If you thought it was hard getting Borders and Barnes & Noble to carry your book, try getting your self published book into Christian Bookstores. That's the real nightmare.
I explored this a little initially but since The Only Way is Up is not categorized primarily as a Christian book though it has several Christian principles as the backbone of my beliefs, I did not pursue this hard. Nonetheless, I will share with you my experiences, what I can remember of it.
Choice Books. Have you ever walked into your local grocery store like Publix and Kroger and seen these little rotating stands that sell inspirational books? These are mostly owned by Choice Books in my neck of the woods. They rarely do POD books or even books listed by Ingram or Baker and Taylor because they are a distributor themselves. Here is a link to Choice Books so you can see what the process is however. I did send them my book and they didn't feel it was a good fit but who's to say they won't like your book. Laughing. What I also realized by perusing their stands is that they appear to be affiliated with certain publishers and if I were to write a strictly Christian non-fiction or instructional book in the future, I will definitely query these publishers (small presses) and editors that they have provided links to. One thing I can say about them is that they responded within a few weeks and were very courteous. One way around the POD issue is if you are your own publisher and you offer standard industry rates, discounts, returnability, and they deal with you and not the printer, there may still be a way. They are very particular about the book cover and quality of the book. I will suggest that you get professional editing as well to make your product competitive. You will be surprised at how many books I have bought (especially for my little girl) from these stands.
Family Christian Stores. This is the largest chain of any Christian Bookstore that I know, at least in the South East US. Here is a link to their submission guideline, for your product to be considered for their shelves. They have a name for their bookbuyer listed.
CBA, The Association for Christian Retail. Here is their website. They are mentioned by Family Christian Stores as a source of getting to them if you do not have a distributor. Please note the representatives they have mentioned near the end of the page. I have no direct experience with this but it may be worth pursuing. A means to an end, so to speak. A path to the promised land.
Church Bookstores. Each church has their own process and it works in a similar way to small independent bookstores in the area. You basically need to pick up the phone, speak with the manager/book buyer or whoever is in charge and take it from there. Preferably schedule a meeting. Sometimes impromptu face-to-face works better because you can create an impression and get five minutes of their time but it could backfire if you are dealing with a person who is a stickler for appointments. In my church for example, I was given the email address of the deacon that handles such issues and decides what book they carry. I never did follow up but I was interested in the process. It appears to be the same in most churches. It may be quite hard if their pastor writes books as well and you are not a Joyce Meyer or a church elder. But it is always worth the try.
Christian Book Distributors (CBD). They also have a website which I suggest you visit. They have no clearcut information about how to get them to sell your books but you can be a CBD affiliate and the details are available here. If I ever find any direct information, I will add it as an addendum here. They seem more internet based to me.
Regular Bookstores. Of course, there is nothing precluding you from attempting to get your Christian book into Borders or Barnes and Noble. They do have a Christian/Inspirational section as well. You would just have to follow the instructions outlined in a prior post on this blog, Getting Your Self Published Book Into Bookstores: Targeting Createspace Authors.
Internet Based Bookstores. This may be a bigger market for Christian books comparatively, in terms of when other books and the balance between brick and mortar stores and online. Amazon.com is still a winner for any kind of book.
The Christian Writer's Market Guide is said to be invaluable. Once again, don't forget that Google is an amazing tool.
In my opinion, most Indie Published Christian Books are sold to people you know, church members, Christian book clubs, family, friends, through blogs, online and then you call it a day. I will continue to research this and enlighten you guys as I come up with more information. I wish I had more for you but that's it for now.