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.

Are Amazon Ads Worth the Money?

James Patterson, the top selling author of my generation, promotes his books.An LPC author recently asked my thoughts on investing in an Amazon ad. Here is my response.

 

For every dollar you invest in your book you earn back two dollars. That’s not the case with every title, but with your book it is. (The per-click percentage for your book is actually 69.62% but I round it down to 50% because I know an ad for your book also generates “pages read” and those “pages read” earn royalties. The “pages read” royalties cannot be factored into the per-click percentage. Amazon only sees actual sales.)

“With regards to your question about spending $10 a month for an Amazon ad. That sum works out to be thirty cents a day and the per-click charge for an Amazon ad runs around fifty cents. Thus, your ad would only run for a couple of minutes each day. Basically, you’d be wasting your money. Many top-selling Indie authors spend hundreds of dollars each month on Amazon ads. These authors often own the tops spots in their book’s category.

For my own books I spend around $100 a month and my books aren’t nearly as good as yours. (Well, they may be as good, but I’m writing middle-grade fiction for boys and that’s a small market. There’s not even a category for it on Amazon. I spend the money to make my books known because I am serious about making it as a writer and in order to do that readers need to read my work and become familiar with my voice and style. )

The old business model of writing a book and hoping it sells died in 2008 with the Great Recession. Book publishers began to retreat and book stores closed. That trend continues. Authors who enjoy success today are those who invest in their careers and market the devil out of their book. Even James Patterson, the top selling author of my generation, promotes his books. He advertises on TV, YouTube, and on Amazon.

At LPC Books we seek authors who are serious about their writing. We want to launch careers, not just publish one novel for an author. If one novel is all an author wants, they should self publish. That’s the main market for self-publishing firms – the one-book author.

Write great stories, write fast, and invest in your writing career. If you aren’t willing to work hard at your craft and career, then do something else. This business is hard. Only the dedicated succeed.

And to succeed you need to sow seeds.

Here are some suggestions from Linda Glaz’s Facebook post: “Indie and smaller press authors: how have you found the marketing environment?”

“I’ve used short-term marketing like Robin Reads, EReader News Today, Faithful Reads, Bargain Booksy, Agape eBooks, ebooksHabit, etc with very minimal short-term gains. They just don’t have the volume of readership to really build your list. Marketing companies, like Ryan Zee and LitRing are great for a swift add to your newsletter list or followers.” ~ Kari Trumbo

 

Do you have a marketing tip that works? Please share!