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.

The Local Movement

Local is becoming big. Patronizing local retailers, supporting local food growers, and buying locally made products have all grown in popularity in recent years.

The local movement is also trending on social media. One company, Monster Art Clothing recently sent the following tweet “#shopsmall at @Monsterclothing and #support #local #seattle #artists.” Clearly the company features clothing from Seattle artists and is encouraging residents of the city to support these local artists.

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With print-on-demand and digital publishing, it is easier than ever to publish a book. However, marketing a book is becoming more difficult in the sea of competition. Marketing can be time-consuming and expensive. With the belief that people tend to be more open and willing to support a local author they consider their neighbor, Hometown Reads was born.

Piggybacking on the support local trend, Hometown Reads has started a #readlocal campaign. The site is designed to help book lovers find books by local authors. It features more than 700 published books by authors in 32 cities. Readers can also search by city or genre on the site.

Authors can sign up on Hometown Reads and feature one book free of charge on the website. Each author receives a microsite with a unique URL for a published book. The site is growing with new cities appearing on the website weekly based on author interest.

If you are an author, you can use Hometown Reads to promote your book locally in your city. If your city is not listed, sign up anyways. Once Hometown Reads has 10 authors from a given location, they add that city. So, if your city is not listed, encourage other local authors to sign up on the site so that you can have a presence.

I think the #readlocal movement is an excellent idea. Getting local readers to discover local authors broadens your reach and help you find more readers for your books.

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Branding: It’s More Important Than You Think

My daughter is a senior in high school. This means that we are in the process of visiting colleges and taking tours in an effort to find a good school match. Recently, at one college we were touring, we sat in a seminar conducted by the university’s Career Center.

As I listened to the Director of the Career Center talk to prospective students, I heard phrases like:

  • “Brand yourself”
  • “Branded candidate”

These statements caught my attention. Branding is no longer just a term that is applied to companies and products. It is now a term that is also used for anyone seeking to secure a position, whether that be in the job world, being admitted to a university, in politics, or on social media.

branding

The Director of the Career Center went on to talk about how employers are not necessarily concerned about a student’s major; they are more concerned about motivated candidates. He stated that motivated candidates give prospective employers and graduate schools the following two messages:

  1. This is who I am.
  2. This is what I can do for you.

Sound familiar? It should. This is the same message that you, an author, should be sending.

Just like college graduates, authors must also brand themselves. You must tell your prospective readers:

  1. This is who I am.
  2. This is what my book can do for you.

Just as employers want to know what they will get from a college graduate if they hire him or her, readers want to know what they will get from you, the author, in your book if they purchase and read it.

The Director of this university’s Career Center went on to talk about how a student’s brand is the image they present to prospective employers and schools. If they want to be seen as a serious student, then their social media posts should not show them partying and skipping classes.

The same is true for authors. Your brand or image needs to be consistent. For example, if you have written a book on prayer, then the image you present on social media to the public and your potential readers should be one of someone who believes in and is involved in prayer on a regular basis. If you were to begin talking about “luck” or “fate” in your social media posts, you would not be representing your brand—instead you would be confusing people.

When releasing a new book, be sure that you have branded your book and answered the two questions above. If you want to learn more about Branding a Book, check out my on-demand seminar on “Branding Your Book.”

This and my other on-demand seminars are free for Members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), but I have also made them available for a reasonable fee for everyone to view.

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Thanking God!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I invite you to join me in giving thanks today through the words of the following Thanksgiving hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God” by Martin Rinkart.

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Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And guard us through all ills in this world, till the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven—
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heav’n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

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Five Benefits of Children’s Books

November is Children’s Picture Book Month!

childrens-books

Fortunately, the children’s book market in the U.S. is robust. Nielson recently held their third conference on children’s books. They published some of the data that was shared at the conference. Here is some of note:

  • The children’s book market in the United States has grown about 52 percent since 2005.
  • The leading categories in juvenile fiction are media tie-ins, holiday and celebration-related books, along with comics and graphic novels.
  • Specialization and niche targeting appear to be key factors in success with children’s books.
  • YouTube takes over as the number one activity draw when kids in the United States turn 13 or 14, with books falling fast away at that point in the activities of surveyed children.

If you are an author of or publish children’s books the good news is that the children’s book market is strong. With November being Children’s Picture Book Month, you can take this month and next to highly promote your books. After all, November highlights children’s books and December is a great month to promote your children’s books as great gifts.

Remind your audience that giving children books as gift is offering them more than just a book. After all, reading:

  1. Helps wire the child’s brain for learning.
  2. Helps ensure academic success.
  3. Enhances concentration and discipline.
  4. Improves language skills for communication.
  5. Ignites the child’s creativity and imagination.

If you have a Christian children’s book, then your book provides the added benefit of introducing the child to their creator. A benefit that has eternal impact. After all, that is why my husband and I produced Baby Bible Board Books. We wanted infants and toddlers to learn about and connect with Jesus.

If you are an author or publisher of children’s books, take advantage of this time of year to promote these titles. If you are not an author of children’s books, then be sure to gift books to the children in your life this holiday season.

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Are You Going Above and Beyond?

As the designated grocery shopper in my family, I have spent many hours in grocery stores. Over the years, I have discovered that there are two types of grocery store employees.

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When shopping and I cannot find an item, I ask a store employee for help. I generally get one of two answers:

  1. “If we carry it, it would be on aisle seven.”
  2. “Follow me. I will show you where it is.” Then, the employee helps me locate the item and makes sure that I am satisfied before leaving.

Both employees are helpful. However, I infinitely prefer interacting with the second type of employee. Why? Because this individual gives great service. He or she goes above and beyond.

BookCrash, the books for blogger review program that Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) hosts for its members, requires that bloggers who receive a book place a review of that book on their blog and on one retail site. This is a minimum requirement. Most bloggers follow this requirement. However, a few go above and beyond.

The other day, BookCrash received the following message about a review from a blogger:

“I have posted the review for this book on my blog and on:

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble”

This blogger truly went above and beyond. She provided extra service that allowed the book she reviewed to have extra exposure. Since exposure is key in marketing books, this blogger provided a great service to the author of this book.

What about you? Do you go above and beyond with your customer service?

What might going above and beyond look like for you, an author or publisher, promoting Christian books?

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