Is Multitasking Harming Your Productivity?

In high school, I rode the bus to and from school for a year. I loved the bus ride and the social time with other teenagers. On the bus, I often participated in multiple conversations at once. I attempted to listen and respond to two or three different subjects being discussed. Of course, I was fooling myself. In my effort to not miss out on anything, I was multitasking and actually missing quite a bit of each conversation.


Multitasking is when you try to accomplish two or more things at once that require mental concentration. Do you try to accomplish more by multitasking? Maybe you try to talk on the phone while you check your emails. Or, maybe you listen to a podcast while you catch up on your social media networking.

Did you know that multitasking actually leads to less productivity? According to Harvard Business Review, studies have found:

  • Multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity.
  • Multitaskers make up to 50% more errors.
  • Multitasking causes a 10% drop in IQ.

In actuality, the human brain can’t handle more than one task at a time. Even though we think we are doing two tasks, our brain is really switching back and forth between the tasks. In his book, Brain Rules, Brian Medina points out that it takes more time to get things done when you try to multitask. People who are interrupted—and therefore have to switch their attention back and forth—take 50% longer to accomplish a task.

So, how can you improve your productivity? Stop multitasking. Instead, chunk your tasks.

Chunking involves working on one thing at a time for short periods of time. Set aside time each day to do specific tasks. So, instead of constantly checking your email or social media sites while attempting to write a chapter in your next book or work on advertising text, plan to check email and social media a few times a day—maybe at 9:00am, 1:00pm, and 5:00pm. Decide to spend a limited amount of time on these tasks, maybe 20 to 30 minutes, then switch to another task that requires your attention.

Don’t waste precious time on multitasking. As an independently published author or small publisher, you wear many hats and have numerous tasks that you must accomplish each day. Instead of trying to do two or three things at once, spend highly concentrated time on specific tasks and you will find that you become more productive.

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Creating Book Sales

I recently had an independent author ask me what Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) does to help “create sales” for authors. My response was that CSPA does not create sales; rather, the organization provides opportunities for its members to create sales.


Understanding how sales are created is important. Advertising in and of itself does not create sales. Marketing activities in and of themselves do not create sales. Both are simply vehicles by which sales can be created.

Sales are created by two things:

1. Meeting a need.
When you provide someone a solution to a problem they have, you can create a sale.

2. Creating a connection.
Sales are based on relationships. People need to trust that you have the answer to their problem to make a purchase.

It’s all about communication. You, the author or publisher, must communicate to your audience that you care about them and that you have what they need. In advertising and marketing, this is largely communicated through the written word. What you write in your marketing and advertising materials is essential in creating a connection and showing your audience that your book can meet their need.

Since Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) does not write marketing or advertising copy for our members, we cannot create sales. All we do is provide our members the vehicles through which they can get their message out to Christian book buyers.

For example, one marketing vehicle CSPA offers its members is BookCrash, a books for bloggers review program. Members of CSPA can provide Christian bloggers a free copy of their book in exchange for a review by the blogger on her blog and on one retail site. A review by a blogger does not create sales. It can, but that creating a sale depends on a number of factors including: the type of review the blogger has written, how much influence the blogger has with her readers, and whether she recommends that others purchase the book.

Even though CSPA does not create sales for our members, there are many benefits to belonging to a publishing association. These include:

  • Professional affiliations boost your professional image.
  • Membership provides you information on how to stay up-to-date and relevant as an author, publisher, and book promoter.
  • Organization benefits include affordable marketing opportunities and other cost-savings on services related to printing and promoting books.

If you want someone to “create sales” for you, then spend the thousands of dollars required to hire a publicist to help you create sales. If, instead, you are looking for more opportunities to create sales for your books at an affordable price, join a publishers association.

You can sign up to become a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) today. The fee is just $90 for the 2016 calendar year.

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Book Sales in 2014

The American Association of Publisher (AAP) recently released a report of the 2014 book market based on data reported from 1,800 participating U.S. publishers. Total 2014 net revenue for books and journals in the U.S. rose 4.6%, to $27.9 billion, while trade book revenue in 2014 rose 4.2%, to $15.4 billion, according to StatShot Annual, AAP’s yearly statistical survey of publishing’s estimated size and scope.

The term “trade book” refers to the following types of books: paperback, hardback, mass market, board books, ebooks, and audiobooks (both physical and downloadable)—basically most types of books sold.worldbooksales-300x220

Key elements from the survey include:

  • 2,421,896,606 trade books were sold in 2014. That is 76,510,171 more books than were sold in 2013. That is a lot of books! Children’s and Young Adult titles experienced the greatest amount of growth.
  • After years of decline, physical retail stores saw an increase of 3.2% in revenue and 4.1% in units sold in the trade category.
  • Online retail remained the top sales channel for customers in the trade category, selling 832 million units and providing $5.90 billion in revenue.
  • After slightly declining in 2013, ebooks experienced 3.8% revenue growth to an estimated $3.37 billion dollars. It’s worth noting that though the volume increased only slightly (0.2%), over 510 million ebooks were sold in 2014. That’s nearly on-par with the number of hardbacks (568 million) sold in 2014. This number doesn’t account for ebooks consumed through subscription services.
  • For the first time, the new survey also tracks revenue from subscription platforms. That segment of the market remains small, but subscription audio titles are so far besting ebooks. Among the twenty publishers reporting revenue from subscription services, some 3.88 million audiobooks and 2.47 million ebooks were distributed via those platforms.

Book sales both units and revenue slumped in 2013. While the unit sales figures for 2014 were not yet back up to the 2012 figures (2,474,995,518 books sold generating $15.7 billion in net revenue), the increase is good news for the book publishing industry.

People are buying books—lots of them. That is good news.

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New Genre for Books

I have not yet seen a section for this new book genre in a bookstore or a library. However, I think that it will begin to appear within the year.

New Adult

The latest genre of book types to gain popularity is the New Adult category. This new category, is a spin-off from the Young Adult category.

Booksellers recently found that Young Adult books were by-and-large being purchased and read by adults. The Young Adult category, aimed at youth 12+ years of age, has been appealing to a wide audience.

To better address and reach this older age group reading Young Adult books, publishers have begun to introduce New Adult books. These books, aimed at the 20+ crowd, contain more mature themes and are meant to appeal to this age group’s needs.

The term, New Adult, was first coined in 2009 by St. Martin Press, but did not catch on until recently. Although bookstores and libraries have not yet designated shelf space for this genre, Goodreads reports that the number of readers identifying, reviewing, and rating New Adult books has spiked in recent months.

If you are penning or publishing a book for this 20+ crowd, consider giving your book the New Adult genre label. Doing so may appeal to the younger adult age group you are trying to reach.

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Trends for 2013

The New Year, 2013, is just around the corner. The Internet is already full of predictions of what will happen next year.


Some of the predictions I have read include that mobile spam will increase in volume, that Smart TVs will become a target for hackers, and that some online retailers will begin offering e-readers for free to entice customers to purchase more ebooks.

Most of these predictions are based on current trends. I, too, believe that based on current trends the following trends will continue in 2013.

1.       Small presses and self-publishing will continue to expand.

The number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287 percent since 2006 according to Bowker. This study, recently released by Bowker, also estimated that over 235,000 books were self-published in 2011. Bowker’s report showed that CreateSpace dominated the print segment, with the creation of 58,412 titles (39% of self-published print books).  The leading ebook producer was Smashwords with 40,608 titles (nearly 47% of total self-published ebooks). Interestingly, Bowker’s report also included a small press category which showed that nearly 34,107 self-published books were from small publishers who produce 10 or fewer titles per year. In addition, print book production by small presses increased more than 74 percent between 2006 and 2011. Many new authors will join the ranks of self-published authors in 2013, as technology continues to make it inexpensive and easy to do so.

2.       Sales of ebooks will continue to grow.

eBook sales have been growing steadily since 2009. For most of 2012, ebook sales growth more than double over last year’s sales. This year, ebook sales made up about 25% of all book sales. Predictions indicate that they will make up 50% of all book sales by 2016. Even with sales of e-readers declining, people will continue to increase their digital reading. Tablets and Smart phones all offer users the same access to digital books with easy portability.

3.       The number of physical bookstores will continue to decline.

I recently wrote a blog post on “The Demise of Bookstores.” This post detailed the closing of physical bookstores over the past two years. Barnes & Noble recently reported that they will close about seven stores at the end of this year. They closed about seven stores at the end of last year also. Bookstores are no longer the primary method for getting your books into the hands of consumers.

4.       Online sales of books will continue to increase.

Some reports indicate that up to 49% of all books are purchased via the Internet. As ebook sales have grown and as physical bookstores have declined, the Internet has become the go to place to purchase books. This trend will grow in 2013.

We do not know the future, especially when the Lord will return and the world will end. Luke 12:40 states “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” I am not claiming to be a prophet and these are not predictions. However, I do believe that these trends are here to stay, at least for the next year, if the Lord tarries.

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