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.

Life is Easier When Our Goals are Completed

Constantly moving forward takes work. Whether you are engaging in writing a book, publishing the book, marketing the book, or in any other area of self-improvement, gaining and maintaining momentum is hard.

Nearly all of us procrastinate. We put off that which we deem difficult or unpleasant. The infographic below provides some great information on how you can confront obstacles and practical tips to overcome them to work toward your goals.

I like the advice about moving forward in this infographic. It says:

Pick one thing you want to get better at and do it every day.”

It’s good advice, but hard to follow. Yet the rewards are worth it. According to the One Percent Solution:

Improve your business (or yourself) by 1% each day. In 70 days, you will be 2x as good as you are now”.

Now that is some incentive!

Managing Momentum

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The Changing Christian Publishing Industry

This year has brought many changes to the world and our way of life. The book industry—including the Christian publishing industry—is enduring and shifting due to the ramifications of both the pandemic and the spotlight on racial injustice.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

With worldwide lock down and banning of large in-person gatherings, the convention and conference landscape has been shaken up. Many events have been cancelled, some have gone to a virtual format, and a few brave organizers are forging ahead with running a physical event.

Publishing Trends for 2020

Christian Writers Conferences are an important infrastructure in the Christian book industry. They provide authors with:

  • Vital training to take your writing and publishing to the next level
  • Literary agents to connect you to the publishing world
  • Book and magazine editors looking to work with new authors
  • Freelance editors to provide valuable critiques
  • Fellow authors to both network with and encourage you in your journey

A number of Christian Writers Conferences have taken a huge hit from the pandemic. Many have been cancelled for 2020 and some are scrambling to provide virtual conferences like:

  • ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)

This organization will be holding their annual writers conference in September via zoom—a first ever for them. Learn more on their website at https://www.acfw.com/conference.

  • Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference

This conference has been running for 50 years. This year, it was cancelled due to COVID-19, and the organizers decided that they could not longer sponsor the event moving forward. In an attempt to save this conference, the Steve Laube Agency, has initiated a Kickstarter fund to try to save the conference and hold it in March 2021.

If you have ever attended this writers conference or are interested in attending, then join this campaign by signing up for the March 2021 conference now at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/christianwriters/2021-mount-hermon-christian-writers-conference

In response to the need for continued support for writers, some new virtual conferences have been started.

  • Writing for Your Life

This group recently announced their inaugural Writing for Your Life Christian Children’s Book Conference. This virtual conference is geared toward Christian children’s book readers and writers. The conference will be held in September. You can learn more at  https://writingforyourlife.com/2020-online-christian-childrens-books-conference

Racial Injustice Issues

The recent protests and movements around the United States have shown a spotlight on the publishing industry’s need for more diversity. Interestingly, the Christian book industry had already begun to address this issue.

Publishing Trends for 2020

  • Christian Publishing Summit

Last fall, Publishers Weekly held an online Christian Publishing Summit. One of the sessions in this summit was “Lessons on How To Engage and Serve Diverse Christian Audiences”. In that summit, Helen Lee of Intervarsity Press talked about why diversity matters and the importance of inclusion from a variety of perspectives.

  • Publishing in Color

Publishing in Color is a writers conference for spiritual writers of color. This conference was started help overcome the fact that in today’s spiritual publishing industry writers of color are under-represented.  Under-represented writers of color include (but are not limited to) African Americans, Latinx Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.

This fall, Publishing in Color will be held as a virtual online conference in October. You can learn more at https://publishingincolor.com.

More recently, a new group has formed to encourage Christian publishing professionals of color.

  • Christian Publishing Professionals of Color (CPPOC)

Jevon Bolden of Embolden Media Group recently launched an online community called Christian Publishing Professionals of Color (CPPOC). The group was formed to be a place where BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Christian publishing professionals can connect with other each other to bond, brainstorm, strategize, and problem solve as well as get encouragement, advice, and support.

Sadly, this group is only open to BIPOC Christian publishing professionals who work in traditional publishing or providing services that serve the Christian publishing industry—marketing, sales, distribution, ghostwriting, editing, literary agenting—or those who are aspiring to any one of those positions in the field. So, indie authors and self-published BIPOC authors are excluded.

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Photos by Lisa Fotios from Pexels and Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels.

Book Marketing Advice

Earlier this year at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention, I was asked to do an impromptu interview for The Book Publicist Podcast.

The Book Publicist Podcast

During the interview, I covered a number of different marketing ideas and tactics. I invite you to listen to the interview to glean some book marketing advice!

Listen at:

https://recast.simplecast.com/01d0a534-4f0e-4063-93e7-ad4874b6c661
or
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-publicist-podcast/id1503562889

By the way, Members of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) receive a discount when signing up for Jason Jone’s Local PR Toolkit service. You can join today for just $120 for Membership through December 2021 with our Summer Membership Special!

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Book Awards Are a Blessing

In my book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books, I list over 25 book awards that are open to books by indie authors and small publishers. There are more than 25 book awards that one can submit a book to, but I chose the best-known and the ones that accept religious books through at least one Religious category.

Book Awards are a Blessing

Why so many book awards?

  1. With over 2 million books published in the United States each year, numerous book awards are needed to bring recognition to great books.
  2. Awards matter. They help consumers know that a product or service has quality, often easing purchasing decisions in a world of too many choices.
  3. Book awards bless and encourage authors who have worked hard to get a story or message out to the world.

It is always a pleasure when we get notify the winning authors of the Christian Indie Awards each year. We often get responses from these authors like the following:

  • Thank you so much! What a blessing and an honor!!
  • Oh, praise the Lord! Thank you!!
  • Wow! Thank you so much. This means so much for me!
  • I am stunned!! Praise the Lord and Glory to God!

While my book lists over 25 book awards, there are only a select few book awards that are solely dedicated to Christian books. The Christian Indie Awards is one of them.

If you have published a Christian book in 2019 or 2020, I encourage you to nominate it for the Christian Indie Awards. These awards recognize 18 outstanding Christian books (and authors) each year.

Christian Indie Awards

The honor could be yours. However, you don’t have a chance of receiving such an honor unless you nominate your book.

To nominate your book for the 2021 Christian Indie Awards, visit https://www.christianaward.com and either complete the online nomination form or print the nomination form and mail it with a copy of your book.

The Christian Indie Awards are sponsored by Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA). However, you do not need to be a Member of the organization to nominate your Christian book.

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Advice from an Expert

Jim Cox has been involved in the business of reviewing books and advising small publishers and authors for over 40 years. Jim runs the Midwest Book Review, which was established in 1976 and is committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing.

Watch this interview with Jim and listen to his wisdom and advice!

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