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.

Important Information for Christian Authors

Do you finish every book you start to read? Many people don’t. I once saw a statistic that said that most people only read about half of a nonfiction book.

Today, many ebook retailers have proprietary software for reading their ebooks. This software allows them to actually track how readers interact with the books they download. One of the pieces of information that can be tracked is whether or not a book is actually read all the way to the end.

Kobo (which delivers digital books to 23 million people in 190 countries and is a competitor to Amazon Kindle) recently released statistics for 2014 that showed how frequently readers finished the ebook titles they bought. Here are the results they released.

Kobo Study

What I found so fascinating in this report is that Religion books were the most abandoned (not read all the way through). In four out of the six countries featured, religion books came in with the lowest percentage for completion. In North America, only a little over one-third of all religion books are read all the way to completion.

Learning that Religion books have the lowest completion rate is discouraging. Now I want to know why? Of course, Kobo can’t track why via its e-reading software. That is data that would need to be collected via surveys.

I have decided to not even speculate on why. There are so many possible reasons.
Instead, let me say a few related words. Sometimes member authors of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) will tell me that they feel that a reviewer did not read their book through to completion. This is generally when they have received a negative review. With this statistic, I don’t find it surprising at all that some reviewers may never finish a book, especially if they don’t like it. After all, only 35% of people in North America who download a Religion title actually read the entire book.

The other thing that strikes me from this study is that, if you are an author of a religious book, you should pack your biggest punch, your most important message, at the beginning of your book. That way, you can be sure that a reader will read your most important message. If you leave it for the latter half of your book, only about 35% of readers will ever see it.

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Are You Paying Attention?

The average person’s attention span is 8 seconds while a goldfish’s attention span is 9 seconds. goldfish Yep, you read that right. Goldfish, while carrying a much smaller brain, have longer attention spans than people.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, consumer attention spans have decreased significantly over the past decade. In 2000, the average person’s attention span was 12 seconds. In 2013, it was measured at 8 seconds.

This is important information to know if you promote books on the Internet. If you want to capture people’s attention, you must give them information in bite-size pieces that they can easily digest in a few seconds. This is why visual content (pictures, videos, infographics, factoids) have become so popular. Visuals can be easily consumed and shared.

If you are not yet mixing in lots of visual content in your online marketing efforts, check out these six reasons you should start using more visuals. Visual Content

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Social Media Tips for Authors

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, a publisher of books for children, recently launched a how-to video series on using social media for their authors. These fun, short videos give some nice tips for using social media.

Authors have mixed feelings about social media. Some think it is a waste of time, while others think that it helps connect them with readers and spread the word about their books. One nice thing in Eerdman’s videos is that they make it clear that social media itself does not sell books. Other marketing is still required. Rather, social media is a tool that can augment your other marketing strategies.

Watch this how-to video on Twitter by Eerdman.

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Collecting Reading Data

Data provides information that can be analyzed to help businesses improve. Hence, many businesses seek various types of data to use in evaluation purposes.

data

Authors and publishers like data also. One piece of data that was difficult to secure in the days of print-only was information on how people read books. With book publishing, information often only flows one-way—from content creators to consumers.

Digital books may be changing this information flow. With the advent of digital books, data on how people read books can be collected. Reading apps and e-reading device software can record virtually every user interaction with a book from when a book is opened, to when a page is turned, to what time of day the book is read, to when the book is abandoned, and more.

Currently, the biggest seller of ebooks, Amazon, does not share any of this data with authors or publishers. Others, like Kobo, have begun to make some of the data available—for a fee. To protect consumer privacy, user data is aggregated and anonymized. An author or publisher cannot see what any particular individual did. So, correlations cannot be made on things such as writing a review on Goodreads and tweeting about the book. Hence, a lot of valuable marketing information remains hidden.

Is it possible for an author or publisher to put a piece of software inside an ebook so they could see how customers are actually reading the book? Is there a way authors and publishers could have direct, unfettered data from their ebooks?

Interestingly, there appears to be a way to do this. One company, Jellybooks, has developed a working prototype of such an application. Jellybooks has found a way to combine HTML5, CSS3, and JS to create an application that can be attached to an EPUB file. This application records how the book is read.

Due to concerns about privacy, Jellybooks is currently only using the software with some free ebooks that are part of a focus group. The reader gets a free ebook, and in return, the publisher gets data that shows them how each individual reader is interacting with the ebook. In essence, this software is being used in advanced-reader copies that are issued not to collect reviews, but user data.

Jellybooks believes that the kind of reading data that their new software is tracking is really most valuable before a book is published. Knowing how individual users are interacting with a book can better position the publisher to make changes in the final copy to better engage readers, as well as better position the publisher for marketing and promoting the book.

What do you think of this idea?

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