Bob Russell is a Christian author who has been traditionally and self-published. He explains the many different ways he’s used to successfully market his books.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My recent e-books include three in the Christian Concepts Series: The Church, The Christ, and The Christian, plus one missions-oriented book.
My personal favorite is my e-book God’s Nature: Sonlight Sunlight, which shows amazing alignments between science and Scripture. This book has received great reviews from a wide variety of people from internationally-known theologians, women’s ministry leaders, full-time homemakers, and long-term prisoners. It is part of my Christian Concepts Series of three books which use biblical analogies to explain complex Christian topics in easy to understand and memorable ways. The original print version of this series received 11 literary awards. All of my books contain a “Think and Grow” section at the end of each chapter which is ideal for personal or small group study.
My most unusual book is one in which I edited the wire recordings of martyred missionary Jim Elliot (Jim Elliot: Recorded Messages). As a child I lived in the Elliot home for a time. Jim was one of my Sunday School teachers and his father was my spiritual mentor for years.
2. How have your sales been?
Because I write in a small niche market where having a strong name awareness is important, my sales have not been as strong as I would desire but they have been steady. It is important to note my writing goal: “I’d rather write what the Spirit guides and have no readers, than to appeal to more readers without the Spirit’s guidance.”
3. You’ve used both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Which do you prefer, and what are the pros and cons of each?
Previously, I published four print books through two publishing houses. Later I switched to self-publishing (five e-books and one print book to date). Using “draft2digital” has many advantages for me. It is much faster, I have better control, greater distribution options, higher royalties, etc.
4. Talk a little about the sort of marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
Time-limited e-book price promotions have been the most effective. Word of mouth, author newsletters, podcasts, book reviews, and Facebook groups have all been helpful. However, it is hard to determine where sales come from.
5. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I’ve stayed away from paid promotions because I don’t have a good expectation for return on investment.
6. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
The practical realization that sales and marketing require more effort than writing the book. Also, that literary reviews and great reviews from a wide variety of people do not necessarily translate into sales.
7. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I would not give away free books to unknown people. I believe most of those go to book collectors who never get around to reading them.
8. New authors face the challenge of getting their books into the hands of readers. What advice do you have for an author just starting out?
Keep your expectations low. If you don’t feel called or driven to write, then reconsider.
9. What other projects are you currently working on?
I currently have five books in progress and my release schedule is about four e-books per year.
I have released the first of three in my Christian Growth Series. It is entitled God’s Desire: How To Please God. This book develops two graphic models: “The Christian Life Model” and “The Christian Guidance Model.”
The next 2 will be God’s Light: How To Respond To God and Christ’s Disciple: How To Finish Strong. Following those releases I will release a Christian Theology Series.
10. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
My purpose for writing is “To help Christians develop a Living Theology and Dynamic Discipleship.”
11. How can readers learn more about your books?
My author website is http://booksrlr.com/.
I offer an occasional short newsletter (https://www.subscribepage.com/rlr) which contains a variety of content.
Additionally, since 2009 I have been writing a daily blog “Abundant Life Now” (http://robertlloydrussell.blogspot.com/) which has been read in over 200 countries and translated into over 100 languages. It is not directly related to my books but contains short inspirational biblically-based posts.
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