Five Trends Authors Should Know for 2018

A new year is right around the corner. We live in an age of unprecedented technological advances. Yet, as authors and publishers, we are still people of the printed word.

Each year, it gets harder to attract attention for any given book. The number of books produced each year is growing faster than the population rate is growing—while the average time spent reading daily is decreasing.

Marketing is essential to engage readers’ attention for your books. To keep your book marketing activities effective and relevant, you should be aware of these five important trends as we move into 2018.

1. Independent publishing will continue to grow.

According to Bowker, the agency that assigns ISBN numbers, self-publishing has grown tremendously over the past seven years. While the growth has recently slowed, the numbers of books published each year by independent authors will continue to grow.

According to Bowker, the number of books that were self-published (including small presses publishing fewer than 10 titles per year) grew 30 percent between 2013 and 2014. From 2014 to 2015, the number grew again by 21 percent, and then from 2015 to 2016, the growth of self-published titles grew by 8 percent.

While the number of titles published each year continues to grow, the reading rate in America has held steady since 2012. This means that the competition for readers’ attention, time, and money gets fiercer each year.

2. Amazon will continue to streamline operations for book publishing.

Amazon owns CreateSpace, the number one self-publishing platform on the Internet. Authors publishing on CreateSpace automatically have their books placed for sale in Amazon and in the CreateSpace store. However, in October of this year, Amazon shut down the CreateSpace store and the company is now directing all sales of CreateSpace books through Amazon directly.

Earlier this year, Amazon began rolling out KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) print option. Now anyone publishing an ebook via KDP can also request the book be made available in print format through Amazon without having to use CreateSpace. I believe that Amazon will continue to streamline operations for book publishing and that eventually all self-publishing for Amazon will go directly through KDP.

3. Online purchasing will outstrip brick-and-mortar purchasing.

An October survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation found that nearly 59 percent of 7,350 consumers surveyed said they plan to do their holiday shopping online this year, up from 56.5 percent last year. This makes the first time in the survey’s history that online shopping topped brick-and-mortar as the preferred holiday shopping destination.

Online sales for books have exceeded brick-and-mortar stores for a number of years (since about 2012 after Borders closed). The majority of books are already purchased via the Internet. As the number of books purchased online has steadily risen, so the number of brick-and-mortar bookstores has steadily declined in the United States. Book sales tracking companies report that 70% of all book sales are now online (including print, ebook, and audiobook).

Your books should be available in multiple online outlets. While Amazon captures about 42% of all print book sales, books are still being purchased at other online bookstores. To capture the most sales, your books must be available in multiple outlets.

4. Mobile Internet access will continue to increase.

Two-thirds of the world’s population is connected to the Internet through mobile devices. People now spend more time browsing the web on mobile devices than on desktop computers. In fact, 63 percent of searches on Google this year were from a mobile device. The number of searches from mobile devices is expected to continue to grow, even surpassing the 70 percent mark in 2018.

To stay relevant, your website must be mobile optimized. If it is not, you will be left behind. Google gives preference to mobile-optimized websites for mobile searches. If your website is not mobile optimized, you could be missing out on almost two-thirds of the searches looking for your type of book.

5. Video will continue to dominate engagement on the web.

People watch a lot of videos online. Digital Information World reports that 55 percent of people watch videos online every day. Here are a few more statistics on video usage on the Internet:

  • Experts estimate that by 2019, video watching will account for 80 percent of Internet traffic.
  • After watching a video, 64 percent of users are more likely to buy a product online.
  • Recent data from Facebook shows that people are 10 times more likely to comment on a Facebook Live video than other posts.

You can use video to promote your books. Create book trailers, informational videos, and use live stream videos like Facebook Live to share with and connect with potential readers.

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Is Your Business Card Impressive?

Business cards are still in fashion. I find it surprising that even in this digital age with everyone carrying a smart phone, business cards are still a marketing essential.

If you are an author, you should have a business card. Your business card should include your author or book website and contact information. Business cards are a great marketing tool. Carry them with you wherever you go. You never know who you will meet or what connection you may make.

Did you know that 72 percent of people judge a person based on the quality of their business card? The infographic below tells you what you need to know to create an impressive business card.

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A Little Yeast…

“Please note that if I review this book, I would have to give it a 2 star based on its poor punctuation and grammar. The story is great and wonderful, but the writing is sub-par.”

“For the story content and the impact it had on me, I would definitely award this book 5 stars. But, I could not give it 5. Sadly, the book is riddled with typos, wrong words, formatting mistakes, misspellings, and other editing issues that kept jerking me out of the story and making me wish the publisher had edited it properly.”

I cringe when I read comments like these from book reviewers. Indie publishing has come a long way in shedding the stigma attached to it. This stigma said that self-published books were sub-par. Poor covers, bad editing, and mediocre content is what people expected from these books.

Fortunately, the stigma attached to self-publishing is fading. However, every time a book reviewer writes a statement like the ones above, indie publishing takes a hit.

I often feel like a broken record because I repeat myself so much about this issue. If you choose to publish a book yourself, professional editing, layout, and cover design is a must. If your book is a Christian book, it not only has an impact on God’s reputation, it also has an impact on the reputation of indie published books.

After all, Paul says in I Corinthians 5:6: Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Is your yeast good or bad?

I interact with a lot of indie authors. Many are frustrated because they have trouble selling their books. However, I find that often many of the authors that vent this frustration did not take the care or money to have their books properly edited.

Indie publishing is an incredible gift. We live in a time when almost anyone can afford to publish a book. But, just because you can publish a book doesn’t mean you should. Before you decide to publish, be sure that have done your homework so that you know what an industry-standard book looks like and you know the basics involved in promoting and marketing a book to readers.

Part of the mission of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is to strengthen small publishers and independent authors in the Christian marketplace. One way CSPA does this is by providing tools and information to help you produce quality books.

Members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) have access to the on-demand seminar “Create a Professional-Looking Book” as well as the “Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book.”

You can join CSPA for just $90 for the 2018 calendar year and have access to this great information and more. Join today at http://www.christianpublishers.net/membership/become-a-member.

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Your Book: A Needle in a Haystack

The number of self-published titles continues to grow. Bowker, the company that assigns ISBN numbers recently announced that 786,935 ISBN numbers were assigned to self-published titles in 2016. This is an increase of 59,810 titles, an 8.2% increase over 2015.

According to the 2016 Bowker report, ISBNs assigned for print books rose 11.3% to 638,624 titles, while ISBNs assigned to ebooks fell 3.2% to 148,311. Since Bowker measures the number of self-published books by ISBN, its count does not include ebooks released by authors through Amazon’s KDP program, as Amazon Kindle uses ASIN identifiers rather than ISBNs.

Small publishers—defined as those authors and publishers who purchase their own ISBN numbers (rather than using an ISBN number provided by a publishing platform like CreateSpace) and produce 10 or fewer titles—grew by 7.67%, up 3,863 titles to 54,206 from 2015.

These figures indicate that the self-publishing industry is beginning to stabilize as it is growing to maturity. According to Bowker’s report, self-published titles grew 30% from 2013 to 2014 and 21% from 2014 to 2015. Then this past year, from 2015 to 2016, the growth rate of self-published titles slowed to about 8%.

If you released a book in 2016 or 2017, your book is simply one book in a sea of three-quarters of a million other books released the same year. That is a lot of competition. It is much like being a needle in a haystack.

Marketing a book among millions can seem a daunting task. How can you make your book stand out and get noticed? Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help your book get noticed. Here are three.

1. Build a platform.
Building a platform is all about developing an audience of people who trust and listen to what you have to say. You can develop your audience online with a blog, podcast, or video series, or you can develop an audience through speaking engagements. Readers buy books from authors they trust. For more information on building a platform and developing an audience, watch my on-demand seminar Developing an Audience for Your Books.

2. Go Niche.
Niche means a distinct segment of a market. It’s all about narrowing your audience to focus on those most likely to read your book. For example, if you have a book on parenting, instead of targeting all parents, you would refine your target audience. You might refine it to Christian parents and then refine it further to Christian parents of disabled children and then refine it even further to Christian parents of disabled children who need special care. Refining helps you find the best niche audience for your book.

3. Partner with Influencers.
Seek out those who already have influence with your niche audience and partner with them. Influencers can be other authors already writing to your audience. They can be bloggers speaking to these people. They can also be civic leaders, church leaders, educational leaders, or famous personalities. Work with influencers to receive endorsements, reviews, recommendations, and support for your book. Partnering with influencers helps you expand your audience and gives you and your book credibility.

Your book does not need to get lost in the haystack. A little effort on your part can make your book stand out and receive the attention it deserves.

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com.

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.

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