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.

What Shoppers Want

I am a coupon clipper. Every Sunday I go through the ads in the newspaper (yes, I still get a print newspaper) and clip the ones that I think I will use. I put these on my refrigerator so they are handy when I go to the grocery store. Sadly, half the time I forget to grab the coupons on my way out the door to the store.

Could offering coupons for your books spur more sales?

Clearly, extreme couponing is not for me. My intentions are good. It’s my follow through that needs some work. Usually, I remember I forgot the coupons about halfway to the grocery store. At that point, I don’t feel like going back to get them. So they sit unused  on my refrigerator.

I am not alone in coupon clipping or in using them (although I could improve in this aspect). Recent research by Inmar found that shoppers today are driven by the use of coupons. According to this research:

  • 60% of shoppers reported using paper as well as digital coupons.
  • 28% of shoppers reporting using paper coupons exclusively.
  • 13% said they use only digital coupons.

Coupon use is regular and ongoing for many consumers:

  • 42% of surveyed shoppers reported they “always” or “usually” use digital coupons.
  • 37% said the same about coupon inserts from the Sunday newspaper.

It’s clear that consumers see value in coupons. In fact, 80% of consumers in the Inmar study reported that coupons changed their behavior in some way. This raises the question: Could offering coupons for your books spur more sales?

Offer coupons

There are many ways you can use coupons to sell your books. You can offer a digital coupon in your email newsletter. You can offer a coupon in a print mailing such as on a postcard. You can even offer a coupon at a live event where you are selling your book.

Giving consumers what they want is a great way to encourage them to buy your book. Creating a coupon is not difficult. Free online services like Send a Coupon make creating a coupon easy. Send a Coupon allows you to create free coupons that you can email or tweet to your followers.

Try it. You might reap a few more sales just by giving out coupons.

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Photo courtesy of Nathan23.

A Book Marketing Recipe

I once met an author who wrote a book that she was promoting as a Christian book. I spoke with this author and really liked her. She had a charming, likable nature. She was very personable. However, during our conversation, she told me that she did not read the Bible. In fact, she did not even know some of the more familiar Bible stories such as Esther.

A Marketing Recipe

When I discovered this piece of information, I decided to not read her book. Why? Because I did not trust that her book was really a Christian book. On another level, I did not trust this author. After all, she was promoting her book as a Christian book, yet she did not read the Bible.

Relationships follow a predictable pattern. First you must meet someone and get to know them. As you get to know the person, you start to like him or her. Then, as you spend more time with that person, your trust in the individual grows.

This pattern—Know + Like + Trust—is repeated over and over in our life with each new person we meet and befriend. The same pattern is replicated in selling products. After all, we buy products from people we know, like, and trust.

When you think about marketing your book, this simple pattern should permeate what you do. Your marketing efforts need to help people first get to know you, then to like you and what you offer, and lastly to trust your message and writing.

Let’s examine each step a little more closely.

Know:

People have to meet you to know you. This meeting does not have to be in the physical world; it can be in the print or digital world. There are many ways for people to meet you. They might read an article you wrote or see one of your social media posts. They might hear you interviewed on a podcast. For people to meet you, you have to show up. The more places you show up at, the more people will get to know you.

Like:

We like people who help us. As an author, you help people by enriching their lives with your useful information, stress-relieving humor, or compelling stories that speak to hearts. We help people by showing up regularly and offering value to their lives. When we help our audience, they like us.

Trust:

Trust builds as like deepens. When we are consistent and people can rely on us, they trust us more. Your message matters. When your message speaks to someone’s heart, they feel that you know them and their struggles, and they begin to trust you.

This pattern is rarely completed in a quick getting. Sometimes the Know + Like + Trust pattern can all happen in a one-time meeting. Usually, it develops over time. Repeated exposure is necessary. Consistency is key.

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Photo courtesy of Myriams-Fotos and geralt.

Book Reviews Are Social Proof

“I hate asking people for reviews”.

This statement was made to me by an independent children’s book author at a recent conference I attended. Most of us can relate to this statement. Asking is hard.

Quote by Sarah Bolme

Yet reviews are extremely important in marketing and selling books. In fact, Cassie M. Drumm, a book publicist says:

“Getting Reviews is one of the most important elements to selling books.”

Humans are social creatures. When we see lots of other people engaging in something, our brain’s perception of risk associated with that idea or activity is reduced.

Given the choice of two restaurants to eat at—one crowded and one empty—people will gravitate to the one that is crowded. Our brains tell us that the crowded restaurant must be the better option since other people have chosen it. This is social proof.

Social proof is the construct that the actions and attitudes of people around us influence our behavior. This is why 97 percent of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. The online reviews provide social proof that what we are about to buy is worth our money.

Book reviews are social proof. They tell readers that your book is worth their money and time. Studies indicate that 85 percent of Amazon Kindle readers look at the reviews of a given book before making a purchasing decision.

If you want to sell more books, you need reviews. In fact, the more reviews you have the greater the social proof that your book is worthy to be purchased.

So, go ahead and ask people for reviews. I know it’s hard, but the results may well be worth it.

Review for BookCrashAs an author, you should be willing to give as well as get. This means that you should be writing reviews of books. Be generous. Write reviews of other books in your genre. When authors in your author groups request reviews, step up and write a review if the book is in the same genre as your book.

You can also help out other independent authors by signing up to be a BookCrash reviewer. You can pick and choose which books you want to review. BookCrash reviewers are required to post their review on one social site (blog, Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and on one retail site (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook, Walmart, etc.). You can sign up to become a BookCrash reviewer at www.bookcrash.com.

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Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

Is Advertising a Waste of Money?

“I don’t advertise; it’s a waste of money.”

These words came out of the mouth of a small publisher I was conversing with at the recent CPE International. CPE stands for Christian Product Expo. It is a twice-yearly industry trade show where publishers and others producing products for the Christian market gather to showcase their offerings to Christian retailers.

This thought, that advertising is a waste of money, is a commonly held belief. Yet, it is inaccurate.

If advertising did not work, would businesses continue to spend billions of dollars on advertising? Think of all the places you encounter paid advertising:

  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Radio ads
  • Television ads
  • Billboards
  • Display boards (think public transportation and sports games)
  • Google ads
  • Website ads
  • Social media ads
  • Amazon ads

And this list does not even cover everything. The truth is advertising works.

However, paid advertising in and of itself is not a sufficient marketing strategy. Every business and every publisher and author needs a comprehensive marketing plan. Why? Because people need multiple exposures to a product or service before they will buy.

Advertising is just one strategy; and it does work. In fact, as organic traffic from web search engines continues to decrease, so will book discovery. In response, authors need to engage in more old-fashioned marketing and advertising tactics (think print).

Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) had a booth at CPE International where we represented some of our Members’ books. At the show, a retailer came to our booth asking to place an ad for a book that was featured in our catalog. This particular book was not even on display at the show. The retailer had seen an ad for the book in two periodicals—one being the annual Christian Indie Publishing Association Product Catalog (our annual cooperative catalog featuring our Members’ books). This is just one small example of the power of advertising.

You can view pictures of CIPA’s booth at CPE International in the video below.

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Photo courtesy of RitaE.

New Award for Christian Authors

The Christian Authors Network (CAN) is sponsoring a new award for Christian authors. The CAN Crown Awards celebrate excellence in Christian Media and Marketing by authors.

Crown Awards

The Crown Awards were first implemented in 1973 by ICVM (International Christian Visual Media) to honor the work of Christian film producers. The awards now recognize the best and highest achievement in video and film productions that are created to reflect Christian values. CAN is expanding these awards to media and marketing developed by Christian authors.

Open to both traditional and independent authors, the CAN Crown Awards purpose is to recognize, educate, and encourage excellence in marketing and promotion skills of all Christian authors.

This new award focuses on three categories of marketing excellence:

  1. Visual Campaign—includes memes, social media, and physical media (print materials: postcards, posters, flyers, etc.).
  2. Broadcasting —includes television, radio, podcast, or interview specific to the author or their book, series, or brand.
  3. Web Presence—includes website, blog, and newsletter.

Any campaign, broadcast, or web presence entered for the CAN Crown Awards must focus on a book, book series, or brand. The marketing campaign (visual, broadcasting, web presence) must have started between February 1, 2018 and August 27, 2019. The campaign does not need to encompass the entire 18-month span, only begin within those dates to be eligible.

Nominations for this award are open from August 28 through September 28, 2019. Finalists will be announced in advance of the Crown Award Banquet. The final Crown Awards will be presented November 16, 2019 during the awards banquet at the Marriott Cool Springs in Franklin TN.

For complete guidelines and elibigility or to nominate your marketing campaign, visit https://christianauthorsnetwork.com/can-crown-awards.

Christian Indie AwardsChristian Indie Awards

The Christian Indie Awards is open and accepting nominations through November 15, 2019. These awards honor Christian books by small presses and independent authors.

Nominations are accepted in 18 categories for books published in 2018 or 2019. Books must be in English and available for sale in the United States.

For complete guidelines and eligibility or to nominate your book, visit https://www.christianaward.com.

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Is It Worth It?
The Hidden Benefit of Winning a Book Award
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