According to Publishers Weekly, sales of Christian fiction books is healthy. The number of indie authors publishing fiction books appears to be growing. In 2016, 17% of overall books purchased were indie published—but 30% of fiction books purchased were indie published. That number has since grown. This year, one-third of the books nominated for the 2018 Christian Indie Awards were fiction books.
One of the trends in fiction books is that a higher percentage of these books are being purchased as ebooks rather than print books. According to Author Earnings, fiction books make up the lion’s share of ebook purchases with 70% of all fiction sales occurring as ebooks and 90% of all romance book purchased as ebooks.
If you write and publish Christian fiction, you know that marketing a fiction book is difficult. If your fiction book sales are slow, then you might want to take a lesson from traditional Christian book publishers and imitate their marketing strategies for novels by new authors. Following are a number of marketing strategies traditional Christian publishing houses use to promote novels by authors who do not already have a built-in fan base.
- Mailings to bookstore managers about the new novel.
- Mailings to libraries.
- Mailings to book clubs.
- Placement in distributor’s catalogs (Ingram/Spring Arbor and Anchor catalogs).
- Strategic ad placement for print and online media.
- Eblasts to readers, retailers, and media.
- Advance copies to publications that review books.
- Advance copies to influencers.
- Placement of ARC on NetGalley for reviews.
- Securing media interviews.
- Host author events and book signings.
- Cross-promotion with other authors with similar titles.
- Special promotions with coupons and discounts to drive sales.
- Free novella ebook prequel that includes the first few chapters to the full-length novel.
I believe all these strategies are valuable. They work together to create synergy and exposure that drive the most sales. However, I am also aware that many indie authors do not have the resources to engage in all 14 of these activities. Therefore, if you have to choose just one of these activities, I suggest that you practice number 14. Provide a free novella ebook prequel to your novel.
Offer your novella for free on all the ebook platforms (Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple Book Store, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.) and on your website (in exchange for an email to help build your email list). Traditional publishers report that this strategy has led to stronger ebook sales for their authors who do this over authors who do not use this technique. Smashwords, the largest self-publishing ebook platform, reports that authors that offer the first ebook free for a fiction series earn 55% more on average than series that don’t offer the first ebook free.
Maybe you are a fiction author who wants to do a number of the above strategies but are unsure of how to go about these marketing activities. Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) can help you with that. We offer our members access to eblasts for Christian readers, retailers, and media, we provide information each month on podcasts and radio shows seeking guests in our newsletter, we offer cooperative print and digital advertising, and many other resources for spreading the word on your books.
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