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.

Super Fans

My son likes to watch “Shark Tank”. “Shark Tank” is a reality TV show where budding entrepreneurs present their products to five “sharks”—titans of industry who have made their own dreams a reality and turned their ideas into lucrative empires—to get one of the sharks to invest money in their idea.

On one show, two lady entrepreneurs were showcasing a product that they had designed and produced for music fans. The “sharks” questioned these ladies as to why they were putting time and energy into a physical music product when everything was going to the digital realm.

Sharktank1-1

These ladies countered that, while sales of music were moving to digital, a group of people were still attached to physical products. They defined this group as “super fans”. These super fans of a band don’t just want digital music, they want physical products that they can hold that represent the band they love. This product was designed for these super fans, and indeed, their product was already selling well.

Some of the sharks did not understand this “super fan” concept and were not interested. However, a couple sharks really got it. They began to become excited and talk about how other areas besides music might have super fans, areas like sports teams and entertainment franchises (think Star Trek, Harry Potter, etc.).

Every product needs super fans—those people who wholeheartedly believe in and support the product and proselytize the product to people they know. Authors also need super fans.

Super fans are readers who believe in you and your message. They so strongly believe in you and your message, they read whatever you write, whether that is in a book, on your blog, or in your social media posts. These people engage with you on a regular basis and point other people to you and your message. You need super fans to help spread the word about your books.

Super fans are great, but super fans need to be fed. If they are not fed, they stop being super fans. These lady entrepreneurs on Shark Tank understand this concept. They know that super fans need special things to remain engaged.

Keeping super fans engaged through special offerings is not hard. Consider the following ways you can feed your super fans and keep them engaged with you:

  1. Offer special promotions and discounts to just your super fans.
  2. Offer “first-chance” opportunities like advanced orders of upcoming books.
  3. Give your super fans a voice and ownership in your next book by asking for their feedback on your upcoming book’s title or cover design. Or, have them help you name a character in your upcoming book.
  4. Offer sneak peaks of an upcoming book to your super fans, but not to the general public.
  5. Offer a special limited-edition of your book to your super fans.

Every author needs super fans. Look for yours and be sure to feed them so that they remain your most ardent supporters. After all, super fans help you sell more books.

Related Posts:
Engage Your Fans With Polls
Do You Have a Tribe?
Enlarge Your Audience with Micro-Influencers

Bookmark and Share

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Are You Prepared for Lightning?

Lightning is dangerous. One estimate is that 24,000 people are killed by lightning strikes around the world each year and about 240,000 more are injured.

Are you prepared for a lightning strike in your life?

Lightning

Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) office was recently a victim of a lightning strike. The lightning did not strike the building directly, but somewhere just outside. It came into CSPA’s office via the DSL Internet line.

Everything connected to the DSL line was fried—a modem, a fax machine, a printer, and a computer. All were wiped out in a blink of the eye.

Having written an article on the importance of keeping your data secure for the CSPA Circular, Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) monthly newsletter for members, I knew the importance of backing up data on a regular basis. The article included a number of resources for free or cost-effective backup and storage of data that CSPA members could utilize. Fortunately, I had followed my own advice and the most important data on the obliterated computer was safely backed up and stored.

Keeping your data secure is important. No one wants to lose a manuscript. No one wants to lose the press-ready files for a book they are publishing. No one wants to lose the data on their website. No one wants to lose precious research data stored for marketing purposes.

Because I had backed up and stored important data, I was able to meet a number of impending deadlines despite the inconvenience of having to purchase and set up all new equipment. One deadline was for the upcoming Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference where I will be presenting a workshop. The organizer of the conference told me that she needed to take my warning to heart and improve her own backup procedures.

Don’t get caught unprepared. If you are struck by lightning, a flood, a fire, a theft, a crashed computer, or any other catastrophe, be prepared. Backup your data regularly and securely.

Related Posts:
Is This Part of Your Publishing Team?
How Much Tape?
Quality Workmanship

Bookmark and Share

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Are You Making this Connection?

My husband plays the bass. He recently got a better, upgraded instrument and decided he would sell his older one. A friend just happened to be looking for an affordable bass for his son to learn on. My husband, sensing a sales opportunity pounced.

Bass Guitar

He dropped his bass off at the friend’s house and told him to try it out. His plan was to return in a few days to either collect his bass or the money for the sale. That, my friends, is smart marketing.

You see, my husband understands a concept that many authors fail to grasp: connection. The more connected a person becomes to a product, the more likely they will buy it.

After playing with the bass for a few days, my husband’s friend and his son are not going to want to give it back. They will want to keep the bass as they will have become engaged with and connected to the instrument.

The same principle applies to books.

At the recent International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), the largest gathering the industry has of Christian product buyers, there are many books on display. Publishers and authors are trying to get the attendees to get interested in and purchase their books and other products.

My teenage son accompanied me to ICRS this year. He stopped at a booth that had a line of Christian graphic novels. I asked him about these graphic novels. My son told me that he did not know much about them. I wondered why—after all, he had spent time at the booth and talked with the creator of the graphic novels.

My son informed me that the author had simply stood and told him about the books. He had not offered to allow my son to look through one of the graphic novels. That is like telling a kid about a cool toy. The kid doesn’t quite grasp the concept and thus has little interest. But, give the kid the toy to try out and you have an excited child who wants one.

This author had missed an important marketing opportunity: connection. Yes, the author had tried to make a connection with my son, but he had failed to connect my son to the books. Had this author handed my son a book to look through, he would have created a connection and garnered interest, and possibly even a sale.

How can you get people more connected to your books? Try these two easy ways:

  1. Always carry a copy of your book with you. When you are telling people about your book, pull it out and let them hold it and thumb through it. Create a connection to the physical book.
  2. Offer a sample of your book in the digital realm. Allow potential readers to read a couple chapters of your book to get them engaged and connected.

Remember making a connection increases the chances you will make a sale. The best connection is where the reader not only connects with you, the author, but also with the book itself.

Related Posts:
Are You Selling or Connecting?
Creating Book Sales
Connectivity

Bookmark and Share

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Finding Connections and Opportunities

If you have published or are thinking about publishing a Christian book, I encourage you to attend at least one trade show that the book industry hosts. These venues present wonderful opportunities to learn about the book industry and understand what is important in promoting and marketing a book, as well as provide you with a number of new opportunities.

Below are testimonials from two members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA)—one an independently published author and the other a small publisher—who attended ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) with us this summer in Cincinnati. Hear what they have to say about their experience at the show, then consider how attending a trade show might help you in marketing and promoting your book(s).

If you are not yet a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I encourage you to join. One of the benefits of membership in CSPA is that we offer a cost-effective way to attend industry trade shows like ICRS. CSPA is offering a summer membership special of $120 for membership through December 2017—that’s 18 months of membership for less than $7 per month. Join today on CSPA’s website!

Related Posts:
Trade Show Value
Trade Shows: A Book Promotion Tool
Words of Encouragement

Bookmark and Share

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Save

Save

Save

ICRS 2016 Recap

The president of ABA (American Booksellers Association) recently had this to say about BEA (Book Expo America):

Newly returned from BookExpo America, I was struck by a couple of things: one that was great, one worrying. The first is the growing emphasis on the relationship between independent booksellers and publishers—a terrific thing from our perspective. The second, something that worries me, is that what has always set BEA apart—the books themselves—seems to have a diminishing presence on the trade show floor.

Having just returned from ICRS (International Christian Retail Show), the Christian marketplace equivalent to BEA, I have to say that this shift is being mirrored at ICRS. This year, very few of the major Christian publishing houses sponsored authors book signing and speakers at ICRS. Most of these were done by small presses and self-publishing houses. Few of the larger publishing houses were even giving away books as they have done in the past. As a result, the smaller presses ended up getting more interaction time with retailers at the show. In the past retailers time was often consumed with book signings from authors of major publishing houses.

The reality is that only about 20% of a bookstore’s space is devoted to books. Research shows that 80% of the floor space of most bookstores is now focused on other products. Additionally, only 17% of Christian products are actually sold through brick-and-mortar Christian bookstores.

In essence, as the sales through brick-and-mortar stores shrink, publishers will naturally put less of their marketing dollars into this channel and more into the places where consumers are buying books. This shift is simply reflected at ICRS—the largest gathering of Christian retailers for the Christian market in the United States.

I believe there is still value in attending ICRS. It is a great place to learn, make connections, and network. Many of the authors and publishers attending ICRS with Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) report that the money spent to attend the show was well worth their time. The contacts, connections, and opportunities that came their way at the show will broaden their reach and exposure for their books.

CSPA’s booth at the show was busy. Watch the video featuring pictures of our booth and author book signings at the show below:

Related Posts:
ICRS 2015
CSPA at ICRS 2014
Reflections on ICRS 2013

Bookmark and Share

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Save

Save

Save