Your Christian Book Is Crucial

The United States is steadily becoming less Christian and less religiously observant, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Only 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christian today. This represents a 12-point decrease in the past decade. In 2009, 77% of American adults identified as Christian.

65% of Americans are Chrisitan

In this same period, those who describe themselves as having no religion, referred to as “nones” in the United States have grown. Currently about 17% of the American adult population identifies as “nothing in particular” when asked about their religion. This is up five points from 12% in 2009.

The Pew Research Center data shows a wide gap between older Americans and younger generations. More than eight out of ten members (84%) of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945) describe themselves as Christians, as do three-quarters (76%) of Baby Boomers. In contrast, only half of Millennials (49%) describe themselves as Christians, while four out of ten are religious “nones”.

The need for Christian witness in the United States in great. Christian books are needed today as much—if not more—then they ever have been.

Christian books are lights—shining beacons that accomplish two important purposes:

1. Christian books point people to God.

Studies show that Millennials read. In fact, adults aged 18 to 35 purchase and read more books each year than those in other age groups. Your Christian books can be a tool in proclaiming the Gospel and drawing people to God.

2. Christian books strengthen believers.

Christian books reveal truth about God’s Word to believers. Your Christian book serves to encourage and strengthen Christ followers so that they can shine the light of Jesus to the dark world around them.

Christian author, don’t give up. Your Christian book is needed in America today. Our country (and the whole world) needs to know God and his son Jesus.

My prayer is that your Christian books would touch people’s lives. I pray the Caleb Prayer for our country. I invite you to pray it with me.

O High King of heaven,
Have mercy on our land.
Revive your church;
Send the Holy Spirit
For the sake of the children.
May your kingdom come to our nation.
In Jesus’ might name.
Amen.

P.S. If you live in or around the Capital of our country, I invite you to join me at the Capital Christian Writers Fellowship Conference on January 25, 2020. I will be presenting a keynote talk on “What Makes a Book Christian?”

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Publishing Myths Busted!

Over the years, I have heard writers make some fairly outrageous claims like:

  • “My book is going to rock the Christian world.”
  • “Everybody needs to read my book.”
  • “I just write; I don’t read.”

These writers have bought into ideas that are not true. Sadly, there are numerous publishing and marketing myths that newer writers and authors often believe.

Publishing Myths Busted

In his new book, 10 Publishing Myths, W. Terry Whalin sets out to debunk 10 popular publishing myths while educating writers on the reality of book publishing and marketing.

This small book is packed with useful advice and resources for aspiring and new authors. For each myth, Terry provides an MBA—not a Masters of Business Administration—but a Myth Busting Activity for the reader to do.

Terry Whalin knows the publishing industry. As both an editor and a writer, Terry has written over 60 books and numerous articles. He has worked as a magazine editor and is currently an acquisitions editor. His advice is sound.

In debunking the “My Book Will Be a New York Times Bestseller” myth, Terry states:

With over 4500 new books entering the marketplace every day, it is a challenge for any author to find readers—and to find readers who will write a few sentences of honest review and post it on Amazon and Goodreads and other sites.”

I agree with Terry. The competition for readers’ time and money is stiff. Authors have to devote time and energy to promoting and marketing their books to reap sales. I have often said that book reviews are your second most important marketing tool—your book’s cover is your number one marketing tool.

In the “My Editor Will Fix All My Mistakes” myth chapter, Terry writes:

One of the ways we can grow as a writer in the knowledge of our craft is to read how-to books. Even though I have an undergraduate degree in journalism and have shelves of how-to write books, I continue to read books on the craft of writing. For years, I’ve read at least one of these types of books each month. New how-to books continue to be created and published—and I learn something from each of them.

Every writer and author can benefit from this piece of wisdom. There is always room for improvement, and there is always more to learn. As an author, you should follow Terry’s advice and encourage others to do so also. One way you can put this into practice is to gift Terry’s book or another book on writing or marketing to one or more writers in your life this Christmas.

Authors should be readers. Read books in your books’ genres and read books to improve your writing and marketing skills. I suggest that you start with this book and then read all the additional resources and books that Terry recommends in the book.

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Photo courtesy of Patrick Fore.

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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Self-Publishing Keeps Growing!

The descendants of Abraham are “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore” (Hebrews 11:12). It’s beginning to feel that the same is true for the number of books published.

4,200 book published every day

Self-publishing is showing no signs of slowing down. Bowker, the agency that assigns ISBNs to books, just released their data on the number of self-published books for 2018.

1,547,341

That is the number of PRINT books that were self-published (including small publishers who produce less than 10 titles a year) in 2018 in the United States. This is a 46% increase from the 1,060,821 PRINT books self-published in 2017.

This means a self-published PRINT book is published every 20 seconds in the U.S. That is over 4,200 books self-published a day!

These are just the figures for PRINT books. This does not include books that are published as ebooks only. Nor does this number include the books that are published by traditional publishing houses.

Here is the kicker: 1,416,384 of these books were published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)—formerly CreateSpace, which existed until the end of 2018 when it was folded into KDP. This means that 91.5% of all self-published PRINT books are published through KDP.

Fierce Competition

With over one million books self-published in 2017, 2018, and again in 2019, the number of books available for sale keeps growing exponentially. Books are not going out-of-print much anymore. The sheer number of books available to read or buy boggles the mind. This means that every year any given book is competing against more and more titles.

books

In fact, many readers are beginning to experience overload. They have more books to choose from than they can conceive. Scientists believe that while the presence of choice is appealing in theory, in reality, people find more and more choices debilitating.

This means that for the self-published author, selling books is harder. The book marketing techniques that have worked for years no longer have the same power to persuade people to buy your book. More and more, a personal connection with an audience or standing out in some significant way is required for a book to sell.

If you are a self-published author, then you need information and tools to be as effective as you can be at promoting your book. It is not enough to just write and publish a book anymore, you also must take the time to learn how to market your book effectively.

CIPAChristian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) is one resource available to self-published (indie) authors who need guidance in marketing Christian books. The Association provides its Members with information and tools for success in publishing and marketing Christian books.

You can take advantage of CIPA’s Fall Membership special. For just $105, you will receive Membership through December 2020. Sign up to join today at https://www.christianpublishers.net/membership/become-a-member.

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New Record: One Million Self-Published Books
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Photo courtesy of MontyLov.

 

A Book Marketing Recipe

I once met an author who wrote a book that she was promoting as a Christian book. I spoke with this author and really liked her. She had a charming, likable nature. She was very personable. However, during our conversation, she told me that she did not read the Bible. In fact, she did not even know some of the more familiar Bible stories such as Esther.

A Marketing Recipe

When I discovered this piece of information, I decided to not read her book. Why? Because I did not trust that her book was really a Christian book. On another level, I did not trust this author. After all, she was promoting her book as a Christian book, yet she did not read the Bible.

Relationships follow a predictable pattern. First you must meet someone and get to know them. As you get to know the person, you start to like him or her. Then, as you spend more time with that person, your trust in the individual grows.

This pattern—Know + Like + Trust—is repeated over and over in our life with each new person we meet and befriend. The same pattern is replicated in selling products. After all, we buy products from people we know, like, and trust.

When you think about marketing your book, this simple pattern should permeate what you do. Your marketing efforts need to help people first get to know you, then to like you and what you offer, and lastly to trust your message and writing.

Let’s examine each step a little more closely.

Know:

People have to meet you to know you. This meeting does not have to be in the physical world; it can be in the print or digital world. There are many ways for people to meet you. They might read an article you wrote or see one of your social media posts. They might hear you interviewed on a podcast. For people to meet you, you have to show up. The more places you show up at, the more people will get to know you.

Like:

We like people who help us. As an author, you help people by enriching their lives with your useful information, stress-relieving humor, or compelling stories that speak to hearts. We help people by showing up regularly and offering value to their lives. When we help our audience, they like us.

Trust:

Trust builds as like deepens. When we are consistent and people can rely on us, they trust us more. Your message matters. When your message speaks to someone’s heart, they feel that you know them and their struggles, and they begin to trust you.

This pattern is rarely completed in a quick getting. Sometimes the Know + Like + Trust pattern can all happen in a one-time meeting. Usually, it develops over time. Repeated exposure is necessary. Consistency is key.

Related Posts:
Why Would Someone Buy Your Book?
What Influences Book Purchasing Decisions?
A Marketing Strategy that Works

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Photo courtesy of Myriams-Fotos and geralt.