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.

The Responsibility Rest on You!

I recently had a conversation with a Christian author. This gentleman makes his living through writing. He does not have another job. He supports his family through the sales of his books.

The Responsibility Rests on You

This author is traditionally published. He waxed eloquently about the changes in the Christian book publishing industry and how they have affected him. He reported that his publisher, a large Christian publishing house, no longer bothers with hiring a sales rep to sell their books into bookstores. Almost all their efforts are focused on selling books directly to consumer—and they largely leave this up to the authors.

Gone are the days when an author could find a publisher to bear the weight of the publishing and publicity costs for a new book. Now, the vast majority of the marketing falls on the author’s shoulders even when the publishing company foots the bill to publish the book.

One of the authors that Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) recently represented at the NRB Convention was published by a traditional small publishing house that is a member of CIPA. This first-time author’s book had just been released, and she was excited to be at the show.

Christian Indie Publishing Association

The author showed up without a clear understanding of how she was going to promote her books or where she needed to be when. She told me that she thought the publisher, who was also attending the show, would lead and she would follow. However, her publisher was busy networking and taking care of other business.

This new author said, “I should have taken the time to better prepare before I came instead of expecting my publisher to do it for me.

It doesn’t matter if you are traditionally published or self-published. The responsibility is yours.

If your book is not selling as well as you would like, look no farther than yourself. Ask yourself:

  • What am I doing on a daily basis to market my book?
  • What more could I do?
  • Which marketing activities are bringing most of my sales?
  • What new marketing strategy can I try?

John Kremer wrote a book called 1001 Ways to Market Your Book. If you need ideas, just consult the book. It has more ideas than you could ever implement. If you want ideas and specific resources for reaching more Christian consumers, my book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, will provide you with plenty to keep you busy for a long time.

Yes, the responsibility for marketing and selling your book rests on your shoulders. But, remember, that you rest on Christ. Partner with him. Do what you can and trust that he will multiply the work of your hands for the glory of his Kingdom.

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Photo courtesy of Adi Goldstein.

Just How Important Is an Author Platform?

Go to any writer’s conference and you will hear the term “Author Platform” tossed around.

Just how important is an author platform?

Just how important is an author platform?

I have met more than one author who felt led to write a book. These authors began to write what was on their hearts. Then they attended a writer’s conference and heard from agents and editors that they needed a platform in order to be considered for publication by a traditional publishing house.

Many of these authors went home and threw themselves into developing a platform. They worked hard on posting on social media—sharing pictures, creating memes, and posting videos. Some developed the number of followers they were looking for, others did not. Most would agree that their focus became their platform and their writing took a back seat.

A few of these authors ended up receiving contracts for their books from a traditional publishing house. Most did not. Many ended up self-publishing.

Does an author platform guarantee book sales?

Here’s the rub. Most experts agree that the number of followers on social media does not translate to book sales. In other words, there are authors who have thousands of followers on social media, but they aren’t selling thousands of books.

Social media is just that—social. Just because someone likes what you post or followers you on social media does not mean:

  • That they read books.
  • That they buy books.
  • That they read books in your genre.

What’s the best way for an author to build a platform?

An author platform is not so much about numbers as it is about adding value. When you offer something that resonates with a group of people, they will buy what you are offering.

At a recent writer’s conference, I met a gentleman who told me that his wife has been battling cancer for the past decade. During this time, she has written a gratitude blog. The purpose of the blog was twofold. She wanted to remind herself to be grateful in the midst of her suffering, and she wanted to encourage others to count their blessings no matter what they are going through.

An editor at a Christian publishing house discovered her blog through social media. She began to read the posts. The result was that the editor offered this woman a book deal. Why? Because this woman was sharing a message that people desperately need.

Instead of trying to win as many followers as you can on social media to build your platform, focus on your message. Write what is on your heart. If it resonates with people, they will read it and come back for more.

By the way, I will be presenting Three Things to Do Before You Publish at the Write Stuff Conference in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, March 14. If you live in the area, I invite you to sign up for the conference.

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Photos courtesy of Hugo Ataide and John Hain.

Is Your Text Causing Cognitive Overload?

I have a confession. I know that podcasts are extremely popular. However, I have not been able to bring myself to jump on board.

I rarely listen to podcasts. I am a very busy person (as are many Americans). In my opinion, podcasts just take too long to serve the “meat.”

Is your text causing cognitive overload?

If I want information on a topic, I find reading easier. With reading, I can scan an article or web page and find the important information I am looking for. With a podcast, I am locked in to listening until the meat is finally dished out—which is usually most of the way through the podcast.

I am not alone in scanning or skimming when reading to find information. Research shows that 79% of people scan a web page, while only 16% read word-for-word. Interestingly, another study found that people scan email newsletters similar to web pages.

Too much information results in cognitive overload. Today, we have more information in front of us than ever before in the history of the world. As a result, we can easily become overloaded with information, causing our brain to not work as efficiently.

In an effort to reduce our cognitive load, we scan information. This results in more efficient processing of that information by the brain.

Is your text scannable?

Reading a book is different from reading web copy, marketing copy, or emails. When people choose to read a book, they are making the choice to read word-for-word. When people seek specific information, they scan to find what they are looking for.

To engage more people, it is important that all your marketing material can be scanned easily so that your important points stand out. Marketing material includes:

  • Blog posts
  • Website copy
  • Book descriptions
  • Book back cover copy
  • Author bios
  • Online and print advertisements
  • Author media sheets

Text becomes more scannable when it is broken up. In your marketing text, don’t use big blocks of text like you do in a book. Instead, focus on breaking up the text as follows:

  • Use headings and subheadings.
  • Pull out points and make them a bullet list.
  • Keep your paragraphs short.
  • Highlight keywords.
  • Put your most important point first.

A good rule of thumb is that your marketing materials should contain half the word count (or less) then when writing conventionally.

Armed with this information, I suggest that you revisit your marketing material to ensure that it is not causing cognitive overload.

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Photo courtesy of Silviarita and Geralt.

Do You Have the Proper Margins?

Have you ever read a book or document that ran the text right up to the edges of the page?

Do you have the proper margins?

Did you notice that looking at such a book or document made you tense and possibly left you feeling overwhelmed?

Margins are important—both in books and in life.

1. Proper margins in your book allow readers to absorb the information.

Margins on a page or screen are the white space that surrounds the printed content. Each page or screen has top, bottom, and side margins. These white spaces are meaningful and serve several purposes.

  • Enhance Visual Appeal

White spaces on the edges of text on a page create balance. They give our eyes a place to rest.

  • Improve Readability

Margins provide a contrast to the printed words on a page. Words within a frame help the eyes focus better.

  • Provide a Place for Notes

Some people like to annotate their books. Margins in a book or document allow readers to record their thoughts as they read to enhance their retention of the material or take notes for later reference.

  • Create a Buffer Zone for Manufacturing

Whether you are printing a book on a large printing machine or printing a document on a home printer, margins leave room for error. Adequate margins make sure that words do not get cut off in the printing process. Thus, white space ensures that you have a readable product.

When designing a book, don’t skimp on the size of the margins. Yes, you can cram more words on a page and have a shorter book if you have small margins. Sadly, if you choose this route, your book will not be as attractive or readable, resulting in fewer sales.

God speaks in the stillness and quiet

2. Proper margins in your life give space for Jesus to show up.

Books need margin, but so do lives. If you run your life up to the edges, you will not be as effective or happy as when you allow margins.

If you want God to show up more in your life. If you want to feel his presence, see him at work, or feel that he is using you, then you must allow the time and space for this to happen. Time and space where you are not busy, but can rest, relax, and sit quietly.

When Elijah went to Mount Horeb to meet with God (I Kings 19), he did not find God in the mighty wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Instead, God showed up and spoke with Elijah in a soft whisper.

We need the margins to be able to hear God’s whisper both in books and in our lives.

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Photos courtesy of Kaboompics.com and Cindy Lever.