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Posts Tagged ‘Christian book publicity’

Stores Need Digital Marketing Materials

Today was a newsletter day. With Mail Chimp, I can watch as customers open the emails and click on things. They love publisher videos (book trailers) and they like it when we include bold, professional graphics promoting new books.

And we can’t get enough of them.

But I’ve said that before.

The latest trend, if you haven’t noticed, is that publishers, instead of producing Facebook-ready and Twitter-ready graphics with a cover of the book and a link to the author website have migrated toward quote cards. Haven’t heard of them? They’re basically quotes set against a photographic or textured image that are totally made for Instagram.

You can add images to Twitter.

You can add images to Facebook.

But Instagram exists solely for pictures.

It’s nice that at least they’re quotations from books — we are in the business of reading still, last time I checked — but Instagram, like spellcheck, auto-correct, Tumblr, 140-character limits, and the erosion of attention spans known as YouTube is simply another contributor to the whole loss of language we’re experiencing right now.

We’re moving from literacy to orality.

So many bloggers have just given up using their ten fingers on a keyboard and are simply making podcasts. Less work. Less attention to editing. Less quality, if you don’t mind me saying so.

We’re moving from words to pictures.

And the pictures are not worth 1,000 words, either.

Reading separates us from the animals. It’s what makes us distinct. And we’re losing it…

…Back to my original theme. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you also can’t envision it with nothing but a quote card. This is not a good move. The social media/IT/communications/publicity people have got Instagram on the brain and they’ve forgotten their true purpose: To show people books coming to market.

 

Bookstore Employees to Gain Digital Access to Forthcoming Titles

netgalley_logo_perfectWhat has been a mainstay for bloggers and major Christian media writers wanting to review unreleased, forthcoming Christian books — NetGalley — is about to be opened up to Christian bookstore owners, managers and employees.

The initial announcement was made by CBA last week, but hopefully a contingency will be put in place for Canadian retailers to access this as well. (CBA Canada was shut down in the spring of 2007.)

CBA and NetGalley Partner

CBA, the leading association for providers of Christian products, and NetGalley today announced a joint initiative to give Christian retailers quicker and wider access to digital galleys of forthcoming books from over 20 Christian publishers—including HarperCollins Christian, B&H Publishing, Baker Books, Barbour Publishing, David C Cook, and many more.

By adding their CBA member ID to their NetGalley profile, Christian retailers receive a prominent CBA badge that will allow publishers to identify them as key influencers. Publishers can then approve requests for review copies more quickly, add CBA members to their auto-approved lists for access to all new books, and invite them to review new books first.

“This partnership will help Christian retailers remain competitive by giving individual employees within Christian retail establishments fastest and earliest access to new books,” said Curtis Riskey, President, CBA. “Of course many stores receive print galleys, but digital review copies give booksellers an additional format for reading; provide copies for more employees within the store; and give retailers access to a wider array of books. We are pleased to be working with NetGalley to ensure that CBA members are prominently recognized.” …

continue reading here

This is a great step.

This blog has also lobbied long and hard for more chapter excerpts which can be used on store websites, blogs and linked in Facebook pages. While this doesn’t resolve that, it does mean that store staff at least can read titles in the comfort of their own homes, and hopefully the excitement of what they’re reading will be contagious with customers.

Free Samples Whet Appetites for Christian Books

5 Ways to Get Customers As Excited About Books as You Are

That water looks so good... and getting your customers to satisfy their thirst for Christian reading isn't rocket science when you know a few tricks.

That water looks so good… and getting your customers to satisfy their thirst for Christian reading isn’t rocket science when you know a few tricks.

by Paul Wilkinson

There’s a saying that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink;” to which the response is, “True, but you can put salt in its oats to make it thirsty.”

Getting customers — and people you would like to see return as customers — into the books you stock is always a challenge. These days, it seems like there are so many things competing for our attention. But there are some things you can do:

YouTubeI’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again. Let a customer listen to N.T. Wright or Francis Chan, and they will literally hear those authors in their heads as they are reading. I’ve directed many customers to an obscure clip from Chan titled “Balance beam” many times. These links create familiarity and intimacy with the authors and drive customers back to get their books. Of course, there are also book trailers. I wish the publishers would help us find out about them better, and have something to direct our customers to find them.

MagazinesMost stores say their magazine program is dying or has already died, but these resources were great for allowing people to read excerpts and reviews of current products. We’re currently doing a giveaway program with Faith Today magazine from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, to help people who want to be better connected stay in the loop. Our regional Christian newspaper, The Christian Herald, contains book reviews in each and every issue. For stores still playing the magazine game, Relevant, Christianity Today, various women’s magazines and Focus on the Family are examples of periodicals that can drive sales, though with Focus you’re competing with their in-house product sales.

Church LibrariesMany stores see the local church libraries as competition, but nothing could be further from the truth. Besides being among your best customers, they get people excited about books, authors and series, and I like to encourage some of the local church librarians to make sure the library is frequently mentioned in the announcements or the bulletin. With one or two churches, I’m going to take some pictures of the library myself, send them to the church office, just so they have an image to go with a mention in the weekend announcement slides, and mid-week e-mail blast.

Thrift ShopsSomeone made a point of tracking me down when Bibles for Missions opened a store in my town, to inform me that this would spell certain doom for my bookstore. Quite the opposite. People get a couple of titles in a 4-book set and come to us hoping to find the rest. I don’t have room to start a used department, so I see the thrift store as complementary to what we’re doing in the retail bookstore. Besides, the book departments at Value Village or The Salvation Army are testimony to the fact that book reading is alive and well.

Excerpts OnlineI recently asked an author for 6 or 7 paragraphs from his recent book. You would think I had asked for a share of his royalties. Publishers and distributors and literary agents couldn’t make it happen. I just don’t have time to transcribe from each and every book, or I would; and I can’t copy and paste excerpts from fuzzy .pdf pages. Christian publishers are totally dropping the ball on this one and they don’t get it. Fine. I understand that budgets don’t allow for printed samplers anymore. But it costs nothing to post sample chapters and then let retailers know where the heck they’re buried online. It’s the bookstore equivalent of handing out samples at the grocery store or Costco. Give me a little bit on a toothpick, and if it tastes good, I’ll probably throw the package in the shopping cart.


  • Another way publishers can help retailers with HTML elements for store newsletters, store websites and store Facebook and Twitter pages. But we’ve said that over and over again here. And here.

The Future of Your Store’s Marketing is HTML, Not Catalogs

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it here; your store should be getting a regular if not constant stream of HTML elements that you can use on your store website, store Facebook and store Twitter pages. If not, something’s wrong. They should include both general product panoramas like the one below, and promotions for a specific title. They should be free of charge for you to use as often and wherever you like.

You need this. I need this. Authors need this.

New From Baker Books Fall 2015

 

(Yes, I know, a 2-letter concession to U.S. spelling today, but headers are different!)

 

Social Media Publicity Gambit Floundering

February 15, 2013 7 comments

John (not his real name) gets about six visitors to his blog every day. Despite some rather dismal stats, John is currently reading book number ninety-four as a member of numerous blog book review programs he’s signed up for. It’s doing wonders for his personal library, though the manager at his local Parable store is kinda wondering what happened to him.

Nobody ever really asks for stats. Only one organization, Graf-Martin in Canada had the good sense to ask bloggers to share the size of their readership. There isn’t a single book publicity program for bloggers that teaches them how to ‘tag’ their stories to attract additional readers, or how to register their URL with search engines. So bloggers of all shapes and sizes enjoy a bounty of free stuff in the hope that it will do something to spark sales, including people like John who intersperse the book reviews with pictures of his new truck, which isn’t really new, but is new to him.

As someone who has benefited greatly from these programs in the past five years, I wish to herewith advise Christian publishers everywhere that you are totally wasting your money.

Meanwhile, as I’ve mentioned here many, many times; retail frontliners have an almost zero chance of every getting one single free book in the course of a year, unless they attend a trade convention. (Though in fairness, David C. Cook Canada has a program with Baker Books that allow staff to share advance copies, but sadly — for me anyway — the program is almost complete devoid of non-fiction titles.)

But things are about to get worse — far worse — for blogs like my own Christianity 201 (which publishes excerpts of books I’m sent ) and Thinking Out Loud (which publishes reviews of books I’m sent) and Christian Book Shop Talk (which concentrates on the trade and marketing angle on new titles) as the programs are cutting back.

First of all, it’s becoming just about impossible to get an actual print book sent to a Canadian address. Since I don’t have any interest in reading electronically, I’ve already told a couple of the publishers to take a hike. Shelf-naked I came into the book business 37 years ago, and shelf-naked I shall leave.

But now Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze program has handed me the greatest insult of all. They suspended my account because I haven’t reviewed any of their books in over 90 days. Here’s a suggestion, Thomas Nelson: Publish some decent books every 90 days. Seriously. (I did in fact offer a title I would be willing to be consider, but was told yesterday, basically, ‘Tough luck, you missed out;’ despite my attempts to parade out my reader stats as a kind if trump card.)

You know what? The social media promotion gambit was an idea that had merit. And my store is filled with dozens upon dozens of titles that I would never have carried were it not for the buzz that was created in the Christian blogosphere. Furthermore, many of the authors were originally nothing more than bloggers like myself, and through their various iterations online — blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — I feel like I really know these people, even though we’ve never met. Heck, I can name their spouses, their children, their favorite restaurant.

And now, as the industry contracts, industry hirelings who know neither the publishing industry they work in nor the Christian blogosphere where they are paid to toss out freebies are suddenly all busy shooting themselves in their collective feet.

So to the golden age of social media publicity in the Christian publishing industry — 2007 – 2012 — I say, Rest in Peace.  You were Christian publishing’s last great idea, and last great hope; and your loss is about to be reflected by sales at both physical and online sellers.

~Paul Wilkinson, former book reviewer


For the record, Thinking Out Loud is currently ranked #7 out of all Christian blogs in North America for incoming links from Google, the number one search engine.