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.

Grab More Attention With Your Titles

We are drowning in a sea of information. Experts estimate that the average American citizen sees anywhere from 3,000 to 20,000 marketing messages a day. Whether that figure is the lower end number or the higher end number, the truth is, standing out is difficult. You have to do something creative or different to grab people’s attention.


Whether you are writing the title of your next book, the title of a blog post or article, or the headlines on your website, writing catchy phrases is important. It can help grab reader’s attention in a sea of information and make them stop for a moment to read your information or learn more.

One popular website that posts articles daily makes their writers craft 25 titles for every article. You read that right: 25 headlines. One of the reasons that this website is so popular is that they are using headlines that are creative and attract attention. When an author is forced to write multiple headlines or titles, the creative juices start flowing. Then, a creative, catchy title can be picked from the list.

To be honest, I don’t write 25 titles for each of my blog posts. I probably should, but I don’t. I usually write about five. Here are the five I came up with for this post:

  • Grab More Attention with Your Titles
  • Headlines: Your Chance to Engage Consumers
  • Is It Catchy?
  • Stand Out From the Crowd with Your Titles
  • Write Effective Headlines and Titles

I wish that I had written more working titles for my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. Now that this book has been around almost 10 years (there are three editions), I think the title is too long. I could have developed a better title if I had forced myself to write 25 working titles to choose from. I confess. I didn’t. I only wrote about six.

Whether you are crafting a headline for a blog post, a website, an article, or a title for your next book, I encourage you to brainstorm multiple headlines. Headlines and titles are your first and most important chance to engage readers. Make yours stand out from the crowd.

You can also try out this handy little tool that rates headlines and titles for their effectiveness. This analyzer not only gives you a rating, it gives ideas for improving your title. The Headline Analyzer can be found at CoSchedule.

I ran the title for this blog post through the Headline Analyzer. In doing so, I learned that headlines that contain about six words tend to earn the highest number of click-throughs.

I am curious. Did the title of this blog post draw you in?

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Did This Prediction Miss the Mark?

Scribd, Enrich, Oyster, Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Over the past few years the number of ebook subscription services has grown. Many in the industry have claimed that ebook subscription services would eventually be the biggest player in the sales and consumption of ebooks.


Predictions abound in the publishing industry. Industry professionals are constantly looking at new trends to stay abreast of where the industry is headed so they don’t get left behind. Sometimes the predictions are correct. Sometimes they are not.

Early predictions on ebooks stated that by 2016, ebook sales would surpass print book sales. Two-thirds of the way through 2015, it is clear that this prediction will not be fulfilled. eBook sales growth stalled in 2013 and has remained constant at about 30% of book sales since. So, the prediction that ebook sales will overtake print book sales has now been shifted to the year 2018.

eBook predictions are not the only one the industry has gotten wrong. Now it appears that the early predictions for ebook subscription services may also be off. This summer Entitle, an ebook subscription service, shuttered its doors. This was just shortly after the company launched a special Christian book subscription choice for Christian book readers. Then just week or so ago, Oyster, a big contender in the ebook subscription service circle, announced that, after two years of operation, it too is shutting down operations.

Google has purchased Oyster. However, the company has not yet announced what it will do with it. This Internet giant is known for buying startup ventures and turning them into Google businesses. However, it is yet unknown whether Google will turn Oyster into a Google ebook subscription service.

With the closing of Enrich and Oyster, only two ebook subscription services are left: Scribd and Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Both have drawbacks for independent authors and small publishers. To have books listed with Scribd, an ebook must be distributed through Smashwords, BookBaby, or Draft2Digital. To have books available in the Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription service, the ebook must be exclusively offered via Amazon.

Maybe subscription book services may not become as large a part of book sales as originally predicted. Or, maybe the industry is shaking out. Much like Netflix and Amazon are the two biggest providers of streaming of movies, maybe Scribd and Amazon will be the two big providers of ebook subscription services.

Either way, subscription book services still have a place in the book publishing and selling world. Subscription services provide a good way for authors to become “discovered”. Research shows that readers are more likely to read a free or cheap book by an author they are unfamiliar with. However, if after reading the book, they like the story or content, they will often purchase and read other books by that author.

Have you had success with being “discovered” via an ebook subscription service? If so, share your experience with me.

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Hashtags. They are all over the Internet. You can find hashtags on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Periscope, to name a few social media sites touting these # signs.

book cover

Hashtags are linguistic shortcuts used on social network and microblogging services which make it easier for users to find conversations and information based on a specific theme or content. They also allow users to create a conversation thread around a specific theme or topic.

Adding hashtags to social media posts is one way to broaden your audience. Avid social media users follow hashtags on topics that they are interested in to see more posts on that subject and be part of the conversation. Hence, users will stumble across your content via the hashtags you use.

A few authors are using the hashtag trend to gain even more exposure for their books. These authors are assigning their books a hashtag title.

The first book I saw containing a hashtag title was at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) this summer. The book was titled #struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World. It was written by Craig Groeschel and published by Zondervan. It is officially releasing next month.

Shortly after the convention, #CompletelySingle: Learning How to Become the Right One Before Meeting the Right One by Damien K.H. Nash crossed my desk. This book was published by a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA).

I think using a hashtag for a book title is an interesting idea. It is one way to increase exposure for a book, especially if the author chooses a hashtag that is fairly popular and widely used. It will be interesting to watch to see if this #hashtag title becomes a trend.

In the meantime, make sure that you are using effective hashtags with your social media posts. If you are not sure which hashtags you should use, you can find popular and trending hashtags on Hastagify and #Hashtags.org.

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10 Reasons to Not Enter a Book Award

Did you know that there are over 1,200 books published every day in the United States. That is a lot of books! And, it means that your book has a lot of competition.

Sometimes I hear from authors who appear to think that book awards are a waste of time and money to pursue. If you are one of those people who like to just blend in with a crowd and not stand out, then entering book award contests may not be worth your investment. So, in honor of these type of individuals, I am providing a list of ten reasons to not enter your book in a book award contest.


Ten Reasons to Not Enter a Book Award

10.  You are not a published author.
9.    You dislike stickers.
8.    You don’t want to have to redo your book’s cover to include an award emblem.
7.    You are selling enough books already.
6.    Your audience is big enough. Everyone you want to know about your book already does.
5.    You don’t want to spend any more money marketing your book, even though the nomination fee is affordable.
4.    You think your book doesn’t deserve recognition.
3.    You think you are not a good enough writer to call yourself an award-winning author.
2.    You prefer obscurity.
1.    If God wants you to have an award, He will give you one.

If you find that this list does not exemplify your feelings on the issue, then I encourage you to take action.

If you are an independently published author or small publisher with a Christian book published in 2014 or 2015, written in English, and available for sale in the United States, then head on over to www.bookoftheyear.net and nominate your book for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award.

If you are looking for additional Christian book awards to enter, you can find a listing at www.christianbookaward.com. In addition, my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, contains a lengthy section on general book awards for independently published books that include religious categories.

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