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.

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:

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  • 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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The Power of Testimonials

In a recent interview, I was asked why people should buy Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

My response to this is, first of all, people should not buy my book unless they are interested in learning about how to promote and market a Christian book. The book is geared for Christian authors and publishers.

Second, if an author or publisher is truly wondering why he or she should purchase the book after hearing about it, then I suggest that person read the testimonials the book has received. The testimonials speak volumes as to why anyone interested in promoting a Christian book should read Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

In other words, don’t take my (the author’s) word for why you should buy and read this book, take the word of the people who have found the book highly valuable to them in their efforts at promoting Christian books.

Watch this video testimonial about how Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace has benefited this author and publisher.

What about you? Are you using the testimonials you have received about your book to convince others that the book is worth their time and money?

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There is No Magic Pill

Surveys show that 80% of people believe they have a book inside of them. With the advent of print-on-demand technology and digital books, more and more aspiring authors are deciding to self-publish the book they want to give birth to.

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Recognizing an opportunity, a number of businesses have cropped up that are offering to publish these books. However, many of these businesses are preying on the naiveté of those individuals seeking to birth their books. Sensing an opportunity for easy profit, these businesses charge exorbitant fees to help authors publish and market a book.

One author I met at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) complained that the vanity press he used to publish his book charged $1,000 to exhibit the book at the show. Think how many books that author would have to sell to recoup that $1000 fee, let alone the thousands of dollars that he paid to the publishing company to manufacture the book in the first place.

One Christian self-publishing company is charging authors an outrageous price to help them market their books. This company is charging $400 to set up a custom Twitter page and $500 to set up a Facebook author page. Really? Ouch!

Setting up a Twitter or Facebook page isn’t that hard. Getting followers is the hard part. The company isn’t offering to collect the followers, just set up the page. How many books would an author have to sell to recoup the $900 it costs just to set up some social media sites? Plenty, and I can assure you that those sales won’t come from just having a Facebook and Twitter account.

One author I spoke with at the International Christian Retail Show asked me how Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) marketing services differed from all the other people who had approached her about buying their marketing services. Here is what I told her.

  1. CSPA is not a marketing service. It is the most affordable Christian publishing association that exists. CSPA did not start with the idea of making money from providing services to publishers and authors. Rather, CSPA started with a group of three independently published authors who banded together to create a way to market in the Christian marketplace that was affordable for themselves and for others. That vision still guides CSPA today.
  2. CSPA does offer our members affordable cooperative marketing opportunities.
  3. However, CSPA’s main emphasis is on education. CSPA strives to teach our members how to affordably market their books on their own so that they don’t end up spending thousands of dollars on a predatory service provider while selling only a handful of books.
  4. Our ICRS membership special (on our website) is just $115 for membership through December 2015. That is almost 18 months of membership!

However, what continues to amaze me is how many authors just want a magic pill. They just want someone to tell them they can sell their books. The sales pitch is great and so the author buys the costly service, only to be disappointed and burned.

Whether it’s weight loss or book publishing, there is no magic pill. Rarely will an author recoup the high price that most publishing and marketing services charge. Your best bet is to do your homework and learn a few publishing and marketing techniques. Then use the services you buy as an ancillary to your own publishing and marketing efforts, not as a replacement.

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