Are You Using Video?

Some friends of mine own a custom jewelry making business. They have long had a presence on Facebook, but have recently been dabbling with Instagram for more exposure.

They told me that, to their surprise, after posting a video of one of their employees doing a funky dance in their warehouse, they had a spike in sales. One customer even wrote them and told them that she had been following them for a while, but after seeing the video, she had to buy one of their products.

My friends were perplexed. They reported that the video had nothing to do with their jewelry. I commented, that it may not have showcased their jewelry, but it showcased their workplace culture and was authentic.

I then explained that consumers crave authenticity. They want to know who they are doing business with. The video of an employee dancing showed their clientele the human side of their business.

As an author, you can take two lessons from my friend’s experience.

1. Use Video

Video on the internet is extremely popular. Everyone is watching videos. Video on the Internet is extremely popular. Everyone is watching videos. In fact, Cisco predicts that by 2020, 82% of all consumer web traffic will be video.

Video has become an important part of people’s shopping experience. Consider these statistics:

  • Almost 50% of web users look for a video before visiting a store, says Google.
  • Wyzowl says that 79% of consumers prefer watching videoto reading about a product.
  • And Hubspot says that 43% of consumers want to see more video content this year.

If you have not yet jumped into videos, try using some video in your marketing this year. You can post videos on your blog and in your social media posts.

2. Show Your Authentic Self

People want to know you, the author of the book. So, show them your true self in your videos. In other words, make some informal videos that show your personality and likes or dislikes. Tell a story, even one that is not related to your book’s content.

To make your video attractive and draw people to your books, keep these three tips in mind.

  • Grab attention fast. Studies show that the first 8 to 10 seconds of your video determines whether it will be watched to the end.
  • Keep it short. People are busy. Videos that are one to two minutes in length are more likely to be watched all the way through.
  • Include a call to action if you can. You cannot insert a link into a live video, but if you are using a prepared video, include a link to your website at the end.

Related Posts:
Are You Using Videos in Your Marketing Efforts?
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Photo Courtesy of Drew Graham.

Are You Using Publishing Industry Standards?

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” ~Stephen Hawking

Standards. Every industry is governed by standards. These are a set of criteria within an industry that defines the standard functioning and carrying out of operations.

The publishing industry has standards. Anyone involved in publishing and selling books should be aware of these standards.

Sadly, many independent authors don’t take the time to educate themselves on publishing industry standards. This lack of knowledge often becomes apparent when these authors interact with others in the industry. Then, these authors’ ignorance reflects poorly on themselves and their books.

One place where I frequently see a lack of knowledge on industry standards with independently published authors is the ISBN. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. This is a unique number assigned to a book that identifies the book within the industry. All industry players use the ISBN number to identify a book, much like the government uses a social security number to identify an individual.

The ISBN is a 13-digit number, not a 10-digit number. Yes, Amazon lists both a 10-digit ISBN and a 13-digit ISBN. Yes, Amazon lists the 10-digit ISBN first. This does not mean that it is the industry standard. The industry standard is a 13-digit ISBN.

Go to a bookstore. Pick up any book in that bookstore and look at the barcode on the back. You will see a 13-digit ISBN, not a 10-digit ISBN.

The publishing industry switched from 10-digit ISBNs to 13-digit ISBNs back in January 2007. That almost 12 years ago folks. The only reason that Amazon provides both the 10-digit and 13-digit ISBNs is because they want to be repository for every book published. As a result, they house many books that were published prior to the change to the 13-digit ISBN. Therefore, these books host a 10-digit ISBN. So, Amazon provides both so that any book can be located in their system.

I am surprised by how many independent authors list the 10-digit ISBN when nominating their book for the Christian Indie Awards. The awards do not specify whether to give the 10-digit or the 13-digit number because the 13-digit is industry standard. Since only authors and publishers are allowed to nominate titles, every person nominating a book should know that the 13-digit ISBN is industry standard. Yet, they don’t.

If you are going to publish and market a book, do yourself a favor and take the time to become familiar with industry standards. Read some books or join a publishing association like Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA). Don’t let your lack of knowledge become a stumbling block that hinders your ability to secure publicity in any form.

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Social Proof Can Help You Sell More Books

Smart authors know that social proof is an important marketing tactic that eases the minds of worried customers.

Social proof is defined as the influence that the actions and attitudes of the people around us (either in real life or online) have on our own behavior.

There are basically five types of social proof:

  1. Expert: When an industry expert or well-known personality recommends your product or services.
  2. Celebrity: When a celebrity people like endorses a product or service.
  3. User: When current users of the product or service praise it.
  4. Crowd: When a large crowd of people are using a product or service as shown through social media or events.
  5. Certification: When a person or product is given a stamp of approval by an authority in the industry, such as winning a book award or obtaining a seal of approval.

Social proof is extremely important when selling books. As humans, we want to know that what we are getting ourselves into will be worthwhile—especially when it comes to buying a product or a service. Buyers want to know what others are saying about the product or service.

Even wise King Solomon understood this concept when he wrote “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2)

The two easiest types of social proof for authors to secure are expert and user. You gain expert social proof by obtaining endorsements. You gain user social proof through reader reviews.

Sadly, few independent authors take the time to secure expert social proof (endorsements). A recent quick survey of books submitted for the Christian Indie Awards showed that only about one-third (one out of every three books submitted) featured any type of endorsement or review on the book’s cover (front or back) or in the front pages of the book.

If you are not securing endorsements, you are losing out on a very important social proof that will help you sell your book.

It’s never too late to secure endorsements. With today’s print-on-demand technology, you can still get endorsements after you have published your book and then adjust your book cover to feature these endorsements.

If you are unsure about how to go about securing endorsements, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) provides our Members help. Members can watch the on-demand seminar Endorsements Help You Sell More Books to learn how to obtain endorsements. The webinar includes a sample template letter to use when requesting an endorsement.

The on-demand seminar is also available to authors who are not Members of CSPA. You can pay a fee to watch it at https://mcbuniversity.selz.com.

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Not Everyone Uses Social Media

She was young, pretty, and a reader. I immediately knew she read a lot because she had three paperback books stuffed into her purse.

I wasn’t snooping. Honest. Her purse was open and the three books were sticking slightly out. They were crammed in spine down, so I could not discern the genre.

As I talked with this Young Adult just starting out on her life’s journey, I discovered that she does not fit the Generation Z mold. She told me that she is not on social media and she does not watch television. It’s not that she’s not tech savvy. She takes online college courses and met her boyfriend online.

Yet, here is a young adult who is not hanging out online—and she reads. Why am I pointing this out? Because it is important to remember.

Not everyone uses social media. Not everyone gets the majority of their information online. I am pointing this out because I want to remind you that a comprehensive book marketing plan includes both digital and physical marketing.

Most likely you don’t have a large marketing budget for your book. As a result, spending time creating content online and posting it on your blog and social media sites, as well as sharing it through email, is where you focus your attention.

That’s a good strategy, but you won’t reach all your potential readers this way. A better strategy is to include some print marketing.

There are still print newspapers, print magazines, and print fliers and postcards. These are all good ways to broaden your marketing reach to those who prefer print.

Expanding your marketing to include print venues does not have to cost you a lot of money or time. Start local. Focus on local newspapers and magazines that reach your target audience. Every community has these.

You can find local newspapers by keeping your eyes open as you go about your community. Often public libraries and grocery stores have a spot for free local newspapers and magazines. You can also use an online newspaper search engine like the one at www.usnpl.com to identify local newspapers.

Magazines and newspapers are always looking for fresh, interesting news. Be creative. Send a press release to your local magazine editors and newspaper journalists featuring you and your book. However, make sure your press release is not just about you writing a book. It needs to have something newsworthy such as a local cause your book is supporting, how your book ties into local history, or even an interesting journey you took to research your book. Tie your press release in with an upcoming local author appearance for better results.

Including traditional marketing with your digital marketing efforts will broaden your reach and help you secure more readers for your books. After all, not everyone uses social media.

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Photo courtesy of Miguel Runa.

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

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Photo courtesy of marcomagrini.