Merry Christmas From Cheri Cowell

Now don’t turn me off before hearing me out. I’m not talking about the annoying and sometimes over-the-top commercial marketing all of us are tired of by now. I’m referring to the marketing God did that first Christmas to tell the world about His great gift. What do I mean by calling God’s work marketing? Marketing in the positive sense means sharing the good news about something so as to entice others to [join, buy, get, receive or] desire to have. There are three things we can learn from God’s marketing plan—three things you and I can use in our own speaking and writing.

First, God used targeted marketing. He used a star to guide the Wiseman or astrologers, as some biblical scholars call them. For the shepherds in the fields, He sent a host of angels to calm their fears and tell them what to do. To Mary God sent an angel and the wisdom and assurance of Elizabeth. And to Joseph He sent the unmistakable Word of God to help a good man make the right decisions. God knew His audience and spoke to them using the language and method best suited for each. Who is your audience? What is their language? Are they on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, do they belong to MOPS or Book Clubs?

Second, God sold the sizzle. For each person or group of people, God chose what would excite them and shared that. God didn’t serve the whole meal when only the appetizer was needed. To the Wiseman He said the star would lead them to the promised Messiah—He didn’t tell them about Herod and their need to avoid him on their way home until that information was necessary. Likewise, you and I don’t need to tell everyone the ten points we cover in our book or message when we are simply enticing them to enjoy a taste. What is the one thing they need to hear now, so later they will hunger for the whole meal we are ready to serve?

Third, God gave. Still the most astounding part of the Christmas story is that God gave it away for free. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t charge for our books and speaking, but what are you and I giving away for free? I have found I’m unable to out-give God. I started by giving away bookmarks with a poem a friend wrote for the closing of my presentation, and people bought things from my book table that went with that bookmark. Then I took a leap of faith and changed my fee structure—I charge a flat fee per person for speaking which includes a free autographed book (and for retreats it includes the companion workbook, too). I thought back of the room book sales would be gone, after all everyone already had a free autographed book, right? Wrong. They wanted to buy a book for a friend “since they already had a free one for themselves…” God gave. How can you give away more in this coming year? Just try to out give God…and may you have a Christmas filled year!

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Sundin #D70 ©2008 Linda Johnson Photography web (2)

Greetings from Sarah Sundin on a crisp fall day that makes me want to cuddle up in a warm quilt – perhaps like one of the quilts author Diana Brandmeyer features on her website. Not only is she an extraordinary quilter, she’s a gifted writer with plenty to share with us today.Diana Brandmeyer

Diana, how did you get into writing?

Like many, I wrote stories when I was little, but it wasn’t until the birth of my second child I realized I could make a little money and share my faith with my stories. I started writing devotions for children, which led to taking a course from the Institute of Children’s Literature.

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Aloha From Karen KarenBookSigning

The new ipad is out and there's a buzz going about how much fun it is.. Some friends have asked how they can use it to help with their book promotion, and that's the topic for today.

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Tracy Higley

Tracy (T.L.) Higley here, posting another marketing lesson I’ve learned from my years in online retail sales. As I’ve mentioned in previous months, I’m currently in the midst of an experimental year, applying principles from my retail business to the marketing of my fiction. If you’ve missed earlier posts, and would like a better explanation of my background and what these posts are about, please see Principles #1-#9 here.

 

So, on to Principle #10… Give yourself a reality check.

 

Writing is hard. Making money at writing is even harder. There is considerable discussion and debate these days about what it takes to grow your readership, whether social networking efforts translate into book sales, etc. It’s not my intent to weigh in on that issue in this post, but to give you some real numbers to think through, that may help you as you make your own decisions.

The #1 problem in making money writing books is this: you have an extremely limited product line, with new products being released very infrequently. One book per year is probably average. Think about this. One low-profit product, released once per year.

Stick with me here, as we dive into some realistic numbers.

In my online retail business selling craft supplies, the average order is about $45.  And about 20% of my customers purchase from me repeatedly in a year. My bottom-line profit on each order (after purchasing the wholesale products and paying for overhead) is probably about the same as a book royalty. But my average order is much higher than a book price, and I get more repeat business. By my calculations, one of my retail customers is worth about 8 times more than one book-buying reader. This means I need to sell books to 8 times more readers.

 

Let’s look at it another way. What is the annual salary you would be satisfied to take as a full-time writer? Figure about $1 in royalty/advance for every book-buying reader per year. In other words, an annual salary of $50,000 would require 50,000 book sales per year.

How many authors come anywhere close to this number? Not very many. Depressing? But reality.

You have three options, as I see it.

1.   Do what it takes to build your readership to the point that you have as many book-buying readers as dollars you’d like to make. Only you can answer what it takes.

2.   Develop multiple streams of writing-related income. In other words, get yourself more than one “product” to sell. This can take many forms – article-writing, writing and selling e-books, editing, book-doctoring, developing a successful blog that sells ad space, and a host of other options. Some of these can even build passive income.

3.   Have another stream of income that is not writing-related, and do not expect to make a full-time salary with your writing.

 

Remember, there is nothing wrong with any of these options!

Perhaps you are willing to put your heart into #1 – developing a broad reader base. I’d suggest implementing the second or third option while you do. Expect to be busy for awhile. Realize it’s a difficult task. But then go for it.

If #2 seems attractive to you, there are so many options, and you can find lots of great information online to generate ideas and get started.

If you choose #3, then do the things that make sense to build your readership, but release yourself from frantic, burdensome marketing efforts driven by a desperation to make enough money.  Yes, there are many things you can do to increase your success. Choose them wisely, as your time may be limited. Be realistic in your expectations.

 

Hopefully I have not discouraged you. As a novelist myself, I’m taking my medicine here this month, too. But marketing that is not based on realism will lead you to wasted efforts and even more discouragement.

Take an honest inventory of your desires, goals, and current situation this month. A reality check is a wise marketing principle.

 

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MildredI recently finished a book titled The Hand-Me-Down Family by Winnie Griggs. I love mail-order bride stories, and with the Beauty and the Beast theme, the kids, the hero and heroine's growth toward resolving some long-standing struggles in their lives, and their developing love for each other, this bookCAN
 makes for a great read. Today, I'm privileged to interview the author, Winnie Griggs.  

Can you tell us, Winnie, how did you get into writing? 

I’ve dabbled with writing ever since I was an adolescent.  It wasn’t until my kids were all in school and I got my first home computer though that I got the bug to try to write a full length novel, just to see if I could do it.  Once I’d accomplished that, I was hooked!

 

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