Are You Up-to-Date?

Ten-digit ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) are no longer the book industry standard. The change was made over three years ago.

Actually, the standard changed January 1, 2007 when Bowker, the U.S. ISBN agency, declared that all books published on or after January 1, 2007 must carry a 13-digit ISBN.

Let me be clear. For books to be viable in the marketplace, publishers need to ensure that all books available through book channels published on or after January 1, 2007 carry a 13-digit ISBN with a 13-digit EAN Barcode.

Some of you reading this post are asking yourselves, “Why is Sarah writing about old industry news?’

Believe it or not, CSPA has received book nominations for the Christian Small Publishers Book of the Year Award the past two years for books that carried 10-digit ISBNs. These books were published in 2008 and 2009. These publishers must have been unaware of the industry change.

For each book nominated that was printed with a 10-digit ISBN, I kindly contacted the publisher and let them know the new industry standard. Any publisher with unused10-digit ISBNs from Bowker simply needs to convert those numbers  to 13-digit ISBNs before being placing the ISBN number on any new book they published. Bowker even provides a free online ISBN converter for publishers.

Here is a little piece of advice – If you are going to publish books, know the industry standards.

Most people don’t have much time to research and stay on top of all the changes happening in any given industry. That is why professional associations exist. One of the main jobs of any professional organization is to provide their members with cutting-edge information that affects their members’ business, including changes in industry requirements and standards.

If you publish books, I encourage you to join a publishers association so you don’t end up making a major gaffe on one of your books.

Three great publishers associations for small publishers are:

Join one or more of these great organizations and stay up-to-date on the latest industry standards.

CSPA’s June newsletter features a great article on the new ISTC. It’s not here yet, but it is coming and publishers need to be aware of it.

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A Prayer for Publishers

Today is National Day of Prayer. Even with a U.S. court ruling that such a declaration from the government is unconstitutional, many around our country will still gather to acknowledge the role of prayer in our lives and in the health of our country.

I join with many today to offer up a prayer for our country and specifically, in this post, for those who minister through and publish the written word.

Father God,

You are awesome and holy. Through you, nations are built and planted and, through you, nations are uprooted, torn down, and destroyed. I pray that our great nation would repent, that we, its people, would mend our ways and turn with all our hearts to acknowledge and worship you, the only true God.

Today I specifically pray for those who minister through and publish the written word. May their hearts remain true to you. May you keep them pure and holy as you are holy. May their words and their witness draw people to you, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, through whom salvation is found.

Bless Christian authors and publishers in the United States and around the world. Keep them in the palm of your hand. Protect them and grant them encouragement and endurance to persevere when the way is difficult. May you make their plans succeed and grant their requests, so that your name may be praised.

Sustain those who have suffered in this difficult economic climate. Many have lost their jobs and suffered financial hardship. Others have had to shut down their publishing companies and watch their dreams disintegrate. Lord, I pray especially for these individuals. I ask that through their difficulties you would be near to them and meet their needs. May you grant them a fresh touch of your presence. Most of all, I ask that through their difficulties, may they be drawn into a deeper understanding of who you are so that they can begin afresh to minister to others.

May you continue to make all grace abound to us so that in all things, at all time, having all that we need, we can abound in every good work. Honor your promise to make us rich in every way so that we can be generous to others and bring glory and honor to your name in all that our hands find to do.


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How Effective Are Your Press Releases?

Have you ever read a press release where you didn’t get past the first couple sentences? Did you stop reading because the information in the first paragraph just did not grab your attention?

Are you concerned that your press releases might be a little lackluster? Are you afraid people aren’t reading your press releases the way you hope?

I loved my eighth grade speech class. My teacher was great. He drummed into my classmates’ and my head that the opening lines of a speech where the most important. He told us over and over again that if we did not catch the audience’s attention with our opening lines, we had lost their attention for our entire speech.

This teacher suggested that we use one of the following to open a speech:

1. Tell a joke

2. Tell a short story

3. Ask a question

4. Quote an interesting statistic

5. Make a shocking statement

I remember one classmate doing a speech on “How to Bake a Cake” for the class. She did not tell us what her speech was about, but opened her speech by yelling “Don’t slam that door or my cake will fall!

My speech teacher’s advice has been invaluable to me as I embarked on a various writing adventures. I think the instruction he gave holds true whether you are speaking or writing.

You can apply this speech-writing counsel to your press releases to spice them up and make people heed what you have to say. Start your press release with a question, a shocking statement, or an interesting statistic that grabs the reader’s attention.

Need to find some interesting statistics that tie into current trends for your next press release? Try Gallup® or These websites are filled with great statistics on trends in American public opinion on a number of topics. If you want statistics related to Christianity and Christian issues, then visit Barna Group.

After you write your next interest-grabbing press release, head on over to Press Release Grader and find out whether your press release makes the grade. This website evaluates your press release and provides a marketing effectiveness score, so you can see how your press release stacks up against the competition.

I hope your press release gets an A!

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Publishers’ Institute at ICRS

For the past two years, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has hosted a seminar for publishers and anyone interested in becoming a publisher at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS).

CSPA is pleased to announce that we will again be hosting Publishers’ Institute at ICRS this summer in St. Louis. The theme of this year’s Publishers’ Institute is “Embracing the Next Decade.” We have an awesome lineup of speakers for the seminar.

Speakers and their topics include:

Getting the Word Out: Promoting Your Book Before It’s Printed
Darren Henry, Vice President of Advocate Distribution Solutions, STL Distributors

Darren Henry is the Vice President of Advocate Distribution Solutions, a division of STL Distribution. Darren’s publishing career began in sales and in his nine years with Multnomah Publishers he called on independent booksellers, ABA Chains, Mass Market distributors and retailers and on-line retailers. In 2006 he joined STL Distribution in a sales role and later moved to his current position, providing distribution, sales & marketing services to small and mid-sized publishers.

A Legal Look at Publishing Rights Issues
Brian Flagler, Principal, Flagler Law Group LLC

Brian Flagler provides general counsel and/or publishing and trademark counsel to multiple publishers, designers, and distributors of Christian media as well as Christian ministries. Before founding Flagler Law Group, Brian served as Vice President and General Counsel at Multnomah Publishers and served as an Instructor of Intellectual Property Law at Clayton College and State University.

Creating a Successful Social Media Strategy
Sarah Bolme, Director, CSPA

Sarah Bolme is the co-founder and Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), the owner of CREST Publications, and the author of the award-winning Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. She is also the editor of the CSPA Circular, the monthly newsletter of Christian Small Publishers Association. Sarah’s passion is educating others to help them market their books into the Christian marketplace.

Publishers’ Institute will be held on Monday, June 28th, from 6:30–8:30 p.m. at the Convention Center Holiday Inn, during The International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in St. Louis, Missouri. The cost is just $20. Register in advance on CSPA’s website. Registration will also be taken at the door of the event.

I hope to see you there!

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Is Book Publishing in Peril?

Many people think the publishing world is in trouble. One of the main reasons it may be in trouble is that the number of people reading books is declining.

I recently read some interesting statistics:

  • Estimates from surveys found that around 25 percent of American adults read zero books a year (that means none).
  • Over one-third of foreign-born adults in the United States do not have high school diplomas.
  • One out of every three young adults drops out of high school every year.
  • The world literacy ranking of the United States is dropping every year.

The horizon for Christian book publishers looks bleak. Take the statistics above and the trend toward people reading less, add to this the shrinking Christian population in our country and Christian publishers may face a tough future.2166817992_9ff52679dd

In a single generation, the number of people who label themselves – even loosely – as Christians has dropped 11 percent. According to the latest American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), Americans who claim no religion at all now outrank every major religious group except Catholics and Baptists. People with no religious affiliation currently represent 15 percent of the United States population, which is almost twice as many as in 1990.

For Christian publishers, these numbers represent a shrinking consumer pool.

What can authors and publishers do about this trend?

I believe that we (Christians) need to become better evangelists. We need to do a better job of passing on our faith to our children as well as to the people in our circle of influence. How this is done will look different for each person. However, as authors and publishers, one way we can do this is by writing and publishing quality, cutting-edge books that help people find God. Then we can be generous with these books. Boldly give them (for free) to non-Christians and seekers who you meet. Pray for God’s blessing on each book that you give away that the message would touch that person’s heart.

I also believe that unless we (American adults) read and pass on the love of reading to the next generation, the world of book publishing will shrink in size and scope. Consider how you might pass on the love of reading in your circle of influence. Is there a way you can encourage children at your church to read? Is there a children’s author you could have come visit the Children’s ministry at your church? What about volunteering your time to read to children at your church and partnering with your church bookstore or library to come up with a program to encourage children to read Christian books?

More ideas and suggestions are welcome.

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