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Publish Your Way! BelieversBookServices provides professional publishing services for today's independent author.




Filtering by Category: Christian Publishing

For the Love of Print

andrew mackay

I grew up with a love for print. I loved books, but I loved print itself, too. I remember visiting my dad's place of work. He was a cut-and-paste man in a print shop. If you know a little about printing, you know that hearkens back to a time before computers were the core of printing. The thing I remember most about that visit is the smells. The way we do the work may have changed, but the smell of ink and paper hasn't.

Fast-forward to the start of my publishing career. That wasn't that long ago. Believe it or not, though, at that time, eBooks weren't a consideration at all. They were simply not a thing. I've been fortunate to be at the front of the eBook revolution. It's fun, but it's not without its challenges.

Building a good publishing strategy that encompasses eBooks and print is essential to your success as a publisher. No matter your genre, eBooks have made an impact. What does vary by genre is just how much of your audience is buying eBooks. Some genres (especially over on the non-fiction side) hover at under 20%. That means without a print strategy, you're missing 80% of your market. Of course, the numbers get better in certain genres. You could reach as much as 55% of your audience with an eBook-only strategy. That's impressive, but there's still 45% of your audience being neglected.

Recently, of course, many in the industry have celebrated the apparent plateau of eBook sales numbers. There may be something to those numbers. The slowdown may also be a result of eBook prices skyrocketing in recent months. It's hard to say. One thing that seems true, at least for now, is that you need a comprehensive print and eBook strategy.

In publishing, things are always changing. The smell of a printed book hasn't changed, though. That's comforting for this son-of-a-printer.

If you need help, whether with your print strategy or your eBook strategy, we'd love to chat.

We love helping you publish.

The Value of a Writers Conference

andrew mackay

Writing is a solitary endeavor. I wonder how many times I've written those words? It's so often true. One of the things we hear routinely from new authors is "I don't know how to get good feedback on my writing."

The answer I give almost every time is, "Have you been to a good writers conference yet?"

Here are the things that happen at a good writer's conference:

- You meet writers

C. S. Lewis said "Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…'” I love watching that very thing happen at writer's conferences. You think, "I have to be the only person interested in how faith engages Zombie books." And then you get to a conference and meet 5 other people who love that conversation. It's awesome. It's good for your soul. If nothing else, you'll feel far less solitary after attending a good writers conference.

- You learn to write better

No matter what you're particular area of interest is, you'll learn how to be a better writer. There's so much information at good conferences that you'll likely feel like you're drinking from a fire house. It's great. I mean, if you're serious about writing as a professional, you should be worried about professional development. There's nothing better than a writers conference for just that.

- You interact with publishing professionals

Writers, editors, agents, oh my? Naw, even better -- you'll find out that they're all normal folks. You'll talk to editors, agents, professional, established writers, and you'll learn from them. Even if it's not time to pitch your book yet, learning from the pros will help you to do well when it IS time to pitch your work.

- You make friends beyond just the conference

I'm all about good strategy: when you're at a conference, make sure you pay attention to where people are from. Chances are, if you go to a conference that's somewhat local, you'll find other writers from your neck-of-the-woods. That's a perfect opportunity to connect beyond the conference. You can build long-term friendships that will help you, encourage you, and sharpen you as a writer.

- You get inspired

Even if you're super introverted and make it through a whole writers conference without speaking a word to someone else (Which, by the way, is... I think... impossible), you'll benefit from the sessions. You'll come away inspired to write more and write better. It will be so good for you.

So, if you haven't done it yet, find a good conference near you and schedule some time off, It'll be great for your writing career.

Classic Post: Who Are You Writing For?

andrew mackay

Editor's note: Jenni Burke from DC Jacobson & Associates wrote this post six years ago, and it remains among the posts I refer to most frequently when I'm trying to help authors develop their understanding of their own writing. It had perished in the switch to a new blogging platform, so here it is again: 

Who Are You Writing For?

Originally Posted Thu, 22 Oct 2009 
by Jenni Burke  

As Christian authors, perhaps the first response that sprang to mind when you read this headline was, “Jesus!”  But what I actually mean to ask you is this: 

When you sit down each day to work on your manuscript, do you have a specific reader pictured in your mind?

If not, you should.  

Identifying your “target market” or audience is much more than an obligatory paragraph for a book proposal. This valuable exercise will actually help you establish the tone, structure, and approach for most effectively delivering the content or characters for your book. Just as a love letter would feel cold and insincere if the writer didn’t truly know his beloved, or an important phone call would be in vain if the caller dialed the wrong number, a book will miss its mark if the author doesn’t write with her audience in mind.

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction and whether your goal is to independently publish or to land a royalty publisher, you need to develop a very clear answer to the question,

Who am I writing to?

Beware the common tendency to over generalize your audience. Our agency, DCJA, reviews myriad proposals and manuscripts that hold promise but come up short partly because they lack connection to a clearly defined target market.

Agents and editors cringe when we read sweeping statements like, “This book will appeal to everyone—men and women between 15-85 years old, Christian and non-Christian alike, and anyone who has ever wondered about God.”  

A good writer knows who his audience is (demographics) and what makes them tick (psychographics). Mike Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson, helps authors understand demographics as “external characteristics” and psychographics as “internal motivators” in his foundational article, Writing a Winning Book Proposal

We have found success using the following questions with our represented authors and consulting clients. You can apply them to your own situation to clarify your vision of who you’re writing to. I encourage you to pull out a notepad or start a fresh word-processing document and jot down your answers to these questions:

  • What is the demographic of your primary audience (e.g. gender, age, religious background, education, socio-economic status, occupation, geographical location, etc)? Describe the characteristics of your target reader.
  • What is the psychographic of your primary audience (e.g. what felt need will drive them to buy your book, why will they benefit from your book, what are their frustrations or desires, how can/have you written the book to tie in to their interests, etc)? Describe the motivations of your target reader.
  • What are the characteristics and motivations of your secondary and (if applicable) tertiary audiences? Hint: think of your primary audience as the “bulls-eye” of your target and the secondary and tertiary audiences as the next concentric circles.

And, especially if you want to pitch your book idea to an agent or estimate your book’s sales potential:

  • How many of your target readers exist? Do your research and give statistics if possible. Be realistic.
  • How will you reach them with your message? What are their shopping and buying behaviors? Will you find them at your conferences, on the internet, in book stores?

Once you have a clear picture of your target audiences in mind, you can tailor your message to deliver maximum impact. Keep their needs, interests, and behaviors before you as you write and plan, then periodically check in to make sure you stay on track. Ask people you respect who fit your target market “profile” to honestly review your work (not just family and friends).

A real-life example of understanding your audiences’ needs is found in a nonfiction book DCJA recently placed with a major Christian publisher, Escaping the Vampire. The book’s primary audience is teen girls who love the Twilight series. The secondary audience is teen girls who are unsure about Twilight but do read Christian books. And the tertiary audience is parents and youth ministers seeking to connect with their Twilight-obsessed teens. Envisioning these three unique yet intermingled types of reader, you can imagine the implications the author had to balance while writing this book (and the opportunities her marketing team had in promoting it)! She needed to open girls’ eyes to their true Hero, Christ, without alienating the “Twilighters” who would slam the book shut if they sensed it bashing their beloved Edward Cullen. By understanding the tensions and desires in her readers’ hearts and cultural context, she was able to present the vital truth of Christ’s love and reveal common “life-sucking” deceptions in a way each of her audience groups would receive.  

Another one of our authors even cut out a magazine picture of a person who represented his “bulls-eye” reader and placed it in a frame on his desk. Now that is a way to visualize who you are writing for!  

QUESTION: What challenges or successes have you encountered in defining a target audience for your book? We look forward to hearing your perspective.

Now Available for Download: The Hidden Hazards of Grammar!

andrew mackay

When we say we want to help you publish, whether you work with us or not, we mean it. One of the ways we try to help is by working with some of our favorite people to create free resources that will help you write / publish / market / connect better.

This month, we're offering the Hidden Hazards of Grammar as our free download. It's written by Joyce K. Ellis, who has forgotten more about grammar than I'll ever know. We'd love for you to go download it now. 

We love helping you publish!

- Andrew Mackay
VP - Publishing Services

Don't make this mistake: Demanding Reviews

andrew mackay

Today's post is an excerpt from The Hidden Hazards of Reviews, by Shelley Hitz and  Heather Hart at . You can download the whole thing for another few days here.

Demanding Reviews

Authors risk coming across as overconfident — especially in soliciting book reviews. We may assume that everyone will love our book as much as we do, then unintentionally start acting like everyone owes us a review or mention. Nobody likes a braggart. Remember, reviewers are doing you a favor.

Tip: Be humble and value a book reviewer’s time as you approach them. Easy ways to do this:

  •     Ask first. Never send a review copy without permission. 
  •     If the reviewer has a blog where they review books, check for submission guidelines before e-mailing. 
  •     Be willing to accept no as an answer.
  •     Never guilt someone into reviewing your book. It’s unprofessional and can harm you in the long run.

These will help you win friends and fans instead of push readers away.