CSPA Welcomes 100th Member

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) welcomed its 100th small publisher member this month.

CSPA was established in 2004 to fill a need for an association to represent, promote, and strengthen small publishers in the Christian marketplace. During the past seven years, CSPA has grown from its three original publisher members to representing 100 small publisher members.

Sarah Bolme, Director, states, “Every publishing house starts out as a new, small business. Our goal is to provide small publishers with the information, support, and encouragement they need to fulfill their God-given task of producing materials to proclaim the gospel and disciple the body of Christ.”

Membership in CSPA is open to any publisher that is producing material for the Christian marketplace and has annual revenues of $400,000 or less.

CSPA is the sponsor of Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award and is a supplier member of CBA. You can learn more about the services Christian Small Publishers Association offers at www.christianpublishers.net.

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Do Your Messages Stick?

The goal in marketing books is to get people to buy them. One of the best ways to make your marketing effective is to have a message that sticks in peoples’ heads so that they remember your book.

What makes some messages stick better than others? What elements make up a message that sticks?

In their book, Made to Stick, authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath outline six elements they believe make an idea stick. These elements are:

  • Simplicity
  • Unexpectedness
  • Concreteness
  • Credibility
  • Emotions
  • Stories

For publishers and authors marketing books, your job is to take the core principle of your book and communicate it in a memorable way.

In other words, keep your message simple and different from what others are saying. Communicate this message in a concrete way that is easy to understand and tugs at your readers’ emotions.

Which marketing message do you think is stickier?

Thirteen prayers to help you pray.”

or

Need help praying? These 13 prayers will start you on a new journey to connect you with your Maker.”

The second one clearly tugs at your emotions and speaks to the reader in a simple, concrete way that meets a need.

Next time you are crafting sales text for your book, keep these six principles to creating a message that sticks in mind and get results.

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Failure is Not the End

Have you ever felt like a book you published failed?

Has fear of failing kept you from publishing a book?

The first book I ever wrote could be classified as a failure. It sold less than 100 copies. I thought the publisher would do the marketing for me. He did not. I did not do much marketing, mostly because I lacked the know how, and, as a result, the book never really left the printing press.

My first book could have stopped my book-writing dreams dead if I let it. Fortunately, God gave me a desire to continue writing and publishing. I continued to persevere and while I have not had a best-seller, my subsequent books have sold fairly well.

If you are feeling discouraged or reeling from a recent failure, watch this video and be encouraged.

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Christian Book-Buying Behavior

Each year, the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) puts out a Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Report on Christian book shoppers. The report costs $599 for non-ECPA members, pricing it out of the majority of small publishers’ budgets.

Being a small publisher, in addition to the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association, I find the price too steep. So, I make sure that I read the press release that ECPA sends out about their report each year. This release usually contains a few interesting and important statistics about Christian book-buying.

Here are a few of the nuggets from this year’s press release for the 2009 report:

Christian fiction (19%) nearly rivaling Bible purchases (23%) among Christians was among the key findings from the report.

Christian fiction continues to grow. This finding indicates that Christians are looking for clean wholesome books for pleasure reading. Historically, small and self-publishers have been told that fiction is the hardest sell. I think this data indicates that is changing.

Households with combined incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 purchased the most Christian nonfiction and fiction books.

Solid middle-class families purchase the most books. This data is not new, but shows that Christians mirror the general population when it comes to income and book-buying behavior. Targeting middle-class Christians is a good strategy when selling books.

Active Christians, described as evangelicals having high belief and high church involvement, in the 18- to 29-year-old demographic purchased a smaller share of books compared with all book buyers in that age range.

This finding, although it did not surprise me, depressed me. While I have talked before about the decline of book reading in the younger generations, this finding indicates that Christian young adults are reading even less than the general young adult population when they should be reading more.

A year ago, I posted the following quote on this blog:

Reading Christians are growing Christians. When Christians cease to read, they cease to grow. ~John Wesley

I fear that our Christian witness in the United States is being weakened by our lack of spiritual contemplation and knowledge. I pray that younger Christians will begin to read and grow so that the message of Christ may go forth in power and change lives.

It may be that we just need some creative marketing methods that speak to this age-group to reach these younger Christians. Do you have any good ideas for marketing to this generation?

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Marketing Outside the Box

Thinking outside the box means coming up with creative ways to do something. It is looking at the normal way of doing things and all the assumptions that people make and asking, “How can I do things differently?”

In book marketing, thinking outside the box can really pay off. Doing something that other authors and main-stream publishers are not doing can draw attention to an author and her book.

One self-published author, Steven Cohn, went way outside the box to market and sell his book. Watch this video and see what his creative thinking accomplished for him.

After watching, take some inspiration from Steven and brainstorm ways that you can market your books “outside the box.”

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