Today is the industry update episode – it’s one of my favorites. But you know, I love talking to fellow authors and other publishing professionals, industry professionals, too so every episode is a great episode, right?
But I am always fascinated by what’s going on behind the scenes in the publishing industry. And this is my opportunity to share with you some of what I have been discovering.
Amazon Attribution Tags
First on the list – I’m gonna dive right in – is Amazon. You know, a lot of us authors have a love/hate relationship with Amazon, but the fact remains that they are one of the largest online retailers of books. Actually, they probably are the largest. That’s one statistic I haven’t researched to confirm yet. But we know that they are large. And there are sales that happen there. And we want to take advantage of as many sales as possible on that platform, right?
In the past, as authors, we link our book … like if we mention it in our blog posts, or if we mentioned it on our website – our books – and then we link it to Amazon, we’ve never in the past known if those links are effective. How many people are clicking on them? What’s happening? Where are the sales coming from on Amazon with our books?
That has always been kept behind closed doors until this month. Amazon has now released Amazon Attribution.
This is how they define it: “It is an advertising and analytics measurement solution that gives marketers insight into how their non-Amazon marketing channels perform on Amazon.” So again, those non-Amazon marketing channels would be your newsletter, your blog, Facebook, Instagram – all those places that you referenced your book and provide a link for people to go and purchase the book on Amazon.
Basically, they give you a separate link for each of those channels, each of those marketing methods. And so you can then see which of those links are performing better. Where are your book buyers coming from? Are they your newsletter subscribers or are they your social followers? It’s really important data. And it’s exciting!
According to their website – you can look at it yourself and sign up if you’re interested – right now, it says that there are no costs associated with this. You just simply have to sign up as an Amazon attribution account and once you do that, then you will add each of your books; if you have more than one, you’ll want to add each one of those in there. And then you’re going to generate separate tags or links for each of those books, for each of your marketing strategies. So you’re gonna have a number of different tags, different links to use. And then you’re gonna start using them, and you can then start analyzing your data.
It’s very important to check the ROI that return on investment: Where is your money coming from? Where are the sales coming from? How many people clicked that link?
You’re going to be able to find the number of people that clicked your link, how many books were purchased from that link, and then the total sales amount that you earned from that link. So that’s really exciting information and is going to help you better market your materials and know what’s working, what isn’t. Then you can tweak what isn’t working or stop using that all together, if that’s what you choose to do.
When we become authors … if we want to become paid authors, let me put it that way … then by default, become business owners. Every business owner has to be aware of their bottom line: where the sales are coming from, where they’re losing money, all of that. We as authors need to do that as well, so this is really exciting. It’s actually good news coming from Amazon for a change.
The State of the Bible
The American Bible Society has come out with their annual State of the Bible study. This is a really detailed document; it’s 218 pages. Very detailed. I haven’t looked at even a third of it all, but I was skimming through it today because I knew I was going to be recording this podcast episode and I wanted to be able to include a few stats from it.
As you can imagine, some of it’s a little sobering. Actually, a lot of it’s sobering about how few people are reading the Bible. But there are notes of encouragement in there as well. The first stat that I want to share with you … so these are statistics based on the type of people who are engaged in scripture. Of the people they call “scripture engaged” (that’s 19% of American adults; that’s a really low number):
- Women are more scripture engaged than men (21% versus 16%) and they say “looking at it another way, 58% of Scripture engaged adults are female.”
- Elders are most likely to be scripture engaged (elders defined as being 77 years old and older).
- African Americans are the ethnic group most likely to be scripture engaged.
- The widowed and married people are more likely to be scripture engaged.
- People living in small cities with a population of 5,000 to 30,000, are most likely to be scripture engaged.
- And regionally, the South has the highest scripture engagement numbers.
If we scroll a couple pages down, we come to a statistic where it was asking individuals – they did a survey nationwide survey; obviously, it’s not every person in the United States, but of the people they surveyed – and they asked “How do you think our country would be without the Bible?”
- 14% of people believe we would be better off without the Bible. That breaks my heart.
- 41% feel that we’d be about the same. Again, that’s a worrying statistic.
- 45% believe that would be worse off without the Bible in America.
But interestingly, in America, I always perceived it as a country where everybody has access to a Bible, right? At least that was my perception. But it says here that nearly one in four people in America don’t own a Bible. And they explain that, I’m quoting: “Some just aren’t readers. Some follow other religions. Some hold negative feelings about the Bible.” And they ask, “But are there some who would accept a Bible if we gave them one? Are there some who would use a Bible app if we gave them a recommendation or a link?”
Those are powerful questions and things that we, as writers and Christian writers specifically, should be aware of. Are we pointing people to the Bible in our stories? Are we making the Bible accessible to our readers? Are we telling them where they can access one? When we’re talking with people one-on-one, are we offering them a Bible? Good questions to ask ourselves.
Then one of the most I guess, staggering (for lack of better word) statistic was Bible users. “Those that do use the Bible, interact with the Bible at least 3-4 times a year on their own outside of church or mass.” They only interact with it at least three or four times a year on their own outside of church.
If that doesn’t give us pause, I don’t know what does.
This is yet again, another proof that we, as Christian writers, need to incorporate biblical truth and Scripture throughout our books. No matter what we’re writing, no matter what genre, it’s so important to point people to Christ. Because
- if they don’t have a Bible,
- if they aren’t aware of Bible apps,
- if people aren’t talking to them in their everyday lives about the Bible,
then maybe if they come across what we’re writing, we can point them to the Bible. To God’s word. Because ultimately, God’s word points them to Christ and to salvation. It is important!
I just want us to just remember that what we’re doing isn’t just to write a book. It is to make an impact – an eternal impact on our readers.
They gave another statistic. I scrolled all the way to the end. It’s a graphic that they share three more statistics, and then I’m going to end this topic with you because I don’t want to beat you over the head with it. But it is important.
It says “Exploring Ways to Increase Bible Reading.” And they say that:
- Those who follow a schedule, plan or program are 42% more likely to increase their Bible reading.
- Those who read one or more chapters or a complete story out of the Bible are 48% more likely to increase future Bible reading.
- And those who read about the same time of day are 24% more likely to increase their Bible reading.
So what’s the takeaway from this? Why is that important or helpful to you?
Well, I thought it would be helpful because so many of the women that I know, especially those that come to my weekly Inkwell writing sessions online, are writing blogs, devotionals, and Bible studies. So knowing this information can help them market their materials to the right audience. We already know that women are more engaged readers of the Bible, right? And now we know we can encourage them by sharing these tips of how they can become more involved in the Bible by reading at the same time every day, getting on a schedule or a plan or program, etc.
If you write Bible reading plans or programs, this is important information for you, especially if you’re going to be pitching your idea to a publisher! Share these statistics in your proposal.
That’s why statistics are important, too: They can back up – offer proof – that your book is needed in the marketplace. You can read the full 218-page State of the Bible – again, results are from the United States only; that’s where the survey was conducted – by downloading your own free copy.
The third and final industry source for this week comes from Publishers Weekly and it was an article dated October 21 of this year, called “Booksellers Thrilled to Get Back Together.” I think that’s pretty universal feeling, at least here in the U.S. We’re all just so glad to be able to reconvene at conferences and meetings and just be face-to-face once again. And that is the case with the bookselling industry.
These are regional booksellers, independent bookstore owners. And so they have their own conferences – regional conferences – every year, or at least they did before COVID. And now this year, there were six different regional conferences.
Why am I mentioning about booksellers on a podcast targeting authors? Well, it’s because at these conferences, they oftentimes not only mingle among themselves, but they also invite publishing industry professionals and authors. And since these are regional booksellers, they sometimes are more open to authors of independent publishers (sometimes those are hybrid publishers), but they might also be open to actual indie authors who self-published. I have not researched that specifically myself, but I do know that my former guest on the show, Douglas Bond, mentioned that he has sold books and promoted his books at industry conferences, as well. So I do believe it’s doable. It’s something to at least look into. Why not? What a great market – places where people would buy your books, more than one at a time.
So, of course, the booksellers are glad to be back together for community and support because they’re still financially struggling. I’m thankful that many of them have been able to make the adjustments necessary since COVID, but they’re still financially struggling.
And there are still supply chain issues that are plaguing not only booksellers, but also book publishers. Getting the paper, shipping delays, all of that. But when talking about them having to create new best practices to compensate for all of these issues, they mentioned one bookstore called Next Chapter Booksellers in St. Paul, Minnesota, has gone to totally cashless sales in their bookstore.
There’s been talk of that for years about a cashless society, just like there was supposed to be a paperless society, you know, right? We’re still using paper.
But the takeaway here is, again:
- it’s a marketing opportunity for independent authors to go to these conferences, but also
- be aware of what and how people are wanting to purchase the books.
If we’re going to fairs or local events and trying to sell our books, we need to make sure that we are set up to receive payment in the method that our audience prefers to pay.
So in addition to cash, be sure you have a way to accept cashless purchases, whether that’s one of those Square devices on your phone to accept credit cards, whether it’s Venmo, or some other method like that, just be aware that you could miss out on sales if you don’t have multiple ways of accepting payment.
Get Your Writing and Publishing Questions Answered
That is a summary of what’s been happening lately in the industry, and I also wanted to give an update about what’s been happening behind the scenes in my world as well.
The Inkwell, which happens every Wednesday, is an opportunity for us to gather together to connect, to network as Christian writers. We share insights, we share writing events that are going on in our areas, we share tips. And, of course, we write. The whole purpose of The Inkwell is to provide us with time to write and work on those works in progress. It’s accountability. And it’s just a wonderful time to get the work done. So today, we discussed how to avoid overusing a character’s name and its associated pronouns. Every week, we share whatever questions or things that are going on in our writing and we talk about them. That’s another reason to join into The Inkwell – to ask those questions and get some answers from fellow writers.
Last week, during a coaching call I had with a client, I walked her through the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditionally publishing, and also answered some of her questions about marketing and how she can tweak her website to improve book sales that way. We discussed a few other little things. But the strategy coaching calls are
- 20 minutes of answering your top pressing needs and concerns about your book, and then
- helping to set you up with a plan to move forward and
- make progress with your book and your marketing.
And then today, a writer asked my opinion about book size over in the DMs in Instagram. Instagram is my social media platform of choice; DM me your general questions and tell me what are you working on! I would love to hear from you.
Free Book Promo Opportunity for Your Book(s)!
Also, I wanted to make sure that I reminded you that I am offering a free promotional opportunity for any Christian books that you may have published in the past, whether it’s a Christian theme, if it’s fiction, or a devotional, or a how-to, or whatever kind of Christian book you’ve written. I want to know about it!
If it’s independent or traditionally published, either one, send to me:
- your name,
- the book title,
- a blurb about the book (back cover blurb),
- a link so I can see the cover and also ideally, so I can read first chapter or sample.
Be sure to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can take a look at those and curate a list of books that I am going to distribute in November.
I’m going to share about the books here on a podcast episode in November as well as with my private list of readers; my mailing list of readers that I have accumulated.
So if you haven’t already taken me up on this offer, get to work! It’s a fantastic offer for you to be able to get your book seen by new readers.
Next Week’s Guest
Be sure to tune back in next week when we will have another guest on the show. I will be featuring Kent Sanders, who is a fellow author and he’s going to be speaking with us specifically about generosity and the importance of generosity as a writer.
It’s a really great discussion, so be sure to subscribe to the Ink and Impact podcast on your podcast player of choice or at inkandimpact.com.
Sponsor: The One-Year Collection of Weekly Writing Prompts
This episode of Ink and Impact has been brought to you by The One-Year Collection of Weekly Writing Prompts: Write Your Life Story, One Question at a Time.
This the book that I created to help individuals write their life story. It’s specifically targeted for individuals who want to write the life story, but they don’t know how to get started, or they aren’t sure what to include.
Simply answer one question a week and then you will have the foundation of your life story at the end of a year.
It’s a wonderful gift for yourself and it’s a fantastic gift for a family member or loved one – someone that means much to you.
It’s a great way for them to create a lasting legacy.
Be sure to subscribe to Ink and Impact on your podcast player of choice (if you haven’t already!) or you can always go to the Ink and Impact.com website.
That’s it for today fellow pen pusher.
Remember, don’t just write a book. Make an impact.