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.

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.

Are You Leaning into Your Authority?

One of the best ways to be seen as an authority in a subject is by writing an excellent book on the topic. So, once you publish a book on a given topic, people perceive you as an expert.

Leaning into Authority

In fact, research from The Visible Expert by Hinge Marketing shows that books deliver the highest overall impact for building visibility and authority. This research shows that books have a greater impact on perceived authority on a given topic than:

  • keynote addresses
  • company websites
  • blogs and articles

As an author, you can parlay your authority on your topic to gain more visibility for your book and to help people improve their lives. The perceived authority you possess allows you to speak on your book’s subject to numerous audiences via:

  • Podcasts
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Journalists
  • Articles
  • Speaking engagements

The media will interview you because you are an author. Magazines and websites will print your articles because you are an author. Event coordinators will book you to speak because you are an author.

The question to ask yourself is: Am I leaning into this authority? In other words, are you taking advantage of the opportunities that being an author brings?

man speaking

You wrote a book because you had something to say on your book’s topic. Your desire was that what you had to share would impact and change people. Now that your book is published, you can use your author authority to continue to influence people.

Lean into your authority and seek opportunities to share. Where can you find these opportunities? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Use the Christian Writers Market Guide to find magazines accepting articles on your topic.
  2. Find resources for guest blog posts in my book, Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books.
  3. Become a Member of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) and use our big list of podcast and radio shows interviewing authors to secure media exposure.
  4. Attend a Christian Writers Conference and gather ideas and resources from the workshops and attendees.
  5. Step out of your comfort zone and contact local organizations about speaking—churches, senior centers, schools, libraries, local clubs (e.g. Lions Club and Rotary), etc.

There are so many possibilities for leaning into your authority for more exposure and influence. Make a list, then get to work.

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My Checklist Fiasco

I recently purchased a used car. The old vehicle my teenagers have been driving is on its last leg, so another one needed to be found.

It has been years since I purchased a vehicle from a private seller rather than a dealership, so I tried to do due diligence to make sure we had all the paperwork required by the state I live in. I looked on the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website and found a list of paperwork needed when purchasing a car from a private seller. I felt prepared. The purchase of the vehicle was painlessly completed including a trip to the bank to have the car title transfer notarized.

My next step, after purchasing the vehicle, was to make a trip to the Division of Motor Vehicles to have the title transferred and to register the vehicle. Just to make sure I had everything I needed for this trip, I checked the DMV website again. This time, I found a list of the paperwork needed to brought to the DMV to transfer the title of the vehicle.

Lo and behold, this list had two forms on it that the first list I used did not. It turns out I needed two more pieces of paper. One needed the signature of the seller, and the other one needed to be notarized. This meant that I had to get back in touch with the seller and make another trip to the bank. The whole process was quite frustrating.

The DMV is not the only place where people run into issues with finding out that they do not have all the information they need upfront. It often happens in the publishing world also.

Vehicle

Last year, I talked with an author who told me that, when he was publishing his book, he had to complete four revisions before the book was right. This was four revisions after he had already uploaded the book to IngramSpark for printing and distribution.

At the time, this gentleman was not a Member of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA), so he did not have the Member benefit of free uploads and revisions with IngramSpark. He ended up paying over twice the amount an annual membership with CIPA costs just to print and distribute his book.

This author reported that he kept finding out about things he had missed putting in his book that are standard for books (as well as some mistakes). While you might be tempted to judge this gentleman for not doing his due diligence prior to uploading his book, I feel sympathy for him.

There are many elements that go into making sure a book is industry-standard. New authors and publishers can easily miss one or more of these elements because finding a complete list in one place is not easy—just like with my DMV experience.

Because we understand the process for new authors and publishers, Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) has developed checklists to help. Two checklists the Association offers to ensure you have all the elements you need prior to uploading a book for print and distribution are:Checklist

  • Checklist for Creating a Professional-Looking Book
  • Metadata Checklist

Members of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) can access these checklists as part of their Membership. If you are considering publishing a new book this year, I encourage you to join Christian Indie Publishing Association so you can be better prepared.

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