How Not to Sell a Book

Nominations for the 2018 Christian Indie Awards are rolling in. One recent nomination demonstrates how not to sell a book. I thought I would share it with you, so you can know what not to do.

The Christian Indie Awards nomination form requests various information. The form asks the nominating party to list the publisher of the book along with contact information. This contact information is very important, because it is who we contact should the book win an award.

One recent nomination listed CreateSpace as the publisher of the book and gave contact information for CreateSpace. Folks, CreateSpace is not a publisher. Yes, you can request that they assign your book an ISBN number and then they list themselves as the publisher of the book on Amazon, but they are not the true publisher of the book.

If you are an independent author, you are the publisher. If you use any print-on-demand service like CreateSpace, IngramSpark, Lightning Source, BookBaby, or LuLu, you are still the publisher. These companies are simply printing platforms that allow you to independently publish your book.

So, this independent author lists CreateSpace as the publisher of the book and gives the contact information for CreateSpace. Now, if this nominated title were to win an award, we would have to send the announcement to CreateSpace. Do you think CreateSpace cares? Do you think they would contact the author and let the author know that he won an award? No, they won’t. CreateSpace is simply a revenue stream for Amazon. The company exists so that Amazon has more books to sell, and thus can make more money.

In an attempt to see if I could scare up other contact information for this author, I Googled the book’s title. To my dismay, the only place this book is listed on the internet is Amazon. The author does not have a website for the book. Neither the author nor the book are listed on Goodreads. There is not even a Facebook page for the book. Nothing.

Next, I strolled on over to Amazon to check the Author Page to see if I could scare up some information on the author. This time, I was not too surprised when I found that this author had not even completed the author profile for his Author Page on Amazon.

The book in question was published in November 2016. That was a year ago. In that time, the author has done almost nothing (from what I can tell) to promote this book. That’s like saying you are a missionary, but all you do is put some tracts in a local café and spend the rest of your time sitting in your house. How will people hear about the Gospel unless you tell them? How will people know about your book unless you tell them?

Having your book for sale only on Amazon with no other online presence will ensure that your book won’t sell. You must tell people about your book for them to know about it. Telling on the internet includes (at a minimum) having a website and a presence on social media.

By the way, nominations for the Christian Indie Awards are open through November 15, 2017. You can nominate your books at www.christianaward.com.

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Oh, The Places Your Book Will Go!
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Photo courtesy of Brandon Kawamura.

Is Fear Paralyzing You?

Fear—it is a powerful emotion that can paralyze even the best. Fear robs us of faith, peace, hope, and confidence. It keeps us from realizing our dreams and all the blessings that God has for us.

Fear is wide-spread and powerful. Some Christian authors claim that the term “fear not” is the single command in Scripture that occurs more often than any other. Lloyd Ogilvie in his book 12 Steps to Living without Fear claims that the command “fear not” is stated 366 times in the Bible—one for every day of the year and an extra one for leap year.

Author Rachel Van Dyken recently said, “Fear has one goal for your life: to paralyze you, to keep you in the same state you were in five years ago. It wants you stuck, afraid, and isolated.”

Is fear keeping you tied up and unable to write that manuscript, bring your manuscript to publication, or step out and promote your book? Maybe you struggle with:

  • Fear of failing.
  • Fear of public ridicule.
  • Fear of judgment.
  • Fear of not being good enough.

In essence all these fears really boil down to the fear of failing—not being good enough or doing it “right.”

Has God called you to write, publish, or promote a book and you are battling fear?

I once heard a missionary say that there is no failure in God’s Kingdom except the failure to obey. Isn’t that true? If you do what God asks, who is responsible for the outcome—you or God? The test is in the obedience, not in the outcome.

A wise, saintly woman I know once received this message from God: “Failure comes in not trying, in not engaging.

If God is calling you to write or publish a book, then you are good enough. You are the one he is asking because he knows you are capable. The beauty is that he never makes us do it alone. He is always there to guide and cheer us on.

So often, our inner critic, that whisper in our ear, tells us to play it safe, not take risks, and not risk failure and public humiliation. These self-doubts and shameful feelings that tell us we are not “good enough” are not God’s voice.

If God has or is calling you to do something, remember, you can only fail if you don’t obey. Obey and lean on God’s limitless provisions to complete the task he has called you to.

Related Posts:
Are You Afraid of Failure?
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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com.

Creative Marketing with Bookmarks

Effectively promoting a book takes dedication and effort—and not just a little effort, a lot of effort.

There are more books available today than at any other time in history. Some estimate that Amazon has over 11 million titles available for purchase on its site with a new book added every five minutes. With so many books competing for readers’ attention, creative efforts are necessary to grab that attention.

I am always on the lookout for creative marketing ideas. I like to pass these ideas on to authors, so that you can either copy the idea or use it to get your own creative juices flowing for out-of-the-box marketing ideas for your own books. I frequently highlight innovative ideas that I come across on this blog and a number are listed in my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

Recently, I ran across an author who suggested that since bookmarks are cheap to produce (you can purchase a thousand bookmarks for under $100), that authors should make use of them in their book promotion activities. This author said that he had printed a number of bookmarks with the image of his book and a little information about it, along with the URL of his book’s website. He then offered a stack of these bookmarks to his local public library.

This author figured that since public libraries have tight budgets, they can’t afford to purchase trinkets to give to patrons. So, offering his bookmarks as a freebie that his local library could give to their patrons was a win-win proposition.

This sounds like a good idea. Since many people still read print books, bookmarks are a great handout. However, many public libraries might be reluctant to accept a bookmark for a book that promotes Christianity and/or is not available for checkout in their library system. So, where else might Christian authors use bookmarks to promote their books?
Here are four ideas I came up with.

  1. Offer your bookmarks to your local church’s library or bookstore to give to patrons.
  2. If you have a book for children or young adults, offer your bookmarks to local Christian schools to give to the students in whatever grades your book is geared to.
  3. If you have a book geared for seniors, offer your bookmarks to your local senior center to give to seniors who frequent the center.
  4. Put a stack of your bookmarks in your local Little Free Library for your neighbors to use.

If you have more ideas on how Christian authors can use bookmarks to promote a book, please share them.

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Are You Capturing Hearts?

He failed to win my heart.

I had just completed reading a full-page biography of a Christian author. His bio looked like a listing of who’s who in the Christian world. This gentleman had worked with numerous Christian organizations and for well-known Christian leaders. He had spoken at numerous Christian gatherings and penned a couple books. Yet, the author failed to win my heart because reading his bio felt like I was reading a résumé.

At the close of reading this Christian author’s bio, I had no clue what he was passionate about or what his message was. All I knew was that he hung around some well-known people and places.

To engage people, you must connect with them on an emotional level. As an author, even your author bio should conjure emotions in the reader. What you are passionate about must shine through for a connection to be made. You must win the heart of readers so they are drawn to know more about you and your message or books.

When crafting your author bio, consider these three important elements:

1. It’s Not About You.

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? After all, it’s your bio. It is your bio, but it should not just be about you. After all, few people care where you live, how long you have been married (unless it relates to your book’s topic), or how many pets you own.

Ultimately, your bio is a tool to tell the reader about yourself. Yet, more importantly, it is a means to let readers know how what you are or do relates to who they are and what they do or want to do. Your bio is a tool to draw readers in to capture their hearts.

2. Let Your Personality Shine Through.

Your author bio should reflect your personality. Readers should feel they know you a little more when done reading your bio. If you write with humor, be playful in your bio. If you write about your personal struggles, be transparent. Share your passion.

3. Include Your Relevant Expertise.

Use your author bio to tell your readers the expertise you possess to write on the topics your books cover. This requires a difficult balance. You want to build credibility without overtly bragging. Provide just enough information to let your readers know you possess the knowledge and experience to speak with authority on the subject. Keep it relevant.

People do business with the people they like and trust. The goal of your author bio is to help people like and trust you. Use your author bio to create an emotional connection with your readers and book sales will follow.

Related Posts:
Sales Text that Sells
Start With Why Not What
Why Would Someone Buy Your Book?

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Photo courtesy of Jakob Owens.