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.

The Iceberg of Success

Success. However you define it, it is what most authors and publishers strive for.

I love this word picture by Syliva Duckworth that I recently stumbled across. It so adequately depicts success. What people see of success is only a small part when compared to the work that goes into becoming a success.

SuccessThe one thing I think the bottom-half of this picture is missing is prayer. As a Christian, I believe that prayer is an essential foundation of the iceberg of success. Can you achieve success without prayer? Yes. However, if you want to have success and remain successful, I think prayer must be a foundation.

I Samuel 18:14 in speaking of King Saul says, “In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” What happened to Saul when he stopped following God’s ways and did things his own way? He lost that success.

Too often, I have seen authors, pastors, and other Christian leaders reach a point of success and follow in King Saul’s footsteps.  In their success, when their books and message are reaching and touching many lives, they stumble. That author or pastor is caught in a sinful scandal, wiping out much of what he or she has accomplished.

May we always remember the words of Isaiah 26:12. “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” Yes, you will work hard to achieve success, but through it all, remember where your praise should lie.

Related Posts:
Indecision: A Success Killer
How Do You Define Success?

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Which One Are You?

Most people know about the 80/20 rule. 20% of the people do 80% of the work. 80% of a church’s budget is met by the tithe of 20% of the congregation. 20% of the users of social media post 80% of the content.

80-20-Rule-JPEG

I believe that the world would be a better place if we applied the 80/20 rule to our everyday lives. Imagine how different the world would be if everyone spent 80% of their time listening to what others have to say and only 20% of their time talking.

You might be thinking, how does the 80/20 rule apply to promoting a book? After all, you think, to promote a book, I need to talk a lot. I have to talk on blogs, talk in person, talk on social media, etc. True, promoting a book does take a lot of talk, but remember, part of promoting a book is “connecting” with your audience.So think of the rule as spending 80% of your time connecting with your audience and 20% of your time promoting your book.

This 80/20 rule is especially important for your social media communications. Since you may be part of that 20% of the people producing 80% of the content on social media, consider how you might spend more time “connecting” with your followers.

One way to do this is to keep 80% of your posts reserved for connecting with your audience by showing them you care. Showing care to your audience can be in the form of social media posts that:

  1. Share news that your target audience is interested in.
  2. Share tips that would make your audience’s life easier in some way.
  3. Share interesting and humorous anecdotes from your own life that people can relate to.
  4. Respond empathetically to your audiences’ posts, comments, and stated concerns.

Then, the remaining 20% of your posts can focus on promoting your books. Try not to do the “buy my book” routine with these posts. Instead, share what readers are saying about your book, share specials you are hosting, and share excerpts and tips from your book.

Related Posts:
Are You Paying Attention?
Social Media Tips for Authors.

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Expectations

Expectations: We all have them. You have them about the books you write, publish, and sell. Most likely you expect your book to be well received by readers, you expect it to touch people’s hearts and lives, you expect it to get good reviews, and you expect your book to sell well.

Often many of our expectations are not met. This can lead to frustration and discouragement. We can even begin to question whether God really called us to write and publish what we thought we were called to do.

Most new products follow a typical curve of expectation, disappointment, and reality. It looks like this:

Expectation curveThis curve is not just true for books. It is true for most new product releases.

Yes, God may well have put the desire in your heart to write and publish. If you are in the trough of disappointment right now with your book, ask yourself: Did your expectations come from God or yourself?

Take heart. Remember that God will accomplish the purpose he ordained for your book. His ways are not our ways. God will establish and bless the work of your hands in His way. This may not always line up with your expectations, but it will accomplish the purpose God has intended for it.

Related Posts:
There is No Magic Pill
Learning From the Numbers

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The Most Common Error

However, what bothered me most about this book was the need for some serious editing. I find it quite difficult to take an author seriously who has not checked for spelling, grammar, word usage, and accurate Biblical quotes.

This recent comment from a BookCrash book reviewer is not a comment you should ever see for a book that you publish. There is no need.

errors

Sadly, while some things this reviewer said about the reviewed book were positive, she only gave the book a one-star review on Amazon due to the need for editing.

Don’t let this happen to you. Get your manuscript edited and proofread by a professional! Nothing kills a book’s sales faster than poor editing and proofreading that leaves grammatical and spelling errors.

One of the most common flaws in self-published books is the presence of typos. Even books published by traditional publishing houses can sometimes contain a typo or two. However, when the number of unintentionally misspelled words becomes noticeable in a book, it distracts the reader and takes away from the book’s message.

To keep typos from preventing an adverse reaction to your book by your readers (and book reviewers), get it proofread. If you truly do not have the funds to hire a professional proofreader, then you need to learn do it yourself with diligence.

Two tips the experts recommend for effective self-checking of a manuscript include:

  1. Read every letter. When we are familiar with what we have written, we have a tendency to read what we expect to see instead of what is actually there. Force yourself to look at every letter.
  2. Read the manuscript backwards. Reading backwards helps you to focus on each word, not on what the content is saying. This perspective helps you catch spelling errors (although it often does not help with typos such as “hut vs hurt” where both are actual words but one may not fit the content).

Too many independently published authors skimp on the important steps of editing and proofing reading their manuscript when publishing a book. Don’t make this mistake. Invest in your book and you will reap the reward in sales.

Related Posts:
How’s Your Grammar?
The Inside Does Matter.

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Above and Beyond

When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised by a customer service experience? Anytime a business goes above and beyond in providing good customer service, they gain a loyal customer.

customer-loyalty-2

Recently, I had one of those pleasant surprises. One of Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) Partner Members went above and beyond.

In June, CSPA had taken out a full-page cooperative ad featuring books from some of our member publishers’ books in the Book Fun Magazine. I was recently contacted by the magazine asking for update info for the ad, which they were going to be running in the August issue of the magazine.

I immediately contacted Book Fun Magazine to get clarification. I figured this must be a mistake. After all, CSPA had only paid for the ad to run one month, in June. Their response was that there was no mistake. They told me to read their tagline. Here is what their tagline reads:

“We reserve the right to do more than we promise.”

Wow. This company was running our ad for an extra month. Why? Because they reserve the right to do more than they promise. Running CSPA’s cooperative ad for an additional month has scored major points with us.

How are you doing in providing exceptional customer service? Do you ever go above and beyond with your customers?

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