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.

Tweets Get Wider Exposure

Earlier this year, Twitter struck a deal with Google to make its 140-character Tweets searchable via the Google search engine. At this time, Google is stating that Tweets will only appear in mobile searches, not desktop searches.

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This is good news for Twitter users, especially for users who are promoting products or services on Twitter. Potentially, if someone searches a key word in your Tweet, the Tweet could show up in Google’s search engine with the benefit of broadening your exposure. At least that is what the experts are saying will happen.

My experience so far has been a little different. What I have seen is that Tweets are not showing up in search results unless I specifically search a person’s name or handle they are using on Twitter, if I search using a hashtag, or if I include Tweet in my search words.
Recently when I searched my name “Sarah Bolme” in Google on my desktop computer, my Twitter account was the third result. When I searched the same thing on my Smart phone, the very first result was not only my Twitter account but it included my most recent Tweet. Interestingly, my Google+ account did not show up in either search.

While the concept of Tweets showing up in search engine results sounds good and may eventually garner some folks more exposure, in my personal use of Google search engine thus far, I have not yet seen this benefit being played out. In truth, I am seeing very few Tweets in mobile search engine results.

I am curious if you have had the same or a different experience.

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Don’t Make It Hard

As a general rule, I do not review Christian books. As the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), providing reviews of Christian books would put me in an awkward position. If I reviewed a book by one member of the association, then I would need to be available to review books for all members, and there simply is not enough time in a day.

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The one exception I make to this rule is for books on book marketing and publishing. As the author of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, providing reviews for other books in this genre is smart collaboration. This gives the author of the book a review, but also exposes my book to those reading testimonials and reviews of the marketing or publishing book.

The other day, a fellow forum member offered copies of his new book in exchange for a review on Amazon. Since the book was in the genre of my exception, and since the book interested me, I offered to review the book.

I received the book in the mail. As is my usual habit, I cut the envelope open, pulled the materials out, and threw the envelope away. It wasn’t until I really took a look at the book later that I realized that the author had not enclosed any contact information. He had simply sent me the book with a sticky note attached to the cover that read, “Thanks for taking a look!” and signed with his first name.

I turned the book over and read the author bio. There was no website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter handle, or email listed in the bio. In other words, this author had not enclosed a single way for me to contact him.

While this author only requested an Amazon review, the lack of contact information may still close doors for him. What if I wanted to interview him for a blog post? What if I wanted to find another way to collaborate together on a book promotion scheme? By failing to provide easily accessible contact information, he did not invite or make himself available for additional exposure. Of course, I could go back to the forum and search through the archives to try to find a way to contact him, but who wants to do that?

If you are sending books to reviewers, don’t make it hard for the reviewer to get in touch with you, even if for no other reason than letting you know they have posted a review. Don’t make the mistake this self-published author did. All you need to do is enclose a business card, letter, or brochure with your book when sending it out to reviewers. Doing so invites further contact and opens doors for additional exposure for you and your book.

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Book Therapy

I recently discovered a new term. It is a form of psychological treatment that encourages reading to promote healing for individuals. It is called bibliotherapy.

book therapy

Most Christians already know that reading the Bible and having a relationship with Jesus promotes spiritual and emotional healing. We also know that truth is truth. Therefore, reading good literature that speaks truth and understanding can also promote healing.

In other words, reading books can help you cope with grief, improve your relationships, eat healthier, exercise better, and improve your ability to relate to others. These can come about from information in nonfiction books or from relating to stories and characters in fiction books.

Additionally, studies have shown that reading puts our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation—bringing with it the same health benefits of deep relaxation. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.

In bibliotherapy, a trained individual listens to a person’s issues and then gives him a list of recommended books to read—mostly fiction books. The books on the list are aimed at helping the individual with his problems.Psychotherapists also recommend books to their clients, but generally these are nonfiction books. The difference between psychotherapy and bibliotherapy is that the bibliotherapist generally does not engage in “talk therapy” beyond an initial assessment. Instead, the therapy is based on providing the client a recommended reading list and the client reading the books.

As an author, you can use this concept of bibliotherapy in your promotion efforts. What problems does your book address? Does your hero or heroine struggle with an emotional or life issue that people can relate to? What personal struggle might your book help someone overcome?

Once you answer these questions, let your readers know what problems your book can help them overcome. If nothing else, use the idea that reading regularly helps one sleep better and have lower stress levels. Remember, good marketing is all about letting your potential readers know how your book meets a need they have.

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The Importance of Following Trends

Electric cars are catching on. Solar power continues to grow in popularity. Ponchos have come and gone. The number of people taking a cruise is increasing. Trends: they are everywhere.

The book industry also has trends: trends in book topics, trends in book cover design, trends in interior design and layout, and trends in marketing and book promotion.
As an author or publisher producing books, being aware of book industry trends is important. Awareness of these trends serves two purposes:

  1. It keeps your books from looking out-of-date, old-fashioned, or self-published.
  2. It helps you stay on top of the best book marketing techniques to help you generate more exposure and sales.

I watch the trends in the book publishing industry. Trends such as:

  • Using the blank pages at the end of a book to promote other books or services of the author.
  • Including the author’s Facebook page, blog, or Twitter feed in the author bio.

Whenever possible I incorporate these useful ideas into my books and encourage other authors and publishers to do so also.

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A new trend I recently have seen occurring is the addition of a little icon to the back cover of a book (near the EAN barcode) letting the reader know that the book is also available as an ebook (see graphic above). I think this is a really smart marketing move.

First of all, not every book is available as an ebook. Letting a reader know the book is available as an ebook is a nice courtesy. It can also trigger those buyers who prefer ebooks to purchase the digital version of a print book they discover by capturing the consumer right then and there. Additionally, about 60% of Goodreads users report they read in both formats. Many purchase both print and digital copies of a book they are reading, switching between the two formats depending on their location. In other words, by using an “available as an ebook” icon on a print book, publishers are reaching both print and digital readers.

If you are publishing a new book, I encourage you to let readers know that the book is available as an ebook by posting a notice on the back cover of the book. It costs you nothing and helps you reach both print and digital readers.

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Book Bubbles

Connecting readers to a book—that’s the  point in promoting a book. There are a myriad of ways to connect and engage readers with a book. As technology improves, new services are constantly popping up with innovative and creative ways to help authors connect readers to their books.

One new service, Bublish, offers authors a way to feature original insights and excerpts from a book to hook readers. This service does not help you find new readers; it simply lets you present the material in your book in a creative way to your existing followers on social media sites.

With Bublish, authors who use the service upload an EPUB version of a book. Bublish’s proprietary software uses the information in the book to create eye-catching “bubbles’ featuring excerpts from the book that can be shared on social media. One of the advantages with Bublish’s “book bubbles” is that it allows readers to purchase the book through links embedded in the bubble.

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Bublish offers a free option to use their service for “Emerging Authors”. Basically, with this package, an author can upload one book and create “book bubbles” to use to promote the book on social media. Bublish also offers a $99 per year package for “Authorpreneurs” that allows authors to upload an unlimited number of books.

If you are looking for new creative ways to engage your followers on social media, give Bublish a try. The one-book package is free, so all it takes is your time (and an EPUB version of your book). Then start sharing your “book bubbles” with your followers and see what happens.

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