Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Plight of the Christian Author in 2015


Like any product, marketing is the key to successful book sales

I read a lot of Christian writers, both fiction and non-fiction. Add to this, that I am a Christian writer, both in that I am a Christian who has a number of published books under my belt, and that two of them were specifically written for the Christian market. To make my authority on the subject of this post even more clear, I am a marketing consultant with over 45 years of marketing experience. Finally, most of my books have been quite successful, and those books have been published through everything from Warner Books to me.

As a marketer, I have ushered thousands of new products to market. I have seen fantastic ideas go nowhere, and I have seen average products make millions. If I could summarize the primary reason for the failure of the great products, it would be lack of marketing expertise or lack of funding to execute a good marketing plan. In other words, you can offer gold at $5 an ounce, but if nobody knows about it, there's no chance it will sell.

Up until 10 or so years ago, the only realistic way an author was going to get his book in front of large audiences was through the traditional book store model. That meant selling the book to a publisher who could then get the book onto the shelves. Even then, new authors had almost no chance of moving the product off the shelves unless there was a marketing campaign behind the book. Almost no publishers spent money then or now on new authors. It was up to the author to use publicity, advertising, reviews, radio, book signings, and speaking engagements to get books sold.

That has not changed at all!! No matter if you are self published or published by Random House, an author has to provide marketing backup to have an significant chance of success.

What has changed are the avenues open for marketing. The internet has created a form of democracy for authors. A new or relatively new author can theoretically find an audience through online efforts just as easily as the established author. What this potential has created is authors who wrongly believe that an internet only approach will result in great results for their books. There has even sprung up any number of companies that will be happy to help fledgling authors to pursue this unlikely route to success. And the money spent on these approaches is rarely recovered in book sale profits.

I self published my latest book, "God Called - He Needs Your Decision!" about one year ago. The total cost to make the book ready for sale and to buy some soft cover copies was close to $5000. That included a top-of-the line editor doing a full professional editing job.

I have now sold around 500 copies of the book, which is the second least of any book I've ever penned. I have depended on the internet, including this blog, to create sales. I have used huge amounts of Twitter and done some YouTube videos. But I have NOT done any speaking or advertising. My reviews are only those on Amazon. I have NOT worked to get any newspaper or magazine reviews. I have NOT done any radio or even tried to get radio shows.

Bottom line - there are many, many, many fine Christian books out there. To be sure, there are many so-so one's, as well. Any author today who wishes to sell their books must still get the word out through the very same channels, publicity, advertising, reviews, radio, book signings, and speaking engagements, as before. PLUS the internet.

P.S. Of course, you can sell your book to a publisher, but then you will still need to do all of the very same things to move the book, and you will make far less for each book sold. The advantage is that the publisher pays the upfront costs. The advantage is even greater if you get a substantial advance.


  1. So, what is your best advice for advertising?

  2. I don't have any...yet. I would place advertising as last on my list of ways to get the word out. Most of the other methods only involve my time, and will bless the folks I reach with my message, even if they never read the book. My other Christian book resulted in 200+ radio interviews and 17,000,000 viewers on Geraldo's old daytime show. Since profit wasn't my motive, it was a very successful book!!