Good News: Religious Book Sales Are Strong

What is trending?

This is a common question no matter what industry you are in. Book publishing is not different. Publishers and authors often want to know what is hot and what is not.

There are a number of ways to find out what is trending. You can:

1. Follow Bestseller Lists.

Looking at bestseller lists is a great way to find out what books are currently in demand and selling well. There are a number of bestseller lists including those hosted by the NY Times, Publishers Weekly, Amazon, Smashwords, and ECPA. Keep in mind, however, that just because a topic is popular today does not predict that the same topic will sell well next year. Trends change.

2. Review Book Sales Statistics

Both NDP BookScan and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) track book sales. Publishers can subscribe to these reports. For those on a budget, each company makes a summary of their findings available to the public.

Which Books Are Selling

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) recently released its analysis of book sales for 2018. Here is what they found:

  • Nonfiction books, both Adult and Children’s and Young Adult, experienced the largest percentage revenue growth for publishers over the past five years. Adult nonfiction revenues grew 22.8 percent and Children’s and Young Adult nonfiction revenues grew 38.5 percent from 2014 to 2018. Unit sales for Adult nonfiction and Children’s and Young Adult nonfiction grew 20.9 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively, over the same five-year period.
  • Publisher revenue for adult fiction was flat (0.4 percent) at $4.40 billion in 2018, while Children’s and Young Adult fiction grew slightly (1.6 percent) to $3.72 billion.
  • Religious presses’ revenue grew 14.7 percent in 2018 to $1.22 billion with 75.7 percent of that revenue coming from print formats.
  • Downloaded audio remained the fastest growing format, with 28.7 percent year-over-year revenue growth from 2017 to 2018 and 181.8 percent revenue growth over the past five years.
  • eBook sales were down 5.2% from 2017.

The good news is that Religious books are selling well. This report did not break down specifically what type of religious titles are selling well. However, NDP BookScan, recently presented this information in a webinar. BookScan reported that sales of Autobiographies and Biographies are growing, as well as sales of Self-Help books (think Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis).

Book Formats

Popular Book Formats

There has been a lot of talk about the growth of audiobooks—and sales in this category are growing. Yet, audiobooks only make up about 15% of total book sales, while print books comprise almost half of all book sales. Here is the breakdown:

  • 45% of publishers’ sales were in trade print formats.
  • 24% were ebooks.
  • 13% were downloaded audio.
  • 2% were physical audio or a different format.

Words of Wisdom

I believe that Christian authors and publishers should be governed less by which books are trending and more by what God is calling you to write and publish. Knowing what is popular can help inform your marketing efforts. But, if you are publishing for the Glory of God, then what he is leading you to put into print is more important than what statistics report is selling well.

Related Posts:
Five Christian Book Publishing Trends for 2019
The Importance of Following Trends
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Photo courtesy of geralt.

Celebrate National Book Lovers Day

Did you know that August 9 is National Book Lovers Day?

I encourage you to celebrate the day with a book-related activities. Here are 10 ideas to get you started!

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Get Caught Reading; It’s Good for You!
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Are You Sharing Your Story?

We like to think that we are logical creatures. The truth is, humans are highly emotional.

In fact, science shows that we are driven more by our emotions than our logic. Research shows that feelings are more important than we think.

Emotion is a required ingredient in decision making.

In studying people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated, neuroscientist Antonio Damsio made an important discovery. These people seemed normal, but they were not able to feel emotions. They all had one thing in common—they could not make decisions. Simple decisions, such as what to eat, were difficult for these people.

Damsio believes that emotions are not barriers to decisions, rather, they are a crucial component of decision-making. In other words, emotion is required for our brain to make a decision. I think he is right.

Someone I follow on Facebook recently made this post:

Did you notice his first few words? He said, “I felt for this mom.” In other words, this man had an emotional reaction to this mom’s story. That reaction led him to buy her book.

This author was highlighted on WCNC, a local news channel in Charlotte. She wrote a children’s book on bullying, and the station was highlighting her story and how the book came about. You can read it here.

Authors, you can learn two lessons from this mom author.

1. This author secured local media coverage.

Are you pursuing local media coverage? It is much easier to be featured as a local author in the news than to gain national media coverage as an author. Start local and grow from there.

2. This author shared a compelling story.

Experts report that between 2,000 and 4,000 books are published every day. With that many books published; a new book is not “news”. What makes a book newsworthy is a story. To grab journalists’ attention, share a compelling story that either led you to write your book or ties into the theme of your book.

It took courage for this mom to share her embarrassing story. Yet, it allowed her to gain media coverage and created the emotional reaction that led my Facebook friend to buy her book.

If you want to sell more books, you have to create an emotional connection with people. Studies show that 90% of Millennials say that authenticity is important in their purchasing decisions. Create an emotional connection by being transparent and real.

Related Posts:
Start with Why, Not What
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Are Awards Worth It?

I recently received the following email from an indie author:

I am emailing because I have a question. My book won a 2019 Christian Indie Award in April and I just wanted to know if you can tell me the benefits of winning?

Maybe you struggle with this same question. Maybe you wonder whether entering a book award is worth your effort and money.

Winning a book award provides a great many benefits to both the author and the book. The infographic below lists six of these benefits.

By the way, Nominations are Open for the 2020 Christian Indie Awards. You can nominate your indie published or small press book at

Benefits of Winning a Book Award


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The Hidden Benefit of Winning a Book Award
Nominations are Now Open for the Christian Indie Awards
Book Awards Help Promote Books

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