Lessons from Self-Publishing

Whenever you embark on a new adventure, there is usually a steep learning curve. Often those who have already completed the adventure forget that steep learning curve and can make the process seem easy.

I have often run into this with self-publishing books. Self-publishing a book is not easy. There is a lot to learn and understand not just about book design and the publishing process, but also on marketing a book.

Lessons from Self-Publishing

Sandra Beckwith on her blog, Build Book Buzz, recently shared statements from 25 self-published authors on “I wish I’d known before I self-published.” These statements not only show how much there is to learn, but also how important it is to get support in the publishing and marketing process.

A couple of the 25 statements made by these self-published authors caught my eye. I believe they illustrate why belonging to a professional association is important in navigating the publishing and marketing maze.

1.  Get Your Information from Experts.

One “I wish I’d known before I self-published…” author said:

“Use IngramSpark for your print books! I just learned this valuable lesson. Bookstores and libraries don’t buy from Amazon – they use IngramSpark to purchase books, and if you don’t publish there, you are missing out on many sales.”

Sadly, this author has it mostly correct, but not completely correct. IngramSpark is a print-on-demand platform. They are not a distributor. However, IngramSpark will place your books into distribution through their parent company Ingram (and Spring Arbor for Christian books). Retailers and librarians order books through Ingram (the distribution arm) not IngramSpark.

This is important information to know. When you are promoting your book to retailers and librarians, you want to let them know that your book is available for order through Ingram, not IngramSpark.

In addition to getting your information from experts, membership in a professional organization like Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) can save you money. Members of CIPA receive free title uploads to IngramSpark a savings of $49 per book.

2.  Don’t Reinvent the Wheel.

Another “I wish I’d known before I self-published…” author said:

“Writing the book was the easy part. When you decide to embark on the self-publishing journey, you need to have a marketing plan zipped up and ready to launch.”

In addition to having a solid marketing plan, your marketing needs to start long before the launch of your book. The good news is that you don’t need to come up with a marketing plan from scratch. There are numerous book marketing and book launch plan templates that provide you a guide to help steer your personalized strategic book marketing plan.

Here is where a professional association can, again, provide you the information you need. Members of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA), have access to numerous reference guides and checklists including:

  • Checklist for Creating a Professional-Looking Book
  • Book Launch Marketing Checklist
  • Metadata Checklist

Both are great templates to make sure you have the basics covered when publishing and marketing a book.

If you are not a Member of a professional publishing association and are independently publishing books or thinking about publishing a book, I encourage you to join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA).

Christian Indie Publishing Association

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA)’s goal is to provide authors and publishers with the tools you need for success in publishing and marketing Christian books. The organization provides numerous resources to help those who are embarking on the publishing journey find success.

Right now, CIPA is offering a Fall Membership Special. For just $110 you can gain Membership in the organization through December 2021. Join today and get the tools and resources you need to be more successful in publishing and marketing your books.

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4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska.

4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

This summer, I was introduced to an author and his book on spiritual discernment through an article in an online news outlet. The article featured the author and the topic of the book caught my attention. The article did not include the title of the book. Rather, it was a story about the author with the article mentioning that he was the author of a recently released book on spiritual discernment.

4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

I noted the author’s name and decided to check out his book. In my research, I discovered that this author has actually penned a number of books.

Lesson #1: Media exposure sells books.

With my interest piqued, I went to Amazon to check out the author. Amazon was the logical place for me to look first since that website features just about every book published.

The book’s page on Amazon revealed that the book had over 350 reviews with an average rating of 4.8 stars. I was interested in the topic and was convinced that the book would be worth my time and money when I saw the reviews.

Lesson #2:  Positive reviews, especially a large number of positive reviews, sells books.

I bought the book on Amazon. It was just convenient. I could bundle it with other purchases and get free shipping (I am not a Prime Member). When the book arrived, I was excited to read it—and I did.

It was a good book. I enjoyed it. It was an easy read. The chapters were short and the book was only about 100 pages. When I got to the end, I realized the book was only 100 pages. I was a little disappointed that it had cost as much as it did. The book’s retail price is $14.95, but Amazon sells it for about $13.00. This price seems a little steep for a 100-page book.

I realized that I had not paid much attention to the number of pages in the book when I purchased it. Rather, the description and reviews had convinced me that the book was worth buying and reading.

Lesson #3:  Price is not typically a deciding factor in book purchases—unless the book is priced unusually high.

At the end of the book, I realized how this author had been able to accumulate over 350 positive reviews in a short period of time. The book was released in January, and I purchased it six months later. The author had used a launch team.

This book had something that I have not seen before. At the very end of the book, the last six (yes, six) pages of the book were dedicated to “Special Thanks to Our Launch Team”. I counted the names on just one page and counted about 120 names. If you multiply 120 times six pages, you get a launch team of about 720 people.

This author had around 720 people talking about and writing positive reviews for his book when it launched. That is truly impressive.

Lesson #4:  Launch teams (a.k.a. Street teams) help make books successful.

If you are unfamiliar with what a Launch Team is or how to go about gathering and using one. I recommend that you join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) and download our reference guide on Book Launch Teams. This guide covers recruiting a team, communicating with your team, promotional activities for our launch team, and rewarding your team.

Christian Indie Publishing Association’s (CIPA) Book Launch Team Guide is just one of the many resources Members of the Association have access to. You can join CIPA on our website at https://www.christianpublishers.net and have access to this Guide and many more.

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Have You Asked?

A couple weeks ago, a friend invited me to spend some time at the beach with her. I live in North Carolina, so we went to a beach in this state.

The day before we were scheduled to leave for our beach trip, a hurricane blew through the coast of North Carolina. Fortunately, the place we were staying at was left intact and accessible—the downed trees had missed the dwelling but lay nearby.

Have You Asked?

While at the beach, my friend and I took a boat tour to a deserted barrier reef island. We planned to look for seashells while there since seashells are plentiful right after a hurricane.

I was especially looking for conch shells and delighted to find some. While most of the shells I found were in good condition, none were as perfect as I would have liked.

Right before we left the beach, I went to the water to wash the sand off my hands. As I made my way back up the shore, two conch shells appeared on the sand in front of me. They were identical and perfect.

I picked them up and showed them to my friend. As I gave her one, she told me that she had prayed as we combed the beach that I would find a perfect conch shell.

I was touched. I had not thought to pray about this. Yet my friend prayed on my behalf, and our good God answered her prayer to show both her and me that he listens and cares for us.

James tell us “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2)

Jesus says “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

That day on the beach was a gentle reminder to me that I do not ask enough. What about you? Are you asking for God to use the words you have written and published to touch people’s lives?

Are you asking God…

  • For your book to find its way into the hands of those who need the message?
  • For divine appointments for networking opportunities?
  • That the message he has given you to share will not return void?
  • For doors to open for publicity opportunities?
  • For guidance on where to spend your meager marketing dollars?
  • For wisdom on where to spend your marketing time?
  • That the people who need your words of encouragement will find them?
  • For God to bless the work of your hands (your writing and books)?

If you are struggling with marketing and selling your books, pray. Ask God for guidance and blessings for your efforts. After all, God is still in the business of answering prayer.

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You Have No Excuse!

I frequently receive random questions from authors. These come to me through email, voicemail, and social media.

You Have No Excuse

I get questions like:

  • I’ve written a book. Do you have any advice for me?
  • Do I need to register my book with Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data?
  • Can we talk so I can find ways to increase my book sales?
  • I am writing a book. Can I have it listed under both Christian fiction and regular fiction?

I am somewhat dismayed at how broad these questions are. Often, these are questions that whole books and seminars are devoted to answering.  It is clear to me that most of these authors have not taken the time to:

  1. Educate themselves about publishing and marketing.
  2. Connected with a writing or publishing group, since they are sending their question to a random organization or person with whom they have no connection.

There are plenty of books and seminars available to independent authors today. These books and seminars teach new authors everything you need to know about publishing and marketing so that you can be successful.

In addition, there are numerous groups and organizations dedicated to serving independent authors. These organizations also provide the information and resources that authors need to be successful.

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) not only provides our Members with free webinars, we also inform them of other organizations providing training that are relevant to publishing and marketing Christian books.

For example, CIPA Members have free access to a two-day virtual book selling conference in September put on by another publishing association. Often, the educational opportunities provided by CIPA and other organizations are worth more than the Membership dues.

If you are an independent author, I encourage you to take advantage of as many webinars as you have time for. After all, success follows learning.

In fact, here are two FREE webinars that you can take next week.

How to Effectively Promote Your Self-Published BookWebinars
Sponsored by MAI
Wednesday, August 26 at 8:00 AM CDT
Register by clicking HERE

Marketing & Publicity
Sponsored by Ingram
Wednesday, August 26 at 10 AM CDT
Register by clicking HERE

I encourage you to sign up for these webinars. You really have no excuse not to have the knowledge you need to successfully publish and market your book—all it takes is a little investment of time and money.

By the way, Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) is still running our Summer Membership Special. You can join CIPA now for just $120 and receive Membership through December 2021!

Join today and receive the information and resources you need to better publish, market, and sell your books.

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Photo courtesy of Tumisu.

Are You Investing in Your Book?

We invest our time, money, and energy in things that are important to us. Some of these things include:

Author: Are You Investing in Your Book?

  • Our spouse
  • Our children and grandchildren
  • Other family members
  • Friendships
  • Hobbies
  • Our health
  • Our relationship with God

What about your book? Are you still investing in it?

Many times, independent authors will invest quite a bit of time and energy (and sometimes money) into bringing a book to print. They will invest in:

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Proofing
  • Interior layout and design
  • Cover design

Then, once the book is published, these authors sometimes put their attention on the things they neglected while focusing on the book, or they move on to writing another book.

Yet, when it comes to publishing a book, the piece that requires that most investment is marketing.

Marketing is needed if you want the words you have published to impact people. Readers must be exposed to your book in order to buy it. After all, we cannot buy something we don’t know exists.

One of my favorite quotes about marketing a book is:

“Writing a book without promoting it is like waving to someone in a dark room. You know what have you done but nobody else does.”  —Madi Preda

Are you investing enough time, effort, and money to market your book effectively?

One investment I believe every author and publisher should make is to join a professional organization. Professional organizations help you:

  1. Stay current by providing information so that you can invest in the most effective strategies for publishing and marketing your book.
  2. Demonstrate to other that you are serious about being an author or publisher.
  3. Save up money by giving you discounts on products and services that help with publishing and marketing your book.

A Member of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) recently told us:Christian Indie Publishing Association

Thank you for the terrific newsletters and the videos I’ve seen. These have been very, very helpful. No one else has been as helpful.”  —Karen

If you are an indie author or small publisher that creates Christian books, then you are eligible for Membership in Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA). Right now, we are running a Summer Membership Special. For $120, you receive Membership through December 2021 (that’s 18 months of Membership)!

You can view the benefits CIPA Members receive at https://www.christianpublishers.net/membership/about. You can sign up to be a Member on the website at https://www.christianpublishers.net/membership/become-a-member.

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