Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to Market Christian Books to Churches

Since I work for a Christian publishing company, churches have always been an important marketing and promotional opportunity for our authors.  They can also be some of the most difficult venues at which to market and promote books, despite the message the books contain. 

Many authors with Christian books make the mistake of contacting every mega-church they can think of right out of the box.  After all, these churches have several thousand members in their congregation, so this is the perfect place to sell lots of books, right?  Well, not so fast.

First of all, while it is true that the mega-churches have large congregations and minister to thousands of people, most of them are pretty stringent when it comes to who they invite to come and speak and sell books to their flock, especially if you aren't a member of the church in the first place.  In fact, many of these places are more concerned with selling their own pastor's books, and outside books are not really welcome.  Other churches frown on selling anything of any kind in God's house at all.  The church I attend falls somewhere in the middle.  The bookstore only sells books written by the pastor, but they do have a nice coffee shop which sells an awesome caramel machiato. 

Christian authors can do a great job of reaching their book's niche, expanding their ministry and helping churches all at the same time.  It's all a matter of how they approach it.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.  Start with your own church.  If you are an active member of your church, talk to your pastor about speaking to the congregation about the topic of your book as a Bible lesson.  You could also propose that you teach a Bible class, with your book as part of the curriculum for the class, or take part in a retreat as a featured speaker. 

2.  Expand your ministry.  Once you have your foot in the door at your own church, ask for recommendations for other churches in your denomination or synod.  Offer to teach classes, speak and participate in various church ministries, with the teaching materials centered around your book.  This is a great way to spread your message.

3.  Work the phone.  It's a fact of life that churches get bombarded by sales people all the time, and they get a lot of junk mail pitching religious supplies, Bibles, pews, computer software and books.  If you simply mail a request to a church, chances are you won't get far.  Work the phone, find out who makes the decisions for scheduling classes and guest speakers at the church, and then contact that person and use your elevator pitch.  Explain how you can help the church, don't just ask for an opportunity to sell your books.

4.  Speaking of helping the church...  Offer to donate a portion of your book sales to the church, or a special fundraising project they currently have underway.  Donate a couple of copies of your book to the church library, or offer to stock a few books in the church bookstore on a consignment basis. 

5. It's all about the niche.  Churches are niche markets, too.  Just because you have a Christian book doesn't mean it is appropriate for all churches, especially if it goes against their doctrine.  For example, if your book is Pentecostal in nature, you won't have much luck pitching your presentation and book to a Lutheran church. 

For many Christian authors, their book is a key part of their ministry.  If you work with the churches and help them accomplish their mission the sales will follow. 
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2 comments:

Gil_Michelini said...

Thank you, Terry; good advice.

Gil_Michelini said...

Thank you Terry for the advice. I am about to venture into speaking at churches.

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