Rise of Mute Spirits

Is Cancel Culture of a Demonic Nature

“While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke.” Matthew 9:32–33

The term cancel culture gets banded about daily, but perhaps the movement to silence opposing points of view is of a more demonic nature.

The Supreme Court has ruled that incitement, defamation, fraud, obscenity, child pornography, fighting words, and threats are banned speech. “The Brandenburg test was the Supreme Court’s last major statement on what government may do about inflammatory speech that seeks to incite others to lawless action. The Brandenburg test remains the standard used for evaluating attempts by the government to punish inflammatory speech, and it has not been seriously challenged since it was laid down in 1969.” – Wikipedia

Recently, however, private companies have begun to forbid speech of a certain nature (God, Jesus, certain Bible verses) that falls outside the Brandenburg test. One of the leading monitors and censors of this is Amazon. In a recent push the company began censoring ads and books that promote the transforming power of Jesus Christ. In fact  “transforming” “transformation” and “conversion” appear to be words flagged in Amazon’s algorithm. Below is a screenshot from Amazon’s ad team.

The Assault of Unclean Mute spirits

 

The offending language in this ad is the claim that God can help those struggling with addiction and find healing–which is one of the reasons Christ came.

Find healing and hope regardless of your addiction. Allow God to invade those dark thoughts that condemn you. Begin your faith journey today.

Amazon cites the ad because it targets “customers based on certain personal characteristics.”

By this standard we might expect that ads for expectant mothers to be banned. Dealing with cancer? Sorry, no ads for cancer books. Feeling a little large around the waste? No ads for dieting books.

Except on Amazon you will find ads for dieting books, and cancer books, and pregnancy books. Clearly “customers based on certain personal characteristics” is not the real culprit. If not, what is?

I suggest the offending phrase is “Allow God.” I say this because I have faced the Amazon ad censors before. When I ran Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Amazon randomly banned ads for Conversations With Jesus, a 365 day teen devotional. The approval or disapproval seemed to depend on who at Amazon read the ad that day. Amazon blocked other ads with the words “God” “Jesus” or which promoted the transforming power of Christ.

My point is not to bash Amazon. I have friends, believers in Christ, who work for Amazon. If not for Amazon, LPC would never have grown like it has. Amazon is a business. For authors and publishers, Amazon is like Rome. It makes the rules, enforces the rules, and banishes or destroys those who violate its rules.

But the day is coming, and I think soon, when Amazon will ban the Bible and all Christian content. Others claim Amazon earns too much money from Bible sales to ban it from their site. Except Amazon has already banned the Bible.

If you go to: amazon.cn and search for Bibles you will see a long list of Bibles from which to choose. This might lead you to think you can buy a Bible in China from Amazon. You cannot. Those inside China see a “no results” response to their search for the Bible. Amazon does not need the revenue from Bible and Christian book sales. Amazon needs happy customers and based on current cultural trends, most Amazon shoppers would gladly applaud Amazon for pulling Christian content from its U.S. site.

Christian authors need an alternative to Amazon, and I do not mean another store site. We need a site like Bookbub for Christian books, videos, audio, and all forms of Christian entertainment and educational material. Bookbub does not sell books; it provides information about a book and points visitors to online booksellers. This is my vision: that someone build a site like Bookbub for Christian authors.

Christian authors are represented on Bookbub but we are one small segment of their platform. Some have suggested Christian authors simply point to Christianbooks.com. Christianbooks.com carries a nice selection of titles, but their policy (according to my last correspondence with Spring Arbor distributors) is that Christianbooks.com only carries Christian content. If a Christian author writes a general market novel that does not offer a salvation message, the title is rejected. I applaud the work of Christianbooks.com, but its exclusivity would leave too many Christian authors without a way to make their books found.

Thus the need for a site where authors can feature all works that honor and respect God and Christ, offer online chats with readers, stream live video events, feature video trailers and promotions, and publicize events. Imagine if Goodreads married Bookbub and their offspring produced a site similar in appearance to Amazon but without the commerce aspect. That is my vision.

In March 70 AD God’s people thought the protection and peace they enjoyed would continue to last. The destruction that followed was one half of a prophetic warning from Christ. The rest of his warning remains for some date in the future. “There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” Matthew 24:21

For those who have their ears to the ground, we hear the distant thud-thud-thud of Romans soldiers approaching. Let us prepare while there is still time.

 

Find healing and hope regardless of your addiction. Allow God to invade those dark thoughts that condemn you. Begin your faith journey today.By the way the book Amazon refused to advertise is: Faith House: A Journey of Faith In Addiction Recovery. Nice book, nice author, and a believer trusting God for provision and sales.

Marketing Your Book With Amazon Ads

Marketing Your Book With Amazon Ads

Amazon’s advertising business is booming during the pandemic. It’s growing faster than its retail, cloud computing, and Prime subscription divisions—and chipping away at Google’s dominant position. – Financial Times

“Enormous power consolidated around a small number of major online platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google will jeopardize future independence for authors. These dominant platforms wield their supreme power to stand between you and your audience. We’ve traded one group of authoritarian overlords for another. These platforms are the new gatekeepers for indie authors. And access comes at a cost: advertising. – Mark Coker, CEO and founder at Smashwords

I was an early advocate of advertising books with Amazon ads. In my experience, the most effective and economical marketing solution for making a book known is with Amazon ads. When I ran LPC, Amazon ads served as our core marketing strategy. Our goal was to receive $1 in revenue for every 30 cents invested. Many times we could invest as little as fifteen cents to earn $1. Those days are gone. Now many Amazon ads only break even (invest $1, receive back $1). Still, if your goal is to make your book known and you do not mind losing some money in the process, Amazon ads remain a good option.

Based on my experience Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are poor ad dollar investments. This makes sense when you think about. These platforms appeal to a large audience. With Amazon ads you target readers of print and Kindle ebooks and from within that market, you aim for niche category readers.

Bookbub is another advertising option, though again I have found Bookbub ads to be less effective than Amazon. Bookbub also lacks the granular diversity necessary to tailor your book’s add to a specific set of readers. For example, YA and middle grade are two segments, but there is no genre distinctions beyond age. An ad for a YA coming-of-age novel will appear along side YA mystery and romance novels.

All the things that worked in the past to drive sales:
  • Amazon Ads
  • Bookbub ads
  • KDP free days
  • KDP countdown days
  • Email newsletter promotions
  • Free audiobook codes
  • Publisher Rocket ebook and print keywords research
  • Facebook launch
  • Rafflcopter
  • Ask David tweets
  • Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Parlor tweets
  • BookFunnel for reviews

no longer return the results author’s enjoyed in years past. This is not surprising. With social media and the Internet, that new thing that worked for you on Friday is shared over the weekend with friends and by Monday all the world is adopting your strategy.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what works and does not.

Book Publishing News 03/03/17

the Big Boys are coming after the IndiesPenguin Random House Sales Decline Almost 10 Percent in 2016

Recently the biggest of the Big Five publishers, Penguin Random House, reported that sales dropped 9.6 percent in 2016. The decline is directly related to the drop in ebook sales in 2016.

According to their annual report, the company plans to employ a “differentiated pricing” strategy. This may mean Penguin Random House could begin to compete with small presses and Indie authors in the “low price” Kindle ebook market.  At the very least, it sounds like the Big Boys are coming after the Indies. Time will tell if the “Biggest of the Big Five” can adapt to the shifting landscape of the ebook market.

Barnes & Noble Continues to Close Stores;
Amazon Continues to Open Stores

“Last week, Amazon opened a store in Chicago, Illinois, its first physical bookstore not in a coastal city, and the second of the seven it plans to open this calendar year. Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble plans to open four new stores and close 12 by April 30, according to David Deason, vice president of development. It already closed the only general-interest bookstore in the New York City borough of the Bronx. Last fiscal year the company closed eight locations.” Read the full article.

Amazon Announces Its Influencer Program

The Amazon Influencer Program is exclusively designed for social media influencers with large followings and a high frequency of posts with shoppable content. An intuitive vanity URL makes it easy for customers to find, browse and buy the products introduced to them through social media influencers. The program allows influencers to earn fees for purchases they drive through their social media platforms. This program is currently in beta mode and open by invitation only.” ~ Amazon

If you are a social media influencer interested in joining Amazon’s Influencer Program, click to apply.

 

Tips for Marketing Your Book

 

Readers are Leaders, Buy a Boy a Book

Dead Calm, Bone Dry Curse of the Black Avenger

Hooking Readers With Your Words

Hooking Readers With Your WordsDuring my devotional time this morning I came across this story.

“For my tenth birthday I begged for and received a shiny new fishing pole. On my first trip to the brook, I was squeamish about pushing the worm onto the hook, so I quietly decided to use the bologna from my sandwich instead. My brother wondered why the fish were biting for him but not for me. I just held my pole up, shrugged my shoulders, and smiled. As my brother reeled in the fish and began to clean them, I had a horrible realization. If I caught a fish, I would have to do the same. I quietly pulled in my line, removed the bologna, and threw the line back in with no bait. I had decided I didn’t like fishing. It was more enjoyable to pretend to fish!” ~ Upper Room, Oct 5, 2016

Does this describe your writing career? Are you one of those authors who prefers to sit on the bank without bait on your hook?

They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
They were in a boat …  preparing their nets.
Matthew 4:18-21

Fishing for readers is hard, often messy work. We have to prepare, cast, and clean our catch. Sometimes worms drown for no good reason. And sometimes, when the tide is right, wind light, and fish hungry, we catch readers with our wormy words.

Go fish.

 

One Author’s Approach to a Successful Book Launch

Some weeks back I asked an LPC author what she did to make her book such a hot seller. Below is her detailed roadmap to success.

I have a Prayer Team–three devoted Christian prayer warriors–to whom I report almost weekly with answers to prayer and prayer requests. These three women whom the Lord put on my heart to invite immediately said yes. They have been praying for me from the time I wrote the book in earnest. Currently, I have these prayer categories (each with specific prayer requests): Agent & Publisher, WIP Novel, Web Site Etc., Speaking, Conferences, Health & Protection. Last year they prayed us through the whole process of editing, book cover, and planning for my book’s launch. This year they are praying for the writing of my new novel and for the promotions of my first LPC novel, including that God would start of wildfire of word of mouth among readers. The four of us thank God a lot for all he is doing.

Business Cards–I designed business cards online at Staples.com (500 for $10.50). They have my picture–the one that appears on the back cover of my book–on the left hand side. On the right hand side: my name in red with Author in black  beneath, then my book’s title in red with its genre in black beneath. There are four lines in black with my email address, website URL, blog address and author Facebook address. It’s a simple card with lots of white space. 

  • I place one in each of my books, handy to use as a bookmark or to contact me.
  •  I also offer the business cards to those who ask for them. This usually happens by my starting a conversation with “Do you like to read fiction?” If the answer is yes, I tell the them that my novel came out recently. If that excites them and they ask about the novel, I tell them the title and its genre at which time they scramble for a paper and pen to write the info down. That’s when I offer the card. They receive it like its a prize and some say they will tell a friend who also likes to read. This whole thing takes about 30 seconds. I keep a supply of cards handy in a leather business card holder in an outside pocket of my purse.

Thank You Letter–an 8-1/2 X 11 page with my author photo in the upper left corner followed by text where I thank them for their interest in my book and offer ideas to help spread the word if they would care to. I fold these once and insert them in each book along with the business card.

Facebook–I keep in touch with friends and family through both of my FB pages–sometimes thanking them, sometimes sharing good news, sometimes encouraging them to spread the word or write reviews. They’ve been quite kind. I also visit their pages and post comments regarding their interests. I think this has a big influence.

Website–I update it to keep visitors current on what’s happening with my writing and speaking.

My blog–I build relationships with my devotional blog. I don’t mention my book here and have a lot to do to make my blog more traffic friendly. But I have had some shares along with comments.

Blog Tour–I had so many offers to host me and my book on the bloggers’ sites. I’ve also asked a few and plan to ask more. I answer any comments. Those blog appearances seem to make a big difference.

Amazon Reviews–I encourage readers in person, by email, on Facebook, through the thank you letter–every chance I get–in a kind and non-pushy way. I think this a a big factor. I also thank reviewers and briefly answer any question they might pose. And when a reader lets me know how much they enjoyed the book, I not only thank them in all sincerity, but encourage them to use those words as a review on Amazon.

Speaking Events–I booked one a month beginning with February. Each in a different town. Other than the two launch parties in January, this is where I sell the most books. People love to have them autographed with a small personal note. Some buy multiple copies to give out to friends and relatives.

Friends & Readers–love to share online about my book so I join in those conversations when appropriate. I feel it’s all about the reader–not how many books I sell. As I care about them, they seem to spread the word about my book without any or very little encouragement from me.

God–more than anyone or anything, God deserves the credit for how book sales are going. I thank him constantly, careful not to take the credit. No matter what I do, and no matter how well I do it, I cannot make anyone follow through with a purchase. Only God can. I can pray for a wildfire of enthusiasm about my book, but only God can make it happen. I do what I can, but I look to Him to make my book succeed and bless readers.