Finding Connections and Opportunities

If you have published or are thinking about publishing a Christian book, I encourage you to attend at least one trade show that the book industry hosts. These venues present wonderful opportunities to learn about the book industry and understand what is important in promoting and marketing a book, as well as provide you with a number of new opportunities.

Below are testimonials from two members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA)—one an independently published author and the other a small publisher—who attended ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) with us this summer in Cincinnati. Hear what they have to say about their experience at the show, then consider how attending a trade show might help you in marketing and promoting your book(s).

If you are not yet a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I encourage you to join. One of the benefits of membership in CSPA is that we offer a cost-effective way to attend industry trade shows like ICRS. CSPA is offering a summer membership special of $120 for membership through December 2017—that’s 18 months of membership for less than $7 per month. Join today on CSPA’s website!

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Words of Encouragement

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Let Go and Let God

I answered my phone and listened to my daughter sob. After she calmed down, she told me that she had just fallen down a flight of stairs and thought that her leg might be broken.

The call came just hours before I was to leave for the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) where Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has a booth each year and represents our members’ books and products at this trade show. My teenage daughter was over 250 miles away at a summer college program for rising high school seniors.

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My mother instinct wanted to jump into my car and immediately drive to my daughter’s side. I couldn’t due to my ICRS commitment. All I could do was make sure my daughter was in good hands, and then turn the situation over to God and trust that he would fill in the gaps.

Letting go is hard. I believe the timing of this accident no coincidence. God wanted me to become better at letting go and allowing him to handle that which I am not capable of doing. Yes, my presence would be a comfort to my daughter, but the purpose of the program she is in is to help her be more independent and ready for college. As for the broken leg, there was nothing I could do for that. Such injuries require doctors.

If you are like me, you might also have a hard time letting go. I tend to take matters into my own hands and use my grit to “make things happen”, especially when it comes to promoting and marketing a book. But the truth is there is only so much that I can do in my own strength. The rest is up to God.

I can put the information about my message and my book in front of people. I can’t make them notice this information. I can’t make them pay attention to the information. And, I certainly can’t make them buy my book. I have no control over these things. I must let go and let God.

I recently heard a Christian author say, “God gives you your platform and he can take it away.” That is so true. I have to remind myself that God alone is the one that takes my message and uses it to help others. My job is to simply show up, be present, and give the message God has given me. God must do the rest.

What about you? Are you trying to control too much? Are you anxious and stressed about marketing and selling your books? I encourage you to turn it over to God. He alone “builds the house” (Psalm 127:1). Let go and let God.

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Who’s Got Your Books?
God Is In the Mix
Reaching the Average Christian Reader

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What Are You Learning?

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. ~Chinese Proverb

Once you learn something new, you are never the same. Yet there is always more to learn, especially when it comes to publishing and marketing books. Even those who have been in the industry for years must always learn more because trends are always changing.

Book_Rapid-eLearning

The learning curve when you are starting something new—such as publishing or marketing a book—is extremely steep, but the learning curve never goes away because there is always more to learn.

What are you doing to keep learning and staying relevant in publishing and promoting your books? If you are reading this blog—kudos to you. You probably read other blogs on publishing and marketing as well. Reading blogs is one way to learn so that you can improve your craft. Four additional ways to keep learning include:

1.  Join organizations that provide services to authors and publishers and read their newsletters and publications.

There are many organizations that provide information to help authors and publishers improve their craft. Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) provides services for small publishers and independently published authors creating materials for the Christian marketplace. There are many associations that serve writers. American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) is a large organization that helps Christian fiction writers improve their craft. The Word Guild is a writer’s group for Canadian writers.

2.  Read books on publishing and marketing.

There are hundreds of books on publishing and marketing books, and hundreds more on the craft of writing. Books on these subjects are being published each month. The Director of the Midwest Book Review, Jim Cox, highlights new book on writing, publishing, and marketing books in his monthly newsletter. If you are a Christian author or small publisher, and you have not yet read my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, I suggest you do so.

3.  Attend conferences.

Conferences are designed for learning. Wherever you are in your publishing journey, you can benefit from conferences. Industry trade shows like the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) has seminars that show attendees can sit in on and learn new things. I learn new things every year when I attend. Writer’s conferences are also great places for learning more about the craft of writing as well as learning more about publishing, and promoting and marketing books. You can find a list of Christian writers conferences held in the United States at Christian Manuscripts Submissions website.

I will be presenting a seminar the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference put on by Writer His Answer next month. This conference features over 55 authors, editors, and agents presenting their expertise. There is something for every Christian author at this conference. Check out their online brochure on their website and make plans to attend if you live near Philadelphia.

4.  Join discussion groups and interact with other authors and publishers.

There are numerous discussion groups and forums online for authors and publishers. Both Facebook and LinkedIn feature many such groups. Another resource is Christian Writers. This online forum provides a venue for Christian writers to interact with other Christian writers to gain feedback, information, and insight into the writing and publishing process.

I encourage you to regularly engage in activities that help you learn how to become a better writer, publisher, or book promoter. You will not only become better at your craft, you will also become a better person for it. After all, the Chinese proverb reminds us that whatever new thing we learn stays with us and overflows to all areas of our life.

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It’s Okay Not to Know
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Do You Have a Teachable Spirit?

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It’s the Story

One of the joys of attending the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) is that I get to meet all sorts of publishers and authors. Great conversations result from these meetings and usually someone walks away with new information or is encouraged.

Story Time

At the Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) booth this summer at ICRS, I had one small publisher stop by with one of his authors. The author gave me his sales speech about his book. He told me why he wrote the book and what the book was about. His elevator speech lasted for over one-minute, which is really too long for a book pitch. When telling someone about your book, you should be able to do so quickly and concisely in 30 seconds or less.

After the author gave me his spiel about his book, the publisher asked if he could give me a pitch about the book. I said yes. The publisher then proceeded to give me a short pitch about the book’s message and how it was different from other books on the same topic. Then the publisher asked me and a CSPA member who was also listening which pitch we thought was better, his or the author’s.

We both responded that while the publisher’s pitch was shorter and the author’s pitch too long, the one that got our attention was the author’s. This was because the author started with a story. He told us the story of why he wrote the book. We both remembered the story and the story hooked us.

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, people love stories. People connect with stories. In your elevator pitch about your book, be sure to include the story of what led you to write the book. Doing so will allow you to better connect with your listeners and touch their hearts with your message in a way that simply telling them what your book is about will never do.

What’s your story?

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ICRS 2015

The International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) was held last week in Orlando, Florida. ICRS is the largest gathering of Christian retailers that the industry holds. Sadly, Christian brick-and-mortar bookstores are dwindling, and along with them, ICRS is also facing fewer number of retail attendees each year.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has exhibited our member publishers’ products at ICRS for the past 12 years. I have been a witness to the slowly receding show floor space and attendance figures. However, while the Christian retail stores are dwindling, I believe there is still value in ICRS.

The International Christian Retail Show is a place to learn about the industry, make connections, and gather inspiration. This year, ICRS had a number of workshops geared toward authors and publishers that provided valuable information and professional development. In addition, Christian media personnel were present and offered opportunities for authors to connect with the media and garner publicity.

In the following weeks, I will be sharing some of the information that was presented at ICRS here on my blog. In addition, I am excited about the connections CSPA made at the tradeshow. Due to some of these connections, we will be bringing our member publishers some new membership benefits as we move into the fall.

If you are not yet a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I encourage you to join. We are offering a summer membership special of $120 for membership through December 2016—that’s 18 months of membership for less than $7 per month. Join today on CSPA’s website!

CSPA’s booth at ICRS was busy. We had author book signings almost every hour the exhibit floor was open on Monday and Tuesday. You can watch our slideshow to get a feel of what we did!

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