Do You Have the Proper Margins?

Have you ever read a book or document that ran the text right up to the edges of the page?

Do you have the proper margins?

Did you notice that looking at such a book or document made you tense and possibly left you feeling overwhelmed?

Margins are important—both in books and in life.

1. Proper margins in your book allow readers to absorb the information.

Margins on a page or screen are the white space that surrounds the printed content. Each page or screen has top, bottom, and side margins. These white spaces are meaningful and serve several purposes.

  • Enhance Visual Appeal

White spaces on the edges of text on a page create balance. They give our eyes a place to rest.

  • Improve Readability

Margins provide a contrast to the printed words on a page. Words within a frame help the eyes focus better.

  • Provide a Place for Notes

Some people like to annotate their books. Margins in a book or document allow readers to record their thoughts as they read to enhance their retention of the material or take notes for later reference.

  • Create a Buffer Zone for Manufacturing

Whether you are printing a book on a large printing machine or printing a document on a home printer, margins leave room for error. Adequate margins make sure that words do not get cut off in the printing process. Thus, white space ensures that you have a readable product.

When designing a book, don’t skimp on the size of the margins. Yes, you can cram more words on a page and have a shorter book if you have small margins. Sadly, if you choose this route, your book will not be as attractive or readable, resulting in fewer sales.

God speaks in the stillness and quiet

2. Proper margins in your life give space for Jesus to show up.

Books need margin, but so do lives. If you run your life up to the edges, you will not be as effective or happy as when you allow margins.

If you want God to show up more in your life. If you want to feel his presence, see him at work, or feel that he is using you, then you must allow the time and space for this to happen. Time and space where you are not busy, but can rest, relax, and sit quietly.

When Elijah went to Mount Horeb to meet with God (I Kings 19), he did not find God in the mighty wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Instead, God showed up and spoke with Elijah in a soft whisper.

We need the margins to be able to hear God’s whisper both in books and in our lives.

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Photos courtesy of Kaboompics.com and Cindy Lever.

5 Book Publishing Trends You Need to Know for 2020

The year 2020 is now in sight. It’s important to take stock of where you are and where you want to go periodically. A new year provides a great chance to do just that.

The five book publishing trends for 2020 presented here are meant to help you take stock of your publishing and marketing activities so that you can remain viable and effective for another year.

Book Publishing Trends

1.  Self-Publishing Will Continue to Skyrocket

 Self-publishing is showing no signs of slowing down. Between 2016 and 2018, the number of self-published print books increased by over 400,000 each year.  Here is the breakdown:

  • 2016:  657,062
  • 2017:  1,060,821
  • 2018:  1,547,341

The majority of these print books—1,416,384 in 2018—were published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon allows anyone to produce a print or ebook through their service free of charge. This means that anyone who wants to publish a book now can with no entry barrier.

Since 80% of people surveyed feel they have a book inside them, the number of self-published books will continue to skyrocket as more people learn that they can actually publish that book inside of them easily and at no-cost.

Marketing Takeaway:

As the number of books published rises, the number of book choices readers have increases. “Choice overload” is real. In fact, a recent study found that 42% of consumers admitted to abandoning a planned purchase altogether because there were too many choices. Authors who want to sell books will have to convince people to choose their books over all the others available.

2.  Audiobooks Will Continue Their Rise in Popularity

The audiobook format is booming. Over the past few years, the number of audiobooks produced has increased, the revenue from the sales of audiobooks has grown, and more people are listening to audiobooks. This trend shows no sign of slowing down.

According the Audiobook Publishers Association (APA), there has been double digit revenue growth in audiobooks year over year for the past seven years. U.S. audiobook sales in 2018 rose 24.5% from the previous year.

Audiobook Listening on the Rise

Audiobook listening is also on the rise, as supported by data from The Infinite Dial 2019, which shows 50% of Americans age 12 and older have listened to an audiobook (that’s 144 million people). This is the first time that audiobooks’ consumer penetration has reached the 50% mark, up from 44% in 2018.

Marketing Takeaway:

Do you need to get on board with audiobooks? If your books are selling well in print and digital format, making these titles into audiobooks can help you reach a broader audience and bring in more book sales and revenue.

3.  The Competition for Reading Time Will Continue to Be Fierce

Reading faces stiff competition for consumer attention from other entertainment activities. According to The NPD Group, nearly three out of four consumers in the U.S. reported reading a book or listening to an audiobook in the past six months. Even though there is plenty of reading going on, NPD survey respondents reported reading roughly 9 percent less this year than they did last year overall.

This downward trend is not going anywhere but down. With the ease of watching video, many people are turning to this medium for their entertainment. In fact, Cisco predicts that 82% of all consumer web traffic will be video in 2020 and Wyzowl says that 79% of consumers currently prefer watching video to reading about a product.

So, while the number of books self-published has increased exponentially, the amount of time people spend reading is decreasing. This means that finding readers for your books keeps getting more difficult.

Marketing Takeaway:

 Every author should be involved in literacy efforts and promoting reading. You should be recommending books—other than your own—to your audiences as well as reminding your audience of the incredible health benefits of reading.

4.  Discoverability Will Be Increasingly Challenging

Gone are the days when authors easily found readers for their books. The number of books available on any given topic is astounding. The challenge to get a book to rise to someone’s attention in this field of fierce competition has become increasingly challenging.

In addition, the sharp decrease in organic traffic to websites from engine searches is not going to be reversed. Google will continue to capture the majority of their engine searches, keeping people on their own sites. The increase in voice search via smart speakers means that the number of options given for search terms will continue to decline. Comscore research estimates that in 2020, half of all internet searches will be through voice.

Marketing Takeaway:

Successful authors will be those who actively build an audience who trusts them. Building such an audience takes deliberate marketing that includes media exposure through multiple books, social media presence, speaking engagements, articles in print and online publications, and podcast and radio and television interviews.

Save our Planet

5.  Emphasis on Green Initiatives and Sustainability Will Increase

The price of paper has been rising over the past few years. This is because the demand for paper products keeps increasing. e-Commerce has driven the demand for cardboard packaging—a paper product. Increasingly people are becoming concerned about the sustainability of forests due to our paper consumption.

Most American paper products come from Canadian forests. Between 1996 and 2015, more than 28 million acres of these forests were logged, mostly through clear cutting. New trees will take decades to mature. To work toward increasing sustainability for paper, a few companies are beginning to innovate with producing more sustainable paper products and greener packaging.

One company in Australia has developed books made from stone. Karst notebooks are made by mixing ground slate stones with a small quantity of resin (a type of plastic)., These notebook pages feel like paper, but are waterproof and tear-resistant. The books are fully recyclable, biodegradable, and carbon neutral.

 Marketing Takeaway:

Many consumers, especially Millennials, want to know that businesses they frequent are socially and environmentally conscience. These consumers prefer to purchase from companies that are using some of their profits to help make the world a better place. As an author, you can address this concern with your readers by choosing to give a portion of the proceeds of your book to a good cause.

I encourage you to make one of your New Year’s resolutions to never stop learning, but to continue to grow in knowledge and tools to be effective in your publishing and marketing efforts. As one step to keeping that resolution, I invite you to join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA).

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Ways to Avoid Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block:

  • No author likes to experience it.
  • Every author wants to avoid it.

Writer’s block is defined as a condition where an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown.

To avoid this paralyzing experience, watch this video on 29 Ways to Stay Creative.

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Is Multitasking Ruining Your Productivity?

Do you check social media while trying to write? Do you read emails while talking on the phone?

Our fast-paced society smiles on multitasking. Our lives are so full, that there are books and seminars dedicated to teaching people how to “do more in less time.” But, does it really work?

Multitasking

The Myth of Multitasking

The belief that multitasking helps us do more is really a myth. Studies reveal that multitasking is not what is claims to be.

1. Multitasking Lowers Productivity

In a time where everyone is trying to do more with the time allotted to us each day (everyone gets just 24 hours), studies show that multitasking does not help us be more productive. Research conducted by Stanford University found that people who multitask are actually less productive than those who focus on one task at a time.

2. Multitasking has a Negative Impact on our Brain Functioning

A study performed by the University of Sussex found that multitasking with digital devices may actually damage the brain. The study found that “people who used a higher number of media devices concurrently had smaller grey matter density in the part of the brain known as the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), the region notably responsible for cognitive and emotional control functions.”

3. Multitasking Can Lead to Burnout

Multitasking can cause mental exhaustion.  According to Dr. Natalia Peart, clinical psychologist, founder and CEO of Catalyst Innovation Group, and author of “FutureProofed, we  multitask as a way to dig ourselves out of the cycle of stress and burnout that is plaguing so many of us today, but instead, it is doing quite the opposite—it just makes our stress and burnout even worse.

Rest

Do Less and Accomplish More

Many authors are extremely busy individuals. We have jobs and families in addition to writing and marketing our books. It is easy for us to fall prey to the myth of multitasking. Here are two solutions to combat multitasking and accomplish more.

1. Serial Task

Serial task is just what is sounds like. Do one thing at a time. Focus on the one thing. Studies show that we can immerse ourselves in a task that takes a lot of mental attention for about one hour. After about an hour our productivity starts to wane, unless we take a break. You can use these breaks check your social media accounts or responding to text messages or emails—the things you would normally try to do while multitasking.

2. Recharge Regularly

In our fast-paced economy, we tend to turn to caffeine and sugar to give us energy to keep us going. In reality, our minds and bodies are asking for a break. It is important to take time to recharge your energy regularly.

To recharge your energy daily, take small amounts of time do leisure activities that you enjoy such as exercise, reading, playing a musical instrument, gardening, or cooking. However, these increments of daily time are only one piece of the equation for recharging regularly.

God, in his wisdom, created the Sabbath—one day a week for rest. Our creator knows that we need regular time to rest and recharge. Taking a Sabbath helps clear the debris that is clogging our connection to the Spirit, allowing us to be renewed spiritually—and also energizing us to continue to write God’s message.

Don’t neglect taking a day to rest weekly. You will be better—and more productive—for it.

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Murphy’s Law for Book Publishing

Murphy’s Law is the name given to any adage stating that if anything can go wrong, it will. Things do go wrong in book publishing. Here are five Murphy’s Law book publishing adages that I found on the Internet. Can you relate?

Murphy's Law for Book Publishing

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