Man oh man, the more I peek behind the curtain of the publishing industry, the further this rabbit hole seems to go. Specific to faith-based writers, a whole different set of circumstances apply. It may be both easier and still yet harder to place your books in stores.
Sarah Bolme writes some wise words of interest to Christian Indies on her blog, Marketing Christian Books. She ought to know something about that; she is the director of the CSPA (Christian Small Publishers Association.
On the page I link below she cites a couple truths that we ought to keep in mind.
It is extremely difficult to get Christian bookstores to stock titles from independently published authors and small publishers. This much is obvious and the reasons are far-flung and perhaps even broader than in secular markets (“Oh, this book is a lynch-pin for my faith…oh wait, you’re a National Convention Baptist of the USA instead of a National Convention Baptist of America? I think you’d better leave.”)
Having your book in the right distribution channels is required for a Christian bookstore to stock it. This second, lesser known truth is a big deal. A decade ago when my first book came out I kind of poo-pooed the distribution stuff because I didn’t really understand it. I really only knew that you needed to be in Ingram and Baker and Taylor and that Bowker was a thing I should know about, but didn’t. Here it is in a nutshell: many Christian book stores don’t use Ingram or B&T. They use Christian specific distributors. Bolme notes “Even if your book is selling like hotcakes, Christian bookstores won’t stock it unless they can order it from a Christian distributor. Createspace’s expanded distribution will place your book in Ingram, but not in Spring Arbor.” FYI, Spring Arbor is part of Ingram. Being in Spring Arbor means you’re in Ingram, but being in Ingram doesn’t mean you’re in Spring Arbor.
It may also be just because of her slant and work within the CSPA, but belonging to professional organizations is increasingly appealing to me the further I tumble down towards Wonderland. I’ll keep you all posted on that.
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Here is a link to the article on Marketing Christian Books