How to Gain More Readers for Your Books

All authors face the one same challenge: Finding readers for their books.

All sorts of gimmicks exist to lure customers to purchase products. Advertising experts even study which words and phrases work best for grabbing people’s attention. Tested Selling Institute and Word Laboratory Inc. looked at words and phrases salespeople could use to get customers to buy. They discovered a few magic words that tend to grab attention include:

  • New
  • Advice
  • At last
  • Truth
  • Love
  • Facts you should know

Advertising legend Robert Collier believed that writing advertising text was like a science. He used the studies done by Tested Selling Institute and Word Laboratory Inc. and applied their findings to printed advertising. Collier’s own research revealed that the word “how” in an advertising headline appeared to be the most useful word in improving the success of an advertising piece.

Each of these words reveals that people are searching for answers. People want practical solutions to their problems. They want to improve their lives.

I frequently say that marketing is simply letting people know that you have the answer to a need in their life. If you publish books, your book meets a need in someone’s life.

We all know that advertising is expensive and often does not have a very high return, especially for books. After all, people need to see and hear about a product multiple times before they decide to make a purchase (with the exception of impulse buys). So, what other marketing techniques can authors use to grab readers’ attention?

Enter content marketing. Content marketing is about sharing information that educates, inspires, and entertains readers. Content marketing allows an author to develop trust with an audience so that these people buy the author’s books.

If you are interested in learning more about content marketing and how you can use this powerful tool to grow the audience for your books, I encourage you to watch my new on-demand seminar Grow Your Audience with Content Marketing. This 40-minute seminar will walk you through six practical steps for sharing content on a regular basis to grow your audience.

As always, these on-demand seminars are free for Members of Christian Small Publishers Association. Other publishers and authors can access this seminar, Grow Your Audience with Content Marketing, for just $15 online at https://mcbuniversity.selz.com.

Related Posts:
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Are You Developing an Audience?

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Is Your Worldview Impacting Your Book Sales?

A worldview is the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. Sadly, studies reveal that less than 10% of Americans operate from a Biblical worldview. This means that many who call themselves “Christian” don’t follow Biblical principles in their daily lives.

As a Christian author or publisher, do you operate with a Biblical worldview? How you view readers (your customers and potential customers) is tied into your worldview. Ask yourself?

Am I in the business of producing and selling books?
—or—
Am I in the business of helping people grow into a deeper relationship with God?

Your worldview makes a huge difference in how you interact with people and conduct yourself.

When people and their needs are the center of your business mindset, you conduct yourself differently. When your worldview toward your business is God-focused and people-centric, you will:

  1. Create quality books that reflect God’s excellence and that you can market with passion.
  2. Develop and sustain warm, respectful relationships with readers and others in your network.
  3. Continue learning so you can share the best information available to help others.
  4. Recommend other authors’ books that will help your readers in ways your books don’t.
  5. Over deliver on your promises to your readers and audience.

When authors and publishers are in the business of helping people grow into a deeper relationship with God that will impact them for all eternity, temporal things are not as important. The number of books you sell, the number of five-star reviews you receive, how large your audience is, all become secondary to your primary purpose of serving God and helping his creation grow to know and love Him deeply.

Have you gotten off track? Has your pursuit of marketing and promoting your book caused you to drift from your original purpose?

I know that I have to check my compass regularly. I have to be reminded that it is not my kingdom, but God’s kingdom, and that he is growing his Kingdom for his glory and using me in the process.

A few of the things that help me stay on track include:

  1. Nourishing my soul and renewing my mind through regular reading of God’s word and praying.
  2. Being part of a Christian community where others hold me accountable and remind me of my place in God’s kingdom.
  3. Failures. They remind me on whom I depend.

I once heard an author say, “God gives you your platform, and God can take it away.” I think this is wise counsel. For in God we live and move and have our being. Apart from Him, we can do no good thing.

Related Posts:
The Influential Power of Books
What’s Your Promise?
Publishing is Not Enough

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Photo courtesy of Porapak Apichodilok.

Is Your Audience Growing?

The other day my teenage son was lamenting that he had lost seven subscribers. The boy runs a YouTube channel that boasts a few thousand subscribers. He watches how many people he has following him like a hawk and gets disheartened when followers unsubscribe.

I had a conversation with my son about how you can’t please everyone all the time. I talked with him about how losing subscribers is part of running a YouTube channel (or any business). Sometimes people outgrow your information, other times they change interests, and sometimes they just decide what you have to say is not worth their time.

I encouraged my son to look at the big picture. Was his audience growing or shrinking? He reported that his audience is growing, albeit not as fast as he would like.

The same principles I told my son apply to authors:

  • You can’t please everyone all the time.
  • Your fans can outgrow your information.
  • Your followers may lose interest in what you are sharing.
  • Your readers may re-prioritize their interests and no longer have time for your content.

When evaluating your own marketing efforts and reach, you should ask yourself:
Is my audience growing or shrinking?

If you find that your audience is growing, even though you lose some followers from time to time, then you know that you are on the right path. However, if you find that your audience is shrinking, then it is time to re-evaluate your marketing and book promotion activities. Ask yourself:

  1. Have I lost my passion?
  2. Have I strayed from my unique voice or message?
  3. Have I drifted off track and off topic?
  4. Am I consistently and diligently providing information that entertains, informs, or inspires my audience?

If your audience is shrinking and you answered yes to any of these questions, take some time to refocus and regain your footing. Take an inventory of your marketing activities. Create a new reinvigorated plan to follow.

Do you need some inspiration? Start by reading or re-reading my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace or watch one or more of the on-demand seminars on marketing that Marketing Christian Books University offers.

I asked my son to consider what percent of his audience he had lost in losing seven subscribers. He reported less than one-tenth of a percent. The next morning, he told me that he had gained 15 subscribers overnight—double what he had lost.

I encourage you to check your filter. Are you focusing on the negatives or the positives? When we focus on the negatives, we lose our passion and enthusiasm. This can have negative effects on our efforts. In addition, remember to keep the long view in sight. The short viewed is always skewed.

Related Posts:
Are You Developing an Audience?
Enlarge Your Audience with Micro-Influencers
Get to Know Your Target Audience

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Photo courtesy of Edwin Andrade.

The Importance of a Cover

Eight seconds. That is all the time you have to convince a reader to check out your book. If your book’s cover does not engage the reader in these few seconds, you lose.

People do judge books by their cover. As a result, your book’s cover is:

  • A reader’s first impression of your book.
  • Your most important marketing tool.

Jellybooks, the company that provides free books to readers in exchange for the ability to track the reader’s interaction with the book. From this information, Jellybooks can tell when people read, how long they read, how far they read in a book, and how quickly they read.

The company then uses this information to give the book’s publisher feedback. A few of the questions Jellybook answers for publishers include:

  • Does the book have a high word-of-mouth potential?
  • What are the optimal cover, title, and description for a book?
  • Is the audience a narrow, loyal niche—or a broad, less-committed mass-market audience?

Jellybooks has been collecting and analyzing data on books since 2012. They have made two important discoveries regarding book covers from the data they have collected.

1. Book covers influence readers greatly in their choices.

One interesting discovery from Jellybooks is that readers are greatly influenced by a book’s cover, however, they are usually not aware of it. Jellybooks reports that, when it comes to book covers, it is not about standing out. Rather, a cover has to be appropriate for the targeted audience, fit the title, and match the description. In addition, it has to raise expectations, but not create misleading expectations. There are no hard rules as to why one cover works better than another in regards to sending the “pick me” message.

2. The probability that someone will recommend a book is heavily influenced by the cover.

Jellybooks feels that this is one of the most important findings they have made. It is important because word-of-mouth is the number one driver of book sales. As with being influenced by the cover, most people aren’t even aware that the cover also influences whether they recommend a book or not. But, since people are concerned about being judged, they are only going to recommend a book if they perceive that the book’s cover is worthy and won’t get them negatively judged by someone they recommend the book to.

I cannot stress enough the importance of a good book cover. Your book cover matters. You and your book will be judged by your cover. Make sure that the judgement is a favorable one.

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Book Cover Design Tools to Know
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Photo courtesy of Leah Kelley.

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.

Related Posts:
Do You Have a “Can Do” Attitude?
It’s Never Too Late
Which Mindset Do You Have?

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