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.

Final Call for Nominations

“What’s the big deal about book awards?”

I have heard this question on a number of occasions from authors. Here is my response:

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Awards are big deals. Whether an award is being given for business success, athletic success, or literary success, the award signals recognition for something that is good or outstanding.

Here are a few more reasons why a book award is a big deal:

  1. Book awards are one of the most effective and affordable means of gaining recognition for independent publishers and authors.
  2. Winning an award elevates your status to an award-winning author or publisher.
  3. Earning a book award conveys a high level of credibility for your book and differentiates the title from among similar books.

Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award was created to bring recognition to quality Christian books by small publishers and independent authors. There are just two weeks left for you to nominate a title for this award.

The award is given in 14 categories this year. You can view a complete list on the award’s website.

To be eligible for nomination, a book must:

  • Be published by a small publisher with annual revenues of $400,000 or less.
  • Be Christian in nature and intended for the Christian marketplace.
  • Be printed in English and for sale in the United States.
  • Be nominated by the publisher of author.
  • Be nominated only for one category.
  • Be published in 2013 or 2014.

To nominate your book, head on over to www.bookoftheyear.net. Nominations must be received by November 15, 2014 for the 2015 award.

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Being Socially Responsible

A woman I know runs a soup kitchen. This woman is incredible. After retiring, she felt God calling her to open a soup kitchen, so she did. She works 60+ hours a week in retirement running this soup kitchen without taking a salary. She lives on her retirement pay and gives all her time and energy to helping feed hungry people.

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Recently, she was talking about contributions that come to the soup kitchen. Since she is a Christian, the soup kitchen lady feels strongly about not making a big deal out of contributions. However, a number of local companies give her money. They want her to send a notice to the newspaper or to post a picture of them holding the check on Facebook when they make a contribution. The soup kitchen lady was really put out by this.

As a Christian, she feels that people should give “not letting their left hand know what their right hand is doing”. I agreed with her when it came to individual charity gifts. However, I told her I thought that she needed to look at business charity gifts differently.

I went on to explain to her that today many consumers want to know that businesses are not just being greedy and getting rich off of their patronage. I told her that consumers want to know that businesses they frequent are giving some of their profits back to help the needy and the environment to make the world a better place to live. I informed her that, as such, these companies want the publicity so that consumers know they are helping their community as well as selling products or services.

I don’t think I made much of an impression on the soup kitchen lady. She did not appear to agree with my point of view. After all, she is definitely a Boomer (and her soup kitchen largely caters to the elderly), while the corporations she was talking about have Millennials (those aged 16 to 32 years) as a large portion of their clientele. After all, Millennials are currently the largest generation in the United States.

Millennials have high expectations for corporate social responsibility. They expect businesses to not just rake in profits, but do something to give back and make the world a better place. Studies show that Millennials will switch their brand loyalty from companies that do nothing for social good to ones that publicly share these values and follow through with making the world a better place.

If you are trying to market your books to the Millennial generation, I encourage you to take notice of the fact that corporate social responsibility is extremely important for this generation. Make sure you are communicating to them how you are being socially responsible with your earnings. It will go a long way toward acquiring their business.

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Social Media: What You Should Know

Social Media has become an integral part of life for most individuals. That means that if you want to reach readers, you need to be using social media to connect with your target audience.

Studies have found that Americans feel different about a brand that they can interact with via social media. In fact, 56% said that they feel a stronger connection with a company they interact with via social networks.

I invite you to watch the newest version of “Socialnomics” by Erik Qualman. This newest clip is filled with fascinating social media statistics you should be aware of.

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Poetry: A Difficult Genre to Sell

The other day I had a conversation with an author who was looking to produce an ebook of an existing print book. In an attempt to rejuvenate interest in her book and increase sale, she was thinking about introducing a digital version of the book.

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This author’s questions for me revolved around marketing an ebook. She wanted to understand the differences in marketing an ebook versus a print book, so she could come up with a plan.

I told this author that marketing an ebook is very similar to marketing a print book. All the same elements are important in both types of book promotion campaigns. These include:

  • Distribution
  • Endorsements
  • Reviews
  • Connecting with readers
  • Conveying the need your book meets for readers
  • Repeated exposure

Selling any book is hard work. Whether you are promoting an ebook or a print book, just because you write and publish a book does not mean that it will sell. Authors must find their target market, connect with these readers in a way that engages and hooks their interest, and then, convince them to invest their time and money in the book.

As we talked, this author told me that her book was a book of poems. I really felt for this author because selling a self-published book is hard work. Selling poetry is even more difficult.

I do not have much experience with selling poetry books. Don’t get me wrong, there is an audience for poetry. After all, the United States has a national Poet Laureate, poetry is taught in schools, a poem is read at every presidential inauguration, and many bookstores do host a small poetry section.

However, poetry has a very niche audience. In mainstream publishing there’s a small market for poetry books. Even established poets don’t sell thousands of books – maybe not even hundreds. Christian poetry is even a smaller niche audience.

When I talk with authors of Christian poetry books, I usually refer them to an organization called Utmost Christian Writers. Utmost Christian Writers is based in Canada. However, they provide a valuable service to Christian poets. The group hosts an annual poetry contest, hosts reviews of poetry books on their website, and provides additional resources to Christian poets. If you write poetry, I encourage you to check this group out.

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A Half-Million Self-Published Books

Last week was a week for new book publishing and selling statistics. On Monday, I reported on the Nielson book selling figures that came out for the first half of 2014. Today, I am writing about the new analysis of self-publishing in the United States conducted by Bowker.

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Bowker has released a new Report on Self-Publishing in the United States. In the report, Bowker analyzes the number of self-published titles from 2008 through 2013. Here are some of the findings in Bowker’s report:

  • The number of self-published titles in 2013 increased to 458,564, up 16.5% from 2012.
  • There were 302,622 titles that were self-published as print books in 2013, a 28.8% increase over 2012.
  • On the other hand, the number of self-published ebook titles decreased 1.6% in 2013 to just 155,942.

Interestingly, while Bowker is calling these titles “self-published”, the company is including small publishers in this report. According to the report, small publishers as a whole registered 46,654 ISBNs in 2013, placing them fourth among companies that registered ISBNs.

The top three self-publishing companies registering ISBNs in 2013 with Bowker were (in order): CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Lulu. CreateSpace registered 186,926 ISBNs—all for print books. On the other hand, Smashwords registered 85,500—all for ebooks.

These figures reveal that, for 2013, the growth in self-publishing came not from ebooks, but from print books. These figures compliment the Nielson book sales stats that show that 67% of all books sold in the first six months of 2014 were print books. Many self-publishers understand that it is still by and large a print book world.

Half a million books! That figure is staggering. Self-published authors and small presses produced half a million books in 2013! Remember, Bowker is only counting the books that were registered with ISBNs. I believe that there are many more books that were self-published via the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform that never acquired an ISBN (Amazon does not require an ISBN to publish an ebook via their KDP system). Afterall, a new ebook is added to Amazon just about every five minutes.

Self-publishing has definitely come into its own. If you are considering self-publishing, I encourage you to go for it. Many authors have found it fulfilling and worthwhile to maintain control of the entire process from manuscript to book to marketing.

The other thing these numbers reveal is that competition for books keeps getting stiffer. The more books that are published, the more options people have. Why should they choose your book? Now is the time to hone your pitch. Make sure your message is unique and lets your readers know why they should choose your book over all the other books out there.

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