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.

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

Listing Your First Goodreads Giveaway

Create buzz for an upcoming book by listing a 3-day giveaway for free physical books on Goodreads. First fill out and submit a brief form describing your book and the timeframe for the giveaway.

YourFirstGoodreadsGiveaway

Agree to supply the indicated number of books on the date the giveaway ends. In the Publisher url field, include your book’s Amazon (short) link, like so: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0310723922/. Include your book’s search / meta tags: romance, suspense, inspirational, autism, etc.

Goodreadsgiveaway

Explain who you are and who you work for. Please also provide a valid mailing address that confirms who you work for so they can be sure you will ship the books.

This address will not be shown to giveaway contestants.

Goodreads will list (for free) the book on its giveaways page.

Goodreads’ members will then enter to win giveaways. Many will add the book to their “to read” shelf. This is the real gold in Goodreads’ giveaways. Since readers may have lots of books on their virtual shelves, this is one way for yours to be seen by thousands of potential readers.

Goodreads reviews the list of those who requested the free book and selects winners.

Author ships free book to winner.

That’s it!

You only need to offer one copy.  If you have many copies to offer, I suggest running additional giveaways rather than offering all of them at once.

Let readers know you’ll be providing an autographed copy.  Include the words “AUTOGRAPHED COPY” in all caps at the top of the giveaway description box. Similarly, if your giveaway is for an ARC (Advance Readers Copy), say so. Readers love to have the first look at new titles.

Make your giveaway description compelling. It’s tempting to copy and paste your back-cover copy into the giveaway description box. Don’t! If readers want a synopsis, they can easily click over to your book listing on Goodreads  to learn more.

  • Mention that it’s an AUTOGRAPHED COPY (yes, all caps)
  • Add a catchy tagline: #1 Best Seller in Amazon’s Christmas category
  • List awards for your book
  • List any awards you may have won (Christy-winner, for example)
  • List praise from famous authors who endorsed the book
  • List links for more info: Visit www.myauthorswebdomainname.com to learn more about this book

Reach out to winners. When your giveaway ends, Goodreads  will send you a notification and a link to click to view the winner’s name and address. You can also click on the winner’s name to visit his/her Goodreads  profile. Send a message congratulating the winner and telling him or her when the copy will be mailed out.

Send book(s) promptly.  Deliver on your commitment, and send the book as quickly as you can.

Pulse your giveaway lengths.  Run a giveaway for only 2-3 days. In this way your book will be listed (probably) on both the newly listed and ending soon pages for the duration of your giveaway. Readers can search by genre, but many just browse. By alternating longer and shorter giveaways, you can balance cost with impact. Many short giveaways in a row may lose their potency.

Schedule your giveaways to start in the future. Don’t set up the giveaway and click for it to start immediately. Goodreads  goes through an approval process that can take a couple days. If they approve your giveaway midday, you will be lumped with the authors who scheduled theirs to start at the beginning of the day, and you will spend less time in the recently listed section. I usually schedule mine to start three business days in advance so that I know it will be ready. NOTE: Goodreads runs a thin staff on weekends, so don’t expect to submit on Friday and have them approve by Monday.

Give away as many copies as possible. If your goal is to get reviews, it makes sense to give away a lot of books. Nearly 60 percent of giveaway winners review the books they win, so the more books you offer, the more reviews you are likely to get. Contact those who DID NOT WIN and ask if they would like a complimentary copy. Check their profile first to make sure they fit your target market.

Post your Giveaway Widget on your blog, website, and Facebook page. This might spur interest in your other titles. The Giveaway Widget works by helping you reach the people most likely to enjoy your book − your fans!

The cost of a giveaway is low compared to paid advertising but don’t expect results overnight. Getting attention on Goodreads takes time, but the exposure may lead to “long-tail” sales.