and potential readers?
  • Do you have a positive attitude toward promoting your books?

Or are you struggling?

  • Has the competition for readers’ attention made you discouraged?
  • Are slow book sales causing you to doubt your calling?
  • Has the overwhelming and difficult task of marketing caused you to become disheartened?

Take a moment and check your attitude. It is one thing that you can control. Life is difficult. After all, the way to life is narrow and difficult and only a few find it. Your calling is to help people enter this narrow gate and encourage them on this difficult path. You will have more success in fulfilling your calling if you keep a positive attitude.

Do you need an infusion of encouragement or inspiration to renew your attitude toward marketing and promoting your book and carrying out your calling? If your answer is yes, I encourage you to watch one of my Marketing Christian Book University on-demand seminars. Not only will watching one provide you new ideas, it will also fill you with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for your task.

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What Successful Authors Do

If you are an author, one really important question is:

What do successful authors do differently?

This burning question prompted a survey of independent authors by BookBaby, a self-publishing platform for both print and ebooks. BookBaby received 7,789 responses to their recent survey, however, only 4,472 of the respondents were published authors.

Of these 4,472 published respondents, BookBaby found that 38 percent reported that they had made less than $100 on their most recent published book. Another 26 percent reported that they had made between $100 and $500 on their most recent published book. Only 862 (19%) of the respondents reported that they made over $1,000 on their most recent published book.

Based on the answers to the survey, BookBaby dug deep to find out what these 800+ authors are doing differently. The survey found that successful authors generally:

  • Had published five or more titles.
  • Published their titles in both print and ebook format (many also did audiobook format).
  • Paid for professional editing and cover designs for their books.

The survey also looked at what promotional activities these successful authors engaged in. The data showed that, by-and-large, these authors did the following activities to promote their books:

  • Offered the book for pre-sale.
  • Solicited reviews.
  • Held a book launch party.
  • Sent out a press release.
  • Held a Goodreads giveaway.
  • Offered a Kindle giveaway.
  • Took a blog tour.
  • Conducted book signing tours.
  • Created a book trailer for their book.

Interestingly, only 24 percent of these successful authors used a publicist. This means that you don’t have to spend big bucks on hiring a publicist to sell books and make money. This is good news for every independent author and small publisher operating on a shoe-string budget.

Do you want to sell more books? I think that we can learn from other successful authors. If you are not selling as many books as you want, ask yourself: Am I doing all these promotional activities that successful authors are engaging in? If not, then start. These are all actions that any author can take.

It is never too late to start promoting your book. Make a game plan and start working it. The more exposure you get for your book, the more people know about your book, the more sales you will make.

It’s not easy, but the effort is worth it. Promoting a book takes dedication, time, and effort. Decide what you are willing to do and start. You won’t regret it.

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Which Country Reads the Most?

Did you know that English is one of the world’s most wide-spread languages? There are 1.5 billion people in the world who speak English. It is estimated that 375 million speak English as their first language, while over one billion speak English as a second language.

Out of the total 195 countries in the world, 67 nations have English as the primary language of ‘official status’. Plus there are also 27 countries where English is spoken as a secondary ‘official’ language.

Your English-language book can have worldwide readership, not just in countries where English is the majority language, but also in countries with large expatriate American communities like Ecuador. Both Christians and seekers can benefit from your message in these countries. Knowing where to concentrate your marketing efforts based on reading rates in various countries can help you sell more books.

The infographic below by Global English Editing is a great resource for learning about reading habits around the world. .

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First Impressions Matter

The door opens and out walk two men. One is wearing a disheveled t-shirt, jeans, and well-worn sneakers. The other is dressed in nice slacks, a dress shirt, and loafers. Both are lawyers. Which one would you choose to represent you?

Most of us would pick the attorney with the professional appearance. Because, regardless of how much people like to say the opposite, appearance is important. Appearance signals care and attention, which sends the message to our brain that the person is competent.

Don’t underestimate a first impression. According to a 2011 study by Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, people assess a person’s competence and trustworthiness in a quarter of a second (250 milliseconds) based solely on how the person looks.

The same is true for your book. People judge your book based on its appearance. Often, they will decide, on appearance alone, whether your book is trustworthy and worth their time and money.

I recently received a handful of books from a well-known Christian vanity press (which shall remain unnamed). I was shocked to see that the books varied in quality and appearance with some having a distinctly unprofessional look based on industry standards. None of the books sported a back cover that met industry standards. These books did not carry a printed retail price or a BISAC code. The interior of one of the books looked like it was designed in the 1970s. Another’s interior sported poor margins with words running into the gutter.

I was saddened to see that a supposedly Christian self-publishing house was charging authors good money for books that were sub par in terms of meeting industry standards for interior layout and cover design. Producing shoddy books in the name of Christ sheds a poor light on Christianity.

Your book’s appearance is your foremost marketing tool. People who read books know what a book is supposed to look like based on all the industry-standard books they have consumed. If your book does not fit this standard, it will be judged and found lacking. In addition, as a Christian book, you want your book to reflect the glory of God. Having a professional-quality design is important in this pursuit.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) feels that this issue is so important that we have developed an on-demand seminar, How to Create a Professional-Looking Book, as well as a Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book to help our members publish books that meet industry standards and create a good first impression. With CSPA’s summer membership special of $120 for membership through December 2018, you can join now and get access to this great information to help you make sure your books send the message that they are competent and trustworthy.

People will make a quick judgment about your book based on its appearance. Make sure that your book’s appearance reflects favorably on its content. If you want to sell more books, readers must view your book as competent and trustworthy.

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Photo courtesy of Alice Achterhof

It’s All About Hope

I recently had a conversation with a lady who suffers from a mental illness that is mostly stabilized with medication. This woman also struggles from a chronic illness (she is facing possible dialysis) and is in a difficult marriage. She shared with me that someone in her church recently gave her a book of prayers.

This lady started to read some of these prayers at night and they are helping her. I asked her how they were helping. She replied, “By giving me hope. I often feel hopeless at night and reading a couple of the prayers brings me hope.”

This is why we write and publish Christian material—to bring people hope. Hope:

  • For God’s healing.
  • For God’s provision.
  • For God’s comfort and peace.
  • That life is not in vain.
  • For a purpose to keep living.
  • That life can get better.
  • That God will work all things together for good.
  • For eternal life in heaven where there will be no effects of sin, thus no pain or sadness.

I believe hope is needed more than ever today. Over the past three decades, Americans’ view of the Bible as the literal word of God has been declining, while their view that the Bible is a collection of fables, myths and history recorded by man has been increasing. A recent Gallup poll shows that fewer than one in four Americans (24%) now believe the Bible is “the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally, word for word.” This is the first time in Gallup’s four-decade trend that biblical literalism has not surpassed biblical skepticism.

But what about you, author, have you lost your hope? Are you discouraged, wondering if your writing is making a difference in anyone’s life?

Ask yourself: Is it worth it for one? If only one person were encouraged and found hope in your book(s), would your effort be worth it?

This is a tough question. If you can’t answer this question in the affirmative, I would suggest that you check your motives. Are you writing for God—or for human glory? Hebrews exhorts us to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” James tells us that “whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

One is enough.

To bring hope is a noble calling. Your book might mean the difference for someone between a hopeless existence and a hopeful life. Keep writing and publishing for God’s glory.

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Photo courtesy of Blake Richard Verdoom