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 Hidden Benefit of Winning a Book Award

Awards signal success to the world. Winning a book award provides numerous benefits including:

1. Increased visibility for the book and author.

All awards send out press releases announcing the winners. Having your book listed both in the press release and on the award’s website increases your visibility.

2. Increased opportunities for publicity.

Authors can also create press releases announcing that their book has won an award, garnering publicity. Media outlets are more likely to interview an award-winning author. In addition, announcing the award in your email newsletter, on your website, and on your social media sites brings you more exposure.

3. Increased perception of credibility of the book and author.

An award signals to book buyers, reviewers, and the media that your book is trustworthy and provides an excellent read.

4. Increased perception of the book’s value.

An award shows the public that your book is worth their time to read it and worth the money they will spend on purchasing it.

5. Increased sales.

Studies show that when presented with two similar books, book buyers will choose the one toting an award over the non-award winning book.

Book awards also carry hidden benefits. One big hidden benefit of winning a book award is increased author morale and confidence.

Winning a book award lifts an author’s spirit. It provides an author validation in a way that positive reviews cannot. It tells the author that their book stands out above others.
Increased author morale and confidence can have long-lasting effects:

  • It can spur an author to write more books.
  • It can provide an author the confidence he needs to launch a speaking career.
  • It can help the author persevere in marketing and promoting her book.

Of course, you cannot win an award unless you enter your book into awards. Only one month remains for you to nominate your book for the Christian Indie Awards. The deadline to nominate a book is November 15, 2018.

The Christian Indie Awards exist to recognize outstanding Christian books by Indie authors and small publishers. Books published in 2017 or 2018 are eligible for nomination. Books can be nominated by an author or a publisher.

To nominate your book for the Christian Indie Awards, CLICK HERE.

Related Posts:
10 Reasons to Enter a Book Award
The Value of Book Awards
Book Awards Help Promote Books

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.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Olinger.

It’s Not Too Early for Christmas

You are probably thinking, “Halloween has not yet arrived. It’s too early to be shopping for Christmas.

Except, it’s not. Many people are already beginning to think about Christmas and gift buying. On survey by eMarketers found that more than 10 percent of Internet shoppers said they start their holiday shopping before September. Another 40 percent start purchasing holiday gifts before November.

Did you catch that? Just about half of the people who buy gifts for Christmas start shopping before November. And that is not just one study. Research from the National Retail Federation shows that about 40 percent of people start holiday shopping before Halloween each year. That number has stayed consistent for more than 10 years.

It’s not too early to start promoting your book as a great Christmas gift. Start now. Promote and advertise your book as a Christmas gift. Offer a holiday special or bundle to entice early shoppers. This month is a great time to include your specials in your email campaigns, on your website, and through advertisements.

In today’s entertainment saturated world, you might want to remind shoppers why books make great gifts. Feel free to use the reasons listed on the infographic below in your marketing efforts.

Related Posts:
Promote Your Books as Christmas Gifts
Market Your Book as a Gift
Four Creative Ways to Sell Your Books this Season

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 Doing This with Your Website?

Do you know what the top mission of your website is?

If you answered: To sell my books. You are wrong.

The most important duty of your website is to develop trust with your website visitors. First-time visitors make up 60 to 70 percent of traffic every month for the average website. When these new people reach your website, your job is to introduce them to you and your books. But, more importantly, you must build trust with these visitors. Trust is required for a sale to happen.

To develop trust with your website visitors, make sure that you are providing these four things on your website.

1. Relevant Content

If the majority of the daily visitors to your website are brand new, they are most likely unfamiliar with you and your books. Your primary job is to build trust with these people through information. Providing content that answers their questions and informs and educates them helps you build trust. When website visitors scan your information—and they do scan—and find valuable advice that is relevant to their situation, they begin to trust you and your message.

2. Free Samples

Be open with what you provide in your books. Studies show that providing samples improves sales. If people are confident that they will like what they are spending their money on, they are more likely to purchase. In some cases, offering a sample can boost sales by 2,000 percent. A sample raises people’s confidence. Offer one to a few chapters of your books so that people can sample what you have published to increase their trust and confidence in you.

3. Testimonials

Social proof increases consumers’ trust in a brand or product. Social proof is the construct that persuasion of an idea or behavior for an individual is linked with how others are responding to it. In essence, social proof reduces the perception of risk associated with a purchase. Testimonials are one form of social proof. They tell potential customers that others are benefiting from your books, increasing customers’ trust in you and your books.

4. Friendly, Prompt Support

If you sell books directly from your website, provide a way for people to contact you. From time to time, as Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I receive calls from people who are trying to reach a Member of CSPA. These people tell me that they have tried to purchase a book, or made a purchase, or have an issue with their purchase, yet are unable to get a hold of the publisher or author. They have called me to obtain help in this matter.

One recent study by Corra found that 52.4% of shoppers prefer to communicate through live chat on a website, while 32.8% preferred email for communicating, and 14.5% choose a phone call. If you are not providing live chat on your website, at least make sure that you provide a telephone number and an email. Then, be sure to check your emails and phone messages regularly so that you don’t leave customers or potential customers languishing. Prompt responses help to build trust.

Related Posts:
Can I Trust You?
Why Would Someone Buy Your Book?
First Impressions Matter

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.

Is Reading in Trouble?

A new report from the National Endowment for the Arts found that reading for pleasure fell slightly between 2012 and 2017. According to the report, the percentage of adults 18 and older who read any book that wasn’t for work or school in 2017 was 52.7%, compared to 54.6% in 2012.

The study, called the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, is based on responses from 27,969 adults. Results were based on what, if any, books adults read in the 12 months prior to taking part in the survey, which was conducted in July 2017.

Another study, Trends in U.S. Adolescent Media Use, 1976 to 2016, revealed that less than 20% of U.S. teens report reading a book, magazine, or newspaper daily for pleasure in recent years. Yet, more than 80% say they use social media every day.

This study, which had a representative sample of 50,000 teenagers, found that, compared with previous generations, teens spend more time online and less time with traditional media such as books, magazines and television.

The findings of these studies disturb me. As an author, a reader, a literature lover, a writer’s conference speaker, and a book marketing expert, I believe in the power of the written word. I am not alone.

Jean M. Twenge, lead author of the adolescent study said, ““Being able to read long-form text is crucial for understanding complex issues and developing critical thinking skills.”

The marketing challenge for authors and publishers is no longer just getting exposure for your books. The challenge is becoming finding readers—people who actually read books. It’s becoming necessary to persuade busy, distracted people to invest time in reading a book.

I believe that authors and publishers must to do more than just write, publish, and market books. If we want to have a reading populace to sell books to long-term, we must also engage in activities that help cultivate reading among young people. After all, these young people are our next generation of book buyers.

Some activities that all authors and publishers can engage in to promote reading with young people include:

  • Sponsor a reading program for kids with incentives and prizes in your church, community, or local Christian school.
  • Lead a book group for teens through your local bookstore, church, or neighborhood.
  • Share your love of reading with the young people in your life by giving books as gifts.

There are plenty more activities we can do to promote reading. I would love to hear your ideas.

Related Posts:
Six Benefits of Reading
Why Reading the Bible Matters
Reading on Decline in America

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.

Persuasion in an Age of Information Overload

We live in an age of information overload. The average person is bombarded with more information than they can retain every day.

Information scientists have found that, in 2011, American’s took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986 (think pre- and post-internet). This is equivalent to 174 newspapers. During just leisure time, the average person processes 34 gigabytes or 100,000 words every day.

In order to persuade readers to buy your books, you have to cut through information overload. Getting your book to stand out amidst a sea of competing messages can be daunting. To improve your ability to persuade people to buy your book, focus on these three elements.

1. Message

Your message must stand out and grab attention. For your book, this means the message you are delivering through your book’s title, subtitle, blurbs, and your opening paragraph.

Some studies suggest that about four in every 10 book buyers bought their latest book based on its message. This means that your book’s cover is tremendously important in converting browsers to buyers. It’s not just the design or cover art, its the whole makeup and feel of your cover that is important. It’s the message that your title and cover art combined send.

2. Repetition

Studies show that people need to be exposed to a new product seven to twelve times before they make a purchase decision. The same is true for your book. Repeat exposure is required to convert a browser to a buyer.

Interestingly, the higher the book’s price point, the more exposures are required. Even bargains require repeat exposures. A book priced under $2 through a daily deal discount email campaign needs an average of at least two exposures before a reader will purchase.

With digital marketing, repetition is achievable. Mentions of your book on blogs, social media, and in your email newsletter all help increase your ability to persuade your target audience to buy your book.

3. Availability

In an environment of information overload, we easily forget new information. Research shows that many consumers make near instant purchasing decisions based on their intuition. This means that the reader will attempt to make the purchase as soon as they decide.

If your book is not available where these people shop, they will move on to the next thing. This is why distribution is so important. A book needs to be available in as many outlets and channels as possible (not just on your website and Amazon). Distracted shoppers that cannot get what they want the moment they want it, move on.

The task of being heard amidst the noise of information overload seems daunting. Focus on your message, repetition of your message, and availability. Then watch what God will do.

Related Posts:
Distribution Is More Important than You Think
5 Common Indie Publishing Errors
Are You Using This to Build Your Author Platform?

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.