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.

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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A Walking Advertisement

I recently saw a commercial that touted personalized covers for iPhones and Android phones. The slogan was something to the effect of never having to search for your kids’ photos again.


The ad was advocating that instead of having to search through the photos on your phone for a good one of your children to brag about, purchase a personalized cover for your phone featuring the best image of your children.

I think authors can use this great idea. Think about it. An author’s “baby” is his or her latest book. Why not create a phone cover featuring the cover image of your latest book? Turn your phone into a walking advertisement for you.

Personalized phone cases are not expensive. Vistaprint offers them for as low as $14. Others, like Redditgifts start at $25 and Zazzle and Skinit have cases starting around $35.

If you have made or do make a personalized phone cover with your book cover, I would love to see it. Leave me a comment with a link to the picture of your phone case!

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2Way Template

Having just gone through the process of publishing a book both in print and ebook format, I have a fresh understanding of the work it takes to create two book entities. I wish it were as simple as taking a file for a print book and pressing a button to convert it to an EPUB. But, alas, it is not.


Those of you who have been through this process know that it takes more work than simply choosing a file type to convert a print book file into an ebook-ready file. You know that ebooks, due to their continuous flow, require adjustment of the print book file. Images are also tricky to manage in ebook layout. Then there is the text font. If your original print book did not use a common/standard font, the font type has to be changed for the ebook version.

This all adds up to a lot of frustration for many authors and publishers because they usually end up formatting a book twice: once for print and once for ebooks.

Fortunately, one company has come to the rescue. BookDesignTemplates.com sells pre-designed book templates for Microsoft Word. They have just recently come up with a template that can be used for both print and ebook formatting.

This new “2Way” Template is specifically designed to provide the fastest way to format a great looking print book that can be directly converted to any of the major e-reader platforms from the same file—without making changes or adjustments.

BookDesignTemplates.com is selling its 2Way Template in three designs on their website at www.bookdesigntemplates.com/template-gallery. Check them out.

I think that the 2Way Template is a wonderfully innovative idea to help small publishers and independently published authors streamline their workflow. What do you think?

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Books with Bodies

I recently read about a blog on Tumblr that is dedicated to photos of people holding book covers in front of their faces aligned proportionally. This blog, Corpus Libris (Books with Bodies) was created by Emily Pullen on a boring Thursday night at Skylight Books in Los Angeles in 2008.

Anyone can submit a photo. Just take a book and hold it in front of your body.

The thought inspired me. Here is my photo of the new Third Edition of my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace for Corpus Libris.

Person Holding Book Cover Okay, I admit, it is not as good as some of the photos on the Tumblr blog. Photography is not my gift. But the idea is a fun concept.

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