Are You Looking for a Formula?

As Americans, we love prescriptions and formulas to follow. Just prescribe a program for people to lose weight, get in shape, de-clutter their house, or extend the life of their vehicle, and thousands race to put the formula into practice.

Sadly, there is no formula for marketing a book to make it a best-seller. Many authors who have found the right mix of marketing strategies for their own book will try to sell you their formula, but never does one marketing formula work for all types of books. If one formula did, it would have already been patented.

Since books are sold mostly through bookstores (whether online or physical), authors and publishers rarely have the ability to find out how their readers discovered their books. Hence, it is difficult for authors and publishers to know which of their marketing efforts are providing the best results.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) asks on our membership application how the applicant heard about CSPA. Here are the responses from the most recent eight applications:

  • Word-of-mouth and internet browsing
  • The Christian Writer’s Market Guide
  • Christian Writers Conference
  • CSPA was referenced in various online forums
  • A friend who is an editor for various ministries and small publishing houses
  • Referral from another independent author
  • Email
  • Internet

As you can see, there is no one referral source. Other than word-of-mouth from various places, the ways that these authors and publishers heard about CSPA varied greatly.

The same is most likely true for your books. While surveys of readers reveal that word-of-mouth is the number one way people decide to purchase a book, this word-of-mouth can vary greatly from a friend, relative, coworker, a blog post, a social media post, or from someone who knows the author.

Remember, there is no formula. No two books can be marketed the exact same way and receive the same results. You must experiment to find the sweet mix of marketing activities that reaches your target audience effectively.

I encourage you to heed the advice of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes, “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

These words, penned thousands of years ago, are still true. In marketing a book, you do not know which activities will succeed, so sow numerous and diverse efforts for the best results. I believe that it is the mix (not one thing) that provides the best results.

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Book Awards Produce Winners!

Nominations are open for the 2018 Christian Indie Awards! The awards are sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA).

Christian Books published in 2016 and 2017 are eligible for nomination. For complete nomination guidelines and to nominate a book, visit

Not sure if you should enter a book award? Check out these 10 reasons to do so.

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Have You Written a Memoir?

Memoirs are a growing genre in publishing. This category has grown steadily over the past few years for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the year award (now the Christian Indie Awards). About 10% of the books nominated fall into the Memoir category.

In fact, one magazine stated that “ours is the era of Everybody’s Autobiography”. Many independently published authors write memoirs. These authors feel that they have something to share with others from their own life experiences. Additionally, writing a memoir often helps authors gain a new perspective on their life, while writing about difficult times can provide healing for life’s pain.

BookNet Canada, a non-profit organization that develops technology, standards, and education to serve the Canadian book industry recently released four “Dive Deep” studies. Each of these studies looks at the demographics for book buyers of different genres. So far, the four studies that have been released look at biographies/autobiographies, detective fiction, science fiction, and cookbooks.

In 2016, the Biography category accounted for 3.84 percent of book sales in Canada, which is just about 12 percent of all nonfiction book sales. The “Dive Deep” study for biographies/autobiographies, which tracked 272 biography book purchases in Canada, found that the average buyer for these books was a 49-year-old married female with a university degree.

While this study was conducted in Canada, I think that memoir sales in the United States are probably very similar to those in Canada. After all, our cultures are not that different and Canada’s book market often mirrors the United States’ market.

What do the findings in this study mean for marketing a memoir? I think we can draw two conclusions.

1. Market your memoir more heavily to females.
If you have written a memoir, your primary audience is going to be the female reader. This should not come as a surprise. After all, women read more than men and buy more books than men. Men read memoirs too, but women are more likely to purchase a memoir. Some of these women may be purchasing the book for a man in their life to read. Even if that is the case, you must market to the person who will buy the book.

2. Market your memoir to the GenX crowd.
We don’t hear much about selling to GenXers. We hear a lot about Baby Boomers buying habits and the buying habits of Millennials. The GenX generation often falls through the cracks. (I must add, that as a GenXer, this hurts my feelings). One important thing to keep in mind when marketing to the GenX generation is that they know the value of a dollar and appreciate a good deal. If you are offering a good deal, they will spread the word to all their friends and family readily.

Memoirs only command a small percentage of book sales. These books are not as popular as other categories. As a result, marketing a memoir or biography takes persistence and perseverance. You can use the information from the BookNet study to focus your marketing efforts for your memoir for greater success.

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10 Book Advertising Ideas for the Physical World

Everyone knows the solid advice for investing their money: Diversify, Diversify, Diversify.
It’s good advice and you probably even follow it. This advice does not just hold true for your financial investments. It also is good advice for your investment in marketing your book.

Yes, diversifying your marketing efforts is solid marketing advice. We live in and operate in the physical world as well as the virtual world (Internet). Therefore, to reach people, you should diversify your marketing efforts to include both the physical world and the online world.

Here are 10 creative ideas for cost-effective ways to advertise your books in the physical world. Let this list spark your own creative ideas for ways that you can market your book in the physical world.

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Announcing: Christian Indie Awards

Independent publishing is growing. I have quoted this statistic before, but it bears repeating. The number of self-published (or independently published) titles has grown from 133,036 published in 2010 to 727,125 published in 2015. That is a 446.5% increase in the number of self-published titles in five years.

Additionally, self-published titles accounted for 17% of total book sales in 2016 (229,000,000 units sold). That means that almost one out of every five books sold was an independently published book.

For the past ten years, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has sponsored the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award. This award recognizes books published by small publishers and independent authors.

To better reflect the increasing numbers of independently published books and authors, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has changed the name of our book award.

CSPA is pleased to introduce the:

Christian Indie Awards

It’s the same great award, just a new name!

The Christian Indie Awards are now open for nominations for the 2018 Award. To be eligible to nominate a title, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Books must be Christian in nature, promote the Christian faith, and intended for the Christian marketplace. The Christian marketplace is defined as the marketplace that is served by CBA member retail stores (mainly individuals who maintain Catholic or Protestant beliefs and doctrines).
  • Books must be published with a 2016 or 2017 copyright and released for sale in 2016 or 2017. New editions of previously published books are eligible. Reissued editions are not.
  • Books submitted in previous years for the award may not be submitted again, unless they are a new edition with a new ISBN number.
  • Books must be printed in English and available for sale in the United States.
  • The nomination of a title must be made by the publisher or author of the book.
  • Eligible publishers must be small presses or independently published authors with revenues of $450,000 or less per year.

The award is offered in 14 categories. To nominate your title or to learn more about the Christian Indie Awards visit the award’s website at

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