The 2017 Book of the Year Award Winners

The votes are in and counted. The winners of the 2017 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award have been determined!

Christian book lovers and retailers voted on 120 nominated titles in 13 categories. The winners in each of the 13 categories are:

Fiction
Always With You, Elaine Stock, Elk Lake Publishing

Historical Fiction
Dawn of Liberty: Short Story Collection, Amber Schamel, Vision Writer Publications

Romance
Forgiveness, Marianne Evans, Pelican Book Group

Christian Living
Frankly Speaking, Janet Dash-Harris, CLM Publishing

Bible Study / Theology
Stuff Jesus Never Said, Paul Ellis, KingsPress

Devotional
Getting To Know Jesus: An Invitation to Walk With The Lord Day By Day, Eric Kampmann, Beaufort Books

Biography / Memoir
The Party’s Not Over Until God Says So, V.Lynn Whitfield, Professional Woman Publishing

Relationships / Family
Handing Out Life: The Simple Way to Rewarding Relationships in All of Life, Rev. Dr. Todd A. Biermann, Halo Publishing

Children’s (age 4 to 8)
Fireflies, Ginger Sanders (author), Tracy Applewhite Broom (illustrator)

Children’s (age 8 to 12)
Paul the Apostle: A Graphic Novel, Ben Avery (author), Mark Harmon (illustrator), Beartruth Collective, LLC

Young Adult (age 12+)
Healing Rain, Katy Newton Naas, Clean Reads

Gift Book
Jesus Loves You, Christine Topjian, Lighthouse Publishing

Christian Education
Examine Your Faith! Finding Truth in a World of Lies, Pamela Christian, Protocol, Ltd

Congratulations to the winners! Thank you to everyone who voted!

The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award is sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA).

Looking for a great book to read next? Try one of the winners of the CSP Book of the Year Award listed here.

Related Posts:
The 2016 Book of the Year Award Winners
The 2015 Book of the Year Award Winners
The 2014 Book of the Year Award Winners

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You Get What You Pay For

You get what you pay for”—so the saying goes.

While there are a few exceptions, this statement is generally true, especially for what you get for free.

What is offered for free is never top-of-the-line. Free products are usually samples. They are a taste of what the full model offers. When a full model product is offered for free, it is usually an older model—the one that has already been replaced by a newer, better version.

The same principle holds true for free information. Free information posted on the Internet is not the premium stuff. Don’t get me wrong, this free information can be useful, but the providers usually save the best information for their books or services.

I provide a lot of free information on this blog. It is good valuable information, if a little basic, but it’s only a drop in the bucket. I provide the most valuable information in my book (Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace), my on-demand webinars (MCB University), CSPA’s monthly newsletter (the CSPA Circular) for Members of the organization, and my workshops at writers’ conferences (see the upcoming seminars at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference).

Independent authors who think that everything they need to be successful is available online are operating under a false assumption. Free will only take you so far. The truth is that with online research:

  1. You won’t find all the valuable information in any reference or resource book on publishing or marketing.
  2. You won’t find the information all in one place. You will have to spend a lot of time researching.
  3. Some of the advice on the internet is bad advice. Listening to bad advice can cost you money.

Spending some money to purchase a book, membership, or conference attendance where you will hear from experts will save you time and money in the long run. Additionally, you can be confident that the information comes from reputable experts.

I run into a lot of newly published independent authors who are operating under many false assumptions and information, which causes them to flounder. Take the time to find and purchase the valuable information you need. It’s worth the investment.

If you are planning on publishing a book or have already published a book and need information on how the Christian marketplace works and how to effectively promote your book, I suggest you invest in one or more of the resources listed in this post.

Related Posts:
Getting What You Paid For?
Are You Asking?
Pay with a Tweet

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Photo courtesy of Timothy Muza

Sales of Indie Books Continue to Grow

Independent publishing (aka self-publishing) is here to stay. The number of books produced and sold by independent authors continues to grow. I think this is great news!

good-news

Data Guy over at Author Earnings shared some great new book sales statistics at the recent Digital Book World 2017. Here are a few of the interesting findings he shared in regards to independently published book sales for 2016 in the United States:

  • The total number of books units sold (both traditional and nontraditional in print, ebook, and audiobook formats) was 1,337,138,000.
  • The total number of independently published book units sold was 229,000,000 (counting ebook, audiobook, and print book sales).
  • Self-published titles accounted for 17% of total book sales.
    • About 30% of adult fiction and 10% of adult nonfiction book sales were independently published books.
  • Readers are buying books online: 69% of all book sales were made online.
    • About 72% of adult nonfiction books and 77% of adult fiction books were purchased online.

Independent publishing has truly come of age. I think that the industry overall is finally getting on board with accepting self-published titles.

books-sold

For years, most Christian writers’ conferences have been geared toward helping authors obtain traditional publishing contracts. This too is changing. Now some conferences are teaching attendees how to independently publish their books.

The Colorado Christian Writers Conference is offering this to their attendees. I will be teaching an intensive continuing education seminar at this conference in May on “You Can Indie Publish and Market Your Book”. This five-session seminar will cover the following topics:

  1. Three Things to Do Before You Publish Your Book
  2. Preparing Your Manuscript for Publishing
  3. DIY: Publish Your Book
  4. Obtaining Book Reviews
  5. Marketing: The Essential Ingredient

If you are thinking about independently publishing or know someone who is, sign up to attend the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and join me for this intensive training.

If you want to attend, but can’t make this conference, I will be teaching this seminar again at the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference this summer in July.

Related Posts:
Independent Publishing Continues to Grow
Four Publishing Trends for 2017
A Little Yeast and Self-Publishing

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Photo courtesy of Hope House Press

The Demise of the Christian Bookstore

The news broke last week that Family Christian stores are closing. The decline of the Christian bookstore continues.

Family Christian declared bankruptcy two years ago, in 2015. Not wanting to see this valuable resource for selling Christian products fail, Christian publishers and other suppliers forgave Family Christian $127 million in debt and approved the reorganization that allowed a number of Family Christian stores to remain operational.

working

Now, Family Christian has made the announcement that despite the changes they made to improve product selection and make their stores more appealing to their clientele, sales have continued to decline. Now the chain is forced to close its stores.

The closing of Family Christian stores is sad news for the Christian book industry and for communities around the country. The impact of this big.

  • Christian publishers will now have 240 less stores to sell their books through.
  • 240 communities across 36 states will now lack a physical resource where people can discover Christian products, where the gospel can be proclaimed, and where people can receive encouragement.

While book sales are migrating largely to the Internet, there is still something to be said about physical stores. Across the country, physical stores are not on the decline. In Charlotte, where I live, there are numerous strip malls and shopping centers being built.
In fact, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) has been reporting an increase in their number of bookstore members of the past few years. The number of independent secular bookstores around the country is growing, while the number of Christian bookstores is declining.

You may want to attribute the decline of the Christian bookstore to the weakening of Christianity in the United States. I don’t think that this is the largest contributing factor to what is undermining Christian bookstores.

Why are Indie general market bookstores succeeding while Christian bookstores aren’t? I think the answer can be summed up in one sentence:

General market indie bookstores have embraced the indie author, Christian bookstores have not.

Here is why this is so important. Indie authors are excited about their books. They may not have the clout that national bestselling authors have in terms of drawing large crowds, but they still draw people to a bookstore. Indie authors are enthusiastic. They host events and invite the community to these events. Bookstores that embrace indie authors and their events find that these authors bring the community to the bookstore. These community members come for the indie author event, but they also buy other books. Increased foot traffic equals increased sales.

Sadly, for fear of the “unknown”, Christian bookstores have refused to embrace the indie author to their own demise. I just hope that the remaining Christian bookstores wake up and do what they need to succeed.

Related Posts:
How to Get a Book into a Christian Bookstore
Seling Books in an Overcrowded Market
Christian Bookstores Closing

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Is Christian Fiction Growing or Dying?

It is surprising to me how many people assume that “clean fiction” is the same as “Christian fiction.” It’s not.

To be considered “Christian fiction” a book must promote Christian teachings or exemplify a Christian way of life.

Over the years, Christian fiction has waxed and waned. A few decades ago, there was a great push for Christian bookstores to carry more fiction books. Now it appears that Christian fiction may be on the waning phase for traditional publishing houses.

christian-fiction

Chip MacGregor, a Christian literary agent, recently wrote a few publishing predictions for 2017 on his blog. Here is what he had to say about Christian fiction:

“Christian fiction as we know it is going to almost completely go away. The days of people buying 100,000 copies of a new Amish romance are dead. The readership has aged, the readers have discovered there are quality issues with CBA mystery, suspense and thriller genres, so CBA fiction is going to morph into “clean romance” and “values fiction” and “apocalyptic biblical thrillers” aimed specifically at a shrinking group of hard-core conservative evangelical readers in their 50’s. There are only a handful of houses still acquiring Christian fiction these days.”

Sales of religious novels began to decline in 2014, after many years of robust growth. As a result, a number of publishers began pulling back from that market. However, statistics showed that traditional publishing houses were only releasing around 250 new fiction titles a year (not counting the various Harlequin Love Inspired and Heartsong lines which publish over 200 per year) compared to thousands of nonfiction titles released each year.

While the traditional Christian publishing houses may be reducing the number of clearly “Christian fiction” books they produce, the number of “Christian fiction” books produced by independent authors and small publishers is growing. Subscribe to any one of the many Christian discount ebook newsletters (i.e. Vessel Project, Faithful Reads, Inspired Reads, Christian Book Readers, etc.) and you will find plenty of Christian fiction books by independent authors.

In fact, I believe that “Christian fiction” is growing with independent authors and small publishers. Over the past few years, the number of Christian fiction titles that have been nominated for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award has grown each year. And, this year, for the first time, more General Fiction books were nominated than books in the Christian Living category (historically the largest category in the award).

If, indeed, the traditional Christian publishing houses are switching to more “clean fiction” to reach a crossover market and increase their sales, this leaves a gap that independent authors can fill. I believe there is still a strong market for good redemptive Christian fiction books, but the majority of sales for these will be digital. After all, one recent statistic showed that 70% of fiction book purchases are ebooks.

Related Posts:
The State of Christian Fiction
The State of Fiction Reading
The Power of Christian Fiction

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Photo courtesy of Sarah Dorweiler