Effective Marketing Techniques

If you engage in email marketing, you will find the results of a new study by BuzzStream and Fractl very informative. These two companies teamed up and interviewed 1,001 people to find out which online marketing strategies work best.

A survey of one thousand people is really a small sample size. However, these researchers believe that this sample represents the larger population.

If you are an author with a website that employs a marketing technique—like a pop-up prompting your website visitors to subscribe to your newsletter—then you should pay attention to the results of this survey.

BuzzStream’s goal was to find out which marketing tactics Americans are happy to participate in—and which ones they avoid.

When it comes to giving out an email address and reading newsletters, here is what this survey found:

The Email Inbox

If you hold contests on your website, you will be interested in these findings from the survey:

Marketing Tactics American Participate In

The results from this survey have some good news for authors. I found the following two statistics very encouraging:

  • 85.5% of people will give their email in exchange for a freebie.
  • 57.1% of people will share something on social media in exchange for entry into a contest.

Which results did you find helpful or encouraging?

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Does Your Book Need Refreshing?

Is your book selling as well as you would like? If your book sales have slowed down or are lacking, maybe your book needs refreshing.

Does Your Book Need Refreshing?

Ponder the following four points to determine if you need to engage in updating or refreshing your book to improve sales.

1.  Book Reviews

I am amazed at the number of books that have no reviews on Amazon. Some of these are indie authors that are paying for advertising for their books, yet their books have no reviews on the largest book selling website. Reviews are essential for selling books.

My advice is that before you launch a marketing campaign for your book, get reviews. Give readers a free copy of your book in exchange for a review. You need reviews.

If the average rating of reviews for your book on Amazon or any other bookseller site is less than four stars, this means either your book needs some work or you are not targeting the right audience for your message.

The competition is stiff. Readers have exponentially more choices of books to read than they have time to read. An average rating of less than four stars means your book is just that—average. Your book needs to be more than average to sell well. It needs to be compelling.

2.  Provide a Sample

Buyers like to have some assurance that what they are buying is worth their money. This is why when browsing for books in a physical bookstore or library, readers will not only read the book’s cover, they will open the book and read a section of the interior to decide if they want to invest in the book.

Buyers need this same access to the interior of your book when browsing online. Give your potential buyers the ability to sample your work so they can make an informed decision that leads to a purchase. You can offer the following samples for potential readers:

  • Enable the Amazon Look Inside feature for your book.
  • Offer a link to read the first chapter of your book.
  • Offer a digital prequel, short story, or tip sheet for free to potential readers.

3.  Update Your Cover

First and foremost, your book should be sporting a professional cover image. Your cover should look as good as or better than the top 10 sellers in your category or genre. Your cover needs to be eye-catching to rise above your competition.

Sometimes book sales lag because your book’s cover—your number one marketing tool—does not accurately reflect the contents of your book. Make sure the image on your cover conveys the emotion off your message to the reader. If you are selling a romance story, your cover should speak romance. If you are selling a thriller, your cover should feel suspenseful.

Do a quick review of your book’s cover. Sometimes updating or changing the image can spur sales.

4.  Listen to feedback

In response to feedback around editing, I have had authors say, “This is the message God gave me.” Good editing does not change the message. Instead, it makes your message more relatable and compelling.

Once I told an author who requested my help that her book was too long for her target age group. I suggested that she either condense it or break it into a series of books. Her response was that children needed the whole message so she was going to leave it the way she had it.

Clearly, she was not open to my suggestion. I would rather my children eat part of their meal than none of it. At least by eating part they are getting some nutrition. The same can be true for a message. Pieces eventually add up to the whole.

Listen to the feedback you receive from your readers. Take the strengths from the positive reviews and improve the weaknesses pointed out in the negative reviews. Your book (and you) will be better for it.

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Photo courtesy of Malte Luk.

Don’t Lose Focus

The events in our world and our country in 2020 cannot be ignored. They are affecting all of us.  Yet, I would encourage you to not allow these events to sidetrack you from the message that God has given you.

Don't Lose Focus

I recently read a post by an influencer in the indie publishing world. This individual was advocating that indie authors take a break from marketing their books to spend some time dealing with the pressing issues in our country.

While this advice might be beneficial for secular authors, I don’t think it is good advice for Christian authors.

2 Timothy 2:4 says “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” In season and out of season means when it is favorable to do so and when it is not favorable to do so – or when it is convenient to do so and when it is not convenient to do so.

We are in an out of season time. There is pressure all around us to jump on the hot topic of the moment. Don’t get sidetracked.

It is easy to get dragged down by worldly concerns involving conflicts and fears. When this happens, we get distracted from the hope we have in Christ.

Do not lose your focus. As a Christian author, your gaze should remain fixed on spiritual things that offer the hope, security, and peace people need in this trying time.

Whatever your message was before the events happening this year, it is still needed. People’s spiritual needs have not diminished with current events—in fact, these needs are growing since churches have not been open and people have been isolated.

People are still struggling with relationships, parenting, finances, health problems and other issues related to Christian living and spiritual growth. They need the hope you offer in your books. Hope both for this life and the life to come.

So, I encourage you to not veer from the message God has given you. Your message is timely. Your message is needed. God’s word never goes out of season.

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Photo courtesy of Elena Taranenko.

The Pandemic’s Lasting Effect on Book Marketing

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing our world. Some of these changes will be long-term while others will cease once the pandemic is past. It is difficult to determine which changes will last and which won’t.

Many experts predict that many changes will be long-term. These long-term changes will transform the book marketing and selling landscape.

Pandemic Effect

Following are some of the changes that experts predict will be long-term. Since we are not God—who sees the beginning to the end—we are left to guess. I, for one, am hoping that not all these predictions will be true long-term.

1.  Working from home will continue.

 As many companies see the cost-saving without a loss of productivity from their workers, many will move to a new model of work from home.

2.  Print book sales to schools and universities will become obsolete.

As more institutions move to online learning models, fewer will host print books in their classrooms and libraries. Learning will become increasingly digital, including both textbooks and supplemental reading material.

3.  Large conventions and conferences will become a thing of the past.

With fears of spreading viruses, large conventions and conferences will become virtual events. Smaller venues may still be held in-person. This will leave fewer avenues—think book fairs, writers’ conferences, trade shows—for authors to promote their books in person.

Many experts predict that moving forward, events will be hybrid—meaning they will feature both in-person and online participation options. Hybrid events will broaden conferences’ ability to widen their reach by integrating virtual attendees with physical attendees.

For authors who specialize in speaking engagements to earn money and sell books, this will signal a big change. With virtual events, speaking engagements will be virtual, which means fewer impulse book buyers at the end of your talk.

4.  Physical bookstores will continue to decline in number.

Over 50% of books were purchased online before the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, the majority of book sales moved online. Bookstores will have difficulty recovering and the new online book buying habit may stick, meaning fewer bookstores will survive in the new economy.

Fewer bookstores signal fewer venues for authors to host events such as book signings, book readings, and book launches.

In a nutshell, experts predict that the nature of our interactions will become increasingly more virtual. I think that it is harder to connect with people in a virtual setting. There is something to rubbing shoulders and physical connection that is lost in the virtual world.

Moving forward, those authors who embrace virtual interactions and conferences will be the most successful at marketing and selling their books.

I would love to hear from you. Which changes do you think will last?

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Photo courtesy of Anna Schvets.

Are You Engaging the Five Senses with Your Book Marketing?

I have a favorite Chinese dish that I love to order at Chinese restaurants. Sadly, few restaurants carry this dish. When I find one that does, I savor every bite of my meal.

Market Your Book with the Five Senses in Mind

As humans, our five senses are powerful. Not only do they keep us safe, they also keep us informed. Did you know…

  • Your eyes are capable of processing 36,000 pieces of information per hour:
  • You can smell about 10,000 odors.
  • 80% of what we experience as taste is actually smell.
  • 90% of a young child’s knowledge is attributable to hearing background conversation.
  • Being touched can reduce stress, by lowering levels of ­hormones like cortisol.

We use our five senses on a daily basis to make decisions. The psalmist encourages us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  He understood that we use our senses to inform our decisions—including what to purchase.

As an author, you can play to these five senses when selling your books. Take each one into account as you craft and market your books.

Sight

Make a positive first impression. Make sure your book cover is eye-catching and your title can be easily read. Ensure that your book cover is not too cluttered. Our eyes need white space to frame what we see.

Hearing

Speak the language of your target audience. Even in the written word—such as your book description—write in a manner that the reader can “hear”. Use common phrases and points of view that your audience is accustomed to.

Smell

People can “smell” a fake. So, don’t be phony. Be transparent and authentic. Don’t pretend that you are perfect or know everything. If you smell fishy, you won’t develop trust with your audience.

Touch

We only allow people we trust to touch us. Trust is a necessary ingredient in selling books. Establish trust with your audience because you cannot succeed without trust.

Taste

Know your audience’s preferences. The better you know your audience—their beliefs, interests, and desires—the more effectively you will communicate with them.

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Photo courtesy of Pablo Merchán Montes.