How do you build a platform to market your Christian book?

Many people equate advertising with marketing. Advertising is not marketing—it’s only a small part of marketing. Ads simply inform your potential readers that your book is available. By itself, advertising can’t get your book into reader’s hands. Publicity is not marketing. Again, publicity can only make people aware of you, as an author, and your book. Distribution is not marketing. You can make your book available through distribution channels, but if people don’t know about it, they won’t know to ask for it. All of the above individually are not marketing but together they form the backbone book of marketing. Book marketing is the entire process of getting your book into the hands of readers. So, what are the pillars of Christian book marketing?

  1. The Lord’s favor.  Your life must be pleasing to Him. As I have focused on the fruit of the Spirit in my own life, God has given us favor in business. It’s the difference between seeking out buyers for your books and buyers seeking you out. It’s the most important  first/top button.
  2. Publish marketable books. Produce the best quality you know how to produce. Produce books that are fresh and powerful, whether they are kids books, fiction, Christian living, or biblical studies. Think ministry value not just market value. Our Evergreen Press tagline is: “Biblical Solutions for Breakthrough Living.” If it’s worth publishing, it’s worth publishing well.
  3. Build relationships with people who can help you market your books: sales reps who already have relationships with distributors (catalogs, etc.) and other buyers (ministries). You can’t know everybody, and you can’t do it all on your own. Success in publishing is more about relationships than writing.
  4. Build relationships with people in the media: T.V., radio, online and offline, thought leaders, reviewers, ministers, bloggers, columnists, and reporters who can help you promote your books by giving them and your authors visibility (a.k.a., a platform). Help your authors connect with the media.
  5. Publish authors who have built-in markets and an established platform and passion to promote. As you gain experience and your reputation grows, you will gain access to authors with more increasing visibility. Help your authors with less visibility gain acceptance with endorsements by others who have national visibility.
  6. Make sure your supply chain is working smoothly. Printers, distributors, chains (bookstore chains), and independents comprise your supply chain. Make sure each of these can fill the demand when demand increases. Tip: have a plan for supplying a successful breakout book.
  7. Constantly educate yourself in the area of book marketing. There are some very useful books and workshops to increase your knowledge: Sarah’s book—Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. Carmen Leal’s book—You Can Market Your Book. Greg Stielstra’s book—Pyromarketing (see also my pyro list). John Kremmer’s book—1001 Ways to Market Your Books. Brian Jud’s book—Beyond the Bookstore (special markets). There are many others for both online and offline marketing. Always strive to have the latest and best information and resources available to you.
  8. Build your  reputation as a quality publisher. Pay attention to the 3 c’s: commitment, consistency, and credibility. Credibility (reputation) comes over time as you stay true to your mission and regularly produce books that are consistent with your mission and quality standards. Your imprint is your brand. If you can’t fix a weak manuscript with good editing, don’t publish it. (See: Publishing for Profit by Thomas Woll.)
  9. Be willing to invest your time and money into book marketing. If a book is worth writing  and being published, it is worth marketing! The object of publishing is not to fill your garage or warehouse full of books, it’s go get your books into people’s hands and make a difference in their lives. Be passionate yourself about what you publish.
  10. Build your publishing team, whether full-time, part-time, freelance, or commissioned.  Successful book marketing requires the efforts of a team: acquisitions, editorial, design, pre-press, printing, publicity, sales, distribution, and retail. Make sure everyone on your team keeps their priorities straight: bring glory to God and meet the needs of your readers.
  11. Don’t try to publish a book for everybody and don’t try and market a book to everybody. You will most assuredly fall short on both counts. Instead, publish for a target audience. A target audience is a lot easier to identify and reach than “every Christian.” Why do we have basic subject categories? To help readers find what they are looking for. Can you imagine a bookstore without categories? It would be chaos! Don’t be presumptuous—“everyone” is not your market.

If you understand how the publishing world works and where your books fit into that world, you’ll be able to design a successful marketing strategy.


The big question all authors ask is: How do I market my book? For Christian authors, the question gets complicated. Part of the challenge of marketing Christian books is that the audience size is much smaller than for secular books. Another challenge is that the conventional wisdom for marketing books is not particularly geared to the Christian market. This means that most of the marketing gurus out there don’t have a clue about how to market Christian books.

In days past, before a million new titles were published every year, it was easier to connect with potential readers. Now authors have to compete, not only with other authors, but also with rapidly expanding new media, including social media, that draw people away from reading as a source of information and entertainment.

That’s the dilemma facing all authors, famous and unknown. What is the answer? Scaling back expectations of blockbuster sales, taking a more hands-on approach to promoting your book, being willing to build your author platform plank by plank, and never giving up. One successful author said you need to hit it hard for at least two years, until your book gains some traction. If your book was worth writing, it’s worth promoting!

At Evergreen Press, we’ve been at this book marketing thing for over two decades—and we’ve learned a thing or two. Give us a call and see how we can help you connect with your readers!

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