Who Is Your Sanballat ?

When Sanballat heard that we were building the wall of Jerusalem, he was very angry and upset. He started making fun of the Jews.  Sanballat talked with his friends and the army at Samaria and said, “What are these weak Jews doing? Do they think we will leave them alone? Maybe they think they can finish building in only one day. They cannot bring stones back to life from these piles of trash and dirt. These are just piles of ashes and dirt!”

This month I’m reading Nehemiah during my devotional time. On February 21, as I studied Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, I felt God prompting me to ask: “Lord, who is my Sanballat?”

We all have some adversary who tries to discourage us — a negative voice that seeks to destroy our work.  Many times our enemies gossip and slander in the shadows, working in stealth-mode.  I rarely pay attention to what others say about me or LPC.  As long as I’m doing God’s work, His opinion is the only one that matters.  But that February morning while I read how Nehemiah sought to rebuild the wall, I felt called to pray for insight into any unseen attacks lodged against our work.

Yesterday, as I prepared to leave the Florida Christian Writers Conference,  an individual sought me out to warn me that someone at the conference had told others: “Signing with LPC will kill your writing career.”  This Sanballat claimed that authors who signed with small publishers would never generate enough book sales to earn the respect and attention of a larger house.  Literary agents and large publishing houses DO look at sales numbers.  Your book’s sales and reviews are two indicators of how well your writing resonates with readers.

But if an author cannot succeed with a small press they probably will not succeed with a large house.  Jesus said as much when he shared the story of the talents.  Every “one talent” book contract is a chance to succeed.  Make the most of that opportunity and more chances will come your way.

A small press is a great place to learn how the publishing process works and what’s expected of the author.  Yes, it’s minor league ball, but you’re in the game.  You are learning what it takes to become a successful author.  If you are humble enough to start with a small press, odds are you will learn sooner rather than later how to control your ego, work with your editors, and treat your writing as a product you create, not an extension of yourself.

If you can afford to wait five years … ten years … longer … to land that three-book contract with one of the Big Five houses, God bless you.  That’s a noble goal and one I applaud.  Just know that the same hard work required to succeed with a small press is necessary with a large house.  In fact, the work and expectations are greater.

One final comment about the Sanballats in our lives: In chapter three of Nehemiah there is a verse that shows the corrosive influence of those who gossip and slander in secret.  “Their nobles did not lift a finger to help their supervisors.” – Nehemiah 3:5.  Notice how the nobles, those who believed themselves too good to get their hands dirty, refused to work.  This, too, is a consequence of listening to the Sanballats around us.  Not only do they seek to discourage those hard at work — they destroy the work ethic of others.

Refuse to listen to the Sanballats in your life.  They come only to steal and kill and destroy.  Work where you are, make the most of every opportunity, and leave the results to God.

 

Book Publishing News – 09/15/17

Book Publishing News - 09/15/17Barnes & Noble Same-Store Sales Slide 4.4%

Overall sales fell 6.6% while same-store sales dropped 4.4%.“Barnes & Noble continues to struggle with the sea change in the book industry as Amazon.com now controls the majority of the market and has even begun challenging B&N in the brick-and-mortar world with its own stores,” The Motley Fool said. Read more …

Former WaterBrook & Multnomah Publisher Alex Field Launches New Literary Agency

Alexander Field, former VP & Publisher at WaterBrook & Multnomah, launched a new literary agency and consulting agency. The Bindery is an ambitious, full-service literary agency working closely with authors to set big goals, shape their book ideas, create robust book proposals, and build a marketing and platform strategy, long before anything hits an editor’s desk. Read more …

 

Baker Publishing and Book House Create e-commerce Site

Baker Publishing Group and independent Christian bookstore Baker Book House launched a new online website www.bakerbookhouse.com that offers the discounts and online shopping. The website features products from all BPG divisions—Baker Academic, Baker Books, Bibles, Brazos Press, Bethany House, Chosen, and Revell.

Authors Question the Novel’s Future in the Face of Declining Attention Spans

During BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program Robert Harris argued that novels have “moved away from the central position in our culture.” Claire Messud suggested that “maybe in 50 years there won’t be novels” due to perceived declining attention spans in readers. Presenter John Humphrys quizzedHarris on whether the novel could compete with other mediums.Humphrys said “You’re slightly anxious – is that the right word – for the future of the novel set against opposing attractions? Read more …

 

Print, Audiobook Sales Up – eBook Sales Slide

publishers reported higher sales of print books and downloadable audio, while e-book sales continued to slump. With a good, if not great, first half of 2017 behind them, publishers are cautiously optimistic about the remainder of the year. In his letter to PRH employees about the first half results, Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle cautioned that, “we face a marketplace heavy with unrelenting new-title competition each week and a crowded media landscape with constantly breaking news and attention-grabbing headlines.” Read more ...

Book Publishing News 08/18/17

Carol Award Finalists

Historical: Starving Hearts by Janine Mendenhall, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, editors Ann Tatlock and Amberlyn Dwinnell

Debut: You’re the Cream in my Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, editor Kathryn Davis

Speculative: The Healer’s Rune (Young Adult Fantasy) by Lauricia Matuska, Brimstone Fiction, editors Rowena Kuo and Eddie Jones (Brimstone is now its own house under Ro’s management)

Read more …

 

Silver Scroll Merit Awards

Silver Scroll Merit Awards for Fiction went to Marilyn Turk for The Gilded Curse from Heritage Beacon Fiction. Congrats also to Edie Melson for her novel, Alone, and nonficiton book, While My Child is Away.

 

Good news! B&N met their profit goals. Bad news! Sales fall 6.5 percent. 

The 6 percent drop in book sales is partly due to lower sales of coloring books and juvenile titles. B&N expects the sales decline to continue in 2018.


Marketing Tips

What would happen if you spent $100k on Facebook ads?

One tip?  Create video specifically for Facebook Ads.

Book Publishing News 07/15/17

Exclusive News Excerpt from The Hot Sheet

(enjoy this article from The Hot Sheet)

A Potentially Beneficial New Road Opens in Email Newsletter Advertising

When talking recently with UK-based historical fiction writer Jane Steen, we learned not only that she’s had a good experience with the email newsletter advertising service BookBub (as most indie authors do), but that she’s spotted another venue with some promise.

Before we discuss that new venue, here’s a quick overview of Steen’s experience with BookBub: after she was featured in their newsletter, she says she netted “well over $10,000 … in a month of extra sell-through” for the $410 cost of her advertisement for the first book (which is free) in a series. When we asked BookBub’s Katie Donelan about this kind of response, she said Steen used several particularly savvy approaches, including marketing a series. Donelan says, “94 percent of BookBub authors who discount a book in a series sell more copies of other books in the series during the promotion. And making a first book in series free is one of the most successful strategies they use. First, we see 10 times the downloads on free books that we do on 99-cent books. On top of that, we see five-times-higher sales of other books in a series when the first book is offered—compared to any other book in the series—and we see eight-times-higher sales of other books when the featured book is free.” We’ll write up more insights from Donelan in a future issue.

After the successful BookBub run, Open Road Integrated Media offered to advertise Steen’s books in their newsletters. Open Road is the leading curated backlist house founded by that other Jane Friedman, the former CEO of HarperCollins. Open Road offers ebook editions of more than 10,000 titles from some of the greatest authors and estates in the business.

In the last couple of years, Open Road has found success by creating special-interest, content-driven websites and corresponding newsletters:EarlyBirdBooks.comThe-Line-Up.com, and ThePortalist.com. Open Road just passed the million-subscriber mark on their newsletters, and their sites have more than 1.4 million unique visitors per month.

They now plan to launch three additional websites and email newsletters:

  • Love So True (for romance readers, of course)

  • Murder & Mayhem (for mystery and thriller readers)

  • The Archive (for history and nonfiction consumers)

Open Road is including ads in their newsletters and tells The Hot Sheet that they’re particularly interested in working with self-published material. Here’s a link with information. They do check for a quality level they feel comfortable with, and they write the copy for the ads themselves, ensuring a professional tone consistent with each newsletter’s voice and style.

There are a few restrictions. For example, the free first-in-series book that Steen advertised with BookBub would not have flown with Open Road, which isn’t accepting ads for free books; a book must cost 99 cents or more to be eligible.

Mary McAveney, Open Road’s executive vice president for marketing, says the largest of the newsletters in operation, Early Bird Books (with 750,000 subscribers), typically produces what she describes as “a 1000 percent or more increase over baseline sales” in the days following an ad run. There’s also an increase in sales of an author’s other titles, with associated boosts in sales rankings and reviews on retail sites. Seventy-five percent of Early Bird readers are 45 and older; 80 percent of them are female; they are primarily US-based.

McAveney tells The Hot Sheet, “What it comes down to is that we’re solving our own marketing challenges here. We have to create our own earned media with these newsletters, and it helps our audience even more if we can put more good titles in front of them. Our point is to continue to build this community of readers, who are coming in through their genre preferences and staying with us.”

Bottom line: The price to place an ad in the Early Bird Books newsletter is $180. That sounds like a great rate to us, especially because an ad in an Open Road Integrated Media newsletter puts a title in the company of some of the biggest and best work in the canon. It’s no surprise to us, in fact, that publishers (including Workman and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) are using these newsletters as avenues to reach readers. Contact Open Road at promotion@openroadmedia.com to get more information.

Book Publishing News 06/23/17

Do You Have the Swagger of a Buffalo?

During our trip out West to Yellowstone I was struck by how confident bison are. They graze near roads, relax next to fire hydrants, and seem unconcerned with how they disrupt traffic. When you’re big and strong you can act with confidence. May God give you His peace, protection, and strength to move with confidence against the disruptive forces in your life. ~ EJ

Christian Fiction Keeps Its Allure

Despite some challenges, the category keeps drawing in publishers—and readers

“Publishing Christian fiction can pay, and pay big, but it’s harder than ever to succeed in the category, publishers say. Many companies have abandoned Christian fiction in recent years and others have cut title output, which can make it seem as though the market is contracting. While Christian fiction seems to be healthy and even growing slightly, just three publishers now take almost half the market,” write Lynn Garrett of Publishers Weekly. “And just a few authors—such as Karen Kingsbury (Brush of Wings) and Wm. Paul Young (The Shack)—tend to dominate sales. In 2017, the prolific Kingsbury has two new titles coming, and, with a just-released movie version of The Shack, Young is doing a booming backlist business. Read the full article.

Record Few Americans Believe Bible Is Literal Word of God

Story Highlights

  • 24% believe Bible is literal word of God, the lowest in Gallup’s 40-year trend
  • View of Bible as secular stories and history at 26%, up from 21% in 2014
  • The largest segment, 47%, still think Bible is inspired word of God

“Fewer than one in four Americans (24%) now believe the Bible is “the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally, word for word,” similar to the 26% who view it as “a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.” This is the first time in Gallup’s four-decade trend that biblical literalism has not surpassed biblical skepticism. Meanwhile, about half of Americans — a proportion largely unchanged over the years — fall in the middle, saying the Bible is the inspired word of God but that not all of it should be taken literally.” Read the full story.

Is Mass Market Dying, Or Just Evolving—Again?

“Shelf space for mass market books has indeed continued to shrink in the mass merchandise accounts,” said Jennifer Long, associate publisher at Pocket Books. “This has had little impact on top-tier authors, as they are still given shelf space; however, it does present a challenge for lesser known authors.”

“In steady decline for years, the format is either enduring an incredibly slow death or has begun to right itself in the market,” writes Rachel Deah of Publishers Weekly. “Although the reports of mass market’s death have been greatly exaggerated, the format has been struggling. According to NPD BookScan, which tracks roughly 80% of print sales, mass market titles accounted for 13% of total print units sold in 2013; that figure dropped to 9% last year.” Read the full article.

 

Book Publishing News 06/16/17

Book Publishing News 06:16:17Want to Make a $100k as an Author?
8 Things Every Author Should Know

Last year Written Word Media conducted an extensive author survey to discover the strategies and tactics of successful authors. They focused on emerging authors and financially successful authors, isolating what the financially successful authors do differently than the emerging authors. This year WWM tweaked the survey to reflect changes in the publishing industry.

Last year WWM looked at authors earning over $5,000 per month vs. lower earning authors. This year, they compared authors making over $100,000 in a single year vs. authors who earn less than $500 / month from book sales.  Approximately 11% authors surveyed fell into the 100K bucket. Click here to read how these top authors make a living as full-time writers.

Thomas Nelson Launches New Imprint

Thomas Nelson recently introduced Emanate Books, its new charismatic Christian publishing imprint. The word “emanate” means, “something abstract, but perceptible, that spreads out from a source.” This new imprint will publish books that emanate God’s love to a hurting world. Emanate Books will bring twelve titles to market in its first year, beginning with “The Azusa Street Mission and Revival.” Read more.

HarperCollins Christian Gives Independent Christian Retailers a Boost

To support the successful health and growth of independent brick-and-mortar retailers in the Christian industry, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (HCCP) and The Parable Group have deepened their relationship in recent months giving retailers an added boost. Not only is HarperCollins Christian Publishing supporting nearly 90% of The Parable Group Summer Catalog (which celebrates “independents” and shopping local), HCCP also provided postage for stores to mail deeper into their customer list. All participating stores increased their catalog distribution, and 10 stores added the summer promotion due to HCCP’s generosity. Read more.

Digital Book World Reports an Increase in Audiobook Sales

  • “Twenty-four percent of Americans have completed at least one audiobook in the last year, a 22 percent increase over the prior year.”

  • There has been a jump in smartphone listening, up to 29 percent in 2017, as opposed to 22 percent in 2015.

  • Fifty-six percent of survey respondents said that when they listen to audiobooks, they’re not doing anything else, “just listening.” This finding seems to contradict not only the common assumption that audio fans listen while doing other things (driving, working out, dog walking), but also the APA’s own survey result in which 78 percent of respondents said they enjoy listening to audiobooks “because you can do other things while listening.”

  • When it comes to those who do multitask while listening to audiobooks, “A majority of audiobook listening is done at home (57 percent), with the car as the second most frequently cited location (32 percent).”

  • This year’s survey for the first time asked about voice-enabled devices such as Amazon’s Echo with the Alexa software and Google Home. Nineteen percent said they’d listened to an audiobook with one of these devices.

The report also cites podcasts’ popularity as a “gateway” to audiobook listenership.

Does Amazon Have a Fake Book Problem?

Indie author David Gaughran shares the latest analysis and effort to address bad actors in the Amazon system.

Free promotions are one of the perks of going exclusive with Amazon, and an incredibly powerful marketing tool. Free runs can provide significant exposure, which leads to a bump in Kindle Unlimited page reads a few days later. They can also be useful by boosting sell through in a series, or by generating mailing list sign-ups for future launches. As such, authors invest significant resources in free runs, and those places in the Top 20 are high-visibility spots – i.e. incredibly valuable real estate.

“But ebook thieves make a stolen book free for a few days, and then use a variety of banned methods to generate a huge and immediate surge in downloads – generally suspected to be bots or clickfarms or dummy accounts, or some combination thereof. These fake (stolen) ebooks then suddenly jump into the Top 20 of the free charts, displacing authors who have gone to considerable effort to put together an advertising campaign for their work.”

Read how this might impact your ebook’s sales.

Mary Keeley Leaves Books & Such Literary Management

Books & Such Literary Management announced Mary Keeley’s departure from publishing early today, June 5, 2017.  Keeley has been a part of the publishing industry for nineteen years. She began at Tyndale House Publishers where she worked for eight years, first as a product manager, then as an administrator, and finally as an acquisitions editor for nonfiction. Read more.

AWSA Announces Golden Scroll Award Finalists

AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) announced their finalists for the 2017 Golden Scroll Awards for Publisher, Editor and Fiction Editor of the Year. The winners will be announced at the 2017 Golden Scroll Awards Banquet to be held Tuesday, June 27th from 11:00 to 2:00 p.m. at the Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati in conjunction with Unite the CBA Christian International Retail Show.

The Fiction Editor of the Year finalists are Ann Tatlock of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (Heritage Beacon), Lisa McCaskill of Pelican Book Group (White Rose), and Katie Morford of Silver Fern Creative Services, LLC.

Non-Fiction Editor of the Year finalists are Hope Lyda of Harvest House Publishers, Steve Barclift of Kregel Publications and Deb Haggerty of Elk Lake Publishing.

Honored for outstanding ministry partnerships with their authors, the Golden Scroll Publisher of the Year finalists are Kregel Publications, Leafwood Publishers and Moody Publishers.

Amazon Will Be the Fifth Largest Bookstore Chain

A combination of bookstore attrition and its own startup efforts will make Amazon Books the fifth largest general bookstore chain in the U.S. based on the number of outlets.  Amazon Books has opened seven outlets with confirmed plans to open six more before the end of the year. Amazon Books’ growth comes amidst the steady decline in the number of bookstore chains. In 1991, there were 11 chains that had 13 or more outlets, with total outlets topping 3,000. In 2017, the top five chains had 1,076 outlets. Since 2011 store outlets have fallen by 32%. Read more.

Music Musings

  • Decline of music recording industry revenue per year for past 16 years: 4%
  • Growth of music recording industry revenue in 2016: 11%
  • Percentage of revenue from subscriptions and streaming in 2016: 50%+

Marketing Tips

  • How authors can best work with independent bookstores. A panel at BEA offered advice for both traditionally published and self-published authors. Read in Shelf Awareness.

  • Top book marketing takeaways from Book Expo. The folks at BookBub attended BookExpo and have summarized key findings helpful to authors. Read at their blog.

  • Why books are rejected for a BookBub featured deal. A couple of the reasons include poor cover and lack of wide distribution or availability. Other reasons include:

    • “We look at pricing history for the past 90 days, try raising that title’s price and resubmit in three months.”
    • “If multiple reviews mention typos, grammatical errors, that the book feels incomplete, or that the story ends in a huge unresolved cliffhanger, that will negatively impact a book’s chance of being selected.”
    • “The book doesn’t have enough reviews on retailer sites to make them competitive in their categories, nor do they have blurbs from publications or comparable authors. This will make a book less appealing to our readers, which means the submission is less likely to be accepted by the editors.”

    Read more at 9 Reasons a Book Was Rejected for a BookBub Featured Deal.

  • Also: BookBub now offers pre-order alerts. You can now pay BookBub to send a dedicated email to all of your BookBub followers. Only open right now to US authors with at least 1,000 followers. Learn more here.

Book Publishing News 05/26/17

LPC Books Wins Two Selah Awards at the BRMCWC

LPC authors at BRMCWCHer Deadly Inheritance by Beth Ann Ziarnik took first place in the “First Novel” category and A Heart Set Free by Janet S. Grunst won first place in “Historical Romance.” Congratulations to Beth and Janet and all the LPC authors who placed in the final round of the Selah’s. Great job!

Harlequin Closes Its Love Inspired Historical Imprint

Harlequin recently announced that it is phasing out Love Inspired Historical (their Inspirational Historical imprint), and four other lines.  In a statement from Loriana Sacilotto, Executive Vice President of Global Publishing, Sacilotto said, “In the face of this ever-changing (retail) environment we are shifting resources from a few series that have been in decline and focusing our efforts on the series that are the most popular with readers and booksellers.” LPC Books continues to find success in its two historical imprints, Heritage Beacon Fiction and Smitten Historical Romance.

How to Grade an Author’s Marketing Ability

Rob Eagar writes, “Recently, I worked with a first-time author who received a six-figure advance from his publisher. But, halfway through writing the book, the author decided he no longer felt interested in the process, turned in a bland manuscript, changed jobs, ignored the book’s release, and cost the publisher thousands of dollars.” Read more to see if you are an author who failed the first grade of your new publishing career …

Are Mass Market Books Dying?

Mass market paperback books are printed for large audiences cheaply. They are smaller, usually 4 inches wide by 7 inches tall, and the text is in a smaller font. These smaller sized books are often called pocket books, and they do fit easily into a purse or a back pocket.

“In steady decline for years, the format (mass market) is either enduring an incredibly slow death or has begun to right itself in the market,” writes Publishers Weekly, Rachel Deahl. “According to NPD BookScan, which tracks roughly 80% of print sales, mass market titles accounted for 13% of total print units sold in 2013; that figure dropped to 9% last year.” Read more …

Bookstore Pop-ups Keep On Popping Up

“By being a pop-up I don’t have to open a store and run the risk of failing,” says Charlie Pugsley of BookSpace in Columbus, Ohio. “I’m learning everything as I go and can apply it to the store when I open it.” Read how Pop-ups and book kiosks are transforming the bookselling business.

Barnes & Noble’s New CEO Defends Physical Bookstores

“Barnes & Noble’s new CEO, Demos Parneros, sees the new bookstores that arch-rival Amazon.com is opening as proof there is still a need and consumer appetite for brick-and-mortar book retailing. Parneros, a longtime Staples retail executive, took the reins of the largest U.S. bookstore chain in April as its fourth CEO in as many years, after serving as operations chief for five months. He’s been given the mandate to revive a brand that has struggled to claim its share of online sales, notably from Amazon.” Read how Parneros plans to revive B&N.


Tips for Marketing Your Book

Rick Snyder offers six social media marketing tips that can help you develop a framework for your book promotion.

“Growing an author platform online takes planning, time, and effort,” writes Shama Hyder, “but with a little know-how you can build an online community of your own.”

BookBaby released its free “Twitter for Authors in 10 Minutes a Day,” guide. This free PDF will help you use Twitter to connect with readers, book reviewers, fellow writers.

Learn:

  • Why Twitter is better than Facebook
  • How to compose effective tweets
  • Monitoring Twitter conversations with HootSuite and TweetDeck