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Posts Tagged ‘Christian book marketing’

Do Customers Help Choose Book Covers?

I haven’t received one lately, but a few times I’ve been sent a survey link to ‘help’ a publisher choose the best image for a forthcoming title. Art departments invest much time and energy in this process to ensure the highest possible response to physical product in stores and also online purchases.

The cynic in me however thinks this is just part of an overall marketing strategy to cause some potential readers who are on a select mailing list feel invested in the project and build traction.  If so, it’s a brilliant marketing move, and one others could consider. Perhaps the cover has already been chosen at this stage. Eventually, they chose something a little different, though the mountains and the automobile were seen in the choices above.


While we’re at it, here’s another example in our ongoing list of “Christian Title Shortage” images. The MacArthur book was released in 2012 by David C. Cook. I guess it wasn’t considered a potential source of title confusion. It’s a reminder to bookstore buyers to always read the listings carefully. This is why I like to see images before hastily copying an ISBN.

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Hot Apple Cider Brand Expands With First Seasonal Title

October 2, 2017 1 comment

Canada’s most popular Christian anthology brand has released its first seasonal title. Here’s the info from That’s Life Communications:

Christmas with Hot Apple Cider: Stories from the Season of Giving and Receiving is an eclectic collection of true stories, short fiction, and poetry.

You’ll delight in stories about:

  • An immigrant family puzzling over unfamiliar North American customs
  • Grandparents passing down a family tradition to a young grandchild
  • An octogenarian remembering the day receiving a Christmas gift was nothing short of a miracle
  • A Jewish woman sharing her childhood longing for the joy of Christmas
  • An Old Order Mennonite teen experiencing Handel’s Messiah live at Massey Hall
  • A writer struggling to create a meaningful presentation about the innkeeper
  • A teacher witnessing the joy of a simple gift at a Nigerian orphanage

The book features work by 55 writers from across Canada who survived a rigorous competition to be included. As you discover a fresh appreciation for the holiday season, you might even be inspired to share your own stories.

With 62 heartfelt accounts of the true meaning of Christmas, this anthology is sure to fill even the grouchiest Scrooge with holiday spirit.

Canadian retailers: Order from Parasource Marketing and Distribution.

Review: God’s Crime Scene for Kids

If you think apologetics isn’t for kids, J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene would have you think differently. The former book was spun off into a kids edition and earlier in the year, some friends surprised me with the news that they were suspending their usual Sunday School curriculum for one quarter, and instead take the 13 weeks to look at Cold Case Christianity for Kids.

That was enough to make me take a second look when a package arrived containing a copy of God’s Crime Scene for Kids.

While the first book (in either the adult or children’s series) looks at the evidence for the resurrection, the second looks at creation, or the evidence for what some call intelligent design. Can my friends’ 9-12 year-olds absorb that?

With his trademark illustrations, J. Warner Wallace offers entirely new analogies to help kids see the trail of evidence leading to a creator. There are more pictures than the adult edition, but these images help bridge the distance between ostensibly difficult content and a child’s imagination. There is also a website with supporting videos for each chapter hosted by the author.

Let me suggest an analogy of my own. Parents often ask me about the difference between the NIV Bible and the NIrV Bible for children. I explain that for easy readability, the latter uses shorter sentences and a reduced vocabulary, but when it comes to people names, place names and the storyline itself, there are some things that can’t be dumbed down or tampered with.

Similarly, Wallace tosses out terms like causation and reasonable inference like they were after-school snacks, but only because he’s convinced that in the context of the book they’re holding in their hands kids can grasp these concepts. (A cat named Simba bears some of the responsibility for keeping the story accessible to young minds.) He gives kids credit for being able to understand more than we might estimate.

Which brings me to my conclusion: I think God’s Crime Scene for Kids isn’t just for kids. I think there are adults who struggle with the idea of understanding apologetics who would never read Wallace’s longer, adult book. Furthermore, I think there are people reading this who can think of one friend to whom they could say, “I got this book for your kids, but I want you to read it before you pass it on to them.”

I think the presence of a book like this could open a lot of doors to discussion that would cut across all age lines.


Related:


The full title is God’s Crime Scene: Investigate Creation with a Real Detective, David C. Cook, 2017; 144 pages, paperback.

A copy of the book was provided by David C. Cook in Colorado Springs, CO

Keeping Store Income Steady

In the past twelve months I’ve had the same conversation with people working for three different Christian charities. Basically it’s been, ‘While we appreciate one-time donors, we can only plan when people set up a plan for monthly giving. That we way we know ahead of time what’s coming in.’

In Christian retail we have no such advantage. While we’re for the most part not charities, we can often feel as though we are. Sales volume can swing wildly up and down. There are good days and bad. Yesterday was the latter in my store. $132 all day. Including taxes. Not enough to pay staff, rent and keep the lights on.

So what can we do?

  1. Keep store awareness high. We always talk about the ‘newsletter jinx’ — the days we do a mass email campaign are usually among our worst, but then days and weeks later people ask about an item they saw in our newsletter.
  2. Schedule frequent sales. You can overdo them, but sales do attract attention. At R. G. Mitchell, the thinking was that sales should start the day following a holiday (i.e. Thanksgiving.) This was a period they identified as a potential drop-off that needed to be offsetting promotion.
  3. Give people a reason to drop in. We just had a rare opportunity to be a ticket outlet for a concert. The response wasn’t huge, but it caused people to visit. A small group had a luncheon and then arranged for everyone to come to our store to pick up the study guide they’re using. All but one bought something additional. A local author decided not to do direct sales through his own network for health reasons, and told everyone the only way to pick up a copy was at our store. We promoted the special Canada edition of Our Daily Bread and told people they wouldn’t see it in most of their churches and encouraged them to pick up a free copy.
  4. Don’t fret daily numbers. You’re better off looking at weekly and monthly stats. You can’t let a few slow days induce panic.
  5. Change displays frequently. Your regular customers need to be confronted with things they haven’t seen before. That does not need to necessarily be new, it just needs to be different. Trading some merchandise between feature areas helps, or even taking two shelf sections and doing a simple left-to-right transfer will get peoples’ attention, costs nothing, and takes only about an hour.
  6. Minister to the needs people mention. Listen. Recommend resources. Refer to qualified counselors. Pray with people. With at least 20% of our clientele on any given day, I am the only ‘pastor’ they will speak with that month. If needs are being met, people will come back and/or tell their friends.
  7. Be honest with church staff. Let your colleagues in ministry know that you’d appreciate anything they can do to generate store visits or any ideas they have. Be candid with local church leaders about the struggles and challenges of doing Christian retail.

 

What the CBA Bestsellers List Looks Like When You Edit Out Some Categories

This is from the list from the Christian Bookseller’s Association’s July bestsellers list, the last one posted online; it’s what you get when you eliminate:

  • all the iterations of Jesus Calling (highest individual rank #5)
  • all the iteration of The Standard Lesson Commentary
  • all the various adult coloring books (Update: turns out there were none in the top 40)
  • various children’s titles
  • two fiction titles
  • a package of tracts

Titles showing in the image above are unrelated.

Their ranking is placed after each entry in brackets.

  1. Goliath Must Fall – Louie Giglio (1)
  2. Without Rival – Lisa Bevere (2)
  3. Driven by Eternity – John Bevere (4)
  4. Jesus Always – Sarah Young (8)
  5. The Comeback – Louie Giglio (10)
  6. Boundaries – Henry Cloud (14)
  7. Uninvited – Lisa TerKeurst (15)
  8. The Circle Maker – Mark Batterson (17)
  9. Swipe Right – Levi Lusko (20)
  10. No More Faking Fine – Ester Fleece (23)
  11. Steve McQueen – Greg Laurie (24)
  12. The 5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman (25)
  13. When God Doesn’t Fix It – Laura Story (26)
  14. The Mystery – Lacey Sturm (27)
  15. Good or God – John Bevere (28)
  16. The Little Things – Andy Andrews (29)
  17. Simple Pursuit – Passion (31)
  18. Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren (33)
  19. Magnolia Story – Chip and Joanne Gaines (34)
  20. How’s Your Soul – Judah Smith (36)

The Steve McQueen book is a bit of a curiosity which we mentioned here previously on the link list. Louis Giglio has three titles (two written by him, plus he wrote the intro to the Passion book) and two of the titles (13 and 14) are by Christian musicians. The dominance of John and Lisa Bevere in the list shows charismatic titles are still a driving force in Christian sales. Boundaries, Purpose Driven Life and 5 Love Languages show the enduring strength of those titles after many years. It’s also good to see new writer Levi Lusko doing so sell; I went to his church’s website and listened to a sermon two weeks ago.

An Apologetics Toolbox in a Book

There is so much going on in this book. I feel like I’ve been handed an impossible task, somewhat akin from being dropped off a metropolitan core for a few days and told to write a review of the entire city. Every person. Every business. Every park and school.

Canadian Pastor Mark Clark has set himself to answer ten of the major objections to faith raised by outsiders, skeptics and seekers. It’s a tough assignment, even if you’re leaning heavily on the writings of Tim Keller and C. S. Lewis. Not as tough for Clark however as it would be for you or me, in part because this is his own story; the book is as much testimony as it is apologetics text.

I think that’s what make this one different. Until his later teens, Clark was camped on the other side of the border of faith. Partying. Drugs. Disbelief. So he has those still there clearly in view as he writes this; these are the type of people who made up the nucleus of Village Church when it was founded in 2010. Today they are in three locations on Canada’s west coast with satellites launching in Calgary and Montreal. Mark is part of a new generation of pastors and authors who really does his homework before speaking and writing and his passion and energy rock the house each week.

The ten “problems” form ten chapters:

But to say just that is too simple. Each one of these breaks down into several other subsections. These issues are complex and we’re given a look at each through several different lenses.

Overall, the book stands somewhere between academic apologetics textbook (for its thorough treatment of each of the issues) and biography (for the times Clark references his own story.) It is the latter that makes this book what it is; an apologetics resource which wears a face and a name, and that makes it accessible to all readers.

I know I say this a lot — I choose my review books carefully — but this is definitely another of those “go back and re-read” and “keep handy for reference” titles.

The Problem of God: Answering a Skeptic’s Challenges to Christianity | Zondervan | 272 page paperback | September, 2017

 

 

Canadian Pastor Offers Strong Apologetics Title

Mark Hildebrand from HarperCollins Christian Publishing Canada just called to tip me off about new title by a new author which is performing extremely well. The Problem of God: Answering a Skeptic’s Challenges to Christianity by Mark Clark is released through Zondervan in paperback and retails for $21.99 

Publisher marketing:

The Problem of God is written by a skeptic who became a Christian and then a pastor, all while exploring answers to the most difficult questions raised against Christianity. Growing up in an atheistic home, Mark Clark struggled through his parents’ divorce, acquiring Tourette syndrome and OCD in his teen years. After his father’s death, he began a skeptical search for truth through science, philosophy, and history, eventually finding answers in Christianity.

In a disarming, winsome, and persuasive way, The Problem of God responds to the top ten God questions of our present age, including:

  • Does God even exist?
  • What do we do with Christianity’s violent history?
  • Is Jesus just another myth?
  • Can the Bible be trusted?
  • Why should we believe in Hell anymore today?

The book concludes with Christianity’s most audacious assertion: how should we respond to Jesus’ claim that he is God and the only way to salvation.

Mark Clark is the founding pastor of Village Church in Vancouver, Canada. Starting in 2010 out of a school gym, it is now one of the fastest growing multi-site churches in North America. Mark combines frank and challenging biblical preaching with real-world applications and apologetics to speak to Christians and skeptics, confronting questions, doubts, and assumptions about Christianity. His sermons have millions of downloads per year from over 120 different countries.

Zondervan | 272 pages | 9780310535225 | 17.99 USD 21.99 CDN

IVP UK Titles Now Available in North America

As reported last month at CBA Online, InterVarsity Press in the U.S. and their UK affiliate are back swapping titles. I say back because when I worked for IVP in Toronto years ago, we would regularly receive shipments from England. Until the article published, I was unaware that they had ever stopped doing this. (Some titles listed in the article below may not be included in Canada if another publisher holds Canadian rights.) Click the link in the title below to read at source.

IVP brings UK titles to North America

InterVarsity Press USA (IVP-USA) expanded their partnership with InterVarsity Press UK (IVP-UK) and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) to bring titles from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada.

In 2015, SPCK made IVP-USA books available to bookstores in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe through Macmillan Distribution Limited (MDL). Now IVP-USA will distribute SPCK and IVP-UK titles throughout North America.

Titles that will now be available to North American readers include:

  • Creation, Power & Truth by N.T. Wright
  • A Celtic Liturgy by Pat Robson
  • A trilogy of classics in spirituality and spiritual formation, which includes The Living Flame of Love by John of the Cross, Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales, and Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich
  • Places of Pilgrimage by Ian Scott Massie
  • Come, Lord Jesus by Stephen Motyer
  • Aidan, Bede, Cuthbert: Three Inspirational Saints by David Adam
  • But is it True: Honest Responses to 10 Popular Objections to the Christian Faith by Michael Ots

 

Eric Wright Completes Mystery Trilogy

I’m not accustomed to the place where I grew up figuring into books in my store, but there it was, a Toronto reference to a character “driving down the Don Valley Parkway.” But the story gets even closer to home because author Eric Wright is also a customer at my store and his daughter and her husband attend the same church as we do.

After a series of non-fiction works, Wright switched to fiction and while the three stories have quite different settings, they are linked through Toronto reporter Josh Radley. Here’s how our local paper introduced Rust Bucket, the latest book in the series:

The very real issue of human slavery is told through the fictional adventures of protagonist Josh Radley in Eric E. Wright’s new novel Rust Bucket.

Interviewed recently from his home, Wright pointed out this is the third story in a Josh Radley trilogy, following The Lightning File and Captives of Minara.

In The Lightning File, Radley is a reporter for a Toronto paper.

“In the course of it, he gets fired, so he goes on to work freelance,” Wright said — and this freedom gives him ample scope to get involved more deeply in the adventures he encounters.

In Rust Bucket, he puts off urgent cancer treatment in order to pursue the story of a beached freighter that contains not only an alarming cache of explosives and drugs but also a human cargo bound for enslavement in factories, farms and brothels.

The press release for Wright’s book said that an estimated 24-million people worldwide are exploited by unethical businesses of all kinds. The human cargo in the freighter Josh Radley investigates includes a tribal girl from Pakistan whom Josh and his wife happen to know.

As it happens, Wright and his wife lived in Pakistan for 16 years, while he worked as a missionary teacher.

“Although we normally think of Pakistan as a Muslim country, there’s a minority of Christians who need ministry,” he said.

“I started an extension training program and, in the course of that, I learned more about their culture.”

The slave-labour problem seems to be much more widespread than one would like to think, Wright said. “Probably not as much in Canada, although criminal elements are realizing — you sell cocaine, you sell it once. With human beings, you can use them again and again and again, and it’s very profitable for business owners and brothels. There was a lot of it in Pakistan, landlords taking advantage of poor people who were sort of enslaved.”

His dedication is “to all those who struggle to end human trafficking as well as the victims of this horrific crime.” …

…continue reading the second half of the story at Northumberland Today

For order information visit www.countrywindow.ca


We previously covered releases of other books by Eric Wright here including Riptide and Captives of Minara.

Toronto Area Author’s Story Is Known Worldwide

Known simply as “The Girl in the Picture” which is also the title of a previous book published by Penguin, Kim Phuc’s story gets another telling when Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace releases October 3rd from Tyndale House.

Get out! Run! We must leave this place! They are going to destroy this whole place! Go, children, run first! Go now!

These were the final shouts nine year-old Kim Phuc heard before her world dissolved into flames—before napalm bombs fell from the sky, burning away her clothing and searing deep into her skin. It’s a moment forever captured, an iconic image that has come to define the horror and violence of the Vietnam War. Kim was left for dead in a morgue; no one expected her to survive the attack. Napalm meant fire, and fire meant death.

Against all odds, Kim lived—but her journey toward healing was only beginning. When the napalm bombs dropped, everything Kim knew and relied on exploded along with them: her home, her country’s freedom, her childhood innocence and and happiness. The coming years would be marked by excruciating treatments for her burns and unrelenting physical pain throughout her body, which were constant reminders of that terrible day. Kim survived the pain of her body ablaze, but how could she possibly survive the pain of her devastated soul?

Fire Road is the true story of how she found the answer in a God who suffered Himself; a Savior who truly understood and cared about the depths of her pain. Fire Road is a story of horror and hope, a harrowing tale of a life changed in an instant—and the power and resilience that can only be found in the power of God’s mercy and love.

~from the release sheet page at Tyndale.com

Canadian stores should pre-order the biography from Foundation Distributing

 

Thomas Nelson Pursues Charismatic Market

In a Monday press release, Thomas Nelson unveiled “Emanate Books, its new charismatic Christian publishing imprint” and went on to announce:

Emanate Books will bring twelve titles to market in its first year, beginning with “The Azusa Street Mission and Revival” from Fuller Theological Seminary professor Cecil M. Robeck.

In early 2018, Emanate will publish two new titles from pastors at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. “Hope for Your Marriage,” the first marriage book from Clayton and Ashlee Hurst, will release in January 2018. Then, in March, Emanate will release “Our Champion,” a memoir that chronicles the triumphant journey of Pastor Craig Johnson’s family as they learn to embrace their son’s battle with autism…

…Joel Kneedler, former associate publisher with W Publishing, will serve as publisher of Emanate Books. “I am thrilled to publish books for this audience,” he said. “The way ‘charismatic’ has been defined in the past is vastly different from how those within the movement see it today. It is our goal to help move the conversation into the twenty-first century. The global reach of HarperCollins offers Emanate Books a distinct advantage in reaching readers wherever they may be by working with our partners in Africa, Asia, Australia, Brazil, Europe, and Latin America.”

Emanate Books marketing manager Cody Van Ryn commented, “Emanate Books will be home to both timeless and fresh voices from the charismatic community.  We’re eager to share our engaging authors and content with readers in new and interesting ways, all with the goal of helping people grow in Christ.”

Thomas Nelson’s existing roster is currently light on Charismatic authors but does contain one notable product, The New Spirit-Filled Bible. At sister imprint Zondervan, there is The Life in the Spirit Study Bible as well as books by Brooklyn Tabernacle pastor Jim Cymbala. Neither imprint is known for its strength in publishing for the Pentecostal/Charismatic market, a situation that Emanate hopes to correct.

An earlier version of the Nelson press release appeared online on June 8th.

When White House News Leads The National

Some days it’s hard to tell if you’re watching a Canadian newscast or have accidentally switched to a U.S. channel. Several times this month, a story pertaining to the White House and the American President have led The National on CBC. I am quite sure they agonize over whether to choose developments there over Canadian or overseas stories, but clearly we can’t get enough of the continuing developments south of the border.

As a bookseller, whenever a product is presented to me that would be considered “U.S.-interest” I instinctively pass. It’s hard to sell a book with the U.S. flag or the Capitol building on the cover, certain Joel Rosenberg fiction titles notwithstanding.

This time it’s different.

I think there might be a considerable interest in these parts for a book releasing by Baker in early October, Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope and Why Christian Conservatives Support Him by Stephen Mansfield, who has considerable experience writing the biographies of U.S. Presidents. My reading has been constantly interrupted, but the introduction alone is probably the most succinct summary of Trump’s rise and conquering of the White House I’ve seen in any media, print or electronic.

This is a faith-focused story, not about the faith of the man himself — another book is tackling that topic for a January release — but an understanding of how Trump was able to galvanize support from the Religious Right after eight years of President Obama. In that sense, it’s a summary of how things work in a land where Evangelicalism is inextricably linked to politics.

And in that, there are many parallels and many lessons for us in this country.

I’ll have more to say to about the book when I finish it, but if you’re a Canadian store considering this title, don’t be too dismissive because it’s someone else’s political story. Order carefully, but my bet is that this is a story that some of your customers will want to read.

9780801007330 | 208 pages | hardcover | October 3, 2017