Christian publishing may be more recognized than ever. But that doesn’t mean anyone knows how to sell to the avowed-unaffiliated, spiritually-interested audience.
In fact, there’s strong evidence a big house can’t because more readers are moving “off the grid” every day. Someone said recently that a quiet cultural revolution is underway, especially in publishing—the anti-establishment sentiment seems to be at a fever pitch amongst certain readers and growing louder by the day.
Oh, you’ve noticed? That’s good. Because whether or not CBA survives its uncertain and awkward teen years (never threatening the reach of its big brother
Let the good times roll!
CBA gatekeepers and storeowners can continue to keep “seeker” books out of their stores all they want. Christian publishers can be wary. But those authors and houses who want to do more seeker-friendly books have plenty of ways to reach that broader audience. Outside CBA lies the open sea of the general market and the bottomless Internet. Is viral and guerilla marketing as effective as store placement, big ads, and catalog spreads? It’s hard to argue “No,” when talking about the spiritually-interested book. Spiritual forum discussions, videos, blog tours, downloadable bonus content, interactive web interviews, and other creative promotions are generating interest and sales. Traditional live events, media coverage, reporting, and book reviews, are morphing into online content through alternative news and spiritual websites like Salon.com, Beliefnet, and book clubs. And anecdotal evidence says more people are seeing an author’s self-promotion in regional independent
By the way, we know it’s been building for several years. These readers have always been a fairly …unusual breed…okay, nerdy nonconformists. Sure, they liked believing they could be accepted in the establishment in-crowd, when it was still new. But marketing has changed all that. The big houses now feel phony and old and sad trying to target the unaffiliated. So for authors, this means the vision you construct for convincing retailers to take your spiritually-themed book will be easier to pitch as unique and desireable (and money-making) for not being mainstream. Because here’s the sound-byte of the century: aligning with big mainstream publishing—general or Christian—can be a liability to spiritually-curious readers.
Plenty of people still like the establishment, including myself. But that doesn't change the fact that these are interesting times in publishing. Any case studies? Leave a comment and we'll discuss.