About marketingchristianbooks

Sarah Bolme is the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), the owner of CREST Publications, and the author of 7 books including Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace and numerous articles. She is also the editor of the CSPA Circular, the monthly newsletter of Christian Small Publishers Association. A clinical social worker by education and experience, Sarah stumbled into the world of publishing after her two self-help books were published by a small publisher. Sarah and her husband, a fiction author, then collaborated on a set of board books for infants and toddlers after the birth of their children. After much thought and research, they decided to publish the project themselves. This decision led to the creation of CREST Publications and Sarah’s journey into marketing. Navigating the Christian marketplace began as a rather solitary learning experience for Sarah as no guide books or associations were available for marketing in this unique marketplace. After meeting and dialoging with other small and self-publishers marketing books in the Christian marketplace, it became clear that an organization was needed to provide assistance and information to new and emerging publishers. Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) was founded in January 2004 with Sarah Bolme as Director. Sarah’s passion is educating others to help them improve their situation whether that is helping them get unstuck in their lives through counseling or marketing their books into the Christian marketplace.

Nominations Now Open for the 2020 Christian Indie Awards

Winning a book award is one of the best promotional tools an author can have.

Not only does the book become an award-winning title worthy of media attention, the author also becomes an award-winning author. Authors who win a book award can bill themselves as an award-winning author on all their marketing materials, in their media kits, and on their subsequent books.

However, you can’t win a book award unless you enter a book contest.

Nominations are now OPEN for the 2020 Christian Indie Awards. Any independently published Christian author or small publisher can nominate a Christian book published in 2018 or 2019 for the award. Nominations can be made on the Awards’ website at https://www.christianaward.com.

Check out these four great benefits of winning a book award!

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The Book Distribution Conundrum

The big news this month is that Baker & Taylor announced that they will no longer sell books to retailers as of July 15, 2019. This is industry-changing news.

For years, there have been two wholesale companies that sell books to retailers and librarians—Ingram Content Group and Baker & Taylor. Of the two, Baker & Taylor was a small publisher’s friend.

The Distribution Conundrum

Historically it has been very difficult for a small publisher to get their books stocked in Ingram (and in Spring Arbor, the Christian book division of Ingram). Publishers must have at least 10 titles and meet a set annual sales figure in order to place their books directly with Ingram for sales to retailers and librarians. If a small publisher does not meet these requirements, then they have to use a distributor who stocks their books in Ingram. Some of these book distributors include Anchor (Christian books), Independent Publishers Group (IPG), Consortium Book Sales, and Baker & Taylor Publisher Services (formerly BookMasters).

Using a distributor has benefits as well as pitfalls. A distributor is a middleman, so a distributor takes an additional 15% or more of each book sale—over and above the 55–60% discount that the wholesaler (Ingram) requires. Additionally, distributor’s vet the books they represent. So, a publisher has to pass the additional requirements of a distributor in order to be represented by said distributor.

Baker & Taylor, on the other hand, was small-publisher friendly. Small publishers could open an account with Baker & Taylor and have their books stocked directly so that retailers and librarians could place orders for these books.

With the cessation of Baker & Taylor’s sales to retail stores, only one wholesale book company is now selling books to retailers—Ingram. Some in the industry are concerned about what this will mean long-term for retailers and publishers.

 

Baker & TaylorIf you are an independently published author, Baker & Taylor’s decision to cease distribution to retailers will most likely not affect you. Sadly, it will affect a number of small publishers.

Independent authors have been able to make their books available for sale to retailers and librarians through Ingram using one of Ingram’s print-on-demand (POD) services (IngramSpark or Lightning Source) or Kindle Direct Publishing’s expanded distribution service. You may wonder why the loss of Baker & Taylor is such a big deal since small publishers can also use the POD sales route.

Here is what most independent authors do not understand: Retailers rarely order print-on-demand books to stock the shelves of their stores. Print-on-demand titles have a special code in the wholesale system that retailers can spot. As a result, if you are actively trying to get bookstores to stock your title and your book is only available print-on-demand, you have an uphill battle. If your title is listed as a Kindle Direct Published book, you have an even harder climb to get a retailer to stock your book, since retailers consider Amazon their direct competition.

Bookstore

Small publishers understand that they need to have print copies stocked (not POD copies) with wholesalers to increase their chances of book sales to retail stores. This is why the loss of a small- publisher friendly wholesale option for small publishers is a big deal.

While over 50% of books are purchased online, a good percentage of books are still purchased in stores, including bookstores. Savvy publishers know that they must have their books available in multiple locations to garner the most sales. Therefore, access to a wholesale sales option is important for these publishers.

If you are an independently published author, you can take a lesson from small publishers. Having your book available in Amazon alone is not enough. Not everyone shops on Amazon, and, for certain, libraries and retailers don’t order books from Amazon.

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Photo courtesy of Samuel Zeller.

 

Are You Using This Strong Incentive?

Did you know that curiosity is one of the strongest human incentives? Humans are curious by nature. Snag a person’s curiosity and you have their attention.

Good marketers use curiosity to grab people’s attention so that they can sell them a product. These marketers use sales text that draws the reader.

Curiosity is a powerful marketing tool.

Take headlines. Often marketers will use one of four tactics to grab people’s attention by eliciting curiosity. Curiosity is why these types of headlines get the most clicks:

1. Makes an outrageous claim.

Headlines like “Elvis Is Not Dead” or “Why Marriage Is Not for You” are outrageous. The sheer ludicrousness of their message raises curiosity, making people want to know what the author has to say.

2. Goes against conventional wisdom.

Headlines like “Why Breakfast Is Not the Most Important Meal of the Day” and “Failure Is an Option” go against what most people have been taught. Since the claim is in conflict with what society believes, it raises our curiosity.

3. Opens up a debate.

Headlines that make statements like “Five Ways Women are Better Bosses Than Men” and “Ten Reasons Prom Night is Overrated” are opinions that touch nerves. When people’s opinions are challenged, their curiosity to listen to or read what is being asserted is raised.

4. Claims about the best or worst of something.

Headline like “The 10 Best Movies of 2018” and “The 10 Worst Places to Vacation” make people curious about whether they have seen the 10 movies, whether they have vacationed in a “worst” place, and whether they agree with the list or not.

In a world with so much competing for people’s attention, curiosity is a powerful marketing tool. You can learn to use curiosity to increase reader’s engagement with their books. Crafting your book descriptions and sales text in a manner that raises curiosity can help increase sales. Don’t give everything away in your book’s description. The description is meant to lure the reader in to want to know more.

While not a Christian book, the book description for Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life embodies what raising curiosity in sales text looks like. The book’s description states:

What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure and responsibility, distilling the world’s wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life.  

Are you writing to hook people’s curiosity? Do your titles, headlines, and sales text draw people in and catch their interest? How might you re-word your current book description to improve the “curiosity” factor and snag more sales?

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Photo courtesy of Mali Maeder.

Are You Riding a One-Trick Pony?

Scrolling through the apps on my smart phone the other day, I noticed an app called Turo. I did not remember what the app was for, so I opened it to see. Then I remembered. I had seen an ad for Turo on television and wanted to remember the service, so I downloaded the app as a way to help myself remember. My strategy worked.

Are You Riding a One-Trick Pony?

Turo is the latest installment in the new sharing or access marketplace—the move away from organized businesses and toward people providing services to one another. Services like Airbnb, Uber, and Takl all are revolutionizing the way business is done. Turo allows individuals to rent their vehicles to one another, bypassing car rental companies.

One exposure is not enough for us to remember something new. I knew that I would forget the name of the service that allowed people to rent their personal vehicles, but I wanted to remember it. So, I downloaded the app to remind myself. It worked.

The same is true for any new product or service. Reading or hearing about a new product once rarely leads to a purchase of that product. Instead, we need to see and hear about a new product multiple times before we remember it, and before we are convinced that it might be worth an investment of our money.

Most people hear about a new product or service from an ad, radio or television show, or a friend. Often, in our busy lives, we forget about the new product or service, until we stumble upon it again—often a few times. Just like I did with Turo.

Sadly, too many authors fall for the one-trick pony method of book marketing. Instead of realizing that people need to see and hear about their book multiple times and from different sources before they remember and make a decision to purchase, these authors hop onto the hot new marketing idea and think that it is the trick.

Over the years, I have seen numerous hot book marketing trends that are pushed on authors as the “new” way to sell books. These have included:

  1. Blogging
  2. Email Marketing
  3. A Social Media Presence
  4. Facebook Ads
  5. Podcasting
  6. Amazon Ads

Each of these are good marketing techniques. However, any one used exclusively will not be effective in selling large quantities of your book.

Marketing experts know that a good marketing plan involves a well-rounded strategy. In other words, marketing is not a one-trick pony. You have to perform numerous different marketing activities to have the best results.

Book Launch Marketing Checklist

Don’t fall for the latest one-trick pony. Develop a marketing strategy for your book that includes numerous channels where people can see and hear about you and your book. If you need guidance in developing a good marketing plan, here are two options:

  1. Read my book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books. A bonus to the book includes a link to download a free Book Launch Marketing Checklist that provides marketing activities from six-months prior to launch to on-going marketing activities to engage in.
  2. Join Christian Indie Publishing Association and download the Book Launch Marketing Checklist that is available for Members of the association.

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Photo courtesy of Christine Benton. 

Book Marketing Bingo

Eight out of every ten products launched in the United Sates are destined to fail.

I recently read this statistic in the book Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom. He went on to say:

Roughly 21,000 new brands are introduced worldwide per year, yet history tell us that all but a few of them have vanished from the shelf a year later. In consumer products alone, 52 percent of all new brands, and 75 percent of individual products fail.

That’s a whole lot of products that don’t stand the test of time. In other words, they don’t sell enough for their makers to keep producing them.

Authors, you have the same uphill battle for your books. The average traditionally-published book sells less than 500 copies and the vast majority of indie published books sell less than 200 copies.

There are many factors that help books sell. However, just as a cake won’t rise without baking soda, your book won’t sell without some marketing.

I love this Marketing Bingo board that John Kremer developed. Check it out. Have you done enough marketing to win a bingo on the board?

Marketing Bingo Card

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