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.


Expectations: We all have them. You have them about the books you write, publish, and sell. Most likely you expect your book to be well received by readers, you expect it to touch people’s hearts and lives, you expect it to get good reviews, and you expect your book to sell well.

Often many of our expectations are not met. This can lead to frustration and discouragement. We can even begin to question whether God really called us to write and publish what we thought we were called to do.

Most new products follow a typical curve of expectation, disappointment, and reality. It looks like this:

Expectation curveThis curve is not just true for books. It is true for most new product releases.

Yes, God may well have put the desire in your heart to write and publish. If you are in the trough of disappointment right now with your book, ask yourself: Did your expectations come from God or yourself?

Take heart. Remember that God will accomplish the purpose he ordained for your book. His ways are not our ways. God will establish and bless the work of your hands in His way. This may not always line up with your expectations, but it will accomplish the purpose God has intended for it.

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There is No Magic Pill
Learning From the Numbers

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The Most Common Error

However, what bothered me most about this book was the need for some serious editing. I find it quite difficult to take an author seriously who has not checked for spelling, grammar, word usage, and accurate Biblical quotes.

This recent comment from a BookCrash book reviewer is not a comment you should ever see for a book that you publish. There is no need.


Sadly, while some things this reviewer said about the reviewed book were positive, she only gave the book a one-star review on Amazon due to the need for editing.

Don’t let this happen to you. Get your manuscript edited and proofread by a professional! Nothing kills a book’s sales faster than poor editing and proofreading that leaves grammatical and spelling errors.

One of the most common flaws in self-published books is the presence of typos. Even books published by traditional publishing houses can sometimes contain a typo or two. However, when the number of unintentionally misspelled words becomes noticeable in a book, it distracts the reader and takes away from the book’s message.

To keep typos from preventing an adverse reaction to your book by your readers (and book reviewers), get it proofread. If you truly do not have the funds to hire a professional proofreader, then you need to learn do it yourself with diligence.

Two tips the experts recommend for effective self-checking of a manuscript include:

  1. Read every letter. When we are familiar with what we have written, we have a tendency to read what we expect to see instead of what is actually there. Force yourself to look at every letter.
  2. Read the manuscript backwards. Reading backwards helps you to focus on each word, not on what the content is saying. This perspective helps you catch spelling errors (although it often does not help with typos such as “hut vs hurt” where both are actual words but one may not fit the content).

Too many independently published authors skimp on the important steps of editing and proofing reading their manuscript when publishing a book. Don’t make this mistake. Invest in your book and you will reap the reward in sales.

Related Posts:
How’s Your Grammar?
The Inside Does Matter.

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Above and Beyond

When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised by a customer service experience? Anytime a business goes above and beyond in providing good customer service, they gain a loyal customer.


Recently, I had one of those pleasant surprises. One of Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) Partner Members went above and beyond.

In June, CSPA had taken out a full-page cooperative ad featuring books from some of our member publishers’ books in the Book Fun Magazine. I was recently contacted by the magazine asking for update info for the ad, which they were going to be running in the August issue of the magazine.

I immediately contacted Book Fun Magazine to get clarification. I figured this must be a mistake. After all, CSPA had only paid for the ad to run one month, in June. Their response was that there was no mistake. They told me to read their tagline. Here is what their tagline reads:

“We reserve the right to do more than we promise.”

Wow. This company was running our ad for an extra month. Why? Because they reserve the right to do more than they promise. Running CSPA’s cooperative ad for an additional month has scored major points with us.

How are you doing in providing exceptional customer service? Do you ever go above and beyond with your customers?

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Book Awards Matter

Standing out from the competition is a problem every author faces. Gaining exposure and recognition for your book is tough. One avenue to earn your book additional notice is to enter it into book award contests.

award winning author

As an award-winning author, myself, I can attest to the following five reasons to enter your book into book award contests:

  1. A book award gives you another opportunity to receive media coverage.
  2. Awards create interest in your book, which can lead to more sales.
  3. A book award can give your book an edge over other books in your genre / subject matter.
  4. If you win a book award, you get to bill yourself as an award-winning author.
  5. Entering award is a low cost marketing endeavor.

If you have written or published a book for the Christian marketplace, I encourage you to enter the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award. Nominations for this award are open through November 15, 2015.

Nominations are accepted in 14 categories: General Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Bible Study/Theology, Biography/Memoir, Christian Education, Christian Living, Devotional, Relationships/Family, Children’s Book 4-8 years, Children’s Book 8-12 years, Young Adult (12+ years), Gift Books, and eBook Exclusive.

To be eligible for this award, books must be published in 2014 or 2015 by an author or publisher with annual revenues of $400,000 or less. Nominated books must be Christian in nature and intended for the Christian marketplace. All nominated books must be printed in English and for sale in the United States.

Any small publisher can nominate books for the award. Nominations are accepted in the following categories: General Fiction, Romance, Bible Study/Theology, Biography, Christian Living, Devotional, Relationships/Family, Children’s Book 4-8 years, Children’s Book 8-12 years, Young Adult (12+ years), Gift Books, and eBook Exclusive.

Christian retailers and book readers will be invited to vote on the nominated titles in February and March 2016. The winners of the award will be the books that receive the most votes.

Complete guidelines, eligibility, and the nomination form can be found on the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award’s website at http://www.bookoftheyear.net.

P.S. The Award Winning Author stickers (as pictured above) can be purchased on the Autographed by the Author website. They are a smart marketing idea. Any author who has had one book win an award can place these stickers on all the other books he or she has published.

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Broaden Your Audience

I am always on the lookout for innovative book marketing ideas. Out-of-the-box ideas are generally the most creative and often the most successful.


Near my house is a second-hand bookstore that my kids love to visit. This bookstore thrives because it doesn’t just sell books. Instead, it has made itself a third-place, a place for the community to gather.

Inside the bookstores is a huge bulletin board where authors and business owners can pin their business cards and flyers. These types of boards fascinate me. I love to stand and look at all the different things pinned up on the board.

The other day, I noticed a half-page flyer on the board. It was titled “Give a Child a Book Campaign.” This caught my attention since I am interested in all things related to books and literacy.

Under the heading of the flyer, the author had written, “Join local author Jean Smith Andrews in promoting literacy. Donate Jean’s books to a child, school, or organization.” The flyer then listed the author’s two children’s books with colorful images of the book covers. It also provided information on where to order the books.

As I read the flyer, I thought, “What an interesting idea.” Encouraging people to buy your children’s book and donate it to a needy child broadens your buying audience. With this type of marketing campaign, your potential audience has been increased to everyone interested in helping kids read more.

If you have produced a children’s book, consider a similar campaign for your book—or use your creative juices and come up with your own campaign that hooks people and broadens your audience.

If you have done a creative campaign for one of your books that helped broaden your audience, I would love to hear about it.

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