Attitude: Is Yours Helping or Hurting?

Thirty-five miles of dirt and gravel. The Virginia Creeper Trail runs along an old train rail from Whitetop to Abingdon, Virginia. The plan was to ride the complete 35 miles on bicycle in one day.

As often happens, the plan got derailed. One teenage boy wiped out when he hit a tree root in the trail. One trip to urgent care and three stitches later he was patched up and on the mend.

This one event could have ruined our family vacation had we let it. We choose not to. The teenager struggled at first, but decided to master his attitude and make the most of the rest of our time.

Attitude is important. After all, God’s Word talks about our attitude:

  • “Make your attitude that of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:4-6)
  • “Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Ephesians 6:7)
  • “You were taught…to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” (Ephesians 4:22-23)

Studies show that a positive attitude produces more favorable results. According to a Stanford Research Institute study, the path to success is comprised of 88 percent attitude and only 12 percent education. This is not saying that education is not important, rather, the study points to the importance of attitude.

What about your attitude?

  • Do you believe deep down that you have an important message for your readers?
  • Are you excited to share your passion with your readers and potential readers?
  • Do you have a positive attitude toward promoting your books?

Or are you struggling?

  • Has the competition for readers’ attention made you discouraged?
  • Are slow book sales causing you to doubt your calling?
  • Has the overwhelming and difficult task of marketing caused you to become disheartened?

Take a moment and check your attitude. It is one thing that you can control. Life is difficult. After all, the way to life is narrow and difficult and only a few find it. Your calling is to help people enter this narrow gate and encourage them on this difficult path. You will have more success in fulfilling your calling if you keep a positive attitude.

Do you need an infusion of encouragement or inspiration to renew your attitude toward marketing and promoting your book and carrying out your calling? If your answer is yes, I encourage you to watch one of my Marketing Christian Book University on-demand seminars. Not only will watching one provide you new ideas, it will also fill you with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for your task.

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Are You Too Busy?

Americans are busy. We wear our busyness as a badge of honor. One study found that we Americans associate “busyness” with high social status.

So, busyness looks good. But is busyness really good for us?

I recently took a personal prayer retreat. I had been meaning to do this for over a year, but alas, I was too busy. I finally made it a priority, cleared room in my schedule, and went. I am glad I did. It was refreshing and too awesome to put into words. I definitely communed with God.

At the retreat center, I spoke with the directors. Their desire is for people to come to their center and hear from God. They talked about how many people who came to their retreat reported that they never heard from God. We had a wonderful conversation about how we often don’t hear from God because we simply are too busy.

We don’t make room to allow him to grab our attention and speak to us. Because spending time with God is not our priority, we fumble about our lives without his direction and blessing and wonder why things don’t work out.

Sadly, I have seen a similar busyness trend among members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). I have been told this year by a few members that they are just too busy to read the information that CSPA provides.

The purpose of CSPA’s information is threefold:

  1. To keep our members up-to-date on industry standards.
  2. To provide ideas for marketing Christian books to increase exposure and sales.
  3. To offer services that save our members money.

At Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), we understand that our members are busy. That is one reason for joining the organization. You can trust CSPA to provide you the information you need to stay up-to-date on industry standards. On your own, you would have to spend more time reading numerous industry blogs and journals to stay on top of this ever-changing industry.

If you are too busy to stay up-to-date on industry trends and standards, are you really able to produce the best quality books? Are you able to market them effectively?

If you are producing Christian materials, you want your books to reflect God’s glory.
One way to do this is to not be too busy to receive the information you need to stay relevant to produce quality books. After all, we are to work as though working for the Lord, and God wants your best.

Don’t get so busy that you neglect your soul or your calling.

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First Impressions Matter

The door opens and out walk two men. One is wearing a disheveled t-shirt, jeans, and well-worn sneakers. The other is dressed in nice slacks, a dress shirt, and loafers. Both are lawyers. Which one would you choose to represent you?

Most of us would pick the attorney with the professional appearance. Because, regardless of how much people like to say the opposite, appearance is important. Appearance signals care and attention, which sends the message to our brain that the person is competent.

Don’t underestimate a first impression. According to a 2011 study by Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, people assess a person’s competence and trustworthiness in a quarter of a second (250 milliseconds) based solely on how the person looks.

The same is true for your book. People judge your book based on its appearance. Often, they will decide, on appearance alone, whether your book is trustworthy and worth their time and money.

I recently received a handful of books from a well-known Christian vanity press (which shall remain unnamed). I was shocked to see that the books varied in quality and appearance with some having a distinctly unprofessional look based on industry standards. None of the books sported a back cover that met industry standards. These books did not carry a printed retail price or a BISAC code. The interior of one of the books looked like it was designed in the 1970s. Another’s interior sported poor margins with words running into the gutter.

I was saddened to see that a supposedly Christian self-publishing house was charging authors good money for books that were sub par in terms of meeting industry standards for interior layout and cover design. Producing shoddy books in the name of Christ sheds a poor light on Christianity.

Your book’s appearance is your foremost marketing tool. People who read books know what a book is supposed to look like based on all the industry-standard books they have consumed. If your book does not fit this standard, it will be judged and found lacking. In addition, as a Christian book, you want your book to reflect the glory of God. Having a professional-quality design is important in this pursuit.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) feels that this issue is so important that we have developed an on-demand seminar, How to Create a Professional-Looking Book, as well as a Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book to help our members publish books that meet industry standards and create a good first impression. With CSPA’s summer membership special of $120 for membership through December 2018, you can join now and get access to this great information to help you make sure your books send the message that they are competent and trustworthy.

People will make a quick judgment about your book based on its appearance. Make sure that your book’s appearance reflects favorably on its content. If you want to sell more books, readers must view your book as competent and trustworthy.

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Photo courtesy of Alice Achterhof

Do You Have the Wrong Expectation?

“If you self-publish, expect to sell less than 100 copies of your book.”

These words were spoken by a Christian author on a marketing panel at the recent CBA Unite International Show. This particular author was both a traditionally-published author and an independently-published author. She had published books using both routes.

The authors on this panel were sharing the lessons they had learned in marketing their books. After making this statement, the author neglected to talk about what authors could do to help ensure that they sold more than 100 copies of an independently-published book.

I am happy to say that I strongly disagree with this author’s statement. I don’t believe that any self-published author needs to “expect” to sell less than 100 copies of a book.

Expect means “to regard as likely to happen.” Truthfully, up to 99% of self-published books do sell less than 100 copies. However, this statistic does not reflect what an author should “expect.”

Most self-published books sell less than 100 copies because the author does not market the book effectively. Too many self-published authors have the idea “if I publish my book, people will buy and read it.” This mindset sets an author up for failure.

With over 1,300 books are published every day in America. The competition for readers’ money and attention is stiff. How many copies you sell of your book is largely dependent on the quality of your book and on your marketing efforts.

Having sold thousands of copies of an independently-published book, I can attest to the fact that you do not need to “expect” to sell less than 100 copies. What you do need is:

  1. A basic understanding of the book publishing and selling industry.
  2. A strong selling point or promise to your reader.
  3. To know and understand how to reach your target audience.
  4. To invest time and money in marketing your book to your target audience.

If you need to gain knowledge and information in any of these four areas, resources exist to help you. Some of these resources include:

Don’t expect failure. Instead, plan and act for success. You can expect to sell more than 100 copies of a self-published book with some knowledge and effort.

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Are You Playing by the Rules?

“If you are going to play the game, you have to play by the rules.”

This statement is not just true of games. You have to play by the rules to drive a car, to pass a class, to acquire and keep a job, and to purchase a house. The same is true for publishing a book. You need to play by the rules.

In publishing, the rules are referred to as industry standards. There are some basic industry standards that all major publishers follow. These standards allow for an ease of flow for books through the purchasing chain (think distribution, retailers, librarians, and consumers).

Sure, anyone can publish a book and sell it from their own website whether the book conforms to industry standards or not. But, if you are serious about publishing a professional looking book that consumers will purchase and read, that reviewers will review, and that retailers and libraries will stock, your book must play by the rules.
A number of independently published authors are so eager to get their book into print that they don’t take the time to learn to play by the rules. As a result, their books don’t conform to industry standards.

I meet authors who want to acquire media interviews, sell their books to retailers and showcase them at tradeshows, but their books lack ISBN numbers, EAN barcodes, BISAC codes, retail price, etc. One doesn’t go to a wedding dressed in a swimsuit, nor should your book enter the industry in pajamas.

In today’s information age, the information you need to play by the rules in publishing a book is available. One great resource for authors and publishers is publishing associations. Such associations help their members stay up-to-date with industry standards in both publishing and marketing books.

Through providing information and tools such as newsletters, webinars, and other avenues, a publishing association can help you get the resources you need to publish professionally. In addition to information, publishing associations also offer discounts on various products and services that authors and publishers use in producing books.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is specifically geared toward providing information and cost-saving benefits to those authors and publishers who produce Christian materials. One great benefit of being a member of CSPA is free title uploads to IngramSpark and Lightning Source—a great cost saving benefit.

If you are producing Christian materials and want to play by the rules and publish professionally, I encourage you to join Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). The association is currently offering a fantastic summer special. Just $120 will pay your membership through December 2018. That is 18-months of membership at less than $7 per month. You can join today at http://www.christianpublishers.net/membership/become-a-member/.

Playing by the rules will get you farther then making up your own rules. Conform to industry standards and your book will see greater success.

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Photo courtesy of Markus Spiske.