Are You Afraid of Failure?

I recently heard that the President of Pixar has said, “Failure is the inevitable result of trying something new.”

Wow, that statement is so true.


Most of us fear failure. We don’t want to fail. Often, we don’t take risks. Instead, we stay in our cozy comfort zone to avoid failure.

Here is my question: How do you define failure?

  • Is failure falling short of your own goals for your project or book?
  • Is failure losing money on a project or book?
  • Is failure only doing part of a project (or one or two books in a longer series) before being forced to quit due to lack of consumer interest or finances?
  • Is failure poor reviews of your book?

Often, we are afraid of failure, but we don’t take the time to define what failing would look like. We have an idea of what success would look like, and so anything that falls short of our idea of success we end up calling failure.

But, is not reaching your own or society’s idea of success truly a failure? After all, isn’t simply writing a book or publishing a book a success of its own? If we learn something from our project or book, even if it doesn’t perform as well as we expect or desire, isn’t that also a form of success?

The book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford seems to imply that all success starts with failure. I don’t believe that this premise is true. However, I do believe that failure can lead to future successes if we let it.

Failure is not just “lack of success”. Failure is also a great teacher. When we don’t reach the success we want (what we call failing), we can take the lessons we learn and use them to change our course.

This, of course. is the point in Tim Harford’s book. We must adapt. Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure puts forth three essential steps for successful adapting:

  1. Try new things with the knowledge that some will fail.
  2. Make failure survivable since some of the attempts will surely fail.
  3. Make sure you know when you have failed.

Again, defining failure as well as success is important when you embark on a new project.
The old adage “Nothing ventured, Nothing gained” still holds true. If we sit in our comfort zones, we won’t fail, but we also won’t experience success.

If fear of failure is holding you back, maybe it’s time to define what failure would be. After all, following what we feel God is calling us to do is, in and of itself, a success.

Related Posts:
What’s Holding You Back?
Indecision: A Success Killer
The Iceberg of Success

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Award to the Wise

As the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), the author of the award-winning Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, and the author of this blog on marketing Christian books, I try to follow my own marketing advice.

Now admittedly, I don’t follow my advice as well as I should. (Aren’t we all guilty of this? It is so much easier to give advice then to follow it.) I really should put more effort into marketing than I do. Sadly, it is primarily time constraints that keep me from doing more.

One area that I have taken my own advice seriously is in pursuing book awards. I am pleased to announce that my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, has won another book award! It is the recipient of the Book Excellence Awards in the writing/publishing category.


Now in its third edition, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace has now garnered five book awards. This book is truly a useful guide for authors and publishers producing Christian books.

I was surprised to discover that this most recent award program, Book Excellence Awards, charges a license fee of $149.99 to winners who want to use their award seal. This means that if I want to put the award seal on any marketing material or on the cover of my book, I must pay the licensing fee.

Now, licensing fees are not unheard of in book award programs. However, most book award programs geared toward small publishers and independently published authors do not charge a license fee to use their award seal. In fact, none of the other awards my book has won have charged a license fee.

What makes this more surprising to me is that the Book Excellence Award is brand-new. This means that this award is not yet well-known or well-recognized in the industry. Even widely known and prestigious awards like IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Award or the IPPY Awards (Independent Publisher Awards) do not charge a licensing fee to use their award seal.

Additionally, Christian Small Publisher Association’s book award program, Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award, does not charge winners a fee to use the award seal in their marketing materials or on their book covers. That’s one more reason for you to nominate your Christian book for this award. Nominations are open through November 15, 2016, at

The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award does charge for book stickers, but this is because book stickers are a physical commodity that cost money to produce.

If you have not yet pursued book awards for your book, I suggest that you do. Book awards are a great tool for additional exposure for your book and a boon to your marketing efforts when you win!

Update:  In 2017, the Book Excellence Awards decided to provide their book award seal free to the winners of the award.

Related Posts:
10 Reasons to Enter a Book Award
Do You Need an Excuse?
The Value of Book Awards

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Are You Marketing Effectively?

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!”

This old saying still holds truth. It warns you not to put all your prospects or resources in one thing or place—lest you lose everything.

Is all your book promotion done digitally online? If so, you are guilty of placing all your marketing efforts in one basket.

Traditional media—radio, television, and print—is not dead! Do you still watch TV? Do you listen to the radio? Do you read print magazines and catalogs?


If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you can rest assured that your target audience is also utilizing these forms of traditional media. In fact, studies show:

  • Over two-thirds of Americans still read print magazines.
  • 23% of Americans still read a paper copy of a daily newspaper.
  • 48% of Americans listen to local radio.
  • 56% of Americans say receiving snail mail is a pleasure.

Yes, digital media is significant and you should be using content marketing and digital advertising to promote your books. However, don’t neglect print. Utilizing both mediums is a more effective strategy in reaching readers—and you’re not putting all your efforts in one basket.

Following are five easy suggestions for including traditional media in your book promotion activities.

1. Mail postcards to your customers announcing new books or specials you are hosting.

Snail mail is more expensive than an email blast, however, it has a higher open rate. The average open rate for opt-in email newsletters or updates is about 22%. However, the open rate for snail mail is closer to 70%. Surveys show that 79% of snail mail receivers act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45% for email.

2. Advertise in a print catalog or magazine.

Interestingly, VistaPrint, which is a large online printing service recently began sending out print catalog of their products to customers. In the past, they have sent promotional mailings, but recently, they have added a print catalog. Catalogs are still powerful. All the major companies and book publishers still invest in print catalog. That is why Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) provides our members the opportunity to participate in a cooperative print catalog to showcase their books each year.

3. Send a select number of media pitches with your media kits via snail mail to local radio shows and print publications.

Of course, you don’t want to send all your press materials and pitches via regular mail—that would be too costly. However, send a few to local sources and track your responses. After all, 70% of people open most of their mail. If you hand address your envelopes, you will increase your chances of your pitch being read.

4. Participate in in-person events to promote your books.

There are many in-person events that you can attend to promote your books. From local festivals to book fairs to national book trade conventions. This is one reason that Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) provides our members with Trade Show Representation. We make it affordable for our members to attend in-person book events. Coming up in early 2017, members of CSPA will be able to attend the upcoming National Religious Broadcasters Convention with us to showcase their books and connect with media personnel and ministry leaders.

5. Print business cards and hand them out.

Business cards are still widely used. Every time I go to an event and meet people, business cards are still exchanged. A business card helps me remember the people I meet and provides an easy follow up reminder. When printing your business cards, I suggest that you include a coupon or a code for a dollar amount off the purchase of your book. Make the code specific for your business card, then you can track how effective your business cards are.

Overreliance on any one book promotional vehicle reduces your chances for success. Studies show that people need to hear about a new product multiple times in different ways before they are ready to act and purchase the product. The same is true for your book and your target audience. Use multiple vehicles for promotion, including both digital and traditional media, to increase your chances of success.

Related Posts:
Make New Friends, But Keep the Old
Paper is Not Going Away
Societal Trends and the Print Book

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The Influential Power of Books

Books have power. Books have the power to influence people. They have the power to change lives.

Indeed, the influence of a book is magnified when the book influences someone who influences others.

Grammy Award winner and hip-hop artist, Lecrae, talks about the influence of books in his own life in his autobiographical song “Non-Fiction”. In this song, Lecrae says:

Shortly after I got a hold of Tim Keller’s books
Man I promise you it’s like my whole life changed
Andy Crouch wrote a book about culture-makin’
And after that I had to make a slight change.

Timothy J. Keller is an American pastor, theologian and Christian apologist who has authored a number of books. Andy Crouch is the Executive Editor of Christianity Today and the author of a number of books.

If you are an author, then you are an influencer. The words you pen have the power to influence others’ lives. When the influence is Gospel influence, God is magnified.

While you might not be an influencer on the level of Tony Evans or Kay Arthur, when you author a book, you still become an influencer. You influence those individuals who read your book—whether that is 50 people or 50,000 people. When the people who read your book are themselves influencers, your influence trickles down to their audiences. The effect is that your influential reach is multiplied.

I encourage you to take this responsibility seriously. Use your words to build others up and point them in directions that lead to Eternal peace. Then the blessing of God will be upon your books.

Take heart. Your message has an impact on those who read your books. Such is the power of the written word.

Related Posts:
The Power of Christian Fiction
A Growing Influence
Do Blogs Influence Purchasing Decisions?

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How to Get a Book into a Christian Bookstore

Hello. I published a series of books through Createspace. I just returned from a Christian retail trade show and discovered that if I want my books in Christian stores, publishing through Createspace is not the way to go. I have your book and I wanted you to know this information. I think you should include it in your next edition.

This message was recently left on my voicemail. The gentleman on the message did not leave a return phone number or an email, so I could not get back in touch with him. So, instead, I will respond to this statement in a blog post and educate everyone.



Of course, my immediate reaction to this voicemail message was, “Did you read my book?”

In Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, I devote a whole chapter to “Secure Distribution” where I talk about how Christian bookstores order products from distributors. Rarely do bookstores order books directly from authors or small publishers. In the chapter, I list the distributors from whom Christian bookstores order products.

Maybe, I did not make the message clear enough in the book. So, I will attempt to clarify. Here are three important things to know about getting your books into Christian bookstores.

1. It is extremely difficult to get Christian bookstores to stock titles from independently published authors and small publishers.

Note that I said “extremely difficult”, not “impossible”. In fact, a number of authors and publishers who are members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) have had success in getting Christian bookstores to carry their titles, especially independent Christian bookstores.

In fact, in my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, in the chapter titled “Reach Christian Retailers” I talk about how difficult it is to get a book in a bookstore. I state, “For every available bookstore shelf space, there are 1,000 or more titles competing for that shelf space. In essence, any given book has less than a 1% chance of being placed on a bookstore shelf”.” The competition is stiff.

2. How the book is published is irrelevant; who is listed as the publisher is important.

With limited shelf space, Christian bookstores have to be careful about which books they choose to showcase. First, they must be assured that the book is the right theological bent for their customer base. Second, they must have some confidence that the book will sell.

Christian bookstores by and large purchase books published by the large well-known Christian publishing houses and written by established Christian authors. These are entities that Christian booksellers trust. Most Christian retail stores won’t touch a book that is obviously self-published—in other words, one that lists Createspace as the publisher. Even Barnes and Noble will not stock a book produced by Createspace in their physical bookstores. The company views Amazon as its competitor.

If an independent author is serious about getting his books into Christian bookstores, then, that author should use a business entity (publishing house or ministry) as the publisher name on his books.

You can produce a book through CreateSpace and do this. Instead of having CreateSpace assign an ISBN number to your book, you must purchase your own ISBN number through Bowker. This number is assigned to your business name. When your book is published, it will show up as published by your business name, not Createspace, both on Amazon and in distribution.

3. Having your book in the right distribution channels is required for a Christian bookstore to stock it.

There are always exceptions, but, by-and-large, most Christian bookstores won’t order books directly from an independent publisher or a small publisher. These stores simply don’t want to mess with multiple accounts. Instead, they order in batches from a distributor, making their accounting and return process much easier.

Additionally, Christian bookstores, for the most part, don’t order books from Ingram or Baker & Taylor (and definitely not from Amazon, which is a retailer). These distributors cater to the general market. Instead, Christian bookstores order from Christian distributors of which there are two main ones: Spring Arbor and Anchor Distribution.

Even if your book is selling like hotcakes, Christian bookstores won’t stock it unless they can order it from a Christian distributor. Createspace’s expanded distribution will place your book in Ingram, but not in Spring Arbor (unless you work hard to get them to do so).

I believe the gentleman on my voicemail was a little put out because he had spent a large amount of money to attend the Christian retail show and had little success. This is one reason that Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) offers our members trade show representation. Member authors and publishers of CSPA can present books to Christian retailers at a fraction of the cost of hosting their own booth at a show, reducing both costs and risk.

Publishing through Createspace is not the issue. The issue is knowing how to present your book to Christian bookstores so that the bookstores are confident your book is unique, what their consumers want, and will sell. Then, having the book available through Christian distribution will clinch the deal.

Related Posts:
More Than a Shelf
An Industry Shakeup
Staying Relevant

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