Conferences Are Worth It!

Why invest time and money to attend a writers conference when you can just watch a webinar online? After all, many online webinars are free, or at least cheaper than the cost to attend a conference.

I believe that there is great value in attending live events. Here are three reasons why attending a writers conferences provides greater benefit than reading a book, watching a webinar, or engaging on a forum.

1. The Live Experience

There’s nothing like being in the same room with other authors. Being with others of the same ilk in a room learning together heightens your senses. Learning in a live setting with others deepens the experience and makes it more meaningful.

2. Interaction with Experts

Writers conferences give you a great chance to not only learn from experts, but to interact with them one-on-one. Many conferences allow attendees to sign up for one-on-one consultations with the instructors so that you can glean from their expertise in the area that you need the most direction. Writers conferences truly give you the best return on your dollar in terms of training and consultation from experts. In addition, the passion and energy conference presenters exhibit are catching.

3. Networking

Due to the nature of writing, being an author can be isolating. Writers conferences are a great place to meet other authors. The networking opportunities are limitless. You can find others writing in the same genre who will be willing to support you, write you an endorsement or a review, or collaborate with you on a joint marketing venture. In addition, you will be amazed at what you learn just from talking with other authors.

In a nutshell, writers conferences offer you information, encouragement and support for your journey. I guarantee that if you attend a writers conference you will come away with a renewed vision and passion for your work—like this Christian writers conference attendee:

“I want to begin by thanking you for teaching such a wonderful and enlightening class at the Christian Writer’s Conference. I was blessed immensely with all that you shared, and it was an answer to prayer. I had intended to attend another continuing session when the Lord prompted me to attend yours instead. I’m so glad He did! It was precisely what I was praying for and needing. I can honestly say that because of your class, I was able to return home with everything I had wished to glean.” ~Erin

Writers conferences are not just for aspiring authors. Many Christian writers conferences often have more attendees that are already published authors than those who are not. After all, you can always learn new skills and strategies to improve your craft.

If you live in or near the Carolinas, I invite you to join me at the Carolina Christian Writers Conference in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on March 9th and 10th. I will be teaching two workshops. You can learn more about the conference at https://www.fbs.org/christian-writers-conference-2018.

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Do You Believe in Your Book?

I recently heard about a woman who loves to write. People who read her manuscript tell her that her book would sell. The writing is phenomenal.

Because this woman does not have a platform and would be a first-time author, others encouraged her to indie publish her book. One indie publisher actually offered to publish it for her.

However, the woman declined. She did not like the idea of having to promote and market her book. She did not want to do all those activities. Instead, she wanted someone to do those for her.

She found a company that told her they would publish and market her book for $10,000. They showed her how to start a Go Fund Me account to have people give her the $10,000.

Here is the irony. It takes promotion and marketing to get people to fund a crowdfunding project. So, whether this woman wanted to admit it or not, she had already begun to promote and market her book—the very thing she was opposed to doing.

If you are like this woman and don’t like the idea of promoting or marketing your book, consider this question:

Do I believe that my book has the power to help someone change their life for eternity?

Marketing a Christian book is a lot like sharing the Gospel. How will people hear and believe unless you tell them?

It’s not “send someone else” but “Here I am, send me.”

You won’t spread the Gospel if you don’t believe it is true and has the power to change people’s lives. The same is true for your book. You have to believe in your book, that it has information that people need to improve their lives to be able to promote it.

Here is another way to look at it:

  • Would you send ten emails to turn a person away from bitterness to forgiveness?
  • Could you push yourself to do a radio interview if you knew someone listening would seek treatment for their addiction and be restored to God?
  • How many restored marriages is a book signing worth?

Here’s the deal. When God is in an activity with you, it’s not your power, your strength, your genius that is driving the results. It’s God.

Marketing your Christian book is not about promoting yourself. It’s about promoting a message that the God of the Universe entrusted you to write down and share. It’s about spreading the Gospel and bringing light to a dark world.

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Photo courtesy of Ben White.

Making Smart Use of Your Marketing Dollars

The number of books for sale every year grows exponentially. Add to that, the books previously published don’t vanish. With digital and print-on-demand technology, books remain available for sale in the cloud indefinitely.

Consider these numbers of books published independently from just four years:

  • 2016: 786,935 books
  • 2015: 727,125 books
  • 2014: 599,721 books
  • 2013: 460,064 books

This means that each year about a half-million books get added to the existing books available for sale. So, this year, there will be another half-million more books competing for readers’ attention.

Since the reading rate in America is holding steady (and has been since 2012), while the number of books is growing exponentially, this means that the ability to attract any given reader’s attention with your title diminishes exponentially each year.

Any time competition heats up, the cost to compete increases also. For example, it is becoming more expensive to reach readers with both Facebook Ads and Amazon Ads as these ads have gained in popularity. Again, thousands of Indie authors, along with traditional publishers, are using these ads and competing for readers’ attention.

The folks over at Written Word Media put it this way:

“The upshot of this increased competition is that authors will have to spend significantly more time on marketing to maintain the results they saw in 2017.”

The CMO of Reedsy, Ricardo Fayet, predicts that as Indie publishing becomes more competitive and requires more and more business and marketing skills, many Indie authors will experience marketing burnout.

I believe that it is more important than ever for Indie authors to be connected to an association or group that provides them support in their efforts. Staying on top of trends and making smart use of your marketing dollars is a must moving forward.

If you are an Independent author or small publisher producing Christian books, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is a resource for you. Membership is just $90 for the calendar year and provides you great return value including:

  1. Cutting-edge information and training on marketing your books.
  2. Cooperative marketing opportunities to save you money.
  3. Discounts on advertising and other services.
  4. Free title uploads and revisions for IngramSpark.

Here is the deal. If you are publishing a book via IngramSpark, the cost to upload your title (print and ebook) is $49. If you find mistakes and upload two revisions, that cost is another $50. So, the cost to print and distribute your book via IngramSpark ends up costing you a total of $99.

Instead, you can double the return for that money by joining Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). With your membership, you will get your book printed and distributed via IngramSpark for free plus get all the other great benefits of membership with CSPA.

It’s better than a two-for-one deal. Don’t miss out. Join CSPA today at http://www.christianpublishers.net.

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How to Become an Indie Author

One study shows that 80% of people feel they have a book inside of them. If you have a book inside of you that is waiting to come out, now is a great time to make your dream come true.

Independent publishing is growing. The cost to produce a book is within the average person’s reach, and with the Internet, marketing opportunities are right at your fingertips.

So, becoming an independent author is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Simply write your book, publish it, and then start selling. Wait—is it really that easy?

Sadly, some new indie authors fall into this belief system. These authors fail to learn what is required to produce a quality book that resembles books published by traditional publishing houses. Then they get frustrated when their book doesn’t sell.

If you are thinking about publishing a book as an indie author, I encourage you to gain the knowledge you need to produce a quality book that meets industry standards and glorifies God. Here are two ways you can get that information:

1. Attend my “Going Indie” seminar at the upcoming Write to Impact Lives Conference.

The Write to Impact Lives Conference will be held in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, on February 9 to 10, 2018. I will teach a four-hour session on Friday afternoon that will cover everything you need to know to publish an industry-standard book. The seminar will cover:

  • Three things to do before you publish your book.
  • Preparing your manuscript for publishing including editing, interior layout and design, and your book cover design.
  • Publishing your book affordably.

If you do not live near Philadelphia, you have another option to get this great information.

2. Become a Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA).

Membership in Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is open to individuals who have published or are considering publishing a book. You do not have to have already published a book to join the association.

Members of CSPA have access to on-demand seminars covering all the information you need to publish an industry standard book. CSPA Members also have access to a Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book. Additionally, as a Member of Christian Small Publishers Association, you have access to free title setup and revisions with IngramSpark, a print-on-demand service that also provides distribution for your book.

Membership in CSPA is just $90 for the 2018 calendar year. You can join today on CSPA’s website.

Make 2018 the year you indie publish that book you have been wanting to complete!

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Inspiration for 2018

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2018. Another year, another new beginning, another chance to meet your goals and move into your dreams.

To start 2018, I want to encourage and inspire you with six pieces of wisdom from books I read in 2017. Takes these nuggets of truth and carry them with you as beacons to light your path this year.

On Writing and Marketing:
“The beauty of content is that it isn’t just for marketing. It also grows the content creator at the same time. Creating content forces you to grapple with ideas and grow and evolve your thinking.”
Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi

 

On Personal Development:
“When we feel powerful, we’re less self-conscious about expressing our feelings and beliefs, and that frees us to think and do great things.”
Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy

 

On Perseverance:
“Sometimes the things we would never pick for our lives gives us opportunities to receive God’s provision, to see Him working in ways we otherwise might not experience.”
Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors

 

On Relationships:
“The best apologies are short, and don’t go on to include explanations that run the risk of undoing them. An apology isn’t the only chance you ever get to address the underlying issue. The apology is the chance you get to establish the ground for future communication. This is an important and often overlooked distinction.”
Why Won’t You Apologize? by Harriet Lerner

 

On Faith:
“If someone believes it is our faith that heals us and forgets that it is God who does it, we should ask that person how much faith Lazarus had. Remember, he was decomposing in a tomb when Jesus raised him from death. His faith obviously didn’t matter. It was all God. It is God and God’s grace that heals, not our prayers and not our “faith.” Though we are exhorted by God to pray to him, we cannot compel him to do what we wish.”
Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life by Eric Metaxas

 

On Hope:
“I was seized with the reality that God does do something about evil. This was a defining moment for me: I realized that, no matter what anyone else says, we can pierce through the darkness, and it is worth it to bring the light of God to those deeply hurt by the darkness of this world.”
God Is for Real by Todd Burpo

 

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