Ideas to Promote Your Own Books: Interview with Nigerian author Pusonnam Yiri

Nigerian author Pusonnam Yiri discusses his journey as a writer and Pusonnam Yirihow authors can promote their own books in this interview with MAI staff intern Nicki Consoli. Pusonnam and Kenyan author Jennifer Karina will share valuable tips in our August 19 webinar, “Author Promotion on a Low Budget.” Register online now.

Q: What factors led you to become a writer?
While I was in seminary, a few ministers who loved my illustrations in preaching/speaking asked me to document them. I wrote my first published book mostly to meet that need.

Many of our elders are dying with their values undocumented. I don’t want that to happen in my time. If we don’t write good books now, many of the books our children read will be written by false ministers. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He referred to a written document. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:4 NIV). Our children should be able to say, it is written when they face temptations.

Q: Why did you decide to publish your own books?
I did not have a structured reason when I started. I only wanted my books to reach an audience. Later, as I began to train writers, I discovered the need for a publishing platform for my books and other potential writers. Recently, ACTS, a major publisher in Nigeria, accepted my books for publishing and distribution. This will take the books to another level.

Q: What are the best ways to promote your own books?
I have an approach that I call the “Triple P Concept”: Promote the book through the stages of Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production. People should know about a potential book even before it is released.

A lasting, effective promotion is achieved only when a book is good. A book that is a solution to the problem of the target audience will be promoted by its beneficiaries. I often say, “If a book is a drug, there are patients who will need it.”

Every writer should be a thematic writer so that he or she will become an expert in his or her subject area. This will eventually lead to speaking. A speaking platform is a very good channel for promotion.

Q: How have you seen God’s providence in your promotion efforts?
A literature professor in a secular university in Nigeria used my book, Blindness of the Mind, as a textbook with his students. He told me that two of his students received Jesus as Lord as a result of the book.

Q: How does your newest book, Understanding Purpose: Everyone has a role in God’s masterplan, speak to the needs of people in Nigeria?
Many people are frustrated for two main reasons: Some don’t know what to do in life, while others have discovered what to do, but they don’t know how to do it. The book helps people overcome frustration by understanding the purpose of life and how to achieve it. People will know that no one is useless in God’s master plan.

Q: What advice would you offer writers regarding promoting their books?
When you send someone to somewhere with a message, it is your responsibility to sponsor the trip. Similarly, God will support any message that is from Him. A writer should first of all ensure that God is the Sender.

Pusonnam Yiri and Kenyan author Jennifer Karina will share valuable tips in our August 19 webinar, “Author Promotion on a Low Budget.” Register online now.

Email Pusonnam at [email protected]

Proven Ideas for Generating Book Sales

By Ramon Rocha, director of publisher development

Are you wondering how to improve books sales? You’re not alone! Take heart and glean ramon rochainspiration from these ideas generated by publishers around the globe.

  1. Publish Christian fiction for public schools.
    Step Publishers in Ghana has published compelling fiction books with Christian themes for young people and has submitted them to the Ministry of Education for inclusion in the school curriculum. These titles were approved not only by the Education Ministry but by Senior High Schools, the Non-Formal Education Ministry, and the Ghana Book Trust. Step Publishers has been selling Grief Child written by Lawrence Darmani, and his other youth fiction titles, by the tens of thousands. Lawrence is now working to have his books approved for school curriculum in other African countries.
  2. Publish more local authors than translations.
    VISI Publishing in Indonesia has shifted its publishing program from translating Western books to publishing local Indonesian authors. Their total sales have grown in double digits over the last 3 years.
  3. Use ‘out-of-the-box’ distribution.
    Mundo Cristao in Brazil has sold thousands and thousands of books through the Avon catalogue. Now housewives and mothers order Christian books in addition to make-up, perfume and brassieres.
  4. Distribute through general bookstores.
    Kanok Bannasan accepted the terms of general bookstores in Thailand, thus paving the way for their titles to be displayed in 300-plus stores nationwide. Sales of their books through the general market have increased over the last year.
  5. Source printing elsewhere.
    Publishers in Africa are now having their books printed either in China or India. Printing costs have dropped by half the price of local printing, including shipping costs.
  6. Bring your books to your readers.
    Ezdra Publishers, in partnership with Bus4Life ministry of Operation Mobilization, travels around the Ukraine to sell books. Owner Andrey Kravchenko says, “Every year we go around the Ukraine several times, visiting hundreds of towns and churches, to deliver and sell our books. This is a great opportunity to meet with our readers, to learn their opinion about our publications, and to know their wishes.”

What other strategies are working for you? Share with us.

MAI provides training for global Christian publishers with two goals:  1) to help them become financially self-sustaining and 2) to encourage them to find and publish more local authors.

Do you have what it takes to lead?

By Ramon Rocha, director of publisher development

Do you have what it takes to be an effective publishing leader? Test yourself against this ramon rochalist. Fear not if you don’t measure up; this is an ideal. Each of us have growth areas. Consider setting goals for yourself with God’s help and your team’s. Try holding yourself accountable with these qualities of a publishing leader:

1.     A genuine disciple of Jesus Christ: a strong, reputable and mature believer

2.     A deep sense of calling to lead an indigenous Christian publishing house

3.     A firm believer of the written word’s strategic role in drawing people to God

4.     A good understanding and grasp of the needs of the reading public, and an ability to identify, develop and encourage local writers to write books addressing these needs

5.     Possesses adequate business and management skills

6.     A lover of books and an advocate for reading

7.     A pursuer of excellence

8.     A people person

9.     Humble and teachable

10.   A visionary and a big picture person

11.   Has the ability to form and build a team that sets common goals, formulates strategies and measures results

12.   Knowledgeable of the context and realities in the economy and society

13.  Articulate and a good communicator

14.   Able to inspire, train, motivate staff

15.    Able to have fun and to put people at ease

16.    A leader by example

Do you have anything to add? Tell us here.

MAI provides training for global Christian publishers with two goals:  1) to help them become financially self-sustaining and 2) to encourage them to find and publish more local authors.

Is Cash King?

By Ramon Rocha, MAI Director of Publisher Development
ramon rocha
Publishing leaders face a lot of pressure to build a successful Christian publishing business, let alone survive. Many of us have been tempted to cut corners, compete with cutthroat strategies, renege on promises, and even sacrifice integrity for financial gain.

In order to survive, is it okay to compromise by selling bestselling not-so-biblical books on topics like the prosperity gospel? People want these titles! If you don’t publish or sell them, your customers will go elsewhere. Are you prepared to lose sales over popular books bordering on questionable interpretations of biblical truths?

When I was new at OMF Literature some 17 years ago, my bookstore sales manager told me that we’d been selling many copies by a particular preacher. Some customers had complained that the author’s teachings were not sound. But this popular televangelist’s books were selling like hotcakes! After examining one of his books, we decided to pull them all off our shelves despite the high demand. The Lord honored our decision. Our total sales grew in spite of that financial loss.

Ask yourself: “Will you sell any book as long as it sells well? Will you compromise a principle just so you can meet sales targets? Are you bordering on selfishness and greed? Are you getting obsessed with growth at all costs? Will you do anything just to show a profit at the end of the fiscal year?”

Is it true that “cash is king”? You cannot operate without cash. We must be good at cash flow management, ensuring we have sufficient financial resources to pursue our ministry and business.

At the end of the day, Jesus is King! He is the One we should please. His will and purposes must be done. Everything in our publishing should be subservient to Him. Our loyalty and allegiance to Him and His cause take top priority over all else: content, cash, systems, programs and relationships.

What have you been tempted to do to survive or thrive in writing and/or publishing? What have you learned that might help others? Please comment here.


Publisher in Benin finds himself “in the right place”

Christian publishing in French-speaking Africa is expanding thanks to young leaders like Georges Late LW12Georges Laté, production manager of InterVarsity-related Presses Bibliques Africaines (PBA) in Benin. Laté describes his publishing journey in an interview with MAI staff intern Nicki Consoli.

Q: How did you get involved in Christian publishing? After completing my studies in marketing communication and journalism in August 2008, I answered the call of God to join the team of Éditions PBA as a marketing and sales person. In that moment, I had no idea that I would become publisher.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as a publisher? Every one of our challenges is big, but I would cite three of them: a lack of basic training in publishing, the low purchasing power of our readers and potential readers, and the lack of a reliable international distribution network.

Q: How have you tried to expand your publishing reach into all of Francophone Africa? Prior to my arrival, the PBA team began launching new books in different African capital cities. Authors were invited to give a conference on one of the topics in their books. This was to attract potential readers and give the author the opportunity to promote their books. I am also in the process of building a partnership with Livre’Afrique to assist us in distribution, and have initiated a partnership with the 19 IFES French-speaking Africa national directors for official representation in their countries.

Q: What is your vision for developing local authors? I identified those who showed an interest in writing. We have already held two writer workshops to give them basic training. We also created an online forum to continue discussions with them and for them to share their writings for corrections.

Q: How have you seen God’s guidance in choosing what to publish? We are very selective in choosing what to publish so that it meets our editorial standards. So far, God has helped us to choose the titles that will affect and positively transform our readers. The numerous testimonies from readers are a sign of this success. Our primary goal is to publish books that will transform students and graduates for life. Until now, God has guided the publishing committee and me in sorting the manuscripts.

Q: What has been your most successful book published so far, and why? This is Découvrir la Volonté de Dieu (Finding God’s Will) by Colin Hamer. This book, translated from English, is a blessing to the evangelical church in Africa today. The theme is relevant and addresses one of the main challenges for the African church. We launched it in Benin and Burkina Faso in 2013, and it has attracted many readers. We are planning a discussion for readers to meet and talk about this book.

Q: Are you involved in other ministries besides publishing? How do you manage your time between these multiple ministries? Yes, before coming to PBA I worked with Radio Maranatha, where I still lead a youth radio program. I am also the leader of a local students’ church. I work full-time in publishing and serve at the radio and church on weekends.

Georges and Monnelle Late

Georges and his wife, Monnelle, have not yet started a family but “pray that God gives us twins.”

Q: What gives you the greatest satisfaction in your publishing ministry? I get testimonials from readers who were healed or enlightened by reading one of our books. It gives me joy and a sense of being useful to my generation. I am also very happy to be in publishing because I read and learn a lot about God and His message to mankind. I think I am in the right place.

Georges welcomes your comments and input. Email him at [email protected] or visit the PBA website.

MAI provides training for global Christian publishers with two goals:  1) to help them become financially self-sustaining, and 2) to encourage them to find and publish more local authors.