Hope: The Vital Message

Mudslides, floods, volcanoes, school shootings, plane crashes, sex scandals, embezzlement, and tragic accidents. The news if full of awful things happening both here in the United States and around the world. With all this negativity, hopelessness is a common commodity.

Hope is defined as “an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.”

Hope is in short supply in our world today. In North Carolina (where I reside), the suicide hotline receives 255 calls each day and someone commits suicide every six hours. That is a lot of hopelessness.

At the NRB Convention earlier this year, Vice President Mike Pence stated, “Your ministry, your message, your values are needed now more than every before. Every day, every hour, you speak strength to the heart of the American people.”

People are looking for hope. As a Christian author, you offer this message of hope. As Christians we know that our hope is not rooted in this world. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. People need this message.

Hope brings change. According to a new study by Barna, one-third (35%) of all U.S. adults say they have made a “big change” in their life because of a conversation about faith. Christian books spark conversations about faith and bring hope.

As an author, don’t lose hope. Your books are valuable. Christian books bring hope. They help people find or renew their faith.

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What Will You Be Caught Reading?

May is “Get Caught Reading” month! What will you get caught reading this month?

Each year, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) puts together a cooperative catalog featuring products from our member publishers. This year’s catalog features 60 titles from 27 of our member publishers.

I invite you to click on the catalog cover pictured below to check out the great titles CSPA members produce! I am sure you will find within the pages of the catalog a new book to read this month.

Due to the number of beautiful book covers featured in the catalog, it may take a few minutes for the catalog to load. Please be patient.

CSPA Catalog Cover

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We Want Your Vote!

If you read or sell Christian books, you are invited to VOTE for the 2015 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award.

pencil voteYou can vote online right now at www.BookoftheYear.net. Voting on the Book of the Year Award is open through March 31, 2016.

Although small publishers are often less well known than larger publishing houses, they produce fresh and innovative books to inspire readers or fill niche needs. The Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award honors books produced by small publishers for outstanding contribution to Christian life.

The 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award features 123 books in 14 categories.

The winners of this award are determined solely by the votes of Christian book lovers and retailers alike. The winners of the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award will be announced by May 1, 2016.

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

What are you waiting for? Go Vote! And, invite your friends to vote also!

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Creating Book Sales

I recently had an independent author ask me what Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) does to help “create sales” for authors. My response was that CSPA does not create sales; rather, the organization provides opportunities for its members to create sales.

Opportunity

Understanding how sales are created is important. Advertising in and of itself does not create sales. Marketing activities in and of themselves do not create sales. Both are simply vehicles by which sales can be created.

Sales are created by two things:

1. Meeting a need.
When you provide someone a solution to a problem they have, you can create a sale.

2. Creating a connection.
Sales are based on relationships. People need to trust that you have the answer to their problem to make a purchase.

It’s all about communication. You, the author or publisher, must communicate to your audience that you care about them and that you have what they need. In advertising and marketing, this is largely communicated through the written word. What you write in your marketing and advertising materials is essential in creating a connection and showing your audience that your book can meet their need.

Since Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) does not write marketing or advertising copy for our members, we cannot create sales. All we do is provide our members the vehicles through which they can get their message out to Christian book buyers.

For example, one marketing vehicle CSPA offers its members is BookCrash, a books for bloggers review program. Members of CSPA can provide Christian bloggers a free copy of their book in exchange for a review by the blogger on her blog and on one retail site. A review by a blogger does not create sales. It can, but that creating a sale depends on a number of factors including: the type of review the blogger has written, how much influence the blogger has with her readers, and whether she recommends that others purchase the book.

Even though CSPA does not create sales for our members, there are many benefits to belonging to a publishing association. These include:

  • Professional affiliations boost your professional image.
  • Membership provides you information on how to stay up-to-date and relevant as an author, publisher, and book promoter.
  • Organization benefits include affordable marketing opportunities and other cost-savings on services related to printing and promoting books.

If you want someone to “create sales” for you, then spend the thousands of dollars required to hire a publicist to help you create sales. If, instead, you are looking for more opportunities to create sales for your books at an affordable price, join a publishers association.

You can sign up to become a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) today. The fee is just $90 for the 2016 calendar year.

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Don’t Make It Hard

As a general rule, I do not review Christian books. As the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), providing reviews of Christian books would put me in an awkward position. If I reviewed a book by one member of the association, then I would need to be available to review books for all members, and there simply is not enough time in a day.

ContactUs-1_1

The one exception I make to this rule is for books on book marketing and publishing. As the author of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, providing reviews for other books in this genre is smart collaboration. This gives the author of the book a review, but also exposes my book to those reading testimonials and reviews of the marketing or publishing book.

The other day, a fellow forum member offered copies of his new book in exchange for a review on Amazon. Since the book was in the genre of my exception, and since the book interested me, I offered to review the book.

I received the book in the mail. As is my usual habit, I cut the envelope open, pulled the materials out, and threw the envelope away. It wasn’t until I really took a look at the book later that I realized that the author had not enclosed any contact information. He had simply sent me the book with a sticky note attached to the cover that read, “Thanks for taking a look!” and signed with his first name.

I turned the book over and read the author bio. There was no website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter handle, or email listed in the bio. In other words, this author had not enclosed a single way for me to contact him.

While this author only requested an Amazon review, the lack of contact information may still close doors for him. What if I wanted to interview him for a blog post? What if I wanted to find another way to collaborate together on a book promotion scheme? By failing to provide easily accessible contact information, he did not invite or make himself available for additional exposure. Of course, I could go back to the forum and search through the archives to try to find a way to contact him, but who wants to do that?

If you are sending books to reviewers, don’t make it hard for the reviewer to get in touch with you, even if for no other reason than letting you know they have posted a review. Don’t make the mistake this self-published author did. All you need to do is enclose a business card, letter, or brochure with your book when sending it out to reviewers. Doing so invites further contact and opens doors for additional exposure for you and your book.

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