Combined Synergy

Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. Many of the best shopping deals of the year can be found on this day. However, Black Friday is all about the big businesses. Target, Walmart, ToysRUs, Best Buy, and the like all offer fabulous deals to lure in shoppers the day after Thanksgiving.

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Cyber Monday is the busiest online shopping day of the year. The best online shopping deals can often be found on this day. Many online businesses offer discounts and coupons to attract online holiday shoppers on Cyber Monday.

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday. In an attempt to draw more business for small businesses, American Express named the day after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, back in 2010. Small Business Saturday brings attention to small and local businesses.

While Small Business Saturday is really about shopping at local brick-and-mortar businesses, I think that small publishers and independently published authors can use the combined synergy of Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday to create sales for your books.

By-and-large small publishers and independently published authors don’t run a physical store in their community, but most run an online place to purchase their books and products. Combining the appeal of both Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, you can encourage Christian consumers to make purchases at your online small business during the Thanksgiving weekend and the Monday following.

Offer a special to encourage both your past customers and your potential customers to consider purchasing your books as Christmas gifts. Use a coupon, a discount, a buy-one get-one free special, or a bundle special for Small Business Saturday through Cyber Monday. Notify all your current and potential customers through email, blog posts, social media posts, and even via a mailed flyer.

Remember, books make great gifts. Remind your potential customers of this fact and offer them an incentive they can’t refuse. This combined synergy will bring you more sales.

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Unity in Diversity

Every once in a while, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) finds itself at the receiving end of an individual who is upset at the broad range of publishers the organization represents.

For example, one small Christian publisher became upset when he discovered that CSPA represents Catholic publishers. He informed CSPA that he could not be part of an organization that allowed Catholic publishers to be part of it. Yet, many of the stores this man’s books were sold in included a “Catholic” section.

Christian Small Publishers Association is not a denominational publishing association. The organization represents “Christian” publishers. We recognize that this is a broad term and people attach different meanings to it. As the goal of CSPA is to help market books in the Christian marketplace, we represent those publishers who by-and-large fit this definition.

At Christian Small Publishers Association we have chosen to define “Christian” as someone who believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; that He became incarnate, died, and rose again to pay the price for our sins and redeem our souls; and that it is only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ that we can have a relationship with God.

I recently read an interview with Pastor Ray Pritchard who is the president of Keep Believing Ministries. At one time, Pastor Pritchard was the pastor of a large interdenominational church in Chicago. In the interview he stated that, in this church, he used the Apostles’ Creed to define the basic beliefs of Christianity and to bring unity.

The Apostles’ Creed, which dates back to about A.D. 125, is the oldest statement of faith outside the New Testament. It is the statement that defines the basic beliefs of the orthodox Christian faith.

Pastor Pritchard said something in the interview that I thought was very interesting. He said, “I taught my congregation that although we certainly believe far more than is in the creed, we don’t believe less.”

For me, this sums it all up. If you believe in what the Apostle’s Creed states, then, you fit both CSPA’s definition and the larger Christian marketplace’s definition of “Christian.”  It is possible to have unity even in our diversity.

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; The third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

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Are You Regular?

Most experts in marketing will tell you that, at a minimum, you should be doing five things a day to promote your book. Sometimes book promotion is like reading your Bible. You know you should do it every day, but often you fall short. Life just gets in the way.

Fortunately God’s grace is greater than our failings. That’s true in our relationship with him as well in our book promotion. God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make the grade. Simply resolve to do better.

The best way to ensure that your book marketing efforts are regular and continual is to create a marketing plan. From your marketing plan draft goals for yourself about what you will do each day. Then set out to fulfill those goals.

Your daily five promotional efforts can include a blog post, commenting on someone else’s blog that reaches your target audience, sending off queries for acquiring book reviews, seeking speaking engagements, seeking guest blog appearances, writing articles about your topic that help promote your book, seeking radio or television interviews, setting up book signing appearances, targeted mailings, writing a newsletter for your fans, and sending thank you notes for book coverage received; to name just  a few.

Promoting a book is not a sprint. It is a marathon and something that you must do on a regular and continual basis. Regular, continual book promotion will keep your book selling for years. Baby Bible Board Books: Stories of Jesus (www.babybibleboardbooks.com), the set of children’s books that I co-authored with my husband, are still selling six years after they were published; all because we continue to engage in regular promotional efforts.yg2-front

If you are having trouble coming up with a marketing plan and specific resources to use in promoting your book, then I suggest you read a book on marketing books. Books such as John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Book and my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, are filled with specific resources and contacts for you to use in making a plan.

If that approach overwhelms you, then consider hiring a marketing coach to help you. I provide book marketing coaching for Christian books. My service includes a marketing plan with specific resources. You can learn more about this service at www.marketingchristianbooksinc.com.

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then five promotional efforts a day sells your book.


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What “The Shack” Says About Independent Publishing

In their January 5, 2009 issue, Christian Retailing ran an article on how The Shack became a runaway best-seller in 2008. For those of you who don’t know, The Shack was written by William P. Young, an ordinary Christian man who felt God calling him to share his fiction story with the world. He first presented his story and manuscript to 20 different publishing house editors. All 20 declined to publish the book. So, William Young and two friends started a publishing house, Windblown Media (www.windblownmedia.com), to publish the book themselves. Within mere months of publishing the book, The Shack had sold over 300,000 copies and before a year was up, it was number one on the New York Time’s Bestseller list.

Why did this book become such a bestseller? I believe it is because it has a message that resonates with people. It contains a message that God specifically gave William Young to share with others. I personally know a couple people who, after reading the book, felt God calling them into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.

The interesting thing to me in the Christian Retailing article was the quote by an editor of a major Christian publishing house as to why he and the other editors chose not to publish the book. He stated, “You know why we can’t publish this? It’s tough to talk publishers into doing something unusual. I call it the Catch-22 of publishing. If somebody has done something like it, then we can’t do it. If nobody has done something like it, then we can’t do it.”

This is the very reason so many small independent publishers are popping up on the Christian publishing scene. When someone is given a word from God to share in the form of a book, I believe that person is best off heeding God’s calling. But what is that author to do if editors of major Christian publishing houses are not listening to God’s voice (and I believe this does happen sometimes)? I believe that these authors should do as William Young did if God is calling them to it.

People frequently ask me what small unknown publishers have to offer a community that already has a plethora of books. My answer is, and will remain, books on subjects that the large established Christian publishing houses are not publishing: cutting-edge messages that God’s people and those still outside his flock need to hear. 

timetotalkcoverphotoLet me give you a couple of examples. A couple years ago, one of Christian Small Publishers Association’s publisher members felt God’s call to get Christians and the church to talk about hiv/aids. The authors, Andrea Bakke and Corean Bakke, founded Bakken Books (www.bakkenbooks.com) to publish their book Time to Talk in Church about HIV and AIDS, A Bible Study Discussion Guide 

More recently, another member of Christian Small Publishers Association D.L. McCarragher founded Alabaster Box Publishing (www.alabasterboxpublishing.com) to publish a book for women to inspire and encourage them to pray for the salvation of their unsaved husbands. The book is titled finalcovermissionpossibleMission Possible, Battling for Your Mate’s Soul Isn’t for Cowards.

These books represent two topics I have not seen published by large Christian publishing houses in the past few years, and there are many more.

Although it is improving, over the years, authors who have established a publishing house to print their own works (and those of other authors) have been looked down upon by the Christian publishing industry as inferior. This is one of the reasons that I helped found Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). The organization was established to promote small publishers and their works in the Christian marketplace to bring awareness to the quality books that these publishers produce.

I believe as Isaiah 55:10-11 states “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” This is true for authors who independently publish their works as well as those who are published by the large established Christian publishing houses.   

Has God given you a message that you published yourself?

Is Your Book Video Lost on the Internet?

Publishers Weekly recently had a blog post where publicists gave their take on book trailers and the effectiveness of this promotional medium for books (http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/400000640/post/1210039121.html). 

Surprisingly, a number of the publicists listed reported rather negative sentiments about the effectiveness of book trailers in promoting books.

The use of book videos to promote books began in 2002 and was basically spearheaded by a company called Circle of Seven Productions (www.cosproductions.com) which was formed to produce book trailers. This company trademarked the term Book Trailer™ in 2003. However, the use of book trailers (now often referred to as book videos) to promote books did not really catch on until 2005 when user-generated online video sites (think YouTube and GodTube) became popular.

I have been encouraging publishers to use book videos to promote their books for the past couple of years. I agree with one publicist on the Publishers Weekly blog who felt that the practice was still too new to fully judge the effectiveness. However, Circle of Seven Productions thinks that book trailers are a very effective way to promote books online and through television, and since their company is on the cutting edge of this technique their opinion is notable.

I think that, unless a book trailer goes viral, the way book trailers are currently promoted online, they mostly engage people within the authors’ and publishers’ existing circle of customers. An individual who wants to view book videos faces a chore in finding book videos online. One must search an author’s website, a book’s website, a publisher’s website, or search a user-generated video sharing site to find them; and to do this the person really needs to know the name of an author or publishing house to begin to find book videos.

Recently websites devoted exclusively to showcasing book videos have begun to emerge on the web. I believe that with these websites, book videos can become even more effective in promoting books. Website entirely devoted to the viewing of book videos, such as http://bookscreening.com, allow readers to find all the book videos on their favorite genre of books in one place.

One  new website, www.christianbookvideos.com, has set itself up, in their words, to be the place to preview all the Christian book videos. Now cbv-button-170x505people who read Christian books have one website to visit to view all the book videos for the Christian authors they like as well as discover new authors and books to read. With these new type of book video sites, book videos no longer have to be “stumbled” upon; instead they can actively be discovered.

The best thing about these new book video sites is that posting videos on them is free. Each site lists its own submission criteria and guidelines. So start promoting your book videos on these new book video sites and gather new readers for your books.

Do you have a book video and what has been your experience with its success?