About marketingchristianbooks

Sarah Bolme is the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), the owner of CREST Publications, and the author of 7 books including Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace and numerous articles. She is also the editor of the CSPA Circular, the monthly newsletter of Christian Small Publishers Association. A clinical social worker by education and experience, Sarah stumbled into the world of publishing after her two self-help books were published by a small publisher. Sarah and her husband, a fiction author, then collaborated on a set of board books for infants and toddlers after the birth of their children. After much thought and research, they decided to publish the project themselves. This decision led to the creation of CREST Publications and Sarah’s journey into marketing. Navigating the Christian marketplace began as a rather solitary learning experience for Sarah as no guide books or associations were available for marketing in this unique marketplace. After meeting and dialoging with other small and self-publishers marketing books in the Christian marketplace, it became clear that an organization was needed to provide assistance and information to new and emerging publishers. Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) was founded in January 2004 with Sarah Bolme as Director. Sarah’s passion is educating others to help them improve their situation whether that is helping them get unstuck in their lives through counseling or marketing their books into the Christian marketplace.

Thanks to God

Happy Thanksgiving! We have so much to be thankful for. I think the words of the following Thanksgiving hymn, “Thanks to God” by Ludvig Storm, sum up the scope of what we all have to be thankful for.

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Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!

This year, I am especially thankful for the following:

  1. Celebrating 10 years of directing Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) and helping small publishers and independently published authors experience success in marketing their book in the Christian marketplace.
  2. The publication of the Third Edition of my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.
  3. Winning another award for Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.
  4. Six years of blogging, and for you, the readers of this blog.
  5. The gift of salvation!
  6. Another year of living, loving, and serving God!

What are you thankful for?

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Indecision: A Success Killer

You can find articles on mistakes authors and publishers should not make all over the Internet. It seems that almost everyday, I get an email with a link to another article talking about mistakes to not make if you are a publisher or an author.

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I recently read a white paper on “6 Mistakes in Publishing Today.” The paper took a look at the fact that the publishing industry has been turned upside down by new technology and market dynamics and the mistakes many publishers are making in this season of publishing. While this paper was really geared toward larger publishers, one of the mistakes listed stood out to me. I think it is a mistake that many small publishers and independently published authors make.

This mistake is indecisive leadership.

I can hear you saying, “Wait, I am the only employee of my publishing enterprise. I don’t have to worry about leadership.”

You are wrong. If you are the only employee of your publishing endeavor, then you are the leader. It is up to you to have the vision, set the direction, and make the strategic decisions necessary to ensure success of your enterprise.

Two common issues the article included under “indecisive leadership” were:

1. Choosing short term profits over long-term success.

I have seen this many times with small publishers and authors. I have often said that marketing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Those that act like it is a sprint often make decisions that maximize short term returns. Short term profits might feel good, however, focusing on short term goals almost exclusively will not ensure the success of your publishing enterprise over the long haul.

2. More words than actions.

As the saying goes, talk is cheap. It is often easier to make plans than to execute them. If you find yourself thinking more about what you should do to market your books, then actually doing those things, take note. Success follows action. Don’t let fear of failure or indecision about which course of action is the best keep you from executing a plan. Pray over your plan. Then move forward. Trust that God will lead you.

All decision involves risk. In your leadership of yourself and your enterprise, I encourage you to strive to create a clear plan of action and balance short and long term considerations for your publishing endeavor.

The Christian Marketplace

“This one’s a keeper, and also an answer to prayer.”

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YES! Finally someone wrote a book to answer my questions!”

“Great information. I wish I had discovered the book before production.”

“I just want you to know that I loved your marketing book! Thank you for your wonderful book! I have purchased two more to give out.”

These are just a few of the many testimonials I have received over the years by readers of my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

I wrote the book to give authors and small publishers information and resources to help them navigate and promote a book in the Christian marketplace. The Christian marketplace does differ from the general marketplace; here are a few of the differences:

  1. Christian bookstores by-and-large don’t purchase books from general market wholesalers. They purchase books from the Christian distributors.
  2. Christian bookstores databases are not run by the databases provided by the general market wholesalers. Instead, these databases are run by information provided to the bookstores from the Christian distributors and product management companies.
  3. Christian bookstores and church libraries don’t use the general market trade review publications to obtain information on recommended books. They use Christian trade review publications to keep them informed.
  4. The Christian market is not a homogenous market. Therefore, it is important to know your segment of the Christian audience so you can gather endorsements from the leaders of the segments you are marketing to.
  5. While Christians watch and listen to general market media, many rely on Christian media outlets for information and book recommendations. Therefore, exposure on Christian media is a more effective way to reach a Christian audience.

Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace is the only definitive book providing specific resources for marketing books in the Christian marketplace. While other books have some Christian resources, this book is devoted to providing resources for all aspects of book promotion.

I am pleased to announce the Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, Third Edition has been named a “Finalist” in the Business: Writing & Publishing category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards!

If you have not yet read this essential handbook for marketing Christian books and you are the author or publisher of Christian books, then I encourage you to pick up a copy and read it. After you have read it, I would love know if you found it helpful.

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Combined Synergy

Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. Many of the best shopping deals of the year can be found on this day. However, Black Friday is all about the big businesses. Target, Walmart, ToysRUs, Best Buy, and the like all offer fabulous deals to lure in shoppers the day after Thanksgiving.

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Cyber Monday is the busiest online shopping day of the year. The best online shopping deals can often be found on this day. Many online businesses offer discounts and coupons to attract online holiday shoppers on Cyber Monday.

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday. In an attempt to draw more business for small businesses, American Express named the day after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, back in 2010. Small Business Saturday brings attention to small and local businesses.

While Small Business Saturday is really about shopping at local brick-and-mortar businesses, I think that small publishers and independently published authors can use the combined synergy of Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday to create sales for your books.

By-and-large small publishers and independently published authors don’t run a physical store in their community, but most run an online place to purchase their books and products. Combining the appeal of both Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, you can encourage Christian consumers to make purchases at your online small business during the Thanksgiving weekend and the Monday following.

Offer a special to encourage both your past customers and your potential customers to consider purchasing your books as Christmas gifts. Use a coupon, a discount, a buy-one get-one free special, or a bundle special for Small Business Saturday through Cyber Monday. Notify all your current and potential customers through email, blog posts, social media posts, and even via a mailed flyer.

Remember, books make great gifts. Remind your potential customers of this fact and offer them an incentive they can’t refuse. This combined synergy will bring you more sales.

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Award-Winning Book Covers

Each year the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) hosts the Top Shelf Award program to recognize design excellence among its member publishers in the Christian publishing industry. The winners of this year’s award were recently announced.

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I think it is worthwhile to note these winning titles here for you. Your book’s cover is often your number one marketing tool. People do judge books by their covers. A good cover can draw a potential reader to your book, while a bad cover will turn readers away from your book.

Since cover design is largely art and people have a wide variety of tastes in art, rarely do you find unanimous consensus on whether a book’s cover is alluring. However, there are some standards that are extremely important in book design. Some of these include:

  • Lots of space (an uncluttered look)
  • Easy-to-read fonts
  • Ability to read the title from across a room or in a thumbnail sketch
  • The title and image together should be clever or create emotion

Personally, I don’t find many of these titles that won the Top Shelf Award very alluring. I am not drawn in by many of them. Frankly, some of them don’t even follow the industry standards for good cover images. Some have titles that are really hard to read and don’t hold up to the “thumbnail test” (see The Thumbnail Rule).

What do you think of these award-winning Christian book cover designs?

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