Effective Marketing to a Declining Reading Populace

The number of people who do not read a single book in a given year is growing. In 1978, that figure was 8%. In other words, only 8 out of every 100 people did not read a book during the year. Now that number is closer to 25%. This means that one out of every four people in the United States has not read a book this year.

Most people agree that the trend toward reading less has grown considerably since the advent of the Internet. Today, with streaming services, experts are beginning to believe that many people are replacing their desire for good stories with binge-watching TV shows and movies rather than reading fiction books. After all, studies show that people are spending more and more time engaged with content on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Interestingly, this trend is not only effecting adults. North Carolina, that state where I reside, spent more than $150 million dollars on a third-grade reading campaign designed to get children to read at grade level. Yet, after five years of administering the program, no improvement was made in the number of children who could read at grade level by the end of third grade.

The lack of engagement with books is a societal issue. I have been dismayed to see not only Christian bookstores fail, but church library associations close their doors over the past few years due to churches no longer hosting lending libraries. Reading is not a priority for our society.

How does an author trying to sell books succeed in this environment?

It’s a good question and a tough question. Many industry experts point to two ways that authors can work to stand out and make a difference with readers.

1. Make It Easier for People to Find Your Book

There are millions of books available for sale. It is easy for any given book to get lost in the mass of books for sale. Two ways that you can ensure your book is easier for people to find is to make sure it is available in multiple venues and it has relevant keywords embedded in the metadata.

If your book is only available for sale on Amazon, you are missing out. Not everyone shops on Amazon. Your book needs to be available in all the online bookstores. Distribution is important. The more places your book is listed for sale, the more likely people are to find it.

Knowing what keywords readers use to find books in your subject area is also important. Making your metadata (book’s description) rich with these keywords helps ensure that readers will be able to find your book.

2. Create Content that People Need

Every book meets a need. What need does your book meet? Why do people need to read your book? Sharing content from your book and ancillary content geared toward helping people solve the problem that your book tackles will help you attract readers. Free content of interest and value is one of the best ways to develop trust with an audience.

Share your free content that meets a need on your blog, in your social media posts, and in your email newsletters. This free content does not have to be written. It can be in podcast or video format. Use whatever format helps you engage your audience. As you develop trust with your audience, they will seek out your book.

Related Posts:
Is Reading In Trouble?
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Reading On the Decline in America

Reading in the United States has been declining over the past decade. This does not bode well for authors and book publishers. Authors and books need readers.

The Pew Research Center has conducted annual surveys on reading rates among Americans. This year’s survey indicates that only 72% of American adults read a book within the past year in any format. This is down from 79% who had read a book in 2011.

In a somewhat surprising twist, the survey also showed that young adults 18 to 29 were more likely to have a read a book over the past year than their older counterparts. According to the survey, over the past year 72% of American adults read a book, either in whole or in part, compared to 80% of young adults.

As more adults begin to read ebooks, reading print books also declines. This year’s survey showed that only 63% of people reported reading at least one book in print in the past year, down from 69% in 2014 and 71% in 2011.

The Pew Research Study indicates that the reading habits of Americans, balanced between print, ebooks, and audiobooks, have remained fairly stable since the first report in 2011. This year’s survey shows that 27% of Americans read an ebook over the past year, up from 17% in 2011, and about 12% of Americans listened to an audiobook.

The survey also noted that women are most likely to be the book readers in the household, followed by young adults aged 18 to 29. In addition, book readers tend to have higher levels of education, and tend to be white. The average woman is reported to have read 14 books over the past year, compared with nine books by the average man. That works out to an average of 12 books read last year by most Americans—one per month.

Every author and publisher should be concerned about reading rates. The more people read, the more books can be sold. The less people read, the fewer books will be sold.

What are you doing to encourage people in your community to read? Are you involved in your local church with a reading campaign effort? If not, consider starting one at your church. Most churches sport a library or a bookstore. A reading campaign (with rewards for books read) helps grow stronger Christians in your church, and it benefits you and all Christian authors and publishers.

Related Posts:
Who is Reading?
Develop a Global Strategy
The State of Christian Fiction

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