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July Religion Bestsellers: Self-Published Authors Take Over, Wanda Brunstetter Stays #1

Marking the first time self-published authors made PW’s Religion Bestsellers list, the husband and wife duo Aaron and Jennifer Smith took #4 and #9 respectively in Nonfiction with their books 31 Prayers for My Wife and 31 Prayers for My Husband. Encouraging readers to “intentionally pray and petition” for their spouses, the prayer books have sold 50,000-60,000 copies since publication in 2014 and 2015, respectively, according to Aaron. Around the same time that they launched their ministries five years ago (Unveiledwife.com and husbandrevolution.com), the Smiths began building up their audience through social media. Today, Jennifer’s Facebook page has nearly one million followers, averaging 8,000-10,000 new followers each week, while Aaron’s has about 180,000. Book sales are driven by Facebook ads, giveaways, word of mouth, and Amazon—especially through site’s rankings and its “people have also bought” feature. “We [also ]give away a lot of free content,” to promote the brand, said Aaron. “We aren’t just selling books.”

Also on the Religion Nonfiction list is Broadstreet Publishing’s Be Still and Know: 365 Daily Devotions, which came in at #2 after the publisher gave exclusive selling rights to Family Christian Stores. The chain bookstore bought every copy of the devotional, and it will not be sold elsewhere until September 1.

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