Poem in My Pocket

Today, Thursday, April 29, is Poem in My Pocket Day, a part of April’s National Poetry Month.

To celebrate and honor Poem in My Pocket, I decided to deviate from my usual posts and share with you, my readers, two poems written by my lovely elementary-aged children.

Have You Ever Had a Friend?
By Rachel Bolme

Have you ever had a friend that was supposed to

Talk with you,

Laugh with you,

Cry with you, and

Play with you,

But instead, she goes and does all that with your little brother?

The Waves
By Talon Bolme

The waves are big,

The waves are strong,

They push me in the water,

And tumble me along.

There you are. I have shared with you two poems in honor of Poem in My Pocket Day.

I invite you to share a poem with me as well as others in your life today!


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Inquiring Minds Want to Know

As the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association, I receive a number of emails every week both from wannabe authors asking for assistance in getting a book published as well as from self-published authors.

I try to answer each and every legitimate question that comes to me via email. I believe that as a servant of Jesus Christ, it is my responsibility to respond sincerely to each person God brings across my path (even a virtual path). Sometimes I give advice, but mostly I try to point people in the right direction to obtain the information they need.

However, it never ceases to amaze me how people with the self-determination and discipline to pen a whole book can be so clueless in their questions.

As a public service and an attempt to preempt future emails of this sort, I am presenting you with some samples of what I am talking about.

1. This question came addressed to cspa@christianpublishers.net.

“I am an author of a Christian book and would like some information regarding your website address and membership.”

Here’s a hint. Generally if an email address ends with a URL sounding name, like christianpublishers.net, then that is the website address. Try it first before sending an email. Who knows, you might even find the “Benefits of Membership” page listing all the pertinent membership information.

2.  This one was addressed to me from my book’s website at Marketing Christian Books.

“I am a Christian author. I want to get my books out there!  Give me a call please.”

Does this person think that I have all day to sit around and dispense free advice via the telephone? My website clearly states that I offer consultation phone calls for a fee. I will respond to emails requesting this service, but I won’t take my time to call and dispense free advice.

I once had a women call me for this type of advice. I answered one of her questions and then told her that I did not give free advice over the phone, that she could purchase my book or book me for a consultation. After I hung up, the women had the gumption to call me back to ask another question (which I did not answer).

3.  This type of question I get frequently even though Christian Small Publishers Association does not publish books, nor do we list anything about book publishing on our website.

“I AM INTERESTED IN INFO ON STARTING A BOOK PROJECT. MY WIFE HAS AN AWESOME TESTIMONY THAT REALLY NEEDS TO BE IN A BOOK TO SHARE WITH THE BODY OF CHRIST. THANKS FOR YOUR RESPONSE.”

You’re shouting. Next time, please don’t write in all CAPS. It does nothing to grab my attention.

I get this type of question so frequently, I finally uploaded an audio of a seminar I did on “The Ins and Outs of Publishing a Book” that I can point people to who want that type of information.

4.  Here is one from a book publisher who is not a member of Christian Small Publishers Association.

“I just have a quick book publishing question.  Do you know of any print on demand service like Lulu that will let you print in what I would call “gift book” sizes such as 6.25 X 6.25 or 6.25 X 7.25?”

I am always happy and willing to answer questions like this, to the best of my ability, from member publishers of Christian Small Publishers Association. After all, that is one reason people join an association, to obtain the information they need to be successful.

However, this person was not a member publisher of CSPA. So, why is he asking me this question? I suggest he join a publishing forum to ask these types of questions. I have a list of publishing discussion groups in the first chapter of my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. The first chapter is offered as a free PDF on the book’s website here.

Now, please don’t test my statement that I respond to every legitimate question I get via email (there are only 24 hours in a day). Instead, please post your question in the comments section below.


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Facebook: Powerful Social Networking

Facebook recently surpassed Google as the most visited website in the United States. That is rather big news and ties in with current predictions about the changing nature of the Internet.

For years website owners have worked hard to make their web page rank high on search engines for given search terms. Now the landscaping is shifting.

Here is what this shift means for you as an author or publisher:

1. Your social networking reach is becoming more important than your search engine rank.

Marketing specialists are predicting that connections on social network sites will eventually take the place of search engines. Instead of asking a search engine to find websites on various topics, people will ask their friends on their social networking sites which websites they recommend on a given topic. The importance of a visible social networking presence is increasing.

2. Facebook should be an integral part of your marketing plan for a book.

Facebook is the number one social networking site on the Internet. Facebook should now be an integral part of any marketing plan for a book. Authors and publishers should be using this tool to reach potential customers and stay in contact with fans. It’s the easiest place to reach the most people in one swoop.

3. It will take more work to get noticed.

The busier a website is, the more people you have vying for attention. It’s hard to be seen and heard above all the noise. The busier Facebook gets the more creative you will have to be to get noticed and keep your message in front of consumers. Many businesses are using applications, surveys, and Facebook exclusive coupons or specials to combat the noise and be noticed. Mashable describes five businesses that have created great fan pages and used them very successfully. You can read the five case studies by clicking here.

If you are not yet on Facebook, I challenge you to tackle that task today.

Christian Small Publishers Association only recently made the leap and created a Facebook page. I invite you to become a fan of (or rather now Facebook has changed it to “like”)  Christian Small Publishers Association. If you have a personal profile on Facebook, just click here to become a fan (like us).

See you on Facebook!


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A Shrinking Audience

The United States and the United Kingdom sold fewer books in 2009 than they did in 2008 according to Nielson BookScan figures. However, other English language markets—such as Australia, Ireland, and South Africa—sold more titles in 2009 than in 2008.

This is sad news for small publishers in the United States.

Book buyers, as a percentage of the U.S. population, dropped below 50 percent for the first time ever in 2008. Despite the rise of ebooks and digital media, we are a country whose book-reading population is on the decline.

When I take my children to the doctor, dentist, sports events and the like, I notice that my children are just about the only ones toting books to read while they wait around for the next activity. Almost all the other children are handling electronic devices such as Nintendo DS systems, iPods, and Smart phones with games. My children sit and read while the other children entertain themselves with electronic media.

No wonder our book-reading population is declining.

Last year, online activities surpassed television as the number one leisure activity among American adults. American adults spent an average of 15 hours a week online. We have become a media-oriented society. Adults don’t model book-reading for their children (either in print or e-reader formats) and they don’t encourage their children to spend as much time reading books as they do playing video games.

Christians are no different from the general population in this respect. We, the people who, throughout history, brought reading and literature to much of the world (so that everyone could have access to and read God’s word for themselves), no longer value reading and training our minds. We have lost our saltiness.

The decline of reading in America has and will continue to affect all publishers, especially small publishers. Small publishers don’t have a lot of clout or resources to promote their books in the English-speaking countries where book buying is increasing; so many will be stuck promoting their books to an ever shrinking group of readers.

I wish I had better news, but I don’t. The handwriting is on the wall, if we can pry our minds away from our computer screens to read it.


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Everybody Likes to Watch

Last year Pew, a research company, found that 62 percent of surveyed adult American’s reported that they watch videos on online video sites such as YouTube.

This study revealed that video watching is more prevalent than social networking – only 46 percent of adult American’s surveyed said they were active on social networking sites. Another study by Princeton Survey Research International last year showed that same results.

Video watching online is popular.

What do these statistics mean for authors and publishers promoting books online?

A promotional book video has become an essential ingredient in an effective online book marketing campaign.

To be most effective, book videos – much like movie trailers – should only be 30 to 60 seconds in length. Internet users’ attention spans are short. They want their information in sound bites.

Recognizing the growth of promotional book videos, ForeWord Reviews is hosting a Book Trailer Contest. This contest is open to any author or publisher of an independently published book.

The winning book trailer will be determined by public vote. However, all promotional book videos entered in the contest will receive some great publicity as they all will be shown at the Indie Press Lounge at Book Expo America in New York in May.

The deadline to submit your promotional book video in the contest is May 15, 2010. Contest details and where to submit your video can be found here.

Of course, don’t just enter your book trailer in ForeWord Reviews’ contest. If you have a promotional book video, make sure to place it on as many video sharing websites as you can. The more places you post it, the higher the chances it will be watched and you will score more book sales.

Some great places to post your promotional book video include:

Enter your promotional book video in the ForeWord Reviews‘ contest and then head on over to Christian Book Videos or one of the other book video sites and find a new book to read.


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