Authors want to know how to effectively market their books. The problem is that most authors don’t understand what marketing is. First let me say what it is not: Advertising is not marketing. Promotion is not marketing. Distribution is not marketing. All of these are parts of marketing but marketing is much broader. Book marketing is getting your book into the hands of readers. It involves a lot of steps and can involve many people. In order to understand book marketing, you have to understand each of its parts, but don’t make the mistake of confusing one of the parts for the whole. Here are some tips to help you market your Christian book.
1. The Lord’s favor—Your life should be pleasing to Him. As I have focused on the fruit of the Spirit in my own life, God has given us favor.
2. Write a marketable book—write the best manuscript you can—fresh and powerful—whether it’s a kids’ picture book, fiction, Christian living, or autobiography. Think about ministry value not just market value. If it’s worth publishing, it’s worth publishing well!
3. Build relationships with people who can help you market your book—people who have relationships with distributors, chains, indie stores, special markets (catalogs, etc.), and other buyers (such as ministries). You can’t know everybody and you can’t do it on your own. Success in publishing is about relationships.
4. Build relationships with people in the media—T.V., radio, online and offline, thought leaders, reviewers, ministers, bloggers, columnists, and reporters who can help you promote your books by giving them visibility (your platform).
5. Build your author platform, and promote with passion. As you gain experience and your reputation grows, you will gain access to increasing visibility. Solicit endorsements from others who have high visibility.
6. Constantly educate yourself in the area of book marketing. There are some very useful books and workshops available to increase your knowledge. Sarah Bolme’s book—Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. Greg Stielstra’s book, Pyromarketing. Brian Jud’s book Beyond the Bookstore (special markets)—and many others for online and offline marketing. Always strive to have the latest and best information and resources available.
7. Build your reputation as a writer. Pay attention to the Three Cs: commitment, consistency, and credibility. Credibility (reputation) comes over time as you stay true to your mission and regularly write books that are consistent with your mission and quality standards. Your name is your brand.
8. Be willing to invest your time and money into book marketing. If a book is worth writing and publishing, it’s worth marketing! The object of publishing is not to fill your garage full of books. It’s to get your books into people’s hands and make a difference in their lives.
9. Build your marketing team—whether volunteer or paid. Successful book marketing requires the efforts of a team: editorial, design, pre-press, printing, publicity, sales, distribution, and retail. Make sure everyone on your team keeps their priorities straight: bring glory to God and meet the needs of your readers.
10. Don’t try to write a book for everybody and don’t try to market a book to everyone. You will most assuredly fall short on both counts. Instead, write for a target audience. A target audience is a lot easier to identify and reach than every Christian.
Don’t be presumptuous—everyone is not your market. If you understand how the publishing world works and where your book fits into that world, you’ll be able to execute a successful marketing campaign.