The Art of Marketing

Seth Godin has been called “America’s Greatest Marketer.” In addition to being a best-selling author, his blog is perhaps the most popular in the world written by a single individual.

Every author and publisher can learn something from this marketing genius. Watch this short video on the “Art of Marketing” by Seth Godin. Listen for his interesting definition of marketing.

In case you missed it, Seth says, “Marketing is the art of making something that people want to talk about; producing something that people want to engage in.”

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What Do You Do?

I have a book that I want to get published.”

As Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I hear this statement multiple times each month from potential authors who are looking to get a manuscript published. Since CSPA has the word “publishers” in our name, these authors assume that we are a publishing company.

After I tell these authors that CSPA does not publish books, nor do we assist authors in getting their books published, I direct them to the “Author Seeking Publisher” page of CSPA’s website where CSPA member publishers who are actively seeking manuscripts are listed. Once I have done that, most of these aspiring authors ask:


“If you don’t publish, what is it that you do?”

I answer, “We are an association for publishers.”

“Yes, but what do you actually do?” they ask again.

My reply is generally, “We assist publishers in marketing their books.”

Inevitably the author will then ask, “Can you help me market my book?”

To which I say, “Yes, once you publish the book.”

What I believe these potential authors are really asking is: What exactly does belonging to a publishing association do for publishers? That answer is too long and complicated for a short phone call, so I thought I would answer it here.

1. First and foremost, belonging to a publishing association brings you credibility. It says we are a legitimate publishing house, serious about our business. Associations are known in the book industry, so when different entities within the trade business see that you are a member of an association, they take notice. For example, Midwest Book Review puts requests for book reviews by publishers who belong to an association ahead of those from publishers who do not.

2. Belonging to a publishing association keeps you informed. One of the main responsibilities of an association is to keep their members informed and up-to-date on standards and requirements within the industry. That way, you won’t be using a 10-digit ISBN when a 13-digit ISBN is required.

3. Every association offers their members cost saving benefits. At Christian Small Publishers Association, our focus is helping our member publishers with marketing. Therefore, we offer a number of affordable programs that help publishers get the information about their books out to the Christian marketplace.

4. Being part of an association provides you networking opportunities. Two are better than one and three are even stronger. In other words, finding other people who are doing similar things allows you to make alliances and create greater opportunities for spreading the word about your books. In addition, networking allows you to learn from other publishers who have gone before and can keep you from making costly mistakes.

I always encourage publishes and potential publishers to not limit themselves to help from just one association. Join as many as you find you can benefit from. Each organization specializes in different areas of publishing and marketing. Here is a list of the national publishers associations for small publishers and independently published authors:

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Ingram Spark

Move over Random House. The publishing world is changing. No longer do large publishing houses have the same hold on the book industry. Now, small publishers and authors are producing books and selling them, sometimes in large quantities. In fact, small publishers now make up 20% of the publishing industry.


The publishing world is beginning to embrace this seismic shift. Ingram, the largest book wholesale company once only deigned to work with publishers with 10 or more titles. When print-on-demand appeared, they opened Lightning Source and allowed small publishers to use this service to gain distribution. Then, about 2 years ago, they allowed the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) to form an agreement with them in regards to IBPA member publishers. This agreement allows member publishers of IBPA to obtain distribution for a print book with Ingram (with a setup fee of $300) if they agree to participate in at least one of Ingram’s marketing programs.

Now, Ingram is going one step further to engage more small and self-publishers—all in an effort to stay in the game and to make more money. Next month, they are launching a new publishing platform called Ingram Spark.

Ingram Spark will be a “Publish on Demand” platform which will incorporate both print and ebook distribution. By combining print and digital platforms, the program is supposed to simply the entire distribution process while offering Ingram’s worldwide reach.

With Ingram Spark, it will be free to open an account. However, there will be setup fees. Spark will charge a $49 fee to publish both an ebook and a print book ($25 for just an ebook). In addition, there will be a $12 fee per year to be listed in Ingram’s catalog (as with Lightning Source). Publishers will be paid a royalty when books are sold—40% for ebooks and 45% for print books (not sure if that is after printing costs or not). Publishers will have the ability to set that retail price, but Ingram will set a fixed discount for retail sales (unlike Lightning Source where the publisher can choose the discount).

This leaves me with the question of what the advantage of Ingram Spark will be over Ingram’s existing Lightning Source program. The only thing I can think of is that it will make the process of setting up both print-on-demand and ebook distribution easier for a publisher since both will be under the same account. Currently, print and ebook distribution are two separate agreements and processes with Lightning Source. Other than that, I don’t see any other advantages. Maybe you do. If so, let me know.

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Back to Basics

More books are being published today than ever before and the number continues to increase. At the same time, the number of readers for those books isn’t increasing at the same rate.


It begs the question: Are there enough readers for all the books?

Every book has an audience of a certain size. Authors should be helping to develop readers for their book through creating a tribe and connecting with their potential audience via social media online.

In addition, publishers (and authors) must also be working to connect with a target audience and in this way develop readers for their books. Developing an audience for a book means going back to the basics—the basics of marketing.

Here are three steps to help you get back to the basics in developing an audience for your next book.

1. Identify your audience.
Your audience is not going to be every Christian, or every Christian parent, or every Christian mom or dad. It is going to be narrower than that. Ask yourself: Who specifically would benefit the most from the information or story in this book?

2. Identify the movers and shakers in that audience.
A mover and shaker can be a person. It might also be a journal, newspaper, or magazine. Associations or organizations can also be movers and shakers. Every audience has them. Christian teens, military moms, Christian lawyers, potential missionaries, each of these audiences has movers and shakers, spokespeople that the audience listens to.

3. Reach out to the movers and shakers.
Movers and shakers are the medium to use to get the information about your book to your audience. These are the people (or organization, etc.) who your audience trusts and follows. Getting the movers and shakers first to buy into the message in your book, and then to talk about book to your target audience, is the best way to develop and reach your potential readers.

If you are looking for more readers, be sure to include audience development in your next book’s marketing plan.

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Trade Show Business

Book Expo America (BEA) is the largest trade show the book business hosts. It is a general book show that includes secular and Christian titles. Famous people (and not so famous people) come to BEA to sign their latest titles.

The International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), held later this month, is a similar trade show to BEA, except that it is a niche show just for the Christian market. As such, it is smaller than BEA.

If you have never attended either BEA or ICRS, watch this recent video shot at BEA this year to get a small glimpse of what a book trade show is like.

Many authors I talk to balk as giving out free books at a trade show. Yet, you will see from this video that it is the usual form of business at such shows. While not every author at BEA gives away free books, giving away something to promote a book is usual and customary. You will see in this video that instead of giving away free copies of her new cookbook, Paula Dean gave away signed copies of a recipe from her new book.

Remember, good marketing usually costs money, but if you want to do it well and save money, that takes great creativity.

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