A Plea to Christian Publishers on Behalf of Their Authors

I love to review books that are of special interest to Christians. And even when I’m not able to review them, I still love to make people aware of titles that are new and noteworthy. Based on the number of books that are stuffed into my mailbox just about every day, I presume that Christian publishers appreciate it when I do this. I hope this gives me a voice to those publishers, and I want to use it to plead with them on behalf of their authors.

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It used to be the responsibility of the publisher to publicize an author’s work. To some degree it still is, but today the more common model is for the author to generate the bulk of the publicity. This is especially true of newer authors, which is why we hear so much about authors creating a “platform” for themselves. Publishers expect their authors will have enough of a platform to sell a sufficient quantity of books, thus mitigating the risk of acquiring, editing, and printing a book.

Well and good. But if publishers are going to expect this of their authors, they ought to provide them with the resources they need to generate interest in their books. In most cases, this will involve graphics or videos that can be shared online, especially through social media. I believe publishers ought to provide their authors with two different categories of resources. The first is resources authors can use to help convince people to buy their book, while the second is resources other people can use to publicize an author’s book.

The first category involves graphics an author can use on his own site or through his own social media channels. These graphics will broadcast the availability of the book and provide a few clues about its content and intended audience. They may reference any pre-order bonuses or other information intended to generate sales and pre-sales.

The second category involves graphics the author can provide for others to use on their sites or their social media channels. These will be less pushy and more informational. They may accompany reviews or simple mentions of the book.

I believe authors should expect at least the following from their publisher:

High-resolution versions of the book’s cover. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve wanted to mention a book on Facebook or Twitter, only to find the publisher offers nothing more than one grainy, low-resolution picture of the cover. Often it’s even stamped with Amazon’s copyright information. Give your authors a high-resolution cover graphic!

Graphics sized for social media. The common dimensions for a book cover do not work well for social media as they typically end up being cropped or distorted. Currently, Facebook does best with graphics that are roughly 1200 x 630, while Twitter and Instagram wants graphics that are 1080 x 1080. Publishers ought to provide excellent, attractive graphics that include both categories mentioned above. These should be consistent with the design of the book’s cover, but with different information and intended for different purposes. Give your authors a collection of high-quality graphics they can sow on social media and allow others to see, to click, and to share.

Interesting videos advertising the book. I’d consider this the least important material, but it can still be helpful. Create an interesting, original, non-cheesy video that features the author discussing her book or that features some interesting facts from the book.

A dedicated web site. In some cases, a dedicated website can be helpful. In most cases, though, it is probably more helpful to simply create a dedicated page on the publisher’s or author’s site. This page can contain some pre-sales information and it can contain all of the graphics, videos, and other collateral.

In every case, these graphics and pages should be made publicly available a few weeks before the book’s launch. This will give time for them to propagate through the internet. Before the book launches, do a few Google and Google Image searches to see if the graphics are available and easy to find.

This is all simple stuff. Yet I see few publishers doing this and fewer still doing it well. Your authors have worked hard on their books. You have put lots of effort into acquiring the books, editing them, designing them, and printing them. Please don’t neglect this important step of creating a few key resources.