The Who, What, Where, and Why of Christian Book Promotion & Marketing

Today’s article is a by a special guest, ¬†Athena Dean, founder of WinePress Publishing and three-time self-published author.

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The Who, What, Where, and Why of Christian Book Promotion & Marketing
By Athena Dean

So, do you think every Christian needs to read your book? If you do, let us stop for a moment and get real. If you think your book is going to end up in WalMart, on Oprah, and on the NY Times Bestseller List…really, I hate to rain on your parade, but you really are setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment. It will help from the start to have realistic expectations and recognize clearly who your real market is. You must ask your self these defining questions…who, what and where? Then you must prove the why.

If you cannot narrow down your who into a specific people group, the narrower the better, the more difficult you will find marketing and promoting your book.

WHO?

If your who is all Christian, all women, all men, or all teens, then we’ve got a problem. Your goal should be to target your message to a more specific people group, like:

  • New moms
  • Single moms
  • People in sales
  • Military wives
  • Cancer survivors
  • Homeschoolers
  • Christian writers
  • Teachers
  • The grieving
  • Bereavement counselors
  • Child abuse survivors
  • Teens struggling with addictions
  • Women struggling with eating disorders
  • Christian counselors
  • Runners or hikers
  • Pastors or church leaders
  • Wives of veterans
  • Parents of terminally ill children
  • Caregivers
  • Senior citizens
  • Stay at home moms
  • Dog lovers
  • Cat lovers
  • And so on

The more clearly you can define your market, the easier it will be to find ways to advertise and promote to them.

If you are a fiction writer, make sure you include an issue in your story. Do not just have your main character become a Christian, but create someone struggling with abortion, infertility, domestic violence, infidelity, prodigal children, AIDS, homosexuality, etc. This will help you niche market your fiction title much easier since there are many support groups in the church and secular world reaching out to those dealing with issues, giving you a greater potential reading audience, again, because it is targeted.

WHAT?

Once you’ve determined the who and hopefully narrowed down your market to a niche group of potential readers, it is time to take a look at the what:

  • What magazines or newsletters or newspapers or catalogs might they read?
  • What radio stations do they listen to?
  • What TV shows do they watch?
  • What websites do they visit?
  • What keywords are they typing into an internet search engine?
  • What blogs do they read?

These days you see magazines, catalogs, websites and newsletters targeted for specific people groups. Many support groups have newsletters to keep in touch with their membership and typically the cost to advertise is low. Also, the chances of getting your book reviewed are much better in this type of publication than in a huge, well known publication…especially if your book offers great benefit to their readers.

All too often, authors gravitate towards the well known, full color, slick magazines like Christianity Today, Discipleship Journal, Charisma and the like. But beware…to advertise in these publications is not only extremely expensive, but typically very unproductive because the audience is so broad. You could easily spend thousands of dollars and get about as much return as flushing your money down the toilet would!

Take a few moments and come up with a list of keywords that relate to your topic. Then go to a few different search engines (http://www.google.com; http://www.dogpile.com; etc.) and type in each one of the keywords on your list. You will be amazed at all the resources you will find on the internet…and many of them are looking for important books like yours to add to their list of links and recommended reading.

The essential opportunities to look for are resources that are focused on meeting the needs of your particular people group. Whether it is a daily or weekly radio or TV show, a catalog, or newsletter, or an e-zine, blog or website, do some research to see what you can find that is dedicated to your prospective readers. Those are the kinds of websites, publications and media resources that you will want to prayerfully add to your marketing plan.

WHERE?

So where are you going to find these prospective buyers? Another reason to get as specific as possible is that you will find that the more specific the people group is, the easier it will be to find events and happenings where they might gather. Whether it’s in cyberspace, or in your physical locale, people who share similar interests or challenges tend to gather on a regular basis. This is good news for you if your book is a resource that will meet their needs.

Online

  • Message boards
  • Forums
  • Chat groups
  • Opt-in newsletters
  • Targeted websites
  • Blogs
  • E-Zines
  • Social networks (myspace.com; facebook.com, etc.)
  • Teleclasses
  • Web Conferences

Offline

  • Support groups
  • Seminars and conferences
  • Bible Studies
  • Book Clubs
  • Conventions (annual, regional, etc.)
  • Civic groups
  • Churches
  • Monthly membership meetings
  • Christian workers conferences
  • Christian Education conventions
  • Street Fairs / Festivals

You’ve zeroed in on your niche market, but now begs the question…why should anyone buy your book? What do you have to offer them?

At this point the best thing you could do is get some valuable feedback. Get a group of your supporters together for a creative inspiration session. Brainstorm a list of places where you can find those who need to hear your message. While you’re at it, ask your focus group these important questions:

  • What does your book offer?
  • What problem does it help the reader solve?

Spend some additional time listing all the benefits of the message and then take a break. After a snack, come back together and go over the list, highlighting the most compelling and exciting benefits. These are the ones you will want to use in your sales copy in advertising, back cover copy, and a short description for a catalog.

WHY?

The truth is, people are selfish. That’s our sinful nature and there’s no getting around it…that said, most don’t really care why you wrote your book, what they really want to know is what is in it for them. Why should they take the time to read what you have to say?

Hopefully you’ve already gone before the Lord to make sure your message is His message, getting rid of anything that draws attention to yourself and embellishing whatever glorifies the Lord. With that done, you need to clearly and articulately encapsulate the benefit your book offers your reader.

If you cannot come up with sales copy of less than 40 words, then you might be in trouble. Let’s face it, people are busy. If you meet someone in an elevator; you don’t have 15 minutes to tell them about your book…you need a sound byte…a “bottom line” describing the problem that exists and the solution you offer.

You should be able to share your sales copy (or “elevator speech”) one on one in 30 seconds or less. You’ve got to be able to communicate what’s in it for the reader and be ready to expound on that as the opportunity arises. Just make sure your copy sounds natural when you say it…if it is too flowery or technical it will sound canned. It needs to be natural yet compelling to those who hear it without so many words that your listener gets lost.

As you consider the troubles you help others conquer, as a Christian writer, you are able to offer a real and enduring solution for the trials of this life. It is true that the solution is surrendering ones life fully to Jesus and becoming a disciple whose only goal is to do His will, but that does not necessarily mean that the Lord is going to solve all of our problems and we will never have to suffer.

Readers are tired of trite, superficial answers to the challenges of this life. We must, as Christian writers, give them an opportunity to go deeper and experience true life by the power of the Holy Spirit as the only solution to the issues they face.

So what are you helping your reader to overcome? Depression? Loneliness? Abuse? Unforgiveness? Anger? Betrayal or infidelity? Fear of the future? Grief over the loss of a loved one? Make sure you use this information in the back cover copy and all advertising and sales material so that your potential readers will relate based on their felt needs and see that you may have some answers for them.

In conclusion, by clearly determining who your market is, what type of media they prefer, where they congregate with others, and why they should buy your book, you have the basics that you’ll need for success. Now you can create and launch a successful marketing campaign to get your message into the hands of those who need to read it.

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Athena Dean, founder of WinePress Publishing and three-time self-published author, has coached hundreds of authors through the daunting task of book production and promotion. Over the last 17 years she has helped bring the degree of credibility for self-published works up to the high level of acceptance in the industry it enjoys today. Athena functions as Acquisitions Manager for WinePress Publishing Group http://www.winepressgroup.com and is currently the President of the Northwest Christian Writers’ Association http://www.nwchristianwriters.org Check out her You Can Do It – Promote and Market Your Self Published Book Blog at http://athenadean.authorweblog.com

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Comments

  1. Christian says:

    Thankyou for your blog, very useful and helpful comments! God Bless you !

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