How To Market Your Book
17 Fundamental Ideas of How to Promote Your Christian Book
For most authors, often the hardest part of publishing is learning how to promote your book. Getting started can be rather intimidating for a new author, but as an Authorpreneur, we know you’ll be up for the challenge. With a little guidance and maybe a little help from professionals, you’ll become a promoting machine before you know it (or you’ll know where to start at the very least).
In marketing, there are “Four P’s” to any successful marketing strategy: product, price, place, and the fourth and final “P,” is “promotion.” Promotions are the active, driving force that spreads the word about your book and includes: advertising platforms, forms of media, events, marketing products and networking avenues of all kinds. Your promotional efforts should encompass various forms of media and utilize all kinds of channels, avenues and efforts. This is known as a “Marketing Mix.” Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
When it comes to promotion, you’ve got options galore. But, don’t forget about the basics you’ve already established in your marketing plan; think back to the fundamentals – who is your target audience? What is your budget? Knowing how much you can spend on marketing will limit the types of promotion you use, but don’t fret! There are a lot of low cost marketing, or “guerrilla marketing,” tactics out there for those authors without huge bags of cash just lying around. Also, remember the third “P” of marketing and all of your “Place” ideas? Namely, where can you find your audience? Keep this in mind to help you stay focused on reaching your targeted group.
Promotion is ongoing and should begin as soon as your book is available for purchase. Here is an extensive list of possibilities to help you get started, including marketing in public, in print and on the Web.
Public events are an important piece of the marketing mix and mostly consist of traditional methods of promotion. We’ll start with one of the most common and prevalent events: a book signing.
Book Signing Events:
Book signings are not only the most common and recurrent public events for authors, but they’re also an excellent way to meet readers face-to-face and a great sales opportunity. People are much more likely to buy your book once they’ve met you, the author. Plus, leaving signed copies of your book behind afterward will help customers remember your name and increase your sales.
The hard truth is, however, that you have to promote your book signing if you expect anyone to show up. Even though it sounds silly to promote a promotional event, you’ll be sorely disappointed if you find this out the “hard way” when no one shows. Put up posters, notify local media and try to get an interview on radio stations, or have the signing added to local events calendars. Order marketing and promotional supplies well in advance to hand out prior to and during your signing. You can easily order a book signing kit full of marketing supplies through EverFaith Press author services.
The day of the signing, put your best foot forward. Dress appropriately and dawn a professional appearance. Arrive early to set up your table – don’t expect the store to do it for you. And don’t remain stagnant in the store. If the opportunity arises, don’t be afraid to read a section from your book aloud. After the crowd has died down, stroll around the store and engage customers in conversation. Take photos for future use on your Web site or blog to capture the day. After your event, follow up with the store manager by sending him/her a thank you card.
Christian Writers Conferences and Conventions:
Christian writers conferences will attract people and companies from a related trade or niche, and allow for face-to-face interactions with potential book buyers. Getting a spot speaking at a conference will improve your name recognition and establish your credibility among other writers. Plus, you may receive payment for your services. Book selling opportunities can arise at these events, so it’s a good idea to have books on hand.
Like conferences, conventions will help you locate a niche market and can lead to invitations to other speaking events on a non-writing related topic, depending on the convention.
Of course, even if you cannot land a spot as a speaker, just attending the event can be valuable to network, find potential book buyers and pass out information about your book.
There are literally hundreds of conferences and conventions to choose from throughout the year. Search the Web for more information about specific events. Here are a couple sites to try:
Book Trade Shows and Book Fairs:
Trade shows and book fairs are large-scale events and generally attract an array of book enthusiasts, including booksellers, authors, book buyers, book retailers at the regional or national level, libraries, media as well as the general public. These events can be Christian or secular in nature, and connect you to previously-untapped networks, some that might even arrange for future sales of your book. Hosting a seminar or a panel discussion at trade shows will bring you even more coverage, propelling your book into the face of those retailers and bookstore owners attending.
If you’re not speaking at the event, you can still attend. But make sure to research the event thoroughly before you enroll, weighing both the cost and the potential benefit. Booths at these events can become quite expensive, so be certain before you front the money. Trade shows and fairs are not for every author, but can be a good fit for some, especially at a smaller, local level.
Make a public appearance here and sell your book directly to the public and bookstore managers. Because not as many professional book buyers are present at book fairs, you may consider them a better alternative for you. A booth at a book festival is usually less expensive than one at trade shows and fairs, but still provides an invaluable opportunity for sales and publicity.
Book Readings at Libraries and Churches:
Check with local and regional libraries and churches to arrange a reading of your words. A local library or church group setting can allow you to truly connect with readers and develop an audience. Plus, many libraries or churches will allow you to sell your book afterwards, so make sure to have plenty of copies on hand.
Teaching or Speaking at Churches:
Inquire with your local or regional churches about possibly speaking on your faith and book. Church members will appreciate receiving such a valuable message and resource from an author they meet face-to-face, one who ministers to them on a level they can relate to and understand. Any kind of church group or organization is a possibility, including bible studies, monthly membership meetings, women or men’s ministry groups or casual clubs, such as sewing circles. You can even create your own event – just provide dessert and a lesson or speech to explain your book’s message.
Teach or speak about something in which you excel. If your book is about overcoming grief, talk about what you’ve learned. Whatever your strengths and knowledge, use your gifts to help others. Have copies of your book available and ready if people want to purchase your book right away. Be sure to layout business cards or bookmarks as well, so they can take your information with them to reference later.
Find book clubs and arrange a special speaking event with their groups. You’ll make contact with avid book readers and most likely make a sale. Another way to publicize your book is to simply join a book club. It’s an easy way to let other book lovers know about your book, even it is not read in the actual book club.
T.V. and Radio:
Although this form of media can seem quite intimidating, don’t be shy. Christian radio programs are often more than willing to hold an interview, especially if you are a local author or have expert advice and opinions on a non-writing topic. What’s great about radio is that you can often interview over the phone to areas of interest across the country without ever leaving your house!
And, don’t dismiss the possibility of television appearances. Though it can be quite difficult securing a timeslot in a large network, local and morning T.V. shows often have guest spots available. Local public access channels also offer a unique way to reach an entire community.
Once your book becomes available, you may consider notifying local media outlets and suggesting interviews. The best way to inform radio, television and other media of your release is by distributing a professionally-written press release. Media organizations are extremely busy places, always trying to meet the next deadline. This is precisely why it is important for your press release to be informative, brief and able to catch the eye of editors. EverFaith Press makes it easy for you to purchase any number of press release writing packages if you need assistance writing and distributing a press release.
- TIP: When dealing with media, retailers, and anyone else in the market, always remember to be professional and polite, and always follow-up with your contacts. If you distribute a press release to the media, contact them within a week or two. Do not expect results without a follow-up effort. Yet, always be considerate of an organization’s right to turn you down, and simply move on to the next. With those who initially are not interested in an interview, book signing or review, you may consider following up 90 days later, unless told otherwise.
Interviews are a great way of both publicizing your book as well as confirming your professional and spiritual reputation with your public. Being able to hear your voice and see your mannerisms will create a connection between you and interested listeners.
Prepare for your interview by familiarizing yourself with the length and standard format of the particular media organization or interviewer with whom you’ll be interacting. Practice answering interview questions with a friend or in front of a mirror. Here’s a list of possible questions to consider: What is your book about? What was your inspiration for writing your book, or how did you come up with the idea? What will readers take away from the book after reading it? What is your background, expertise and how did you get your start in writing? What other authors or books have influenced you as a writer?
Be able to recite interesting ways that you researched information to write your book, or the ways you discovered new areas of research. A few things to mention during your interview include how your book connects with local interests and, of course, how people can order a copy of your book.
During the interview, make sure that you listen carefully to the question in full before answering. Take a brief moment to form your answer before speaking. The more that you practiced before the interview, the better your chances are of actually saying what you really want to say. Be aware that the interviewer could reproduce anything you say, so even if they assure you that it will be “off the record,” don’t say something you’re not comfortable announcing to the world.
After the interview, follow up a few days later to ensure the interviewer has all the information they need (if they’re writing an article) and thank them for their time.
It’s also important to revisit interviews in which you participate. You can make your coverage and media exposure work for you for weeks after a single appearance. For example, a recording of a radio interview can easily be converted into a pod cast and posted to Web sites, or you can post the transcript from your interview on your blog or Web site.
In order to maximize the review of your work, it’s necessary to divide your Christian book into two phases: (1) before you publish and (2) after you publish.
If you’ve ever published any of your work in magazines or literary journals, contact the editor and ask for a statement about your inspirational writing. Or perhaps you know a fellow author who’s willing to submit a few words about your book, an old writing professor who has always enjoyed your work, or a fellow church member who’s been inspired by your words – what’s the harm in asking for a review? Once you have a few good reviews and secured the permission of the reviews you’ve solicited, you can then post some of these on your cover, back cover or within the first few pages of your manuscript. Not only will these brief quotes lend a credibility to your work that readers might (or might not) have to search out on their own time, but it will also pave the way for further reviews after you’ve officially published.
Once published, you should consider having your book reviewed by professionals. Since media outlets are extremely busy and often have a book review queue filled for months, blind book submissions to magazines and newspapers might not be the most effective use of your marketing time. However, you can utilize EverFaith Press and their Live. Write. Launch! program to get your foot in the door and begin talking to larger media sources about a possible review. After we’ve distributed your press release, you can follow up with the media outlets to stir interest in your book and secure a review or interview. Of course, if you have a connection through friends who review books for magazines, you may want to send them a copy of your collection.
In order to hook bigger media outlets into reviews, you may need to start smaller. Consider sending copies to Christian book groups or online communities that review books frequently, such as: http://christianbookreviews.net/ or those listed at: http://www.ebookcrossroads.com/reviewers-of-christian-books.html .
Professionals posting reviews about your book will spark discussion and drive readers to order your book, if only to participate in the ongoing blog conversation. Even a poor review can earn you marketing points. Not only can you benefit from the constructive criticism, but you’ll enjoy the talk (and perhaps defense) of your book.
Buying space in a magazine or newspapers and submitting an advertisement for your book does have the potential to intrigue readers, but make sure you do your research before you purchase ad space. You want to select the right periodical that will reach your target audience.
Remember your budget as well. Highly popular magazines such as World Magazine, Christianity Today and Charisma are not only extremely expensive, but can be ineffective since the readership is so broad. Remember: focus on your niche audience. Once you’ve done the research and selected the best fits for you, time your ads to maximize your earning potential.
At risk of sounding old-fashioned, there’s something about printed material that can be put into the hand or mailed to the house of a reader. In the world of digital media, where every message comes and goes with the click of the mouse in the blink of an eye, a potential book buyer may take more time to appreciate and explore something real and tangible.
The importance of postcards, bookmarks, business cards should not be overlooked and will come in handy on more than one occasion. Pass out bookmarks at book signings or speaking events. Use postcards with your book’s ordering information to announce upcoming book signings. Keep business cards in your wallet and use them whenever the occasion arises.
You should always have marketing material at your finger tips. You can request customized business cards, bookmarks and postcards from the EverFaith Press ready-to-go kit for book signings or events, including full-color posters to feature in the store, flyers to raise awareness and postcards to mail. Just check out our Services Store for details
Through the Internet, there are hundreds of ways to promote your book for relatively little money through online communities, blogs, Web sites, forums, chat groups, e-zines and more.
If there’s an idea, then there’s an online community started already. Search the Internet for Christian communities online to connect with others who share your beliefs. Remember your target audience. Keep your focus narrow by selecting a group that specifically relates to your book. You’ll be surprised when you find that more than one actually suits you.
A good place to start is by looking in social networks such as www.shoutlife.com, which is specifically Christian, or search on MySpace or Facebook for Christian groups within these widespread and well-known secular sites.
Become a member and make some friends. Mention your book on your profile and perhaps post an excerpt from your book for all to read. Embed a link to the order form of your book. Participate in Christian conversations and debates. Once you’ve become a well-known personality within the community and have other members interested in your writing, they will likely purchase your book, attend your upcoming event or refer your book to a friend.
The major benefit of online communities is that you can promote your book by being yourself, actively talking about faith and posting your new inspirations, devotions and opinions within the sites.
Blog or Web site:
Start your own blog or jump on an existing one – whatever direction you choose to take, posting regularly on blogs is a perfect way to actively engage Internet surfers. At http://wordpress.com, you can easily start your own blog for free.
Make yourself as visible on the Web as possible by keeping up with other blogs and commenting. Set aside maybe an hour a day to read your favorite blogs, research articles and post your responses. The more you post and actively participate within blogging communities, the more traffic you’ll notice on your own Web site. With online reading programs such as Google Reader, it’s easy to keep up with all of your online reading.
Remember to post regularly on your own blog or Web site. You’ve got to give readers a reason to check back frequently and consistently. Set a schedule and stick to it. Readers will then begin to expect your presence and trust your words of advice, which will only encourage them to read your book and fully understand the message you’re supplying.
- TIP: Giveaways on your Web site or blog help create a buzz. You’ve got material and goods that readers want. Give away a sneak peak into your book, or e-mail a free chapter to readers. You can even give away a couple of free books to readers who register.
Internet Ads, Pay-Per-Click Ads:
Anyone can now create pay-per-click ads through major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.com. Create text or banner ads that automatically appear when Web surfers type in specific keywords related to your book. Just remember to be specific, do plenty of research and watch your budget – the clicks can add up. Also, remember that you don’t necessarily have to be the number-one spot at the top of the page. Number two or three can be just as effective and cost a lot less in the long run.
Publish in other Magazines, E-Zines and Collections:
It sounds a little counter intuitive, but it will help get your name out there if you continue to publish other material in Christian magazines, collections or e-zines online. There are many sites that will review an article and post it for free, such as ezinearticles.com.
Publishing articles online or in magazines will work to establish your position as an experienced writer and practiced Christian. Plus, publishing articles online will add to your overall Web presence as other bloggers post links to your article, which of course you should link back to your own blog or Web site.
Teleseminars and Video Seminars:
Through today’s technology, you don’t have to actually be in the same room with someone to give a speech. The human voice is a powerful way to create an instant connection, and broadcasts (or pod casts) can help potential readers get to know you better. Deliver a lesson to people all over the country through a video seminar, teleseminar or pod cast.
A teleseminar is simple and inexpensive to arrange. You don’t need any special equipment, just a phone and computer. Search the Internet for Web sites that set up this kind of meeting. Or, using a Web cam, record yourself and post the video on your blog, Web page, YouTube or Facebook.
With the help of these promotional ideas, while also keeping the other marketing fundamentals in mind (product, price and place), compile your marketing plan, and review it to ensure that you have clearly defined your goals. The performance of your marketing plan should be defined in a quantified amount so you have an actual way to judge the progress and success.
Remember, your plan can change as it develops and you learn what is working and what is not. Your book’s genre and type could also determine the success you have with certain promotional coverage. For instance, authors of devotionals may find it more difficult to get interviews than authors of other Christian non-fiction books, but word-of-mouth marketing could be more effective in this case.
Make sure your plan is focused and, most importantly, achievable. Goals of selling one million copies or appearing on Oprah or Larry King, although grand, are not very realistic; neither is affording various television and newspaper ads if you have a small budget. Set goals that you can conceivably achieve with the resources and time you have.