A Marketing Lesson

I recently received a notice in the mail from a credit card company whose credit card I possess in my wallet. The company had sent me a complimentary notice of my credit score. They stated that they planned to continue to do this free-of-charge on a monthly basis. The reason: They want to be my favorite credit card.

credit cards

I think there is a lesson to be learned from this credit card company. The credit card business faces stiff competition. While there are only a few types of credit cards—Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express—the number of businesses that offer these credit cards is enormous.

This is not unlike the book market. While there are a limited number of genres of books, the number of books in each category is massive. Book selling competition is fierce, much like the credit card competition.

To set themselves apart, my credit card company has decided to provide a service that is useful for me, the consumer—adding value to my life. In addition, the method they have chosen to deliver this service (monthly) ensure that their name will continually be brought to my attention with a positive association. The goal is that this reminder and association will make me more inclined to think of this credit card more frequently. The end result will be that I will use this particular credit card more often.

Consider how this lesson from a credit card company can help you sell more books.

What can you offer that will set your apart from the competition? What value-added service can you provide that will consistently bring your name and your book’s name in front of your potential readers?

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The 2014 Book of the Year Award Winners!

The votes are in and counted. The winners of the 2014 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award have been determined!

Over 3,100 Christian book lovers and retailers voted on 108 nominated titles in 12 categories. This year the voting was very competitive. Two categories had ties for first place—a first for the Book of the Year Award.

Award 1The winners in each of the 12 categories are:

FictionThirty Days to Glory, Kathy Nickerson, CrossRiver Media Group

RomanceShenandoah Nights, Lisa Belcastro, OakTara

Christian Living (tie)A Bead and a Prayer, Kristen E. Vincent, Upper Room Books &
Life’s A Pain: Journeying By Faith When Every Step Hurts, Todd Rettberg, CrossLink Publishing

Bible Study / Theology: The Epic of God, Michael Whitworth, Start2Finish Books

Devotional:  This I Know, Toby Holsinger, CrossRiver Media Group

Biography (tie):  SuperGal vs. GOD, Lori Hynson, Broken Shoe Press &
Crossfire: The Life of Chuck Svoboda, a Foot-Soldier in God’s Army, David J. Bauer, Grace Acres Press

Relationships / Family:  25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband, Jennifer L Flanders, Prescott Publishing

Children’s (age 4 to 8):  The Potter, Cindy Starr Stewart, Carpenter’s Son

Children’s (age 8 to 12):  Where the River Rises, Rosie Boom, Boom Tree Publishing

Young Adult (age 12+):  A Cry From Egypt, Hope Auer, Great Waters Press

Gift Book:  101 Surprises! Sayings with Scriptures You Didn’t See Coming, Wilma Shepard Caraway, Fruitbearer Publishing LLC

eBook Exclusive:  Subject Your Flesh, Beyr Reyes, ShadeTree Publishing

Award 2

Congratulations to the winners!

The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award is sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA).

Looking for a great book to read next? Try one of the winners of the CSP Book of the Year Award listed here.

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Sell More Books with Coupons

The other day, I sent my dear husband to purchase a Sunday newspaper at the store. I usually pick up the paper before or after church, but this particular Sunday, I had waited until the evening to send him.


I was surprised to learn that he had to drive to three stores to find one that still had a Sunday paper to sell—until he told me that the woman in line before him was buying four papers. Then it struck me. All the Sunday papers were sold out because serious coupon users often buy multiple copies of the Sunday paper for the coupons.

Coupons are popular. A recent study by Valassis Shopper Marketing found that 40% of their survey respondents reported that their coupon usage had increased during the past year. While more than half of these coupon clippers still use printed coupons from newspapers (52%) and mailers (51%), those who prefer digital coupon delivery has grown 6% since 2012.

Publishers and authors can make use of this information. Many readers are bargain shoppers. They are much more likely to engage in making a purchase when a special is offered. One way to offer specials is through coupons. Coupons can be sent via snail mail, email, or even offered over social media.

When running a promotional campaign for your book, be sure to build in some special offers and include a coupon offer. Make sure that you put an expiration date on your coupon. This gives the buyer a greater sense of urgency to act now to get the special deal.

Free online services like Send a Coupon make creating a coupon easy. Send a Coupon allows you to create free coupons that you can email or tweet to your followers.

I encourage you to take advantage of the increased coupon use trend in America to sell more of your books.

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Book-Inspired Brooches

As a book lover, interesting uses of books catch my attention. I recently came across an artist who makes brooches out of classic novels.


Sarah Pounder sells her classic novel wooden brooches through Etsy. These brooches are basically wooden shapes that represent the story—i.e. a mouse shaped brooch for Of Mice and Men—featuring a part of a page of the book on the brooch.

This collection of brooches includes a heart-shaped Pride and Prejudice pin, a bird-shaped pin for To Kill a Mockingbird, and a pig-shaped pin for Charlotte’s Web. The artist claims that her pins are in such high demand that customers must pre-order them.

Imagine how you could use this concept to promote your book. Even though you might not have a classic book, wearing a shaped brooch (representing your theme) made with a page from your book could really get some conversations started that would allow you to introduce others to your book.

If you were to make a book-inspired brooch for your book, what would the shape of your pin be?

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Don’t Miss This Opportunity

Over 200 books by small publishers and independently published authors pass my desk each year. That is a lot of books that I get to look at and learn from.

A Bead and a Prayer

Some of these books have great elements that fascinate me and I think are wonderful marketing techniques and ideas. Others, while good books, sometimes miss important opportunities.

A Bead and A Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads by Kristen E. Vincent was one of the books nominated for the 2014 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award. The book caught my eye mostly because of its unique subject matter, but also because it has a nicely designed cover.

The book is a short read. I read it quickly. At the end, I noticed that the author gave instructions on how to make prayer beads and included websites where readers could purchase supplies to make their own prayer beads. For those who were not interested in making their own prayer beads, four websites were mentioned where pre-made Protestant prayer beads could be purchased. I think all these resources were great.

However, one of the buzz phrases in publishing today for authors is, “Don’t look at a book as an end product.” In other words, consider the ways your book can direct readers to make more purchases—whether that is for a service or a product.

This author did miss an opportunity. She missed the opportunity to sell Protestant prayer beads directly to her readers either through her own website or through partnering with someone who made these beads via an affiliate relationship. Doing either of these would have brought the author increased revenue, as well as allowed her to collect customer information for future marketing efforts.

I encourage you to take this message to heart and don’t miss an opportunity with your next book.

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