How Responsive Are You?

24 hours. That is the length of a day. It’s also the time-frame in which people expect a response.

How Responsive Are You?

Whether it is:

  • a phone call
  • an email
  • a text
  • a direct message on social media
  • comments on social media

most people expect a response within a day. Slower responses equate with poor customer service in consumers’ minds.

A recent study by Clutch that surveyed U.S. adults found that 83% of the respondents said that if they interact with a brand on social media, they expect a response within a day. Over one-third actually expect a response sooner—38% expect a response within an hour.

Not surprisingly, younger consumers are more likely than older consumers to expect brands to respond quickly. Some 90% of consumers ages 18 to 29 expect brands to respond to their comments on social media within a day or less.

Responsiveness can mean the difference between acquiring and losing a customer.

The phrase “Strike while the iron’s hot” can be applied to inquiries you receive. Whether you are contacted by a potential reader, a journalist, a media host, a reviewer, an influencer, or an event planner, the timeliness of your response will have a direct impact on your sales and exposure.

Recently, I was contacted by a gentleman who produces a magazine for readers that features Christian books. He was looking to open a dialog about how to feature more Indie published books in his magazine.

I sent a timely response. Then I waited. I did not hear back from this gentleman for a couple of weeks. In his follow-up email, he told me that publishing the magazine was his side business, which is why he had not gotten back to me sooner.

I responded to his second email in a timely fashion. That was about a month ago. I still have not heard back from him.

Due to the lengthy time-frame in which this gentleman communicates, I have become reluctant to pursue further discussion with him. His lack of timely response makes me question whether he will follow through on any agreement that we come to. It also makes me question whether he will have success with his venture moving forward.

Writing, publishing, and marketing books is a side-venture or “second” job for most Indie authors. Don’t treat it as such. Give the same timely attention to inquiries as you would if it was your primary job. Otherwise, you will lose out.

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The Law of Unity

United we stand; divided we fall.

This Kentucky state motto is often used to inspire unity and collaboration.

Unity works in God’s kingdom. United, our light shines brighter and we have a greater impact on the world. Sadly, instead of uniting, often Christians view other Christians as their competitors, not their teammates.

I have witnessed this with Christian authors and publishers. Often authors and publishers view other in the industry as their competition. Instead, we should be embracing each other, seeking for ways to build each other up, and exploring ways to work together for Kingdom purposes.

If you are a Christian author or publisher, other Christians writing and producing Christian books are not your competition. These people are on the same team as you. We are all working toward the same goal—or we should be. Our common goal is to draw people to God.

The law of unity is simple. When we are united, our efforts are multiplied. In other words, when we join forces with other Christians working for the same goal, collectively our impact for the Gospel and God’s Kingdom will be much greater.

Jesus’ desire was for unity among his followers. In his prayer in John 17, he says, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.

Since we are on the same team, we should be helping and cheering each other on. Are you cheering or helping your fellow Christian authors?

Consider these five easy ways to unite and cheer on your fellow Christian authors and publishers:

  1. Review and recommend others books to your followers.
  2. Invite other Christian authors to be a guest on your blog or podcast.
  3. Share fellow Christian authors’ social media posts with your followers.
  4. Give other authors a shout out when they have a noteworthy accomplishment.
  5. Offer words of encouragement and advice to others who are writing and publishing Christian books.

As teammates, we should be looking after each other’s interests as well as our own. When we do, our collective efforts will be multiplied. Remember, there is room for everyone in God’s kingdom.

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Where Will Christian Books Be Sold?

“Change is the only constant in life.”

This quote by Greek philosopher Heraclitus is as true today as when he lived in the sixth century before Christ.

The publishing and book-selling industry is no exception to this rule. Publishing houses come and go. Book distributors open and close their doors. Retail stores move from brick-and-mortar entities to the digital realm.

In an era when Amazon is opening physical stores, chain stores are falling by the wayside. Retailers filed for bankruptcy at record-high rates in 2018. The American trend has gone from small independent stores to large chain stores to digital shopping.

Lifeway Stores to Close

Christian booksellers are part of this shift. Lifeway stores are the latest victim. Last week, Lifeway Christian Resources announced that they will close all 170 of their brick-and-mortar stores this year.

In January, LifeWay announced it would reduce the number of its retail locations due to declining customer traffic and sales. The company had hoped to keep some stores open, but due to market projections, they decided to close all physical stores.

This means that there will now be 170 fewer stores where Christian books will be sold. In 2017 Family Christian Stores closed all 240 of their brick-and-mortar locations. That is a loss of over 410 Christian bookstores stores in three years.

These closures are a loss for the whole Christian book-selling industry. In my book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, one of the twenty marketing fundamentals I provide states:

The more channels through which consumers can purchase your books, the more books you will sell.

The Christian book-selling industry now has fewer places to sell books. Since Lifeway did not work with many indie authors or small publishers, this most recent loss is not as great for us as it is for the established Christian publishing houses.

Online Commerce Growing

Lifeway reports that over that last decade, they have seen commerce increasingly move online. They are not the only store to fall to e-commerce. In 2012, Cokesbury closed all 47 of its physical bookstores and went to one online-only store. I believe it is only a matter of time before Barnes & Noble follows suit.

Online commerce is growing while physical shopping is declining. For authors and publishers, this means that the main focus of your marketing efforts should not be about getting your books into bookstores. Instead, your focus must be on selling directly to consumers.

Selling directly to consumers means that you must focus your attention on branding and platform building to develop an audience to sell your books to. It’s the new way of selling everything—not just books.

Christian Indie Publishing Association

If you need information and support to help you make the shift in your marketing efforts to developing an audience and selling directly to consumers, Christian Indie Publishing Association can help you.

Christian Indie Publishing Association exists to provide information and tools for success in publishing and marketing to independent authors and small publishers. The Association has numerous resources available for you to educate yourself on how to develop an audience and sell books directly to readers. These include on-demand seminars, reference guides, checklists, and our monthly newsletter. You can join today for just $90 and have access to all these great resources.

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Photo courtesy of Tim Mossholder.

Don’t Just Be Anyone

The growth of independent publishing is truly astounding. Consider these figures from Bowker (the ISBN provider):

  • The number of print books independently published grew from 235,639 titles in 2012 to 879,587 in 2017. That is 273% growth in six years.
  • In 2017, 85% of all independently published print books were published through Amazon (CreateSpace) for a total of 751,924 titles.

Amazon has leveled the playing field for publishing a book. Almost anyone can publish a book through Amazon (using Kindle Direct Publishing—previously through CreateSpace). Of course, the ability for anyone to publish a book has both positive and negative consequences.

Positive Consequences

1. Anyone can now be an author.
Anyone means anyone. Amazon does not discriminate with respect to whom they allow to upload a book.

2. No gatekeepers.
No subject is taboo. No one has to approve of the content, style, or quality of the writing.

3. It’s free.
Yes, absolutely free to upload a book to Amazon. It does not cost a cent. All it requires is Internet access.

Negative Consequences

1. Anyone can now be an author.
Anyone can be an author whether or not they take the time to hone the craft of writing, understand proper book design, or learn anything about marketing a book.

2. No gatekeepers.
Anything goes. This means that there is no check on quality. There are no guarantees for buyers.

3. It’s free.
The easier and cheaper it is to publish a book, the more people will publish books. The more books published, the more competition all books have for readers’ eyes.

Here’s the deal: Don’t just be anyone.

In other words, be an informed author. If you are thinking about publishing a book, don’t do it just because you can. Take the time to hone your writing, learn about proper book design and layout, and understand what you need to do to market your book. Both you and your book will be better for it.

Colorado Christian Writers Conference

I am thankful that it is both easy to independently publish a book and it is easy to learn what you need to know to do this. Many sources exist to help independent authors who want to learn.

You have the opportunity to learn directly from me at the upcoming Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park May 15-18, 2019. I will be teaching a Continuing session on “You Can Indie Publish & Market Your Book.” This session will teach you what you need to know to publish an industry standard book and to begin the process of promoting your book.

If you can attend this conference, I encourage you to do so. You will learn valuable information, not just from me, but from the other presenters as well. Don’t take my word for it; here is what a couple people said about my “You Can Indie Publish & Market Your Book” sessions on Facebook:

Don’t just be anyone. Learn what you need to know and be an author that people want to read and share with others.

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Photo courtesy of NeONBRAND.

Write Up, Speak Up, and Change the World

Today is World Book Day in the UK and Ireland. World Book Day is a celebration of books and reading.

The slogan for World Book Day is: Reading is Power. Read up, Speak up, and Change the World.

Reading is power. Many, many lives have been changed through reading a good book. Some readers have received hope or inspiration to get them through a tough time. Others have received eternal hope through the Gospel message found in a book.

Reading is power, but writing is also power. Reading cannot be power without having life-changing words to read. Authors, take heart. Your writing is important and powerful.

The world needs Christian authors writing and publishing books that point people to God. As Romans 10 says:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

I believe the same is true for the written word. Beautiful are the hands of those who write good news!

But all your writing and publishing will amount to nothing, if your books don’t get into the hands of people. People have to read your books to be impacted by your words.

Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books

If you are struggling with promoting your Christian books, help is here. The Fourth Edition of my award-winning book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, is now available for purchase.

This book provides authors and publishers the advice and resources you need to effectively promote your Christian books. I recently received the following message from a reader:

“I’ve read your book. It’s fantastic!  I’m definitely going to use it as my guide for marketing!”

The hardest part is not writing or publishing a book. The toughest part is marketing the book—getting the word out to let people know how your book meets a need in  their life. Marketing involves speaking up in numerous ways.

The slogan for World Book Day in part says, Read up, Speak up, and Change the World. Authors, our slogan can be similar. Let’s make it:

Write up, Speak up, and Change the World

If you would like a copy of the Fourth Edition of Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, the price for the print book is just $24.99. You can order your copy today direct from the publisher or from Amazon.

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