From the Desk of the Sales Manager: The “Recommendation Ripple Effect”

Mens Book and Bible StudyAs the Sales Manager at Xulon Press, I love talking to authors about their books and helping them learn how to become successful as Christian authors. It’s not easy to go from an unknown writer to an author who is gaining notice and sales. The most important word that I teach new authors when it comes to getting their book to sell is the word Recommendation. When we track the journey of any new book that has become a best-seller, we always find that the book is being heavily recommended. How many books have you bought or read because someone recommended it? It can be a subtle, like accidentally overhearing someone raving about their favorite title, or as direct as someone handing you a copy to make sure you read it. There are small recommendations from personal friends, and large, booming ones from pastors or famous leaders. No matter how you slice it, books are really sold by readers who like them enough to recommend them to someone else.

4 Ways to get your book recommended:

1.  Editing.  You are the writer and the creator of your book. God gave you the idea, the story and the ending. While you are the writer, you should probably not be the editor. Nothing can broaden your book’s chances at getting noticed like good editing can. A good editor can take your story and make it a readable work of art that flows with power and simplicity. In short, there is never a substitute for good editing. Statistics show again and again that there are a lot of books floating around with great truths, but they are shipwrecked by poor or nonexistent editing.  You’ve worked hard to write the book that God has given you; make sure that you give it the editing that it deserves. You will never regret having your book turned into a masterpiece! It may be the biggest key to getting solid recommendations.

2.  Marketing.  For the unknown author, the first step or goal in marketing isn’t sales. Sales may be the end result that each author seeks, but before one can really see sales climb a new readership has to be developed. Many times I meet authors who think marketing=sales. While that is true to a point, the real equation is marketing=readers=sales. Marketing for the new author is simply connecting your book with new readers who will enjoy it and in turn tell others about it. There have been stories of new and unknown authors becoming best-sellers all from word of mouth. That first group of readers may only be 15 to 20 people, but just do the math: if those 15 to 20 readers tell at least 5 other people then that could take it from 20 sales to over a 100. That’s the power of marketing!  Whether it’s a banner ad or a custom video, all of these tools can be used to help the author discover and reach a new readership for their book.

3.  Free Books.  Some of the most successful authors get their book noticed by giving away copies. I know one author who purchases thousands just to give them away. His reason? To cultivate a readership who will like his book so much that they tell others about it. The investment can pay off in book sales. I experienced this firsthand: years ago I was given a book titled Hearing God by Peter Lord. I can’t remember who gave me the book, but I loved it and so did my wife. We ended up using it to teach the college-age Bible study that was meeting in our home. I think we bought 15 copies and charged the kids only $5 for each book. It was so successful that we did it again with another group. Several members of the group eventually went into the ministry. Years later one of those kids asked about the book that we used to teach him and the others on hearing God’s voice. That young leader went on to order more of the books for his church. I can’t tell you for sure, but I would guess that the ripple effect of that first Bible study has produced over 200 sales of the same book. If you want to increase your recommendations, you will need to give some books away.

4.  Ask for Feedback.  Finally, if you would like for people to consider recommending your book you need to ask them!  Post a link on your facebook account asking for reviews on Amazon. “You have not because you ask not,” takes on new meaning when it comes to getting feedback and recommendations! I know an author who gives away copies, asking readers to give a review in writing or over the phone which they in turn post on their website.  Ask for feedback and expect others to help you get your book noticed.

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About the Author ()

Donald Newman, Director of Sales for Xulon Press, has over 20 years experience working with Christian authors and editors. As a Pastor for that same time, Don truly believes that every Christian book has the ability to minister to each one who reads it.

“You just never know what a book can do. One book can change thousands of lives and other times we see where one book can change one life that changes thousands of lives. Just look at the many books that have touched more than one generation. Nothing has the ability of touching many generations for God like a well written Christian book.”

Don leads and manages the sales team at Xulon with this one thought in mind…”Books change lives everyday”. At Xulon Press we are in the business of changing lives, one book at a time.

Comments (3)

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  1. avatar Roz Ridenoure says:

    Hello Mr. Newman. Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your blog! This is a first for me, first time I’ve read a blog, first time I’ve commented on a blog and the first time I’ve published a book, (Just a Little Donkey). Everyone at Xulon Press has been great. I will be at the Trade show next week. I am looking forward to meeting some of the Xulon staff. Thanks, Roz

  2. avatar Kim Fletter says:

    Hi Mr. Newman!
    I really like your ideas and agree! Thank you for writing this blog. My book is at Xulon’s Editorial Services Dept. as of this morning, and I’m just starting to seriously work on the merchandising aspect of it. I have a Facebook page and I ask if you can explain about what you said – “Posting a link on your Facebook account asking for reviews on Amazon?”
    Thanks for the beautiful reminder that “You just never know what a book can do. One book can change thousands of lives.” That is my goal and I thank and praise the Lord for Xulon and all the staff that works so hard at keeping that goal in the forefront.
    God bless all the work of your hands as He has so promised. Deut. 28:12

  3. Great write up! Keep it up brother.

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