I recall a television advertisement a few years ago touting a company as “#1 in Chicago.” After seeing the ad a few times, I focused on the fine print at the bottom of the screen and noted the claim was based on a “company conducted internet survey.” I started to feel some skepticism at the validity of the “#1” ranking.
Overselling a product, service, store, company, movie, church, theme park or park district pool can come back and haunt you. Setting the bar so high in an attempt to stand apart from the crowd is rarely effective long term, or short term for that matter, especially if whatever is being sold doesn’t really deserve the high praise.
Similarly, unbridled enthusiasm for their book can lead authors and publishers into the same world of overselling.
Promoting and selling Christian books has the additional element of God’s truth in them, which can dramatically impact a reader’s life. But while God can use anything to accomplish his purpose, no book ever written by a human can claim to have the kind of eternal impact of the Bible.
“This book will help millions achieve their highest aspirations. It will change the world!”
Must be pretty special writing.
But the reverse of overselling is underselling, which could end up becoming rather unappealing.
“My book will help several people inch a little closer to figuring out an answer to the problem. Maybe. I could be wrong. Don’t get your hopes up.”
Can’t wait to read this one.
For those involved in marketing Christian books and authors who promote their own work, the landscape is a dangerous minefield.
While every instinct within the “promoter” wants to communicate a particular Christian book as the most important ever written on a certain subject and will change the world, the truth is more along the lines of the book will “help many people inch a little closer to God.” Maybe thousands if God so desires.
So what is an author or book-promoter to do?
In the description of your work, use as few adjectives and adverbs as you can. The believability of any message decreases the more frequent they are used. Even in objective endorsements or reviews, too many adjectives and adverbs can make a book unreal at best or worse, deceptive.
To claim your book is the best ever for anything, is not true.
To claim your work is more important than anything prior exhibits an acute lack of knowledge for the rich history of books and literature.
Claiming something as “unique” is also untrue. With almost a million books published in the United States every year (traditional and self-published) are you suggesting none of them are even close to yours? This is simply not true. There may be hundreds or thousands of new books in the same vein as yours, competing for the same reader.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned readers buy a promise, a solution to a problem, a special experience or a key to unlock something within them. Use one or more of these when writing your promo copy…a promise, solution, experience or key takeaway. How will a reader benefit?
Instead of adjectives and adverbs, focus on “key words” which fuel the online search for your book. (This is an important issue, be sure to spend some time learning about it.)
To conclude, it appears I suggest a rather non-creative, facts-only, bland method of promoting.
Quite the contrary.
Layered atop all this is the most powerful promotional message of all…the genuine, glowing review by a reader.
The most effective promotion is when someone who is not the author (or related to the author, or works for the author) tells the world the book they read encouraged them, gave them a memorable experience or helped them realize something of importance.
Patting yourself on the back looks strange to others and hurts your shoulder joints. Let others do the patting, replete with well-chosen adjectives and adverbs. Those kinds of compliments are from the heart and other readers know it.