Three Reasons to Enter a Book Award

Past winners of the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award agree: Book Awards do make a difference.

Here is what two winners have to say about winning the Book of the Year Award:

“The CSPA awards are well worth entering. I’ve been amazed how differently folks respond when they see ‘Christian Small Publishers Book of the Year.’ Awards really do matter.” ~Raising Real Men 

“I’m enjoying the gold stickers from CSPA that state it’s a ‘Book of the Year’ to put on the book’s cover! They really draw people’s attention.” ~Deliver Me 

Not only does a book award draw attention to your book, here are three more things it does for a book:

  1. A book award adds an effective marketing tool to your arsenal. The additional press coverage your title can receive for winning an award is a boon. Newspapers, magazines and bloggers love to write about award-winning books.
  2. A book award provides the author and publisher with added prestige. By including the words “award-winning author” or “award-winning publications” you bring credibility to your author and publishing house, opening the door for more publicity opportunities to market your books.
  3. Award stickers influence buyers. Studies indicate that given two books on the same topic, buyers will gravitate toward the book that boasts an award sticker.

Of course, a book can’t win an award unless it is entered into at least one book award program. There are scores of book award programs available for books by independent publishers. Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award is just one of many programs out there.

If you have a book published in 2011 or 2012 that is Christian in nature. Then I encourage you to enter your book in the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award. Just head on over to www.christianbookaward.com and nominate your book today. The entry fee is only $40.00 and the deadline to enter for the 2013 Book of the Year Award is November 15, 2012.

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Becoming a Published Author

Being an author, I have many people tell me that they want to write a book but don’t know where to begin. Most of these people want to write out of their own life experience to share with others their journey and what they have learned.

I always encourage these potential authors to start by writing an article about some aspect of their experience. Books are written chapter by chapter, and the best way to do this is to begin with writing a portion of your story in an article form. I then encourage these individuals to submit the article they write to magazines for publication.

Writing articles does a couple of things for a potential author:

  1. It develops your writing skills. Articles force you to write in a concise way to convey your message without too much verbosity.
  2. It gives you feedback on your writing. In other words, is your writing professional enough for a magazine or a newsletter to publish it?
  3. It builds your author bio. People feel that an author is more credible if they have previously been published. So adding “(author’s name)’s articles have appeared in several magazines” to a bio gives you additional credibility in the reader’s eyes.

Last month, I spoke at a small writers’ conference. Although all the attendees wanted to become published authors (and many already were penning or had penned a book they hoped to get published), surprisingly, not one of these potential authors had had an article (or even a blog post) published.

My twelve-year-old daughter loves to write short stories. I noticed that several of her stories were rather fun to read, so I encourage her to try to get her stories published. We looked up various magazines for young girls and my daughter began to submit her stories. This month, she had her first story published in the New Moon Girls magazine.

If you are thinking about or are in the process of writing a book, let me encourage you to first try to get an article (or even a blog post) published. Publishing even one article allows you to hold the title of “published author.” If my twelve-year-old daughter can find a magazine to publish her story, you can too.

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Many Styles, One Book

A friend of mine, who is just about a generation younger than me, invited me to come to a new church opening up in our community recently. When I walked into the church service, I felt old. Everyone was almost a generation younger than me.

Everything about this new church was set up to interest this younger age group. The church had a coffee-shop style coffee area complete with bistro tables. The sanctuary was set up with chairs in a semi-circle around coffee-type tables all facing the stage. Each coffee table had a vase containing the offering envelopes and information about the church. Many of the people attending used these tables to set their coffee on during the service. No one was dressed up.

While the outward elements of this new church were quite different from the traditional churches I am used to, I noticed that it held the same service elements. These elements included: a time of singing worship songs, a sermon, and an offering.

This reminded me of publishing books. Books come in all shapes and sizes. They look different and are geared toward different audiences. However, there are some basic elements that make a book a book. These include: a cover, a title page, a copyright page, a table of contents (for nonfiction), and the body of the book.

What the cover looks like and how information is presented in each book will differ, but these elements are what make a book a book, just like singing, a sermon, and an offering are what make a church service a church service regardless of the physical setup or how the information is presented.

Just like this new church used a style of music, an informal sanctuary set-up, and coffee to draw the audience they wanted to minister to, so should your book contain cover art, font style, and a layout design that are geared to the audience you are seeking to minster to through your book.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and add cutting-edge elements to your book. It may be what is needed to reach your intended audience.

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Appreciating Your Pastor

Did you know that October is Pastor Appreciation Month? This is the month where parishioners are supposed to show their pastors how much they appreciate the effort they put into shepherding the flock.

If you need ideas on how to appreciate your pastor, you can find an online guide, developed by Focus on the Family, featuring step-by-step instructions on how to care for your clergy.  You can also check out the book, Mnistering to Your Minister, which is currently up for review on Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) BookCrash book review program. This book is also full of practical suggestions on how to support your pastor so he can minister effectively.

Pastors are one of our nation’s most loyal book-buying audiences. The vast majority of pastors (92%) say that they buy at least one book every month. On average, a pastor buys 3.8 books per month. That is 12 to 46 books a year. Compare that to the average American adult. Only 29% of adults buy more than 10 books in a year.

Not only do pastors buy books. They also read them. In one study commissioned by Pulpit & Pew, clergy from eight denominations reported spending an average of four hours a week reading beyond the reading done for a sermon or teaching lesson.

In essence, pastors represent a fallow customer field for authors and publishers. Not only do pastors’ buy books, they recommend books to their parishioners and pastor friends.

So, in addition to appreciating your pastor, make sure you give him (or her) copies of all the books that you publish. Your pastor can help you spread the word about your books.

If you have published a book that is written for pastors, your challenge is to sow your seed in that fallow field.  How does one reach hundreds of pastors with the message about a book they should read?

One way is through magazines geared toward pastors. These magazines offer advertising opportunities as well as opportunities for article submissions that can inform pastors about a subject and the related relevant book. A few of the magazines geared toward pastors include:

This, of course, is just a starting place. There are many ways to market your books to pastors.

I encourage you to appreciate your pastor this month (and every month of the year) and remember that pastors are book buyers too.

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