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5 Things Christian Authors Must Know to be Successful

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“Just because you have a computer, doesn’t make you a writer,” said a publishing executive at a recent Book Expo of America.

Christian bookstore

Fact is 81% of all Americans think they should write a book (according to Write & Publish magazine) and only two percent of that crowd ever actually complete a manuscript – and get it published.

True computers have made writing a book easier and print-on-demand (POD) has made publishing a snap. Problem is there are about 150,000 new books a year and they’re not all selling!

So here are some simple things to do to move you from book idea, manuscript to real sales!

Learn about writing. Taking writing courses. You can go to American Christian Writers website and get info on their American School of Christian Writing, The Writer’s Institute and/or Writer’s Mini Course. Also subscribe to their newsletter (The Christian Communicator or The Advanced Christian Writer). Take time to go to various writers’ conferences where you’ll meet editors, publishers and other authors. You may even find a mentor at some of these events.

Getting a writing mentor is so critical to your success – if you listen and heed their advice! There are tons of book coaches. Google book coach.

Finally, read! Best-selling Christian fiction author, Victoria Christopher Murray, said on a recent Chocolate Pages Show, “In order to be a good writer, you have to read good writing.” I am so surprised when I talk to many Christian writers and I ask if they have read any of the “best-sellers” – as least the Christian or spiritual books. They answer, “NO.”

Some have never even read “The Purpose Driven Life” (the best selling book of all time), The Shack (a Christian publishing phenomenon in the book world) or The Secret (at least take cues how they have marketed the mega-star of a book).

Most Christian authors don’t even take note of any of the top 10 New York Times or CBA best-sellers.

Ughh! You have to know what the market is buying and read it to see why the book is highly acclaimed. By doing a little homework, you can improve your writing. You have to move it from a hobby to a craft if you want a viable book.

Books Every Writer Needs at Their Fingertips!

– On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Knowlton Zinsser

Best book I’ve read on what, specifically, makes up a great piece of writing

– The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., E. B. White

Also subscribe to Writer’s Digest. Invaluable information every month!

Learn about self-publishing and how the book industry works. I have had writers come to me and tell me their “publishing nightmare” stories. They talk about how printers or subsidy publishers took advantage of them.

Yes, there are companies who will swindle you. But, if you are well-informed, it will lessen the chances of someone ripping you off. Don’t rely on one source for all your information. Use Google and do some research! You must do your due diligence.

Know where to get an ISBN, how to get national distribution, where to find a cover designer, typesetter, printer, etc. Ask other self-published authors what they’ve done and how it has worked for them. Follow the leaders. Do what they did to achieve success.

Kim Brooks, Pam Perry, Stacy Adams

Study what Kendra Norman Bellamy, Stephanie Perry Moore, Marilynn Griffith or Kim Brooks have done. Most authors have their “publishing testimonial” on their website or offer publishing tips to new authors. Read their advice – you can learn from mistakes or from mentors. Mentors are cheaper.

Learn about marketing and publicity. Build a platform. No book will sell without telling others about it – over and over again. Not just once. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Creating “buzz” requires a strategy and a strong platform. (See this Podcast show)

Once the book is published a lot of authors believe it will sell by itself. Many Christians sway the other way and are too humble to tell anyone about their book. They believe if they put it up on Amazon or tell a few of their “yes buddies” it will take off. NOT! Just like any product that is sold for cold cash, it must be marketed and promoted in order to sell. It takes money to make money.

Learn about agents. Agents are not your “literary fairy God-mothers.” They are in business to make money. And they make money by selling “marketable” writers to publishing houses. Besides having a great book, decent platform, an audience – you must also have a good book proposal. The proposal is what sells your book. Part of that proposal is the marketing plan. Again, it’s about the bottom line.

It took former Heart & Soul editor Stephanie Stokes Oliver 25 years to have her first book published. And she had a platform and was a professional writer. She had to find the right publishing house. She says she went through 10 agents and eventually got the divine connection and got three book deals.

Learn about Web 2.0, podcasting, blogging, social networking. Did you know you can blog on Amazon.com if you’re an author? You can even put up video reviews. How cool is that? You must embrace technology and keep up with what is moving books. Obviously the best way to move books is to get people talking – and the more they hear your passion and get curious about all the “buzz” they keep hearing from you online – the more you will attract customers.

So, “get out there” by joining Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. Do a Blogtalk Radio Show and get a Youtube channel. Post up your blogs in RSS feeds and even do some daring stuff like join a lot of “nings” or start one! Join the Chocolate Pages Network (a new social network for Christian Authors). There is so many ways for an author to get exposure online – hey, it may even up on Oprah as part of her “Book Club.”

Ministry marketing pioneer and PR Coach Pam Perry helps African American Christian authors garner publicity and leverage online strategies. As a 20-year PR veteran, she is also the co-author of “Synergy Energy: How to Use the Power of Partnerships to Market Your Book, Grow Your Business and Brand Your Ministry.” She’s also the creator of the ChocolatePagesNetwork, a social network for Christian authors and the Chocolate Pages Show at Blogtalk radio

Leave a Reply 5 comments

Jacqueline Grimes - July 26, 2012 Reply

Hi Pam,

Very good advice you’ve provided. I also own The Elements of Style. And last year when Borders closed, I picked up Writing Down the Bones, which I’ve not yet completed. Then there’s your stuff 😉 to buy, still… . Oh girl, I need a 72 hour day! Trying not to “hoard” time.

Writing Is Only Half the Battle | Chocolate Pages - July 10, 2013 Reply

[…] Smart Guide To Book Marketing and Promotion 5 Things Christian Authors Must Know to be Successful Book Publishing “Then” and “Now”– Web 2.0 for Authors […]

Danson Ubebe - July 5, 2014 Reply

Pam, that is great adviice. My 2013 title book: “Return to God” was on display at 2014 exhibition of new titles at BooksExpoAmerica in NY. It received the attention of “Connect PR” outfit who found it worthy to promote, after skimming through according to him. But when he contacted me and knew I live in Nigeria, he decline to continue. That was not the first disappointment, even though the amazing contents seem to appeal to them. It would seem my location on the map of the World is an issue. But God is not mocked and the true must prevail some day. God bless you and may He continue to boost you business.

Spiritual Gifts Today - June 4, 2015 Reply

I do agree that there are tons of Christians who believe they should write a book. Once the trend shifted shifted to self-publishing, the internet was flooded with ads about the matter. Anyone can write a book, but every book will not be a success. You give great advice on improving the odds of success.

Joseph B. George - June 18, 2016 Reply

Thanks Pam! This is so much fun.

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