Monthly Archives: January 2013

Book Marketing Advice for Christian Authors


The Road Less Published – by Fishn4Souls Radio

I was on a panel discussion on Wednesday on Self-Publishing on the Christian Blog Talk Radio station Fishn4Souls hosted by Matt S. Senge.  You can listen to the entire discussion here at:  I thought the discussion was very instructive and I think Christian authors in particular will enjoy the panel discussion (and the weekly radio program). 

If I could summarize my advice to the many aspiring and published Christian authors who were on the panel and who called in, it would be this:

There may be many reasons God has put the desire in your heart to write and publish a story.  It may be that He wants you to:

  • Publish a story to leave a record, or legacy, for your children and grandchildren.  Many memoirs of faith are motivated by questions asked by children and grandchildren.
  • Write as therapy to help you make sense and learn from the trials you have had.  By giving your story to the world by publishing it, others may benefit from what you have learned.
  • Share your testimony with your church and friends to encourage and strengthen their faith.

However, if want to make money from your book and/or want to reach an audience beyond your family and friends, you will need to give some serious thought to marketing your book.  Marketing your book is just thinking about your book from the standpoint of your customer.

Jesus talks about putting yourself in the place of others in Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”  If you want your customers to buy from you, you need to think about what they want, not just what you want to say.  If you want them to give you something (book sales) then you should give to them what they want from you (a compelling story, advice they can apply to their own situation, etc…).

To help you think from marketing or customer oriented standpoint, I recommend all authors consider these four basic marketing questions:

  1. Who is my most probable customer for this book?  Some people are more inclined to buy your book than others.  Who are they?  Are they mothers with small children.  People suffering from cancer?   To understand things from the standpoint of your customer you need to understand who your customer is and what they need.
  2. Why should my most probable customer want to buy my book?  Why would someone want to buy your book?  What are they going to get out of the book that will help them, inspire them, or give them a better life?  If you want to sell books, your book should be written for your customer not yourself.
  3. What do I have to say to my most probable customer to make them want to buy my book?  Does the title and subtitle of your book match what your customer is looking for?   Does your book description match what your customer is looking for?  Does your cover design tie into your compelling message?
  4. How do I reach my most probable customer?  What magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs, stores etc… does your most probable customer visit?  This information becomes very important when it becomes time to promote your book. These are the places where you want reviews of your book, where you want to advertise your book, do book signings, etc… 

When Do I Need to Get Permissions?

Getting PermissionsHere are the essential self-publishing guidelines for getting permissions that every author needs to know:

Quotes from published books
Generally you need to get permission if you quote, in total, more than 100 words from a published book.  Less than 100 words is usually considered fair use for which you don’t have to have permission.

Quotes from periodicals
Generally, you need to get permission if you quote, in total, 50 words or more from a magazine or journal.  Less than 50 words is usually considered fair use for which you don’t have to have permission.

Quotes from poems or song lyrics
You must have permission to quote from a poem or song if you use two lines or more.

Quotes from a book, magazine or song published previous to 1923
Anything published previous to 1923 in the United States is considered in the Public Domain and you can use the material in your book without permission.

Quoting the Bible 
The King James Version of the Bible is in the Public Domain since it was published previous to 1923.  Most every modern Bible translation has a permissions web site that outlines how you can quote their Bible translation.  Typically, they allow you to quote from their Bible translation proving you provide proper copyright attribution; the quotes do not comprise an entire book of the Bible, and the quotes are less than 25 percent of the entire work.

Using Pictures and Graphics
You need to have permission of the photographer or artist to publish their photo or artwork in your book.  Just because a picture is on the web, does NOT mean that it is in the Public Domain.

Your best bet in using pictures for your book is to purchase images from a stock photo company (such as where they have the rights to the images and will sell those rights to you for a nominal fee.

The other site that is good for finding images you can use in your book (especially if you need photos of a public figure) is Wikipedia. Wikipedia always indicates if an image they use on their site is in the Public Domain and, if not, they will tell what you need to do to get permission to use the image.

Using Pictures You Have Taken
Usually, you need to have permission to use a photo from anyone in the picture that is recognizable.

When in doubt, get permission or check with your attorney

Social Media for Self-Published Authors

Get SocialHere are the most important Social Media sites for self-published authors:

1. Facebook
Facebook is a must for all authors. Facebook is the largest social media network in the world, with more than over 845 million active users. It allows you to connect with people who share your interests on a personal level and it is free to join.

If you haven’t already, you should read my posts Facebook for Authors – Part I and Facebook for Authors – Part II.

2. Goodreads
Goodreads is also a must for all authors. Goodreads is the largest site for readers and book recommendations in the world. They more than 12 milllion members. It is where passionate readers go. It is also free to join.

Of particular interest to authors is the Goodreads Author Program, which is completely free and features tools designed to help authors reach their target audience — passionate readers. It is a great place for both new and established authors to promote their books.

In addition, GiveAways on Goodreads is a great way to get advance reviews and create buzz for your book. View this slideshow about using Giveaways on Goodreads.

3. LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with more than 175 million members. If you are in the workforce or looking for work you should be on LinkedIn. It is free to join. If your book is related to your profession or your business, your book should be prominently featured on your LinkedIn account.

If you wrote under a pen name, or if your book is controversial or otherwise might be perceived by some as reflecting poorly on your professional image, then you should NOT list it on LinkedIn. (For example, if you are an accountant and you wrote a book about your personal experiences with aliens and UFOs, you probably should NOT put this book on LinkedIn as the book may hurt your chances of being hired.)

If you are retired or have left the workforce you may still want to consider setting up a LinkedIn account and list your profession as Author.

4. Twitter
Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows you to send short messages (140 characters or less) to your followers on a regular basis. It has more than 500 million active users. It is free to join.

Twitter is a must for any author who has written a “how-to” book. You should be tweeting your advice and tips every other day on Twitter, and from time to time, you should plug your book. This tweeting helps establish you as an expert, attracts followers interested in your topic, and gives you the chance to promote your expertise and your book to a potentially large audience.

Twitter can also be useful to promote other types of books as well, but don’t plan on using Twitter unless you plan on tweeting at least every other day.