10 Reasons to Enter a Book Award

Nominations are open for the 2017 Christian Small Publishers Book of the Year Award! Books published in 2015 and 2016 are eligible for nomination. For complete nomination guidelines and to nominate a book, visit www.bookoftheyear.net.

Book Award Infograph

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Super Fans

My son likes to watch “Shark Tank”. “Shark Tank” is a reality TV show where budding entrepreneurs present their products to five “sharks”—titans of industry who have made their own dreams a reality and turned their ideas into lucrative empires—to get one of the sharks to invest money in their idea.

On one show, two lady entrepreneurs were showcasing a product that they had designed and produced for music fans. The “sharks” questioned these ladies as to why they were putting time and energy into a physical music product when everything was going to the digital realm.


These ladies countered that, while sales of music were moving to digital, a group of people were still attached to physical products. They defined this group as “super fans”. These super fans of a band don’t just want digital music, they want physical products that they can hold that represent the band they love. This product was designed for these super fans, and indeed, their product was already selling well.

Some of the sharks did not understand this “super fan” concept and were not interested. However, a couple sharks really got it. They began to become excited and talk about how other areas besides music might have super fans, areas like sports teams and entertainment franchises (think Star Trek, Harry Potter, etc.).

Every product needs super fans—those people who wholeheartedly believe in and support the product and proselytize the product to people they know. Authors also need super fans.

Super fans are readers who believe in you and your message. They so strongly believe in you and your message, they read whatever you write, whether that is in a book, on your blog, or in your social media posts. These people engage with you on a regular basis and point other people to you and your message. You need super fans to help spread the word about your books.

Super fans are great, but super fans need to be fed. If they are not fed, they stop being super fans. These lady entrepreneurs on Shark Tank understand this concept. They know that super fans need special things to remain engaged.

Keeping super fans engaged through special offerings is not hard. Consider the following ways you can feed your super fans and keep them engaged with you:

  1. Offer special promotions and discounts to just your super fans.
  2. Offer “first-chance” opportunities like advanced orders of upcoming books.
  3. Give your super fans a voice and ownership in your next book by asking for their feedback on your upcoming book’s title or cover design. Or, have them help you name a character in your upcoming book.
  4. Offer sneak peaks of an upcoming book to your super fans, but not to the general public.
  5. Offer a special limited-edition of your book to your super fans.

Every author needs super fans. Look for yours and be sure to feed them so that they remain your most ardent supporters. After all, super fans help you sell more books.

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Are You Prepared for Lightning?

Lightning is dangerous. One estimate is that 24,000 people are killed by lightning strikes around the world each year and about 240,000 more are injured.

Are you prepared for a lightning strike in your life?


Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) office was recently a victim of a lightning strike. The lightning did not strike the building directly, but somewhere just outside. It came into CSPA’s office via the DSL Internet line.

Everything connected to the DSL line was fried—a modem, a fax machine, a printer, and a computer. All were wiped out in a blink of the eye.

Having written an article on the importance of keeping your data secure for the CSPA Circular, Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) monthly newsletter for members, I knew the importance of backing up data on a regular basis. The article included a number of resources for free or cost-effective backup and storage of data that CSPA members could utilize. Fortunately, I had followed my own advice and the most important data on the obliterated computer was safely backed up and stored.

Keeping your data secure is important. No one wants to lose a manuscript. No one wants to lose the press-ready files for a book they are publishing. No one wants to lose the data on their website. No one wants to lose precious research data stored for marketing purposes.

Because I had backed up and stored important data, I was able to meet a number of impending deadlines despite the inconvenience of having to purchase and set up all new equipment. One deadline was for the upcoming Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference where I will be presenting a workshop. The organizer of the conference told me that she needed to take my warning to heart and improve her own backup procedures.

Don’t get caught unprepared. If you are struck by lightning, a flood, a fire, a theft, a crashed computer, or any other catastrophe, be prepared. Backup your data regularly and securely.

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Are You Making this Connection?

My husband plays the bass. He recently got a better, upgraded instrument and decided he would sell his older one. A friend just happened to be looking for an affordable bass for his son to learn on. My husband, sensing a sales opportunity pounced.

Bass Guitar

He dropped his bass off at the friend’s house and told him to try it out. His plan was to return in a few days to either collect his bass or the money for the sale. That, my friends, is smart marketing.

You see, my husband understands a concept that many authors fail to grasp: connection. The more connected a person becomes to a product, the more likely they will buy it.

After playing with the bass for a few days, my husband’s friend and his son are not going to want to give it back. They will want to keep the bass as they will have become engaged with and connected to the instrument.

The same principle applies to books.

At the recent International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), the largest gathering the industry has of Christian product buyers, there are many books on display. Publishers and authors are trying to get the attendees to get interested in and purchase their books and other products.

My teenage son accompanied me to ICRS this year. He stopped at a booth that had a line of Christian graphic novels. I asked him about these graphic novels. My son told me that he did not know much about them. I wondered why—after all, he had spent time at the booth and talked with the creator of the graphic novels.

My son informed me that the author had simply stood and told him about the books. He had not offered to allow my son to look through one of the graphic novels. That is like telling a kid about a cool toy. The kid doesn’t quite grasp the concept and thus has little interest. But, give the kid the toy to try out and you have an excited child who wants one.

This author had missed an important marketing opportunity: connection. Yes, the author had tried to make a connection with my son, but he had failed to connect my son to the books. Had this author handed my son a book to look through, he would have created a connection and garnered interest, and possibly even a sale.

How can you get people more connected to your books? Try these two easy ways:

  1. Always carry a copy of your book with you. When you are telling people about your book, pull it out and let them hold it and thumb through it. Create a connection to the physical book.
  2. Offer a sample of your book in the digital realm. Allow potential readers to read a couple chapters of your book to get them engaged and connected.

Remember making a connection increases the chances you will make a sale. The best connection is where the reader not only connects with you, the author, but also with the book itself.

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Finding Connections and Opportunities

If you have published or are thinking about publishing a Christian book, I encourage you to attend at least one trade show that the book industry hosts. These venues present wonderful opportunities to learn about the book industry and understand what is important in promoting and marketing a book, as well as provide you with a number of new opportunities.

Below are testimonials from two members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA)—one an independently published author and the other a small publisher—who attended ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) with us this summer in Cincinnati. Hear what they have to say about their experience at the show, then consider how attending a trade show might help you in marketing and promoting your book(s).

If you are not yet a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I encourage you to join. One of the benefits of membership in CSPA is that we offer a cost-effective way to attend industry trade shows like ICRS. CSPA is offering a summer membership special of $120 for membership through December 2017—that’s 18 months of membership for less than $7 per month. Join today on CSPA’s website!

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