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.

Is This Part of Your Publishing Team?

I have been reading a number of articles recently that tell independently published authors that they cannot be an island. These articles assert that a team is needed to be successful in publishing a book. Recommended team members include: cover designer, editor, proofreader, and beta readers.

Teamwork

I strongly agree with this recommendation a team is needed to produce and sell a book. However, I would add to the lineup of team members recommended by most articles. Few include a professional association in their list of recommended team members. I think a professional association should be on the list.

Professional associations for publishers and authors offer additional help and support in the publishing journey. Here are three things adding a professional association can do for your publishing journey:

  1. Membership in a professional association provides you cutting edge information. Staying up-to-date with requirements and trends in producing and marketing books bringing you more success in your endeavors.
  2. Membership in a professional association can save you money. Most associations provide their members cost-saving benefits geared at helping their members be more successful.
  3. Membership in an association helps you to appear professional, allowing you to garner respect from others in the industry, especially reviewers, book sellers, etc.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) aids our member publishers and authors with these types of assistance. CSPA is constantly striving to add more benefits that help our members be successful, especially in marketing and selling their books.

CSPA has recently added three new benefits for our members:

  1. More eBlast choices for announcing books.
  2. Discounts with Lightning Source and IngramSpark.
  3. Access to an online foreign rights facilitation service for Christian books.

If you have not yet added a professional association to your publishing team, I urge you to do so. If you publish Christian books, CSPA is offering a membership special. Join now, and $115 will purchase your membership in CSPA through December 2015. You can apply online on CSPA’s website.

If you are uncertain about whether membership in a professional organization is worth the membership fee, I encourage you to read the testimonials from members of Christian Small Publishers Association. You can find these testimonials on our website.

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International Read an eBook Day

Read an eBook Week was created back in 2004 to educate and inform the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically. It helped raise awareness at a time when ebook reading was just in its infant stages.

Read an eBook

In recent years, the popularity of ebooks has soared. Last year, 28% of adults aged 18 and older read at least one ebook, according to Pew Research. Today, readers can access ebooks on any mobile device, computer or tablet, anytime, anywhere.

Now OverDrive, a library and school book distributor, has launched “International Read an eBook Day”. This new annual holiday was created to celebrate and raise awareness for reading on digital devices. This year, International Read an eBook Day will be held on September 18.

On September 18, readers around the world will be encouraged to take part in this large reading event. OverDrive will celebrate the day by giving away tablets and devices every hour on the International Read an eBook Day website.

Consider piggy-backing on this day to promote your own ebook. Use International Read an eBook Day to offer a special on your ebook or to give away a free ebook to entice readers to buy another one of your books. Shadow Mountain Publishing recently used the “offer a free novella to sell a novel” technique to sell their new Young Adult fantasy book A Tale of Light and Shadow. The publishing house offered a free PDF download of a 49-page short story titled The Fool and the Dragonox, which is the prequel to A Tale of Light and Shadow.

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Gift Giving of Books in Decline

I recently read an article that reported that fewer people are buying books as gifts. The article focused on the United Kingdom and stated that fewer people buying books as gifts has contributed to an overall 4% decline in books sales in the UK over the past year.

In fact, the Nielson Book Survey of book buying habits showed that the share of books bought as gifts fell from 24% to 22% in 2013. The article reported that this equated to a decrease of nine million books.

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This trend is concerning for publishers and authors. It is not unique to the UK. It has also been seen in the United States.

Traditionally, books have been viewed as good gifts. I still believe they are good gifts. I think that the reason fewer books are being given as gifts is not so much because people don’t see them as good gifts, but more because people read less. Think about it. Which would a young adult like more: an iTunes gift card or a good book?

Reading overall is on the decline. One recent study by the Labor Department found that Americans between the ages of 15 and 19 only spend an average of 4.2 minutes of their weekends and holidays reading for fun. This research also showed that 20 to 24 year olds spend an average of 10.2 minutes reading on weekends, while 55 to 64 year olds spend 26.4 minutes on weekend days reading for pleasure. This study seems to indicate that the average time spent reading goes up with age.

The Christmas season is coming very soon. Now is the time to start planning your marketing campaign for getting people to buy your books as gifts. In your marketing campaign, tell your customers to consider buying your book as a gift. Tell them who would most benefit from your book and encourage them to help others grow in their faith with their gifts. You could even use the statistics above that show that older generations enjoy reading the most and encourage your audience to buy a book as a gift for Grandpa or Grandma.

As authors and publishers, we can help reverse this negative book-giving trend by reminding our customers and potential customers that books still make great gifts. I believe they do, so do you. Now let’s remind our customers.

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Being Heard Above the Noise

Bowker recently released estimates of print book production for 2013. The company reports that the number of print titles produced in 2013 dipped slightly from 2012 according to Bowker’s annual report on U.S. print book publishing. The year 2013 saw 304,912 print titles published, while the year 2013 saw 309,957 print titles produced.

Noise

Bowker’s figures do not take into consideration ebooks published during the year. So, in just considering how many new books were published in 2013, the figure is higher than 304,912, because a number of books are now being published in digital format only. One statistic shows that 31% of ebooks purchased on Amazon each day are self-published books.

It’s hard to get noticed in a noisy world. Bowker’s statistics show that publishing in the United States is noisy. There are multiple books on almost every subject vying for a consumer’s attention.

Competing in a noisy market is not necessarily about making the most noise. Having a “noisier” marketing campaign than other authors does not guarantee more sales. Sometimes noise is just annoying. Rather, utilizing unique angles and hooking your readers with the “What’s in it for me” angle that they can’t resist seems to bring the best results. Creativity is what gets attention.

Cook up some creative ideas to get your book notice. Here are five to consider:

  1. Host a contest. Make it unusual and unique with an enticing prize. (See “Use a Twitter Contest to Sell More Books” for one idea).
  2. Donate some of your books to local businesses that have reading material in their lobbies and cater to your target audience.
  3. Showcase your book at a local festival (see “What’s Your Marketing Shtick?”).
  4. Put a magnetic sign about your book on your car. (see “One Creative Book Promotion Idea”).
  5. Make your book cover into a cover for your smart phone or tablet for a walking book advertisement (see “A Walking Advertisement” and “Walking Advertisements”).

The book market in the United States is crowded and most likely going to stay that way. Creativity is needed to get noticed above all the noise.

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