Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Got a book to sell? Don't neglect your church

Recently, I have been jotting down ideas on how to promote my forthcoming poetry book. I've been trying to figure out if I should divide the promotion into two different kinds of efforts -- one for the E-book version and one for the print book version -- or if I should just focus on promoting the book whether or not I'm trying to sell the E-copy or print copy.

Today at church, I was presented with another idea for promoting my book.

They occasionally run videos of things going on at church, and today I watched as a video about a new book played on the screen. The video was not closed-captioned, and I didn't have a notetaker or ASL interpreter with me to understand what was being said, but it was the title of the book that grabbed me.

The book in question is called Believing God: Experiencing a Fresh Explosion of Faith by Beth Moore. The video consisted of the author speaking while holding a Bible in her hands, people talking (about her or the book? Who knows!) and how the church was selling copies of the book today. In fact, there was a mention about it in the pamphlet handed out for today's services.

Well, even though I couldn't hear the video or get a good idea of what the book was about, the title alone drew me in. So after services, I found the table set up to buy a copy of the book.

The thing was, when I made my way through the line, I was the one buying the very last copy of the book they had! Wow! You'd think that for a $25 book, not a lot of people would be interested! Actually, there were people lining up behind me to buy the book, too.

At first, I felt a sense of dread. What if they noticed me walking off with the last one and shouted, "She's got the last book! Let's get her!"

Fortunately, the two ladies operating the table started taking names and phone numbers of interested buyers so they could order more books for them.

I was disappointed that one of the ladies at the table was not the author of the book. I had so hoped to meet her. But I'm glad I was able to buy the book and can't wait to start reading it this evening.

I had to ponder this experience. As an author with a book coming out very soon, I had to look at the elements that contributed to this book selling so well today:

The title. It's no joke that titles sell books. one of my books was picked up from a slush pile just because of the title. A title is the very first thing to get the attention of a potential reader. The title should try to tell readers something about what the book is about, or in what way it can help them.

Endorsements. I have a feeling that the people on the video were saying good things about this book, maybe even about how it helped them or changed them for the better. Endorsements can come in the form of review blurbs on a book and/or a book's Web site.

Promotional video. The video itself is a great idea for promoting a book. A book promotional video can be put up on YouTube, added to Web sites and blogs, and shared among friends. It can even be a freebie for buyers of the book.

The author. In the video, the author was dressed professionally and smiled a lot. It showed her doing readings of her book and sharing what it said with others. She showed so much passion for what her book is telling people and total belief in what it had to say. I myself thought she looked like writing this book did amazing things for her and I could sense her excitement about sharing its message simply from her body language in the video.

An attractive book. Just as you need to have a good title, you need to have a good-looking book. A book that is poorly designed, poorly formatted and poorly organized just isn't going to get much attention. The cover of the book looked very professional and the book itself is indeed bound and printed in a clear, professional manner.

And I suppose having a book with a religious message at a church helps sales of the book, too!

All things considered, a church is definitely one good way to sell your books.

As to my own book, I started brainstorming for ideas on how I could promote it there. The poems in my book celebrate love and romance. Surely there were couples there who would appreciate such a message. It was also about the enduring power of love and how strong that bond can be, no matter what the obstacles. In some way, this can be compared to our love of God. We still love God, no matter how trying the times are or what challenges and tests we face. But, best of all, my book's title could be significant. The title includes the word "rainbow," and the title itself is a reminder that just as God used a rainbow to promise never to destroy mankind again, the rainbow comes after every "storm" in life, a promise that love is still there no matter what.

I'll have to think more on this, but it's definitely got me thinking of how I can promote my book at my church. I even spoke with a friend who is involved in church activities and she told me who to contact about this.

I look forward to exploring this "out-of-the-box" way of promoting my book. I'm glad it happened now, because when the time comes for my Christian poetry collection to come out, I'll have a better idea of how to promote it at my church.

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  • At 3:25 PM , Blogger Skyraven said...

    So very true! Sometimes it's all about asking for support whereever you go. :) Great tips and thanks for sharing the post. Heiddiz

  • At 3:37 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Hi, Heiddi. Thank you for commenting! I'm glad you found this post helpful.

  • At 2:24 AM , Blogger Lillie Ammann said...


    Our church has an Amazon bookstore on our Web site, and we feature books that are used in Bible studies/classes at church as well as those recommended by our clergy and members. There is almost always a Beth Moore study going on at our church—in fact, Experiencing God is the one just finishing up now—so everyone in the classes buys the workbook for the class and often other books as well.

    A couple of my clients who have written Christian books give talks at churches and sell their books along with their talks.

    Lillie Ammann
    A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

  • At 7:28 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Hi, Lillie! Thank you for commenting and sharing that information. Up until then, I had not thought about how churches would be a viable place to promote and sell books. I'm so thrilled to learn that your church is encouraging members and faculty to read books and share their wonderful messages! I hope more churches are doing the same.

  • At 1:09 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

    Good stuff, Dawn,

    And it sounds as if Ms. Moore has done everything right. Subject matter, target audience, ideal venue FOR that subject matter, high production value (i.e., well produced in every way), topical subject, good title (obviously part of a series, given the comment from Lillie) etc.

    And all of those have to be present. It's not enough to just write a good book if you then try to cut corners on the production, or have a boring or confusing title.

    Of course, it also didn't hurt that she was well-known, so don't be disappointed if you don't sell out ALL your books right away when you finally unleash your title on your church.

    But, to maximize the potential to sell as many books as possible, make sure your title will resonate as much as possible (though obviously, if it's a book of Christian poetry, you'll have done that already, right?).

    Good luck with it!

    Peter Bowerman, Author
    "The Well-Fed Writer" series (self-published)

  • At 10:37 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Hi, Peter. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on here! I appreciate it. As always, you have great advice about this kind of thing. Yes, the title is very important, as are the other factors you have mentioned.


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