Unity in Diversity

Every once in a while, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) finds itself at the receiving end of an individual who is upset at the broad range of publishers the organization represents.

For example, one small Christian publisher became upset when he discovered that CSPA represents Catholic publishers. He informed CSPA that he could not be part of an organization that allowed Catholic publishers to be part of it. Yet, many of the stores this man’s books were sold in included a “Catholic” section.

Christian Small Publishers Association is not a denominational publishing association. The organization represents “Christian” publishers. We recognize that this is a broad term and people attach different meanings to it. As the goal of CSPA is to help market books in the Christian marketplace, we represent those publishers who by-and-large fit this definition.

At Christian Small Publishers Association we have chosen to define “Christian” as someone who believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; that He became incarnate, died, and rose again to pay the price for our sins and redeem our souls; and that it is only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ that we can have a relationship with God.

I recently read an interview with Pastor Ray Pritchard who is the president of Keep Believing Ministries. At one time, Pastor Pritchard was the pastor of a large interdenominational church in Chicago. In the interview he stated that, in this church, he used the Apostles’ Creed to define the basic beliefs of Christianity and to bring unity.

The Apostles’ Creed, which dates back to about A.D. 125, is the oldest statement of faith outside the New Testament. It is the statement that defines the basic beliefs of the orthodox Christian faith.

Pastor Pritchard said something in the interview that I thought was very interesting. He said, “I taught my congregation that although we certainly believe far more than is in the creed, we don’t believe less.”

For me, this sums it all up. If you believe in what the Apostle’s Creed states, then, you fit both CSPA’s definition and the larger Christian marketplace’s definition of “Christian.”  It is possible to have unity even in our diversity.

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; The third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

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The Key to Selling Books

“I have just gotten my first magazine from the printer and I’m looking for places to sell it. Can you help me?”

If I had been given money every time someone has asked me this question, I would be rich.

I have said this many, many times before, and I will probably have to say this many times in the future. Listen up!

Marketing a publication (book, magazine, CD, DVD, etc.) begins—not when the publication is published and in your hands—but when you decide to compose or produce the publication.

In other words, don’t wait until you get your books from the printer to look for places to sell them. Know where you will sell your books before you get them printed.

Marketing starts at the conception of a project, not at the completion of a project.

Authors and publishers should be asking the following questions at the beginning of a project:

  1. Who is this book written for?
  2. What qualifications does the author have to write on this subject?
  3. How is this book different from other books on the same topic?
  4. What unique message does this book carry?
  5. Why will people care?
  6. How do we reach the people this book is written for?
  7. What is our marketing plan?

A marketing plan is basically a list of the ways you plan to market and advertise your book. If you are not sure what resources are out there, or if you need help getting ideas of how to market your Christian books, check out my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. It is full of ideas on how and where to market.

If you wait until your book is printed to start marketing, you have missed many opportunities to develop a platform to reach potential customers and have missed out on having a community of readers ready to purchase your book.

I believe that marketing is the hardest work involved of publishing books. However, it takes marketing to sell books.

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Don’t Get Comfortable

I am finding that technology takes a lot of time. It takes time to learn new things. That is what is happening with the websites I use on a regular basis; they keep changing forcing me to learn new things.

For example, Twitter has changed its layout three times in the past two years. WordPress (where I host this blog) has changed its layout twice recently. Many of these changes frustrate me. For instance, I keep having difficulty finding my Dashboard on WordPress’ new sign-in redesign.

Just when I get used to the way a website works, the people who run the website go and change everything. My only hope is that this constant learning will prevent me from having Alzheimer’s.

Facebook is another website that frequently changes things up. Just when I get used to the “new” way they are doing things, they go and change it again.

Facebook is making another new change to their Business Pages at the end of this month. Be prepared.

First, Facebook rolled out the new “Timeline” on all Personal Profiles. Now, they are applying these “Timelines” to Business Pages at the end of this month.

The negative: With this change, businesses can no longer have a default landing tab. In other words, those “Welcome” pages that were not the Business Page’s wall will no longer be available.

The positive: The new Business Page design on Facebook allows for a “header” photo on the page to show off your business. I like this better than the multiple tiny pictures currently listed across the top of Business pages. Another new feature with the new page design is that people will be able to message you directly via your Business page.

If you want to learn more about the new Facebook Business Page design that rolls out the end of this month, you can take a short online course prepared by Facebook at http://www.learnfacebookpages.com/.

Fortunately, Facebook is still free to use and a great way to connect with both customers and potential customers.

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Receiving a Coveted Book Award

I know of a few publishers who have a book (or two) that has won a prestigious award. In one case, the children’s book has won three awards. Yet, for these publishers, their book sales remain dismal.

Winning a book award is not a guarantee of increased book sales. Selling books is about marketing. An author or publisher must use the receipt of a book award to increase awareness of the book to bring in sales.

I recently told one self-published author that if she would expend as much energy on promoting her earned book award as she had on applying for the book award, she would be sure to at least acquire a couple sales.

A book award does not sell your book. A book award gives your book credibility, which you can then use to sell more copies of your book.

If you have won a book award (or are hoping to win a book award), I suggest you consider the following 12 things you can do to use the bestowement of the award to promote your book to gain more sales.

  1. Send out a press release announcing that your book has won an award.
  2. Announce the award on all your social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc.)
  3. Send an email to your existing email subscribers announcing the award.
  4. Add the award information to the book’s website.
  5. Update all the online listings for your book (Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, CBD.com, etc.) to reflect that the book has won a prestigious award.
  6. Add the information to your media kit and update your author biography to state “award-winning author.”
  7. Order the award stickers from the award organization and apply them to your book covers.
  8. When you reprint the book, make sure you incorporate the award symbol on the front cover of your book.
  9. Add the book award announcement to your email signature.
  10. Put the award on your letterhead and business cards.
  11. Notify all the professional organizations that you are a member in.
  12. Hold a celebration party.

Go make the most of your book award.

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Environmentally Conscious Publishing

Most of us are concerned about the environment. We want the Earth to be here for future generations, and more importantly, we want it to sustain life for years to come.

To that end, sometimes the publishing industry has come under fire for not being environmentally friendly since it takes trees to make paper, and books are printed on paper (interestingly, you don’t hear much about how many trees it takes to make nice plush toilet paper).

In recent years, many publishers have become more “green” conscious, using recycled paper and using print-on-demand so that large amounts of unsold books don’t end up in landfills.

The Green Press Initiative (GPI) has now come out with an Environmentally Responsible Publisher Certification (ERPC). Publishers who adhere to certain standards can use the ERPC logo to show consumers that they are conscientious stewards of the environment.

I have not run the numbers, but one small publisher I know reports that when they calculated the emissions for producing recycled paper and the extra shipping of that paper to the print facility, they found that the environmental benefit was negligible.

This publisher decided to be environmentally conscious in a slightly different way. They partner with an organization called Plant with Purpose to plant a tree for every tree that goes into the printing of their books.

I do believe that being environmentally conscious is important, however, I also believe that those consumers who are the most concerned about the environment will purchase the digital version of your books instead of the print ones.

So, whether you seek to implement the Environmentally Responsible Publisher Certification or you partner with an organization called Plant with Purpose, or you do neither, you can always let your customers know that if they are concerned about the environment and saving trees, they can purchase the digital version of your books.

 

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