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.

Market Your Book as a Gift

It may feel early, but it’s not. Christmas items are already beginning to pop up in stores. Christmas is the biggest gift-giving holiday in the United States.

Experts report that 25% of books are purchased as gifts. Children receive many of these books as gifts. Studies show that 43% of the books purchased as gifts are for children ages 12 and under.

 

Christmas will be here in no time. It’s not too early to begin promoting your book as a great gift. Consider running a Christmas special on your book to encourage people to buy it as a gift this year, especially if you have a children’s book.

You can remind your fans and followers that books make great gifts. Following are six reasons books are great to give as a gift.

1. Books Don’t Go Out of Style.
When you buy someone a book, you don’t have to worry about whether it is in fashion or not, whether it is the right size or color, and whether the recipient will actually wear it or not. Because, they won’t be wearing it, they will be reading it.

2. Books are Affordable.
Books usually cost anywhere from $6 to $20. There is a book for every budget, so you don’t need to break the bank to give someone a great gift.

3. Books are Life-Giving.
Books are life-changing. Additionally, studies show that reading a book reduces stress and that those who read regularly live longer than those who don’t read much. If you give a Christian book that encourages the reader into a relationship with God, then you help someone have eternal life.

4. Books are for Everyone.
There is a book for every age, gender, and interest under the sun. As long as a person can read, a book exists that will be of interest to them.

5. Books Last.
Books last and last. You don’t use them up and they don’t wear out. They can be read again and again.

6. A Book is a Gift You Can Open Again and Again.
Every time someone opens that book you give them, they are re-opening your gift.

Sadly, the average amount of time Americans spent reading for personal interest on weekend days and holidays fell by six minutes to just 21 minutes per day over the past decade. So, one additional reason to give books as gifts is to encourage reading.

Promoting books as great gifts and your book as a gift to your friends and fans not only benefits you and your book sales,it also benefits the larger book community. Promoting books as gifts benefits every author and encourages people to read more.

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Are You Capturing Hearts?

He failed to win my heart.

I had just completed reading a full-page biography of a Christian author. His bio looked like a listing of who’s who in the Christian world. This gentleman had worked with numerous Christian organizations and for well-known Christian leaders. He had spoken at numerous Christian gatherings and penned a couple books. Yet, the author failed to win my heart because reading his bio felt like I was reading a résumé.

At the close of reading this Christian author’s bio, I had no clue what he was passionate about or what his message was. All I knew was that he hung around some well-known people and places.

To engage people, you must connect with them on an emotional level. As an author, even your author bio should conjure emotions in the reader. What you are passionate about must shine through for a connection to be made. You must win the heart of readers so they are drawn to know more about you and your message or books.

When crafting your author bio, consider these three important elements:

1. It’s Not About You.

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? After all, it’s your bio. It is your bio, but it should not just be about you. After all, few people care where you live, how long you have been married (unless it relates to your book’s topic), or how many pets you own.

Ultimately, your bio is a tool to tell the reader about yourself. Yet, more importantly, it is a means to let readers know how what you are or do relates to who they are and what they do or want to do. Your bio is a tool to draw readers in to capture their hearts.

2. Let Your Personality Shine Through.

Your author bio should reflect your personality. Readers should feel they know you a little more when done reading your bio. If you write with humor, be playful in your bio. If you write about your personal struggles, be transparent. Share your passion.

3. Include Your Relevant Expertise.

Use your author bio to tell your readers the expertise you possess to write on the topics your books cover. This requires a difficult balance. You want to build credibility without overtly bragging. Provide just enough information to let your readers know you possess the knowledge and experience to speak with authority on the subject. Keep it relevant.

People do business with the people they like and trust. The goal of your author bio is to help people like and trust you. Use your author bio to create an emotional connection with your readers and book sales will follow.

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Sales Text that Sells
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Why Would Someone Buy Your Book?

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Photo courtesy of Jakob Owens.

Call for Nominations for the Christian Indie Awards

As the number of independently published Christian books grows, vehicles are needed to bring awareness and give recognition to these books. The Christian Indie Awards is one tool striving to do just that.

The Christian Indie Awards are sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). These awards are open to any small publisher or independent author who has published a Christian book. To be eligible to nominate a title, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Books must be Christian in nature, promote the Christian faith, and intended for the Christian marketplace.
  • Books must be published with a 2015 or 2016 copyright and released for sale in 2015 or 2016. New editions of previously published books are eligible. Reissued editions are not.
  • Books must be printed in English and available for sale in the United States.
  • The nomination of a title must be made by the publisher or author of the book.
  • Eligible publishers must be small presses or independently published authors with revenues of $450,000 or less per year.

The award is offered in 14 categories. To nominate your title visit the Christian Indie Awards website at https://www.christianaward.com. Nominations are accepted through November 15, 2017.

Discover four great benefits of wining a book award. Watch this video:

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Are You Meeting Readers’ Expectations?

He woke me at 2:30 in the early morning hours. My teenage son said he had a stomachache and felt nauseous. After about a half-hour, we decided he had the signs of appendicitis and rushed him to the emergency room.

Four hours and one ambulance ride later, the boy was being checked into the Children’s hospital. During admission, the nurse asked him if he would like a visit by the chaplain. Scared and nervous about his upcoming appendectomy, my son said yes.

Anesthesia, surgery, recovery, and finally checkout to go home followed. On the drive home, my son remarked that he was disappointed that the chaplain never came to pray for him.

Simply by asking the child if he would like a chaplain visit, the nurse set up the expectation in my son that a chaplain would come pray for him. She didn’t state, “If available, would you like a chaplain to visit you.” She simply asked if my son if he wanted a visit.

You, too, set up expectations in your readers. You may not even be aware of the expectations you construct. Your book’s title, the cover art, your back-cover copy, and even endorsements create expectations in the reader.

A couple years ago, a member author of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) placed his book in CSPA’s books for bloggers review program, BookCrash. The book received mediocre reviews. Most of the reviews commented that the book was not quite what the reviewer expected.

The author was unhappy about this. He told me that the 100-word description that BookCrash allowed was not enough to convey to the reader what the book was about. He stated that if he had been allowed to write a longer description, reviewers would not have had a wrong expectation about the book.

I listened to his opinion. However, I believe the real problem was the title of the book. The title of this particular book set up a wrong expectation. Upon reading the title, I believed the book would provide a certain message. However, when I carefully read the description the author had written, it did not match the expectation the title raised for me.

Authors, choose your book’s title and cover art carefully. These are the first two things a reader considers when checking your book out. Both the title and cover art set up powerful expectations of what to expect from your book. Be sure that yours reflect the actual contents of your book.

Test your title and your cover art with friends and fans. Ask them what type of book they expect from the cover art and what expectation the title of your book raises in them. Make sure the title and cover art for your next book only raise expectations that you will meet.

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Photo courtesy of CongerDesign.

Authors Profit From Encouraging Children to Read

Every author and publisher should be concerned about literacy and developing a love of reading in young children.

Whether you write for children or not, encouraging children to read benefits authors writing for any age. After all, children grow up to become adults. Children who love reading grow into adults who enjoy reading for pleasure and personal growth.

Sadly, the number of American children who say they love reading books for fun has dropped almost 10% in the last four years, according to a study of children in the United States by Scholastic. The study found that only 51% of children said they love or like reading books for fun, compared to 58% in 2012, and 60% in 2010.

To help promote literacy and encourage reading, the airline company JetBlue has partnered with Random House Children’s Books to develop a program called Soar with Reading. This program places vending machines that dispense brand-new, free books for kids aged infant to 14 years. Kids are allowed to take as many books as they are interested in from the vending machine with no strings attached.

I think what Soar with Reading is doing is fantastic. I would love to see a Christian organization provide a similar program featuring both wholesome children’s books as well as books that draw children to God. Fortunately, you don’t need to start a program on the scale of Soar with Reading to provide children free books that point to God.

A couple years ago, my community association installed Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood. I make sure that these little libraries constantly have a supply of good Christian books. It is one way that I can spread the Good News message and encourage reading.

You, too, can do your small part to promote the love of reading and share the Gospel. If you write and publish children’s books, why not share them with children via Little Free Libraries in your community? You can find a list of these library stands near you on the Little Free Library website. Be aware though that not all little libraries are registered on the site. I know the ones near my house are not.

While placing free Christian books in Little Free Libraries is for the primary purpose of encouraging reading and drawing children to a relationship with God, you can also use this activity for promotion. If you have a large number of Little Free Libraries near where you live, let your local community newspaper know what you are doing. If the newspaper picks up the story, the article will not only bring you publicity, it will also continue to encourage reading, and inform the community about Little Free Libraries.

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