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 Importance of Finding Your Niche

I recently spoke with a new Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) who has produced a book on forgiveness. We were speaking of the importance of knowing who the target audience is for his book.

This gentleman told me that all Christians were his audience. After all, every Christian needs to forgive since it is commanded in the Bible.

I wholeheartedly agree. Every Christian does need to forgive. However, not every Christian currently needs information or help with forgiveness and some are not yet ready to entertain the idea of forgiving. Additionally, this author’s voice will not resonate with everyone.

As more and more books are published, competition escalates. For example, doing a search of “forgiveness” in books on Amazon reveals 31,399 results. That is a lot of books on forgiveness that Christians have to choose from.

How does this author compete with 31,399 other titles on forgiveness? He competes by targeting a niche audience. Through channeling his message to a very targeted audience that his book speaks to—and not broadly to all Christians—this author can gain some attention for his book.

How can this author funnel his message to a more niche market? I encouraged him to consider the following:

  1. What is his backstory? In other words, what did he need to forgive that prompted him to write the book. Maybe it was a spousal affair or a senseless random act of violence. Whatever the reason, targeting Christians who have had a similar experience is one way to reach a niche audience.
  2. How is the message in his book different from other books on forgiveness? One thing this gentleman included in his book was 21 ways to forgive. I suggested that he use this to find a niche audience. He could speak to Christians who know they need to forgive, but don’t know how. After all, he provides the how in his book.

With any book that has a broad topic appeal such as prayer, parenting, forgiveness, etc., targeting the niche audience is done through the marketing messaging. A generic message on forgiveness is not going to attract much attention, but a message targeted toward those who have experienced a senseless act of violence or who need help on practical ways they can work on forgiveness will resonate with the niche audience and draw them in.

I encourage you to identify niche audiences for your books. Then target your messages to these groups of people to maximize your marketing efforts.

Related Posts:
Micro-Target to Get Results
Get to Know Your Target Audience
What Your Readers Want

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Photo courtesy of Masha Danilova

Is Your Message Distilled?

To distill means to condense or refine.

Distilled water is water that has had most of its impurities removed through the process of distillation. Distillation involves boiling the water and then collecting and condensing the steam into a clean container. The result is water that is pure.

Is your message distilled? Have you condensed and refined your message so that it is pure and clean—free from distractions and extraneous information?

I get to hear a lot of elevator pitches from authors. Sadly, many of these authors have not taken the time to distill their message. A good elevator pitch about your book should be both condensed and refined so that you can give a clear message in three sentences or less.

Your elevator pitch should answer these three questions:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What is their need?
  3. How does your book meet that need?

Answering these three questions in developing a distilled message is a great place to start. First answer these questions and then determine whether you will phrase your elevator message as a problem/solution or as a benefit.

Here is an example of a distilled problem/solution message based on my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace:

“Over 1,200 books are published every day in America. Most new authors are at a loss as to how to make their books stand out from the crowd and get noticed. My award-winning book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, gives Christian authors the information and resources they need to effectively promote their books.”

Here is an example of a distilled benefit message based on what Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) does:

“Christian Small Publishers Association provides small publishers and independent authors information and access to affordable marketing venues so that they can be successful in promoting and selling their Christian books.”

I encourage you to take some time and distill your message about your book. That way, when people ask you about your book, you are ready with a quick answer that grabs their attention and immediately lets them know what problem your book solves or what benefit your book provides.

Remember, you want to keep your message to three sentences or less. Your message should be no longer than 30 seconds, but keeping it shorter, more like 20 seconds or less, may be more effective with most people’s short attention spans.

Related Posts:
What’s Your Elevator Pitch?
30 Seconds
It’s the Story

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Photo courtesy of Aaron Burden

The Benefits of Showcasing Books at Conventions

Are you thinking about attending a book industry trade show such as Book Expo, CBA Unite, Christian Product Expo (CPE), or NRB Proclaim? These venues present wonderful opportunities to learn about the industry, network, obtain media coverage, and promote your books.

I encourage you to listen to these testimonials from five members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) who attended the recent NRB Proclaim 17 (National Religious Broadcasters Convention) with us in Orlando. Hear what they have to say about their experience at this convention.

Related Posts:
Finding Connections and Opportunities
Trade Show Value
Trade Shows: A Book Promotion Tool

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NRB Proclaim 17 Convention Recap

The last week of February, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) took ten of our Member authors to the NRB Proclaim 17 convention.

NRB stands for National Religious Broadcasters. This convention is a large gathering of Christian communicators from around the world. Those attending the show included radio producers, television producers, film producers, bloggers, podcasters, pastors, and parachurch ministries. It was a rich gathering for authors to network with Christian communicators to make connections and spread the word about their books (stay tuned, I will provide testimonials from CSPA Members later this week).

This is the first year that CSPA has showcased our Members at NRB. We are always looking for new ways to help our Members market and promote their books, and NRB proved to be a great venue for doing just that.

One benefit of belonging to an association is the ability to attend conventions and trade shows to showcase your books at a reasonable fee. Membership in Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is affordable at just $90 per calendar year. Join now so you don’t miss out on these types of great opportunities for your books.

Here are some photos of CSPA’s booth and our Member authors showcasing their books at NRB.

Related Posts:
ICRS 2016 Recap
ICRS 2015
The Power of Testimonials

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Desire: A Tool for Book Promotion

Desires. We all have them. We may desire to lose weight, exercise more, be better at time management, or read the Bible more.

Interestingly, a recent study by Barna revealed that reading the Bible more is a desire of many Americans. In fact, the study found that about six in 10 American adults (61%) of people surveyed reported that they desire to read the Bible more than they currently do.

bible-reading

As a Christian author producing materials that seek to help people live in closer relationship with God, this study reveals that there is a need for what you offer. Of course, we all know that reading a “Christian” book does not equate with reading the Bible.

However, your Christian book can draw your readers to read the Bible. You can help your readers meet this desire. It’s a win-win situation. You can use readers’ desire to read the Bible more to draw them to your books, and then your books can encourage your readers to read the Bible more.

Marketing is about letting your audience know how you can meet a need in their life. If your audience desires to read the Bible more, let them know that your book contains Biblical truth and encouragement from God’s word. You can do this with marketing messages for your book that include phrases like:

  • Learn what the Bible has to say about…
  • 10 Things the Bible says about…
  • Grow in your faith through applying Biblical truth about…

Your book can then help your readers spend more time in God’s word. You can encourage your readers to do this in your book. Here are four ways:

  1. Incorporate scripture into the passages in your book.
  2. Provide scripture references at the end of your chapters for further reading on the topic you discuss.
  3. Provide an “Additional Reading” section in the back of your book listing Bible passages that relate to what your book discussed.
  4. Encourage your readers to sign up for your email newsletter and, in this resource, provide scripture passages on a regular basis for your fans to read.

Interestingly, the Barna study found that most people attribute their growing use of the Bible to a realization that Scriptures are an important part of their faith journey (67% of study participants). So, this means that anytime your book helps people understand that knowing what the Bible says is important in their faith journey, you are helping your readers to grow and act on their desire to read the Bible more.

Related Posts:
Why Reading the Bible Matters
Are You Selling or Connecting?
Connecting with Readers

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Photo courtesy of I’m Priscilla