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.

eBook Sales Data

Smashwords is a self-serve ebook platform. It began in 2008 and has grown from publishing 140 ebooks that year to publishing 276,000 in 2013.

Smashwords has conducted an annual survey of the data from book sales from their service for the past few years. Each survey that Smashwords has shared has revealed interesting information that is helpful for authors seeking to sell more ebooks. This year is no exception.

Some of the interesting findings from this year’s survey include:

  1. A few ebook titles sell fabulously well, but most sell poorly.
  2. Readers prefer longer ebooks. As word count drops, sales also drop. Most best-selling ebooks have at least 100,000 words.
  3. eBook prices of $2.99 and $3.99 are still the sweet spots for fiction ebook prices. Books at these prices yielded the most author earnings.
  4. Nonfiction ebooks tend to earn more at higher prices. The Smashwords survey revealed that many authors are underpricing their nonfiction ebooks.
  5. Free still works, but it is losing its punch. Free remains one of the most powerful book marketing tools because it makes it easier for readers to take a risk on an author brand that is unknown or untrusted. Yet, the effectiveness of free is down when compared to the past two annual surveys conducted by Smashwords—largely because so many authors are offering free ebooks.

Every book is unique. These survey results simply show averages. Consider this information as data to help you make more informed decisions about the ebooks you publish.

Want to know more? The slideshow featuring the overall data from the survey is embedded below for you to pursue.

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A Golden Review

Best Book I Ever Read”…

So begins a recent review by a BookCrash book reviewer for The Proof, a book by a Christian Small Publishers Association (CPSA) member publisher. These are words every author and publisher would love to hear about one of their books.

The-Proof

These types of words and glowing reviews are wonderful to receive. Nuggets from such reviews can be used over and over again in marketing materials when promoting a book.

Of course, not all reviews given by BookCrash reviewers are glowing. Sometimes the reviews are negative. Often, when a negative review is given, the author or publisher is not happy. Many feel that a negative review will turn readers off to their book.

However, unless an author is receiving multiple negative reviews—a signal that the book may need more work—negative reviews do not necessarily ruin a book’s marketing campaign. In fact, marketing studies show that when consumers find negative reviews sprinkled among the reviews that are gushing about a product, they’re more confident that the good reviews are trustworthy.

Don’t let a negative review derail your marketing efforts. If the majority of reviews you are receiving for a book are positive, proceed with your book promotion efforts as though the negative review does not exist. After all, you probably don’t like every book you ever read.

This particular BookCrash reviewer went on to state in her review, “Well, let me tell you, don’t underestimate small publishers. This is possibly my favorite book out of all the books that I have ever read.

That line is music to my ears. It is what Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) believes. We exist to share the same message: Don’t underestimate small publishers. Small publishers produce quality books.

BookCrash is a program of CSPA and was created to help spread the word that small publishers and independently published authors books are worth reading.

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Publishing is Not Enough

I recently read an interview with best-selling author and mega-church pastor David Jeremiah. In the interview, David Jeremiah talked about the marketing campaign that accompanies each of his book releases.

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Pastor Jeremiah releases a new book each fall. To promote each book, David does eight rallies across the country in arenas. He also markets the book on his radio and television programs. In addition, he conducts a pre-launch campaign via the Internet.

Now David Jeremiah is an established Christian pastor with an existing church, radio and television show, and a staff team to help him promote each book; so, his book marketing campaigns will look different from the average author. However, the takeaway for me from this interview was the need for marketing a book. Even this mega-church pastor gets that.

In the interview David Jeremiah said:

“I know that you can’t just write a book and say I’m not going to have anything to do with marketing. If you don’t care enough about it to try and figure out how to get it in the hands of other people, nobody else is going to either.”

Do you care enough about the books you publish to ensure that they get into the hands of people? Check your marketing campaign. It will reflect the level of care you have about making sure people know about your book.

It’s not enough to write or publish. Marketing is required to take what you write or publish and make it an agent of change in the lives of people.

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Nominations Open for Book of the Year Award

Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors books produced by small publishers each year for outstanding contribution to Christian life.

Nominations are now accepted in 14 categories. Two new categories were added this year:

Award_Seal

  • Historical Fiction
  • Christian Education

These two new categories accompany the existing twelve, which include: General Fiction, Romance, Biography/ Memoir, Christian Living, Devotional, Relationships/Family, Bible Study/Theology, Children’s Book 4-8 years, Children’s Book 8-12 years, Young Adult (12+ years), Gift Books, and eBook Exclusive.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Books must be published by a small publisher with annual revenues of $400,000 or less.
  2. Nominated books must be Christian in nature and intended for the Christian marketplace.
  3. All nominated books must be printed in English and for sale in the United States.
  4. Any small publisher or independently published author can nominate titles for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award.
  5. Each book can only be nominated for one category.
  6. Nominated books must be published in 2013 or 2014.
  7. The nomination fee is $45.00 per title.

To view the complete eligibility guidelines and to nominate your books, visit www.bookoftheyear.net. Nominations must be received by November 15, 2014.

Christian retailers and book readers will be invited to vote on the nominated titles in February and March 2015. The winners of the award will be the books that receive the most votes.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is the sponsor of this book award.

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Does Your Book Have an Internet Presence?

With almost half of all books now being purchased over the World Wide Web, an Internet presence is essential in promoting and selling your book.

Having an Internet presence is really just about being present in many places online. The more places your book appears, the more exposure you garner for your book. The more exposure you gain for your book, the more opportunity you have of convincing people to purchase it.

I often encourage authors to check using a search engine (i.e. Google or Bing) how many places their book is appearing on the Internet. A book with a solid web presence should come up with at least three pages of results for its title.

One digital publishing and retailing platform, Yudu, is offering authors and publishers a tool to help increase their books’ Internet presence. This tool, called BookSnacking, is a browser-based feature that allows authors and publisher to distribute excerpts and samples of their book with buy-buttons anywhere online. For the price of $150 per title, Yudu will allow you to circulate your BookSnacks online via blogs, websites, and social media.

It’s a great idea, but not a new idea. BookBuzzr has been offering authors and publishers book widgets that include a preview of a book and places to purchase the book for many years. The BookBuzzr program offers a basic free widget that can be distributed on the Internet. Authors and publishers can also purchase upgraded widgets with more features if they desire.

Above is a sample of BookBuzzr’s free book widget. If $150 is not in your marketing budget and you are looking to increase your book’s Internet presence, BookBuzzr’s free widgets offer you a new promotional tool.

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