Small Business Saturday

Did you know that Saturday, November 26 is Small Business Saturday? This day was started last year by American Express in response to small business owners’ most pressing need: creating more demand for their products and services.

American Express believes that small business success is critical to the health of the US economy. Small businesses have generated 64% of the new jobs created over the past 15 years. To encourage consumers to shop at small businesses on Saturday, November 26, American Express is offering consumers who use their American Express cards at a small business on that day a $25 statement credit.

Whether you accept American Express cards or not for purchases of your books and products, you can capitalize on Small Business Saturday.  Here are some ideas.

  1. Raise consumers’ awareness of Small Business Saturday via your website, your social media interactions, and your email messages.
  2. Offer a special for Small Business Saturday to encourage consumers to patronize your business on that day. Your special could be a discount for the day, or a buy one get one deal, or offer a free shipping special.
  3. Post the special on your website, in your social media interactions, and in an email blast to your customers.  Be sure to share your special deal here with me and my readers also. You can also list your special on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page (under “For Your Biz”) at where there are over 1.5 million fans.

American Express is also providing graphics you can use to encourage consumers to shop at small businesses on Small Business Saturday. They have additional programs and incentives for small businesses that are American Express Merchants (those that accept American Express cards).

Take advantage of Small Business Saturday to encourage your existing and potential customers to begin their holiday shopping by supporting a small business.

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Are You Looking for a Quick Response?

Quick Response Codes (also known as QR codes) are showing up everywhere.

These interesting “bar codes” for smart phones are called “quick response” because they are an immediate call to action for consumers.

If you are not familiar with these codes and what they do, watch this informative video.


I am seeing these codes show up in all sort of interesting places  including on t-shirts and cars.










There are so many interesting and creative ways you can harness QR Codes to promote your books. If you have a unique way you are using QR codes, please share it with me. I would love to hear how you are using this new marketing tool.


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Adopt an Author

The Word on the Street Toronto is a literary festival held this month that showcases Canadian authors and their books.  The festival is sponsored by the non-profit organization with the same name, The Word On The Street.

The sponsor of this book festival runs a great fundraising campaign called “Adopt an Author!”

Here is how it works. For just $100, any interested book lover (a.k.a. person) can adopt one or more of the authors who will be present at the literary festival. For the $100 adoption fee, the adopter will receive:

  • The opportunity to adopt an author of your choice from the provided list of available authors.
  • A signed copy of the author’s book.
  • Recognition for your contribution at the festival. Your name will be announced by the host prior to your author’s reading.
  • Recognition on the festival’s website and e-newsletter.
  • A personalized certificate detailing your adoption.
  • A tax receipt.
  • A chance to be a part of Canada’s largest one-day festival!

I love this idea as long as adopting the author does not mean you have to feed, clothe, or otherwise entertain said author.

On the serious side, I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate this idea into a useful gimmick for small publishers. I have not been able to come up with any good ideas. Your suggestions are welcome.


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A small publisher recently posted the following message on one of the publishing discussion groups where I am a member.

“I have just received this return request from a customer. ‘I bought 3 books at your sale in Texas in 1999. Do you buy back books? We didn’t really use them. Thank you, J.’”

No, you did not read that date wrong. It says 1999. Yes, this small publisher received this message this summer, in 2011. That’s 12 years after the books were purchased.

First, I congratulate this small publisher for lasting 12 years in the publishing business. Obviously, they are doing something right, and I am sure that includes good customer service. However, asking a publisher to purchase back books 12 years after you bought them is ridiculous. No one truly expects this publisher to buy these books back.

I believe this little example illustrates just one of the many interesting, weird, and sometimes crazy things that will come your way as an author or publisher. Just be prepared.

I got a strange request just the other day. Someone sent an email to Christian Small Publishers Association with one line: “How do I publish cards?” That was all, no salutation, no closing signature or contact information (other than the email it came from).

The old saying, “It never hurts to ask,” is true. However, sometimes the answer depends on how you ask and other times, the answer will not change regardless of how the question is asked.

As for good customer service, I believe that we need to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” meaning that we should treat our customers with respect, even those that ask the strange or impossible. However, we are under no obligation to comply with every request we get.

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Tag It…or Not

Tags are powerful. These little words on websites and blog posts are what search engines grab when compiling search results.

Using the right tags can draw people to your website, posts, and even books on

Here is my advice. Tags are wonderful, but beware of the tags you use.

Back in 2009, when I first started this blog, I loved tags. However, I did not use much discretion in my choice. Any word or phrase in a post that I thought would be a good search engine request, I used.

For example, back in July 2009, I wrote a post called “Where is Your Hook Cast?” To get massive traffic, I used the tags fishing hook, fish hook, and fishing hooks.

It worked! Soon, the tag words referring the most people to my blog post were these very search engine terms. Even a year and a half later, these three little phrases are the most frequent search engine term traffic generators to my blog.

Why? Because many people love to fish and are looking for fishing hooks online.

It really didn’t work. Those people coming to my blog from the “fishing hook” search engine terms are looking for a nice new place to cast their line, not for advice on marketing Christian books.

New readers are not being attracted to my blog from these “fishing” tags. My blog’s target audience is by-and-large small publishers producing materials for the Christian market. I can guarantee you that most of these people will not be searching for “fishing hooks” to find how to better market their books.

My point is this. Tags are powerful, but only if the tags chosen drive the right readers to your blog. In other words, don’t just fish for readers.