New Christian Book Award

In my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, I state the following:

“Pursuing book awards can be beneficial. Book awards bring exposure for books. Exposure generates sales. Sales mean more money in your pocket.”

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There are a growing number of book awards that authors and publishers of Christian books can enter. While Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) sponsors one book award, the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award, I believe that authors and publishers can benefit from entering their books into more than one award. Doing so increases the chances of actually winning an award.

The Jenkins Group has just launched a new Christian book awards program. The Illumination Christian Book Awards (ICBA) are designed to honor the year’s best new titles written and published with a Christian worldview. The contest features 16 categories including Bible Study, Christian Living, Devotional, Theology, Ministry/Mission, eBooks, and Catholic. This new award is currently accepting nominations for all Christian-themed books published since January 1, 2012.

I encourage you to head on over to the Illumination Christian Book Awards website and nominate your book. While you are at it, stop by the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award website and also nominate your book for that award. Then consider also submitting to a few of the following awards with Religious categories:

If you end up winning an award, make sure you use it to gain publicity for your book (see “Receiving a Coveted Book Award“). If your book wins an award, tell me and my readers know about it by announcing it in the comments section of this blog.

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Dear Author

From time to time, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) receives submissions of books with requests from the author to either distribute or market the book. While CSPA does neither of these services directly, we do provide services to publishers and authors to help in gaining distribution and in marketing their books.

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CSPA recently received a request for distribution from an author who published a children’s book via CreateSpace. The gentleman was seeking distribution to get his book onto Christian bookstore shelves nationwide. I felt that some of you might benefit from my response to this author, so I am sharing it here.

Dear Author:

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is in receipt of your children’s Christmas picture book and your request to find a distributor for your book to make your product available in nationwide Christian bookstores.

CSPA provides distribution for our member publishers (see our website for the membership criteria at www.christianpublishers.net under “Membership”). We have two options for distribution. One option is to have books placed in Send the Light, Inc. and the other is to have books stocked with Ingram / Spring Arbor. Both are distributors of Christian literature.

First, you need to be aware that placing your book in distribution will not get your book on bookstore shelves. Distribution only makes your book available for bookstores to order. It is still the publisher’s or author’s responsibility to market the book to bookstores.

Second, it is very difficult to get a book into Christian bookstores. Thousands of books are published each year and bookstores have very little shelf space. Therefore, they tend to stock books by the large Christian publishers and by well-known authors. Those small publishers and independent authors wishing to get their books onto bookstore shelves have to work hard and spend money to make this happen.

Third, your children’s book does not really have a spine. Some distributors will not take books without a spine that has the title of the book printed on it. The reason for this is because most stores do not stock books that do not have a spine. If the book is stacked in a shelf, it becomes almost invisible without a spine showing the book’s title. Since your book does not have a spine, I can guarantee that most stores will not stock it even with a lot of effort on your part.

That being said, there are many other avenues available for you to market your books more directly to consumers. I would recommend that you read the book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace (www.marketingchristianbooks.com) to learn more about other ways to promote your book.

God Bless,
Sarah Bolme, Director
Christian Small Publishers Association

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Need a Holiday?

Do you need a holiday to help you promote your books? Have you looked at a listing of holidays and celebrations for each month and not found one that suits your books?

Consider creating your own.

One publisher I know, Rest Ministries, created the National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. The books Rest Ministries creates are all geared toward people suffering with chronic illnesses. To bring awareness to this plight, as well as have a tool to minister to people with chronic illness, this publisher created a national holiday.

Crime Month

More recently, three smaller independent publishers got together and decided to launch International Crime Month. These three publishers (Europa Editions, Akashic Books, and Melville House) all produce crime fiction books.

To celebrate International Crime Month, these three publishers reached out to independent bookstores and created a month-long series of events featuring some of the top writers in the genre.

The inaugural International Crime Month will be this June 2013, kicking off on the eve of BEA. By bookending the first International Crime Month with BEA and ALA, the group hopes to gain as much exposure as possible and build the foundation for a larger event next year that will include more presses and events across the country.

All it takes is some thought, and lots of time and energy to create the national holiday you need to promote awareness for your books.

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Innovate or Die

Amazon didn’t become the largest online retailer by chance. The company is smart, strategic, and innovative.

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Amazon knows that they must continue to innovate and provide new tools and services to stay on top of the hill. Thus, they continue to roll out new things regularly.

It’s not too hard to create an Amazon Kindle ebook. There are a number of online tools that help authors and publishers do this (Calibre, Jutoh, Mobipocket Creator, etc.). However, these tools are mainly for text books with just a few images. Those authors and publishers wanting to put their graphic novels (image rich books) into the Kindle Store do not have access to as many tools to help them do this.

Amazon has come to the rescue. They have launched the Kindle Comics Creator.

According to Amazon, the Kindle Comics Creator removes the need for authors and publishers to understand the intricacies of the HTML/CSS code that goes into an ebook. This tool lets authors import artwork, arrange the layout, and even create a guided reading experience with Kindle Panel Views. The Kindle Comics Creator is reportedly able to automatically detect the panels in an image and it will recommend a reading order that will best guide a reader through the story.

If you publish graphic novels or comics, this new tool from Amazon might save you time and money. Amazon is hoping it will help you put your next graphic novel or comic book in their system.

You can be assured that Amazon will continue to roll out more tools to help authors and publishers place books in the Kindle store with ease. Rumor has it that Amazon is beta testing a cover creation tool for its Kindle Direct Publishing. This tool will reportedly have access to thousands of royalty-free images and allow authors to quickly and easily create a cover design for an ebook. Best of all, word is that it will be free to use. Stay tuned for more on that.

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Crowdfunding

Do you want to publish a book but don’t have the money? Raise it using Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

Many authors have had success using these sites to raise the money they need to publish a book (see “A Lesson in Marketing” and “The Power of Social Media”).

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Now the question is: Do you want to publish your book as an app but don’t have the money?

The answer: Raise the money using Appsplit.

Appsplit is the Kickstarter for apps. In other words, Appsplit is the new crowdfunding site for apps. In addition to helping individuals raise funds to create apps, Appsplit also allows users to connect with people who have the talent to create the apps.

Crowdfunding platforms like Appsplit help you raise the capital you need to get your idea going. However, obtaining money via crowdfunding is not easy.

First, it requires marketing. You must get the word out about your campaign and get people to buy into it. Fortunately, if you are a published author and are looking to create an app for your book, you already have a built in audience to whom you can market an Appsplit fundraising campaign. Your book’s fans may want to have a digital app of your book and may be willing to help fund it.

Second, it requires that you offer potential investors an incentive. You can’t get something for nothing. Offering an incentive, a “thank you” in the form of a reward, is crucial to inspiring people to open their wallets and invest in your idea.

A stroll through Appsplit or Kickstarter will show a number of ideas that never received funding to get off the ground. If you decide to use a crowdfunding platform to bring your idea to fruition, be sure to commit the time and energy required to market your idea to potential funders. After all, as Mark Twain once said, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

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