A Book Marketing Recipe

I once met an author who wrote a book that she was promoting as a Christian book. I spoke with this author and really liked her. She had a charming, likable nature. She was very personable. However, during our conversation, she told me that she did not read the Bible. In fact, she did not even know some of the more familiar Bible stories such as Esther.

A Marketing Recipe

When I discovered this piece of information, I decided to not read her book. Why? Because I did not trust that her book was really a Christian book. On another level, I did not trust this author. After all, she was promoting her book as a Christian book, yet she did not read the Bible.

Relationships follow a predictable pattern. First you must meet someone and get to know them. As you get to know the person, you start to like him or her. Then, as you spend more time with that person, your trust in the individual grows.

This pattern—Know + Like + Trust—is repeated over and over in our life with each new person we meet and befriend. The same pattern is replicated in selling products. After all, we buy products from people we know, like, and trust.

When you think about marketing your book, this simple pattern should permeate what you do. Your marketing efforts need to help people first get to know you, then to like you and what you offer, and lastly to trust your message and writing.

Let’s examine each step a little more closely.

Know:

People have to meet you to know you. This meeting does not have to be in the physical world; it can be in the print or digital world. There are many ways for people to meet you. They might read an article you wrote or see one of your social media posts. They might hear you interviewed on a podcast. For people to meet you, you have to show up. The more places you show up at, the more people will get to know you.

Like:

We like people who help us. As an author, you help people by enriching their lives with your useful information, stress-relieving humor, or compelling stories that speak to hearts. We help people by showing up regularly and offering value to their lives. When we help our audience, they like us.

Trust:

Trust builds as like deepens. When we are consistent and people can rely on us, they trust us more. Your message matters. When your message speaks to someone’s heart, they feel that you know them and their struggles, and they begin to trust you.

This pattern is rarely completed in a quick getting. Sometimes the Know + Like + Trust pattern can all happen in a one-time meeting. Usually, it develops over time. Repeated exposure is necessary. Consistency is key.

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Photo courtesy of Myriams-Fotos and geralt.

Is Your Book Impacting Lives?

The sounds of an old hymn resonated in my ears. Standing behind me in line for dinner at a writer’s conference I recently presented at, a gentleman was singing a lovely hymn.

Do you want your book to impact people?

When he finished singing, this man told me that he had been listening to a CD he had recently purchased that featured hymns. He went on to tell me that the same musician who had produced the CD has also recently written a devotional book using the old well-known hymns.

When I inquired after the book, he told me the title and the author. This brought a smile to my face. The very book he was talking about was published by a member of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA).

I love to hear people mention books that are published by Members of the Association. It reminds me that the books produced by small publishers and independent authors are truly making an impact for Christ.

Sometimes I am amazed at how broad and far the reach is for these books. I shouldn’t be because I believe that producing a quality book and then marketing it is the key to successfully reaching an audience with your message. Yet, it still amazes and thrills me when I hear people mention books that were published by ordinary people striving to do what God has called them to do.

Is this the desire of your heart? Do you want your book to impact people?

If your answer is yes, then know that it takes more than just writing and publishing a book. If you want your book to have an impact, then it must also meet the following five criterion.

  1. Be well-written and professionally edited so that it is free of grammatical errors.
  2. Have a strong, clear title.
  3. Sport a professional cover design that fits the genre of your book.
  4. Carry a clear description that answers that “WIIFM” question.
  5. Execution of a robust marketing plan.

Over a million self-published books are published annually. Some studies suggest that less than ten percent of those books sell enough copies to be considered profitable. Your book is competing with millions of other books.

If you want your book to stand out and make an impact on people, then first and foremost, your book must be professionally packaged (well-written and designed). After that, you must engage in marketing your book so that your target audience knows that it exists and provides them with something they need or are seeking.

If you are unsure how to go about creating a robust marketing plan, I encourage you to either read my book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, or to join Christian Indie Publishing Association and download our “Book Launch Marketing Checklist” that walks you through book marketing activities to engage in starting before your book is published and continuing after your book is in print.

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Impacting Lives

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Photo courtesy of Zach Smith.

 

We All Need a Little Encouragement

I was having one of those days. You know the type of day I am talking about. A day when you feel discouraged and entertain the idea of throwing in the towel.

Everyone has these days. Days when we feel ineffectual, like what we do does not matter. We feel that no one cares about our writing or efforts; that we are not making a difference.

You are doing an outstanding job.

I was having one of those days, well, maybe a week of those days, when I received the following note:

“By the way, of all of the publishing and writing organizations I belong to, CIPA consistently has the most usable information of any of them. You are doing an outstanding job!”

Wow! That little note made my day. It gave me the boost I needed to keep going.

God knew what I needed. He knows what you need also. If you are discouraged, I want you to know that your writing and publishing does make a difference. The written word has the power to shape our lives by touching our emotions and expanding our knowledge.

The message God has given you to write and publish is needed by someone. People are hungry for truth.

According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) in their recent StatShot report:

  1. Sales of religious books have grown year over year for the past five years. Religious presses’ revenue grew 14.7 percent in 2018 with 75.7 percent of that revenue coming from print formats.
  2. Non-fiction books experienced the largest percentage revenue growth for publishers over the past five years. Adult non-fiction unit sales grew 20.9% from 2014 through 2018. Unit sales for Children’s and Young Adult non-fiction grew 17.8% over the same five-year period.

It can get easy to get discouraged as an author. Marketing a book is hard work. It is increasingly difficult to make any book stand out. Each book is competing with millions of other books available for sale, while other media is claiming more and more of people’s time.

Christian Indie Publishing Association

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) exists to help indie authors and small publishers have access to the information and tools you need for publishing and marketing the Christian books God has called you to produce. Take advantage of our Summer Membership special—$120 dues for membership through December 2020—and join today to receive encouragement, information, and money-saving benefits.

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How to Sell More Books

Super Mario Maker 2, a Nintendo video game, released this summer. The game allows players to create game levels and post them online for other players to play. The game allows for creativity as well as game play.

How to Sell More Books

My son is a huge fan of this game. He played the first version and downloaded the second version as soon as it became available. He loves to create levels and post them for other gamers to play. The other day, my son was over-the-Moon happy. Of the thousands of levels that players create, Nintendo featured one of the levels my son created in a video showcasing exceptional player-created levels.

In talking with my son, he told me that he had studied the formulas the makers of the video game used to create levels within the game. He then used those same formulas to create his levels. It was successful.

Yet, it was not just following a formula that got my son’s game level noticed. Rather, it was a combination of strategies that came together. My son followed a formula to create better game levels, but he also showcased these levels on his YouTube Channel that is dedicated to Nintendo games. So, it was a combination of skill, marketing, and plan old luck (or providence).

Authors also love formulas. Just give us the formula for writing a best-selling book, and we will write it. Just give us the formula for marketing to sell thousands of books, and we will do it.

Every time I turn around, someone is peddling a course with a formula for authors on how to sell thousands of books or create a bestseller. Some of the courses I have seen are:

  • How to Sell a Thousand Books in Three Months
  • Launch a Bestseller
  • 3 Steps to a Bestselling Author Platform
  • Nonfiction Writers: Create Six Figure Classes (how to build an online class business)

Authors jump on these classes and pay anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars to learn how they can sell thousands of copies of their book.

I wish it were that simple: Get the formula, follow it, and sell thousands of books. Sadly, it’s not that easy.

There is no proven formula for creating a best-selling book

There is no proven formula for creating a best-selling book.

If there were:

  1. Every book published would become a bestseller.
  2. Someone would patent the formula and use it to create best-selling books, making themselves a lot of money.

Often the people selling these online courses on how to sell thousands of books are authors who have written and published a book that sold well. They then think that they know the “formula” to do this and decide to teach others how to do the same thing.

JA Konrath, a best-selling author, raises a good question about these authors. He asks, “If you know how to write a bestseller, why aren’t you writing bestseller after bestseller? Why are you writing How-To books (or courses)?”

The bottom line is that there is no formula. What works for one type of book may not work for another type of book. Additionally, selling a general-market book is vastly different from selling a Christian book to a niche market. Selling a self-help book is vastly different from selling a Bible study book or a memoir.

So, how do you sell more books?

First, you have to write a compelling book. Second, you have to publish it with a professional-looking cover and interior layout design.

Then, you have to market the book. This is the tricky part. No single marketing technique is a surefire way to sell your book. Instead, you must use a variety of techniques that can include:

  • A launch team
  • Book reviews
  • Media exposure
  • Developing an audience
  • Connecting with influencers
  • Advertising

Just like my son’s game level, any book that sells well is due to a combination of factors including sometimes just being in the right place at the right time.

Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books

If you need marketing ideas for your Christian book, I encourage you to read my award-winning book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books. As one reader said:

“Wow, this book provides so many marketing ideas that it would take years to implement them all. As I am reading, I am making a list of all the tasks I need to perform to improve my book sales.” —Susan

Remember, there is no marketing formula that guarantees success. You have to use a variety of marketing strategies to sell more books.

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How’s That Working for You?

“How’s that working for you?” This little, yet powerful question was made popular by Phillip McGraw, of the Dr. Phil show.

Let me ask it of you, author. When it comes to social media, “How’s that working for you?”

How's That Working for You?

When I consult with authors, I frequently hear this phrase—or one similar:

“I’m on Facebook. I have a lot of followers. They like and comment on what I post, but people aren’t buying my book.”

In fact, studies show that, on average, 53% of people who follow brands (businesses) on social media don’t buy anything from them at all. They just want the content (the information) the brand shares.

Authors hear “build a platform” and jump into social media trying to gain an audience. Often, they gain followers, but get frustrated when they don’t see these followers convert to book sales.

One reason for this is that people are not in a buying frame of mind when they are browsing social media. It is much easier to sell someone a book or product when they are already “shopping”. Someone who is engaged in the shopping process is much easier to persuade to buy something than someone who is not thinking about buying a book or product.

This does not mean that you can’t or won’t ever sell a book to someone via social media, it just means that it is harder. This is why I tell authors to not just use one tool (social media) to market their books.

Social Media is not your only marketing tool.

Instead, social media should be used in conjunction with other marketing tools like:

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is about giving your audience useful information that has value for them. It is information that your target audience is thirsty for. It’s about creating blogs, articles, video, and audio that provides valuable information and insight for your audience. One study showed that 7 out of 10 consumers would rather learn about a product or company from interesting content than from an ad.

2. Email Marketing

Email is more effective at reaching consumers than social media. Emails prompt purchases at a rate of at least three times that of social media. Two-thirds (66%) of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message. When people like the content you are creating, they will give you their email address in exchange for receiving more content directly. This gives you the opportunity to market your books directly to a group of interested people.

3. Media Interviews and Speaking Engagements

Speaking is one of the best ways to sell books because people buy books from authors they know and trust. Speaking to a group of people develops that trust and allows an audience to get to know you. Media interviews work similarly. After people hear you on the radio or a podcast, they feel they know you and are more likely to purchase your books.

Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference

I will be teaching four continuing sessions on “You CAN Indie Publish & Market Your Book” at the upcoming Great Philly Christian Writers Conference in August. This seminar focuses both on how to publish your book as well as how to begin marketing your book—using more than social media. I invite you to attend the conference and get the information and knowledge you need to successfully publish and promote your books.

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