Resources for Indie Authors

As independent publishing continues to grow, services supporting both authors and readers also increase. Over the past few years, a number of services have risen that effectively meet a need in the indie publishing community.

Two of these services provide robust choices.

 

ReedsyReedsy

This service helps authors find and connect with the best publishing professionals needed in producing a book. With this service, you can find editors, book cover designers, publicists, and translators. Reedsy also hosts a robust blog with great information. Learn more on Reedsy’s website at https://reedsy.com.

Draft2DigitalDraft2Digital

This publishing platform started as a digital distributor for ebooks. They have expanded their offerings to now include ebooks, print-on-demand books, and audiobooks (through their partnership with Findaway Voices). Draft2Digital offers wide distribution to numerous online outlets. The benefit of using this platform is that there are no upfront costs. Instead, Draft2Digital takes a portion of your earnings (10%) for their payment. Learn more at https://www.draft2digital.com.

Two newer services of note are for fiction authors.

New Fiction Book Discovery Website

A group of 120 authors—both traditional and indie—has launched Binge Books (https://bingebooks.com), a new online community for fiction readers. The site strives to be a reader hub where readers can explore new writers, unfamiliar genres, as well as favorite author collections.  Binge Books also a social media site, so readers will have the chance to interact with each other as well as the authors they follow.

Binge Books

Binge Books will also host a bookstore with links to purchase print books, ebooks and audiobooks from a choice of retailers. If you want to have your books featured on this site, you can join the author waitlist at https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/v7b3o5. The site will then contact you when they are ready to add new novels.

Self-Editing with Artificial Intelligence

Early this year, a new self-editing tool that utilizes artificial intelligence was launched. This tool, called Marlowe, is an artificial intelligence tool that helps authors improve their novels before sending it off for professional editing.

Marlowe

This tool can read your book and deliver a 25+ comprehensive critique within an hour. It is inexpensive—a fraction of the cost of a human editor. Marlowe reads all fictional genres and sub-genres and returns unbiased feedback. The tool can critique character traits, plot arcs, narrative arcs, pacing, punctuation, sentence structure, reading level and more.

Try Marlowe out on your novel at https://authors.ai. The service will provide a basic critique of your novel for free. There is a fee for the more robust analysis.

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Three New Tools for Publishers
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How to Spot a Self-Published Book

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Use Psychology to Sell More Books

As science progresses, so do the tools we have for understanding the human brain and human behavior. In the 1990s, fMRI was developed. fMRI stands for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Similar to the MRI, fMRI is a brain imaging technique that does not involve radiation.

Use Psychology to Sell More Books

Due to its ease of use, fMRI has become a popular tool for imaging normal brain function. Over the past decade, it has allowed psychologists to discover new insights into such things as how memories are formed, how language is learned, how pain effects the brain, and decision-making processes.

fMRI has opened the door to neuromarketing. This is a field of scientific study that aims to understand how people make purchasing decisions and then capitalize on this information to persuade people to buy products. Neuromarketing assesses how our brain reacts to stimuli—not simply what we self-report—allowing researchers to study both the conscious and the subconscious decision-making process.

You can use the information researchers have found to improve your marketing efforts. Knowing what consumers respond best to can help you design your book covers, your website, and all your marketing materials to better grab people’s attention. Consider these three neuromarketing findings.

1.  Maximize Eye Gaze

Vision is the most prominent of the human five senses. Nearly one-fourth of the brain deals with visual processes. It is long known that ads that contain images of people are more effective than those that don’t. In particular, images that include babies tend to attract longer and more focused attention from consumers.

Eye tracking technology has discovered that an adorable baby face is not enough to engage consumers with the content of a visual ad. With eye tracking, researchers found that images of infant looking face on at the viewer, distracted the viewer from the rest of the content. However, if the baby’s face was looking at the product or ad content (rather than straight on), then the viewer also focused on the advertising content.

 

eyes

The big take away from this study is that if you are using images of people in your marketing content or on your website, have the faces of the people turned toward what you want your readers to look at. Images in your marketing material should enhance what you are trying to communicate, not distract from it.

2.  Color is Important

Color plays a major role in decision making. Research shows that people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing. Between 62 and 90 percent of that assessment is based on color alone.

Colors influence how we feel. This makes them a powerful marketing tool. Colors are often a primary factor in purchasing decisions. Studies show that a product’s color influences 60 to 80 percent of a customer’s purchasing decision. The colors you choose for your book cover, your website, and your advertising copy are extremely important.

Using color effectively can be a powerful marketing tool. Colors evoke emotion. Familiarize yourself with the emotional message of various colors before choosing your next book’s cover. Interestingly, color appears to be tied to culture. Colors that entice shoppers in America are entirely different from those that entice shoppers in India.

3.  Fonts Make a Difference

Humans prefer comfort and ease. People are more likely to engage in a given behavior the less effort it requires. This is true for reading. Studies show that people prefer easy-to-read fonts over complex fonts. The easier the font is to read; the more people feel they will understand what they are reading.

font

There is still a place for more complex fonts. Just use them sparsely to catch consumer’s attention in your marketing. Anything text that requires longer reading and understanding should be done with a simple font.

Final Thought

All marketing speaks to the brain. Knowing what catches the brains attention and what influences the brain’s decision-making activity and then designing your marketing materials to capitalize on these influences is smart marketing. Your design, color, and font choices all play an important role in convincing consumers to buy your books. People make 90% of buying decisions subconsciously, and it can take just 50 milliseconds to create a positive or negative impression on your audience.

Related Posts:

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio and Francesca Zama.

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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