Are You Paying Attention to Details?

“The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.” ~Charles R. Swindoll

Attention to detail is important. Some people are better at details than others. Yet, Charles Swindoll nails it with this statement. If you want to have a great book, you must pay attention to the details.

I find that many independent authors don’t pay enough attention to details. Over the past few months, numerous books published by independent authors have poured into Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) office as nominations for the Christian Indie Awards were made.

What has caught my eye repeatedly, is the number of books whose back covers do not look industry standard. The front covers are generally well designed, but the design and informational elements on the back cover are lacking.

Now, I know that over half of all books are purchased online. I understand that when browsing online people do not pull a book off the shelf and look at the back cover—which, by the way, is one of the first few things a reader looks at when viewing a physical copy of a book. But, as an author, you will still have times where you are showcasing your book in person. Therefore, it is extremely important that attention to detail is given to both the front and back covers of your book.

A number of independently published books nominated for the Christian Indie Awards show up with just a few paragraphs of text on the back cover of the book along with an EAN barcode. Yes, this is acceptable, but it is a minimalist approach and does not mirror industry standard for books.

The failure of these authors to pay attention to details has resulted in their books lacking four important back cover design elements.

1. Sales Copy Designed to Attract the Eye

Simply having blocks of text on the back of a book is not good sales copy. People skim back covers instead of reading them. With no text or quotes that are designed to stand out or attract the eye, your book is less likely to sell itself.

2. Testimonial or Endorsement Quote

Books that lack testimonial or endorsements quotes on their back cover also fail to sell a reader on the book with one of the most powerful selling techniques—social proof. Social proof is simply the positive influence that is created when people find out that others are doing something or finding something worthwhile.

3. About the Author

While an “About the Author” is not necessary on the back cover of a book, it is another industry standard and helps sell a book.

4. BISAC Subject Headings

BISAC Subject Headings are put out by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). These headings are industry standard for informing industry professionals (booksellers, librarians, distributors, etc.) and readers what category your book falls into. In other words, no one needs to wonder whether your story is fiction or nonfiction. The subject headings tell them. Industry standard books tote a BISAC Subject Heading on their back covers.

If you want a great book, you must pay attention to details. You don’t want someone to walk away from your book because they couldn’t get what it is about at a glance.

If you are unsure about what details you need to pay attention to, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has help for you. Our Members have access to the on-demand seminar, Create a Professional-Looking Book, as well as a downloadable Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book that includes everything you should include on your book’s front and back cover. Remember, your attention to detail will make the difference between your book being good or great.

Related Posts:
5 Common Indie Publishing Errors
Is Your Book Cover Too Cluttered?
The Importance of a Cover

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of marcomagrini.

How to Stand Out from the Crowd

Do you remember these puzzles from your childhood (or maybe your kids’ childhood)? Which one is different?

Standing out from the crowd is important. With over one million self-published books produced every year, how do you stand out from the crowd?

The answer lies is not in drawing attention to yourself by standing out in an odd or strange way as in the above puzzle. Instead, you want to stand out in ways that are attractive and draw people to you and your book.

It’s not just your book that must stand out. Your marketing efforts also need to stand out in the crowd to attract attention.

After you have written a compelling book that is professionally edited and designed, your next step is to ensure that your marketing activities don’t just mimic what others are doing, but stand out from the crowd.

standing out from crowd

You can stand out from the crowd with the following three strategies:

1. Informative and Unique Content

Give away free content that ties into the theme of your book. This free content must also be unique and answer important questions or solve important problems your target audience faces. Share this content on your blog and in your social media posts. Offer some content in downloadable format for interested readers to receive in exchange for their email address. This helps build your email marketing database.

 2. Connect with Your Audience

Connection is about caring. We connect with others when we care about them. Care for your audience. Show up where these people hang out—be that on social media or in person. Talk to them. Rejoice when they rejoice, mourn when they mourn. Support their efforts and cheer them on. Most people crave authentic connection. Your audience will begin to trust you when they see that you are authentic.

3. Be Consistent

Many Indie authors start strong, but soon fizzle out. When results don’t roll in the way these authors expect, they turn their attention elsewhere. It takes at least a year to build a strong, loyal following. To stand out, you must show up consistently and add value to people’s lives.

In marketing and selling books, you want to be noticed in a good way, not because of appearing odd or strange. Show up, connect with your audience, and offer them great content. Stand out for the value you bring to people’s lives.

Related Posts:
Are You Showing Up?
Do You Need Marketing Confidence?
But, Can You Sell It?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Anton Belitskiy.

Does Your Passion Need a New Spark?

Most Christians don’t start writing and publishing to get rich. Many Christian authors and publishers start publishing because they feel a calling or nudge from God.

Following God’s calling or nudging is a rewarding venture. However, sometimes are emotions get in the way. Discouragement, disappointment, and just sheer lack of energy can weigh us down and cause us to flounder and consider quitting.

passion needing spark

Often, when God calls us to do something, we burn with passion at the start the journey. Yet, over time, we can slowly lose this passion in the midst of roadblocks and the overwhelming number of tasks required. If you find that your candle is burning less brightly, that your passion has dimmed, you are not alone.

Consider the prophet Elijah. He was a man full of passion. He confronted the wicked King Ahab and told him that it would not rain on the land for three and a half years. Elijah prayed passionately and his prayers were answered. Yet, after those long grueling years, Elijah lost his passion. From Elijah’s story in I Kings 19, I see three activities he engaged in when his passion was spent.

1. Take Time to Rest

The first thing Elijah does is rest. He is tired. He is worn out. He gets alone and lies down under a broom tree. Here he sleeps for quite a while.

If you are weary, worn out, or burned out from the spiritual battle you have been engaging in, then I encourage you to rest. Build rest into your regular routine. We can’t burn the candle at both ends and expect to have passion for our calling. We have physical bodies with physical limitations. We must take proper care of our bodies so we can continue fighting the good fight.

2. Get Regular Nourishment

Elijah received regular nourishment from God. First at the Brook Cherith, and then at the Widow’s home. But, when he has lost his passion and is worn out, God sends an angel to prepare food for him to eat. God knows that Elijah requires nourishment to continue.

We too, need regular nourishment, not just physical food for our bodies, but spiritual nourishment and intellectual nourishment. If you are writing and publishing books for God, you should be feasting regularly on God’s word and other teachings that help you improve your craft. You can never run dry if you take in more nourishment than you put out.

3. Seek God

When Elijah has lost his passion. When he is worn out and discouraged, he seeks God by traveling to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. Mount Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai is where God spoke to Moses and gave the children of Israel the 10 commandments. It is a Holy Place.

When we seek God, he rewards us. God meets Elijah at Mount Horeb and speaks with him. God both adjusts Elijah’s expectations and gives him new marching orders. If you are flagging in passion, seek God. He will either adjust your expectations and renew your calling, or he may give you new marching orders.

Related Posts:
Attitude: Is Yours Helping or Hurting?
What Is Your Purpose?
Do You Need Marketing Confidence?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of JefferyTurner.

Don’t Hobble Your Marketing Efforts

From time to time, I review books that are related to publishing or marketing of books. Sometimes an author requests that I review their book. Other times, I see a book that might benefit Indie authors or small publishers and ask for a review copy.

Every once in a while, I receive book that has been marked “Review Copy: Not for Sale”. I seriously dislike it when I receive a marred book. A book that is stained in such a manner stops with me. When a book is spoiled, I am not able to pass it along to someone else that could be blessed by it.

book marketing efforts

I believe that authors who mark their books “Review Copy: Not for Sale” hobble their own marketing efforts.

1. A book is a form of compensation for the reviewer’s time.

When you ask for people to review your book (e.g., beta readers, launch teams, influencers, and bloggers) and these people agree to do so, they are doing you a favor. Providing these individuals with a clean, unmarred copy of your book is a form of compensation for these reviewers’ time.

This is not a new idea. Way back in 1916, Publishers Weekly published an article titled “Review Copies and the Trade”. The article stated:

“In other words, the reviewer has a definite and valued place in the selling of books…. The reviewing periodicals are seldom financially able to pay the best reviewers what they are really worth; and by long custom of the craft, the latter have taken partial recompense in the review copies of the books being reviewed…. To see that the reviewer has for his own purposes the copy of the book reviewed seems to him no more than natural justice; and whether the reviewer chooses to keep the book himself or to sell it for what he can get for it seems to him his own affair.”

2. Every book sent out into the world is a marketing tool, not wasted money.

Many Indie authors mark their books “Review Copy: Not for Sale” because they don’t want others to profit off their books. In other words, these authors are afraid that their book will end up being sold as a used or new book by the review individual, cutting the author out of a profit. However, this is twisted thinking.

Whether a reviewer keeps the book, gifts the book to someone, or sells the book, the impact for the author is usually positive. Every book that goes out into the world is a marketing tool. Everyone who sees the book, buys the book, or reads the book has the potential to become a spokesperson for that book. If the reader loves the book, she tells her friends and family, leading to more sales.

Seeding the world with a few books to begin the word of mouth process should be part of every author’s marketing budget. This includes review copies given to readers.

3. Christian authors can operate on Kingdom economic principles.

As Christians, we are to be in the world, but not of the world. Yet, so often we forget this and act just like the world. When it comes to your books, remember Kingdom principles. Luke 6:38 records Jesus as saying:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Ten, fifty, or a couple hundred books, however many you decide to give out, whether for a review, for marketing to bring awareness to your book, or just to bless someone, remember Kingdom truths. Your free book copies are not wasted in God’s Kingdom economics. It is God who directs the paths and sales of your books. Trust Him.

Related Posts:
5 Common Indie Publishing Errors
Does Your Book Have a Firm Foundation?
Are Reviews Important?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Manuel Sardo.

Are You Doing This with Your Website?

Do you know what the top mission of your website is?

If you answered: To sell my books. You are wrong.

The most important duty of your website is to develop trust with your website visitors. First-time visitors make up 60 to 70 percent of traffic every month for the average website. When these new people reach your website, your job is to introduce them to you and your books. But, more importantly, you must build trust with these visitors. Trust is required for a sale to happen.

To develop trust with your website visitors, make sure that you are providing these four things on your website.

1. Relevant Content

If the majority of the daily visitors to your website are brand new, they are most likely unfamiliar with you and your books. Your primary job is to build trust with these people through information. Providing content that answers their questions and informs and educates them helps you build trust. When website visitors scan your information—and they do scan—and find valuable advice that is relevant to their situation, they begin to trust you and your message.

2. Free Samples

Be open with what you provide in your books. Studies show that providing samples improves sales. If people are confident that they will like what they are spending their money on, they are more likely to purchase. In some cases, offering a sample can boost sales by 2,000 percent. A sample raises people’s confidence. Offer one to a few chapters of your books so that people can sample what you have published to increase their trust and confidence in you.

3. Testimonials

Social proof increases consumers’ trust in a brand or product. Social proof is the construct that persuasion of an idea or behavior for an individual is linked with how others are responding to it. In essence, social proof reduces the perception of risk associated with a purchase. Testimonials are one form of social proof. They tell potential customers that others are benefiting from your books, increasing customers’ trust in you and your books.

4. Friendly, Prompt Support

If you sell books directly from your website, provide a way for people to contact you. From time to time, as Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I receive calls from people who are trying to reach a Member of CSPA. These people tell me that they have tried to purchase a book, or made a purchase, or have an issue with their purchase, yet are unable to get a hold of the publisher or author. They have called me to obtain help in this matter.

One recent study by Corra found that 52.4% of shoppers prefer to communicate through live chat on a website, while 32.8% preferred email for communicating, and 14.5% choose a phone call. If you are not providing live chat on your website, at least make sure that you provide a telephone number and an email. Then, be sure to check your emails and phone messages regularly so that you don’t leave customers or potential customers languishing. Prompt responses help to build trust.

Related Posts:
Can I Trust You?
Why Would Someone Buy Your Book?
First Impressions Matter

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.