Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Part Three, The Nuts and Bolts, A John 3:16 Marketing Network

Part 3

The Nuts and Bolts

We write what the world needs to hear even if they don’t know it. We have a story to tell and the world will literally go to hell if we don’t pen or type it (lest you think I exaggerate, I was saved by reading the Gospel of Matthew and not from someone witnessing to me).

In a sense, we are missionaries, and there is plenty of soil to be tilled, planted, and harvested. We don't know when the Lord's return will be. But I believe we can publish and get books into the marketplace far more efficiently by joining together and helping each other to achieve success.

I know today Christians help each other in various ways in the publishing and marketing world. Relationships are built over time and meaningful connections forged; but what if we had a dynamic group that would link Christian writers together and help them to launch their books? Suppose we took the model that Peggy McColl uses in the secular world and applied it to Christian authors? Could we shorten the length of time it takes an unpublished author to get published from seven years down to two years or even one?

Let's use the idea I have created for the moment—the John 3:16 Marketing Network. The name emphasizes the Christ-centeredness of the group. Say we had five hundred Christian authors who joined together on the network. We could set up a Facebook page for members. We could have a web page listing all the authors in the network along with their websites. We could have a blog to announce upcoming books on the network. That way, the John 3:16 MN authors could be sure to buy the book on the launch date, get free e-gifts, and boost the author’s book sales—if it was a book they wanted. We could send out a John 3:16 Network twitter for the author on the launch date.

Let’s take my example of attending a Christian writer's conference. I present Children of Dreams to an editor. Instead of being asked, “Do you have a platform? How are you going to market your book? Do you have a thousand email subscribers?" The editor can focus on whether my book is something he would be interested in publishing. Is Children of Dreams the type of book his boss could get excited about?

Think of all the advantages. The mainline publishing world would have more options. There would be more authors to choose from and more creative ideas for both fiction and nonfiction books. Publishers wouldn’t have to be so concerned about the bottom line if they knew a group of Christian authors with substantial contacts were going to promote their newest book. The publishing company could be assured that the author, as part of the John 3:16 Marketing Network, would be investing a lot of time to launch his book using a proven, successful method.

Everyone could be a part of it—authors, known and unknown; publishing companies; and even marketing gurus. All participants could look to the John 3:16 Marketing Network to promote their books—both POD published authors and mainstream authors. I believe God has given each author a unique story. I don't see myself in competition with anyone else. Maybe this is too simplified, but why should I be jealous of someone else's success? He is promoting the Gospel at some level if he is a Christian author, and for that I can rejoice.

A mainline publisher could be assured no matter who the author is there would be a way to get a proposed book idea noticed as a top-seller on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. A top ranking on Amazon and Barnes & Noble is one of the pathways to a “New York Times” bestseller.

In no way does this lessen the responsibility of the author marketing his book. Instead, it puts him at the forefront of efforts as the “director.” He must initiate the contact with other authors, take the time to research prospective authors, and be familiar with the types of books or articles they write. But it's within a Christian framework where authors understand how it works and are willing to be a part of a network to help a fellow Christian author.

Both POD authors and traditionally published authors would be networked. The mode of publication would be irrelevant as far as promotion. For example, perhaps an author is publishing a father’s book of poetry or a child’s book of short stories; maybe a person only wants a few copies of a family genealogy; or maybe someone needs a book done quickly for a particular event. Or suppose someone felt God was leading him to publish a book POD for reasons we may never know. Should we tell him what he is doing has no value? Or silently think his way is inferior to our way? Who are we to question what God has told someone else to do? In my experience, God oftentimes does things in what humanly speaking could be called “irrational.”

The list goes on and on for whether a book should be published POD or traditionally. I would like to see the John 3:16 Marketing Network come together and help both. I hope the Christian publishing world can choose to embrace those who labor over the written word in whatever form it’s ultimately presented. As far as I can tell, both methods are here to stay. But it’s harder now than it was twenty years ago to do things the way they have always been done with mainline publishing. I don't expect that to change. I sense it will get harder.

My goal would be to see POD and mainline publishing come together and not cast dispersions on the other’s way of doing things. Each has its place in the market and serves a specific purpose. However those words are printed, the focus and question should be: Are we doing everything we can to promote our books to a secular, humanistic world that needs more Christian literature?

I believe joining together in a Christian Marketing Network can work for both. To say it another way, a John 3:16 Marketing Network would be a win win for all authors. Mainline publishing companies would love to have a top-selling author garner two hundred or more authors to partner with him on his book launch. Even without being a well-known author, using the strategies emphasized in Peggy McColl’s Bestseller Coaching Program, a POD author could promote his book and make it a bestseller.

Examples of this in other areas of life abound. Look at all the Christian organizations that help those in need. Two of my favorites are World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse. We could have something like that in place for Christian authors in a John 3:16 Marketing Network. The biggest difference would be there is no money involved. No cost, just lots of love and goodwill.

With the help of the John 3:16 Marketing Network, here is how I would launch Children of Dreams on Amazon: I would select a date that my book would be advertised for sale. The date would be a twenty-four hour period of time when everyone would be encouraged to buy my book. I would contact Christian writers. My book is an inspirational book, so I would be particularly interested in other inspirational writers partnering with me. By partnering, I mean I would approach each author individually.

Each author I approached would have two basic ways he could help me. First, he could announce the availability of Children of Dreams on the day of my launch. The announcement would be done via email, on his Facebook page, a Twitter with the link to buy it, or the announcement could be made on any other social networking site where he has a strong presence. The idea is to announce Children of Dreams, its availability, and to encourage everyone to buy Children of Dreams on that day, within that twenty-four hour period. If someone buys it during that time, they receive free e-gifts.

Giving away an e-gift is the second way an author could help another author with his book launch. The bonus gifts would add value to Children of Dreams in the sense that by buying Children of Dreams on that day, the buyer would receive e-gifts that are downloadable to his computer after he purchases my book.

For example, I have offered a free e-book of The Donkey and the King to a couple of authors. I am promoting myself when I help them because people will visit my website to receive their free e-book. The buying public would be told in the announcement sent to them by partners that if they buy Children of Dreams that day, they will be able to receive lots of free gifts.

After the buyer purchases the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, he would then go to a website given to him in the announcement. The website would be located on something called a landing page. It is a specifically created page to be used for the book launch campaign. On this page are all the free e-gifts being offered by the author that must be downloaded within the twenty-four hour period of the book launch.

The buyer of Children of Dreams would enter his receipt number from the confirmation sent by Amazon to his email (note, however, this is not an Amazon-sponsored program). There could be anywhere from a dozen free e-gifts to as many as one hundred of them, listed individually.

E-gifts could include e-books, podcasts, audio files, MP-3 files, .txt files, or anything which would be downloadable; hence, no cost involved. The person would click on the gifts he is interested in and the link on the landing page would take him to the page where the e-gift could be downloaded. Again, the e-gifts would only be available for that twenty-four hour period during the book campaign.

The person who downloads even some of these bonus gifts will feel like he has received a lot of value for the purchase of Children of Dreams. The person who gives the bonus gift (which must have value) gets exposure on the landing page. When the buyer is directed to the giver’s website, the giver can capture the buyer’s email. For instance, as a free e-gift, I might offer the complete audio book of Children of Dreams in an MP-3 file or on iTunes.

Down the road, suppose an author who gave a free bonus gift to another author during his book launch decides to launch his own campaign. He would, again, contact people on the John 3:16 Marketing Network and find authors who would be willing to be a Joint Venture Partner on his book launch.

There would never be any obligation to participate, and it would be incumbent upon the person being asked to participate in the book campaign to make sure he approved of the book his help was sought on.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble make no distinction between Christian and non Christian books or any other kind of book as far as placement on their websites. It boils down to book sales. Imagine how efficient it would be with more publicity and promotional opportunities for Christian authors and the biggest winner would be the public. They would have a wider array of books to choose from and there would be more Christian books in the marketplace. With higher sales rankings, it would give Christian authors more opportunity to share the Gospel. Wouldn’t it would be awesome to consistently see Christian books ranked in the top ten on Amazon? We could change the world one book at a time as Biblical principles and values would dominate the bestseller lists.

The John 3:16 Marketing Network would be Christian authors helping other Christian authors to launch their book. It would enable all of us to make better use of limited time and money as we combine our resources to promote each other in a meaningful and loving way.

There are examples of the value of networking even recently in the news. The merger of Continental and United Airlines will help both companies to survive in a difficult market because they are combining their resources. In the Christian publishing world, we will have an opportunity not as competitors but as part of a “Body of Christian Writers.”

I am certain this would reduce the amount of time for unknown authors to get their work recognized. The market is big enough and the opportunities are greater than ever. The best way to achieve success in the future is to take the best from both publishing approaches to enhance the entire process. Perhaps a John 3:16 Marketing Network could be that vehicle.

I want to emphasize it would require the highest quality from all authors. The John 3:16 Marketing Network would insist on it. If a member read another brother’s or sister’s-in-the-Lord work and felt it wasn’t something he could support because the quality was inferior, he would need to be upfront about it and let the author know. The author would then need to hire an editor to fix problems if his book needed that extra do-over. Lots of help by others can’t salvage a poorly written book. But as in any free market system, the best will survive and even excel; those that are inferior won’t.

Perhaps the John 3:16 Marketing Network later could be expanded into other areas including editing and artwork. I can envision lots of possibilities. As an example, I close caption for television and captioning rates range anywhere from $60 to $90 per hour. Suppose I offered units of free captioning—perhaps a speaker might want to publish his seminar. I could give him a .txt file of his mp-3 file to develop into a book. There could be an exchange of services as I share my expertise as a captioner for someone else’s expertise in another area. I can think of many possibilities in developing this concept, all free of charge.

I will be embarking on my Bestseller Coaching Campaign in the coming weeks. Part of the program involves contacting people on an individual basis. I am not using this as a platform to push Children of Dreams. It would invalidate the money-back guarantee. But I might use my book as a beta test to see if I can make it work in the Christian arena. If I am able to get two hundred Christians in the publishing world to support my campaign, then it should work for others.

Even if you are a new author or writer and don't have an extensive email list, website, lots of friends on Facebook, or followers on Twitter, you can contribute. Ask yourself what you could offer as a member of a John 3:16 Marketing Network. Reviews are always needed, and as an author, I love good reviews.

Sometimes I think the heart of the Gospel is one beggar helping another beggar to know the Lord’s unfathomable grace. It keeps me humble and relying on God to accomplish His sovereign purposes, knowing the outcome is in His hands. And for that I am grateful, especially in the writing arena since I am a “newbie.”

Hopefully I have given Christian authors a vision for a John 3:16 Marketing Network. It’s about writers coming together to help each other. If you are interested in becoming a part of it or have any suggestions, please share them with me. Talk about my idea with others. My webpage for the network is

Drop me a comment. I look forward to the feedback and creating a network that will help all of us to sell more books, and hopefully, increase our literary impact on the world as Christian authors.

"Writing to inspire"

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