Why I Blog (and NEW Top Blog Posts)

I love running a blog. I love writing, but I also love curating my blog–finding/creating graphics, linking to relevant sources, learning how to embed videos, planning series, hiding geeky quotes with hyperlinked memes (yes, I do this), and creating sidebar boxes and resource pages for you to discover more. I always have more ideas for new things I want to add to my blog to create a more engaging and fulfilling experience for my readers.

Fragrance Arise is something I take very seriously as an extension of my ministry. I want to present you with information and inspiration to love and pursue God more wholeheartedly and to be more engaged with what He’s doing in our generation. I know I am called to be a “vision caster” of who God is and what He is doing, and since writing has always been a gift of mine, I will use this space to the fullest to be faithful to that calling…no matter how flashy the platform or how many readers I have.

For example, in addition to my regular posts, Fragrance Arise has:

  • TPR’s current Rapid Fire prayer topic in a sidebar box to your right (or at the bottom if you’re on mobile)
  • An FAQ page with separate FAQs for TPR, IHOPKC (including OTI and IHOPU), and the prayer movement as a whole.
  • A My Story page where you can read my testimony and see the journey that brought me to this point.
  • A Partner With Me page where you can learn how to sow into my ministry financially.
  • A Resources page where you can find NOT ONLY tons of free music, books, and teachings I’ve gleaned from around the interwebs, BUT ALSO several of my teachings that I have done.

I want to also have a space where some of the best blog posts are collected… the ones I’m most proud of, the ones I think will be most stimulating to your pursuit of God, the ones I hope you’ll enjoy and share. (And also the one that went a little bit viral that one time. #houseofprayerhumour)

Introducing… Top Blog Posts. The link will always be in the menu bar at the top of the page. I’ll continue to add to it from time to time… but not every post will be qualified for the hall of fame.

Scroll through and click on a graphic to go to that blog post. Enjoy, and thank you for reading!

(Also, if you want to make sure you never miss a post, subscribe with your email address–to the right on desktop or at the bottom on mobile.)


FAQ Page Updates!

If you’ve ever taken the time to explore my blog, you’ve seen the FAQ link at the top of this page. I’ve spent the past few days overhauling it with fresh info, helpful images, and more streamlined organisation – plus I’ve added an entirely new page all about the house of prayer in general.

There are now individual FAQ pages for

  • the House of Prayer (and the prayer movement in general)
  • The Prayer Room (where I’m currently on staff)
  • and IHOPKC (including the One Thing Internship and IHOPU, where I did four years of training).

If you have questions like:

  • What is a house of prayer?
  • How many houses of prayer are there?
  • What happens in the prayer room?
  • Does TPR do other kinds of ministry outside of the prayer room itself?
  • What do you do at TPR?
  • Do you know Mike Bickle or Misty Edwards?
  • What did you study at IHOPU?

go to the FAQ page and get answers!


If you have any other questions, please leave them as a comment on the relevant page.

Make a Prayer Book From A Dollar Store Photo Album – with GIVEAWAY!

When I first went to IHOPKC in 2012 for the One Thing Internship, one of our leaders, Vanessa, taught us all how to make a prayer book with a cheap 4″ x 6″ photo album and index cards. I’ve been using and tweaking her method for years, and I really love it!

I have mine broken up into a weekly schedule with verses that I can pray for different topics, but feel free to make this project your own in any way you think will help you pray more regularly and with better focus.


4″ x 6″ photo album

4″ x 6″ index cards

Both of these can usually be found at Dollar Tree.

Step One: Plan Your Topics

Decide how you want to use your book and plan your topics. Do you want to have a lot of broad topics in your book and rotate through them once a week? Do you want a few specific topics you can pray every day?

When I recently reorganised my prayer book, I made a very messy list of prayer points which I grouped into categories, then crossed out and regrouped, then scheduled by day. I decided to pray for The Prayer Room every day, a small subsection of my family every day, and a handful of my ministry partners every day. I’ll also pray for a different broad topic each day.

Write a schedule grid on an index card, and slip it into the front page of your book.

Note: As an intercessory missionary, I have a lifestyle of being in the prayer room at least four hours a day, six days a week. That gives me a LOT of time to pray through my topics. Don’t bite off more than you can chew! The times I’ve used my prayer book the least was when I packed it so full of different topics that I got overwhelmed. Ask the Holy Spirit what He’s asking you to carry daily, weekly, or maybe just whenever you think of it. This should be a blessing, not a burden!!

Step Two: Write Your Topics

Each topic gets its own index card. Write the topic at the top (along with the day of the week, if you’re doing that), then underneath list some specific prayer points within that topic.

Depending on how broad your topic is, your prayer points may be very broad or narrow. For example, my “Justice” topic is very broad, and my points under that are abortion, sex trafficking, racial reconciliation, etc. But when my topic is more narrow, such as my daily topic of praying for The Prayer Room, the prayer points are much more specific and will probably change pretty often as different needs arise.

Step Three: Write Out Your Verses

This is probably my favourite part of my prayer book. Next to every prayer topic, I have a prayer from Scripture that I want to use when I pray for that topic. These verse cards are very easy to pull out and move around if I want to use that verse for a different topic one day. I even have extra verses in my book that float around between topics.

Praying the Word is sooo valuable. It launches us into partnership with God because we know we’re praying things that He already wants to do! Praying Scripture has absolutely revolutionised my prayer life, and I’m going to boldly say that your prayer book is incomplete without the verses.

Almost all of my verses are from this list HERE of apostolic prayers found in Scripture. A longer list can be found HERE.

Step Four: Assemble Your Book

Now, put the index cards in the book in an order that makes sense to you. Be sure to intersperse your verses with your topics so that you always see them together and can easily pray from Scripture.

Step Five: Add Other Pictures/Postcards

I like to put other pictures and postcards that prompt me to pray in my book. (Whoa, aliteration much?) I have prayer postcards from missionaries, postcards of places I care about, and also pictures of my family and headers from church bullitens. You can also stick in any fun pictures, quotes, or anything at all that inspires you to enjoy prayer. (I maaay have a few inspiriational Dove chocolate wrappers tucked in those photo sleeves!)

There you go! Keep this with your Bible and journal and make it part of your regular secret place time, or keep it wherever you know will help you ACTUALLY PRAY. That’s the point, after all. A model is only helpful to the degree it helps us actually connect with God. I like to pace while I pray, and I love that this book fits easily in my hand, can be folded backwards without damage, and can be stuck under my arm while I’m pacing and praying.

This book can and probably will change freqently, depending on the topics God puts on your heart, the amount of time you want to spend with it, etc. That’s okay! Figure out what works for you, and when it no longer works, try something else.


I’m going to make this very simple. I bought two photo albums and two packs of index cards at Dollar Tree yesterday. If you want to try this prayer book method, email me at fragrancearise@gmail.com with your mailing address! The first two people will get the materials in the mail to make your own prayer book!

New Rapid Fire Prayer Topic

At the end of every set, everyone in the room lines up at the mic to pray short “rapid fire” prayers on a certain topic, usually related to something happening within the ministry. Right now, our topic is:

We need a new A/C unit for upstairs. Praying the Lord would provide all the finances involved.

Our air conditioners upstairs have never been great; we’ve had them repaired a ridiculous number of times since we got the building. The one in our Daniel Academy preschool room is our top priority right now, so that our younglings don’t cook in the Texas heat when school starts in August. It’s a real health/safety concern for the children, so we’re asking God and people for financial help to get a new A/C.

God, please provide for us to buy a new A/C for our Daniel Academy room. Bring dramatic financial donations again like You’ve done so many times before!

Your College Semester Explained by Bible Verses

finals 2

If “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable…” (2 Timothy 3:16), let’s see how it might be applied to the experience of a typical college semester. Happy finals, everyone!


When you decide to just “wing it” on your big presentation:

When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. (Matthew 10:19)

Then you realise you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re not making sense:

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom… (1 Corinthians 2:3-4)

When the professor actually expects you to read the recommended texts:

Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. (Philemon 1:21)

When that one student in your class turns in a paper twice as long as yours:

Then they asked Baruch, “Tell us, please, how did you write all these words?…” (Jeremiah 36:17a)

When the class know-it-all decides to bless us all with their wisdom yet again:

…I will show you, for I have yet something to say on God’s behalf… For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you. (Job 36:2, 4)

When that one person tries to answer questions without having done the reading:

Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? (Job 38:2)

And so the professor decides the whole class gets a pop quiz:

Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. (Job 36:3)

When one person in the group project screws up the grade for everyone:

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)

When the professor’s lecture is taking FOR. EV. ER.:

And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. (Acts 20:9)

When studying may very well kill you:

…Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. (Ecclesiastes 12:12)

…He who increases knowledge increases sorrow. (Ecclesiastes 1:18)

…Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” (Acts 26:24)

When you get your grade back:

For you write bitter things against me and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth. (Job 36:26)

When you’re just holding on till break:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion… (Philippians 1:6)

I press on toward the goal for the prize… (Philippians 3:14)

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

When you throw responsibility to the wind and hang out with friends till 3 a.m. right before finals:

And behold, joy and gladness, killing oxen and slaughtering sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (Isaiah 22:13)

When somehow you pull off a decent grade without studying:

The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” (John 7:15)

When the week before finals hits and suddenly ALL THE THINGS are due:

…For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death… (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

But then the professor cancels or delays a major assignment:

For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; (Psalm 116:8)

When you finish a class you didn’t actually care about:

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. (Isaiah 43:18)

When you submit your last assignment and can taste the sweet, free air of break:

…The LORD has anointed me… to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. (Isaiah 61:1)

…neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:17)

James 1:5, y'all.

James 1:5, y’all.

If you enjoyed this, check out my post 11 IHOP Words IHOPers Use in Normal Conversations.

Intentionally Resting Well

Yesterday was a good day.

First (and this is very important) I wore a beautiful new long flowy skirt I got on discount for $13 (originally $100). I love it. (I realised AT CHURCH it still had the security tag attached, but with a bit of cleverness I managed to get it off at home later… so that was an exciting start to my day.)

I went to the early service at church and even though I was late and missed most of worship, I got to hear a wonderful message from Rick Joyner. (If you want to listen to it, the video should be online HERE in a few days.)

I spread out my outdoor throw blanket on the grass in my backyard amid the dandelions and started reading a new novel by one of my favourite authors. (The Calling by Rachelle Dekker, everyone. Check it out.)

Did I mention that it was 69° F and sunny at that time??


My happy place.

I spent three hours at the home of Erica and Jacob, the leaders of the Kid City 7 sidewalk Sunday school outreach I volunteer at. They invited all of the volunteers over for delicious lunch and even more delicious fellowship. I had a wonderful heart-to-heart with one girl for almost an hour (this is how introverts party hard), then went outside in the beautiful weather and played with the world’s cutest baby.

In the evening, I met with my College Station ministry trip team for some more vision-casting and logistical stuff. It was really good to talk and pray with them. (I even met a girl I have connections with from home!) The trip is only two weeks away and I’m so excited for what God is going to do!

It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time for a really good refreshing Sabbath. I spend so much time either a) getting stuff done, or b) procrastinating getting stuff done. (Wanna guess which I do more of?) Unfortunately, procrastinating usually looks like scrolling through social media or watching videos online.

I think I need to relearn how to rest well.

For me to rest well, I personally need a good combination of friends, food, laughter, fresh air, grass, sunshine, solitude, books, creativity, and/or worship. Ideally, definitely worship.

As a matter of fact, my favourite part of the day was when I lay on the grass, set down my book, and lay with my face to the sun just thinking about the nearness of God and allowing myself to be the wide-eyed child again.

Yesterday I actually chose to set aside some of my to-dos not to aimlessly procrastinate, but to actually get refreshed. I’ll always have more stuff to do. The to-dos never really end. But if I don’t intentionally take time to rest and refresh, I’m going to burn out and end up forgetting who I am.

I am not my to-do list.

I am not my ministry.

I am not my education.

I’m Caitlyn. I’m the daughter and the beloved of God. I love sunshine and books and creating. I’m essentially the same person today as when I first fell in love with Jesus, and I still need those sweet moments–to put aside an agenda and just be myself with Him–just as much today.

Download: Guest appearance on the UnCommon Christianity show



Last Tuesday, I was given the opportunity to speak on the UnCommon Christianity internet radio show. This is a weekly two hour program hosted by some old friends of mine, and they’ve discussed all kinds of theological and cultural topics over the years. This week’s topic was spiritual warfare, and I was invited to discuss how prayer and worship relate to spiritual warfare. I’m not normally the go-to person for spiritual warfare, but I certainly have a thing or two to say about prayer!

I spent two hours on the air with them discussing prayer, worship, IHOPKC, the harp and bowl model, and “soaking” worship. We even spent a bit of time discussing some of the most common accusations against IHOPKC. I was really nervous, but Andy, Nathan, and Kim made me feel so at home on the air and I really enjoyed sharing my heart and my experiences with them.

The two-hour broadcast (my favourite part is in the first hour) is available for streaming or download on the show’s website at the link below.

listen UCC 2

Click here to listen or download!

11 IHOP Words IHOPers Use In Normal Coversations

ihopkc prayer room 3
As IHOPers (or those influenced by the IHOPKC language and culture), we tend to have a pretty interesting vernacular. In addition to your standard “Christianese” and “charismatic-speak,” HOP people have a habit of importing familiar biblical and/or preachy words into our everyday conversations, even when the context isn’t spiritual at all. (It’s not even just Kansas City anymore! We’re reaching the world with the message of 24/7 prayer and spreading our weird habits along with it!)

I’m occasionally guilty of most of these… how many are you guilty of?

1. Unto

A bit antiquated, but it’s a really handy little preposition communicating purpose and effect all in two syllables!

Spiritual usage: “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness…” Romans 10:10

IHOPer usage: “I bought some cilantro today unto making some really sweet tacos this weekend.”

2. Fullness

Fullness of time/joy/God/Gentiles… the Bible is all about fullness, and it certainly sounds pretty big and epic.

Spiritual usage: “…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” Ephesians 3:19

IHOPer usage: “You have to tell us the fullness of the story about your Hebrew tattoo.”

3. Tender

General warm fuzzies, except when Mike Bickle says it.

Spiritual usage: “The most valuable thing I possess is a tender heart before Jesus.” -Mike Bickle

IHOPer usage: “Aw, I always get so tender when I watch Pride & Prejudice.”

4. Forerunner

The quintessential IHOP word. Used once in the Bible (Hebrews 6:20), and 50 times in everything IHOPKC does ever.

Spiritual usage: “End-time forerunners can find inspiration and instruction from New Testament forerunners like John the Baptist.” -Mike Bickle

IHOPer usage: “You were totally the forerunner of watching Doctor Who, and now we all watch it.”

5. Carry your heart

What your attitude or “heart posture” is about something.

Spiritual usage: “I’m convinced if we beheld what David beheld about God, we would live as he lived, and we would carry our hearts before God as he did.” – Mike Bickle

IHOPer usage: “But if the Doctor had carried his heart better about being alone in series four, the whole Waters of Mars fiasco would never have happened.”

6. Antiphonalize

If you’ve taken harp and bowl training, you have no trouble pronouncing this word correctly and using it in casual conversation.

Spiritual usage: “We antiphonalize the prayers by singing responsively just like the angels do in heaven.”

IHOPer usage: “Listen to the cicadas antiphonalize from this tree to that tree!”

7. Provoke

Saying that your friend is a really “provoking” man/woman of God is the highest compliment you can give. And of course, it’s just as likely to be used out of context as well.

Spiritual usage: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” Hebrews 10:24 KJV

IHOPer usage: “My roommate is so good with coupons; she really provokes me to be better about finding deals!”

8. Let the reader understand.

This was how the gospel writers spelled 😉 in Greek. We love it. (Seriously, search #letthereaderunderstand on Instagram.)

Spiritual usage: “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Mark 13:14

IHOPer usage: “Royals game with my really, really good friend David! 😉 #letthereaderunderstand <3″

9. Season

We kind of take “for everything there is a season” literally.

Spiritual usage: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

IHOPer usage: “I’m just in a season right now of only drinking artisan coffee.”

10. Effectual

For when the word “effective” just isn’t mature-sounding enough. (I think we got this from 1 Corinthians 16:9, but it’s not NKJV, so… who’s been reading from an 1850s Bible on the prayer mic?)

Spiritual usage: “God, let a wide and effectual door be opened to preach Your word among the Muslims!”

IHOPer usage: “I’m just trying to find the most effectual way to wear my chambray shirt with every single outfit I own.”

11. Amen, let’s stand.

How Mike Bickle always ends a sermon. This superlative version of the classic “amen” is basically the IHOPKC version of *mic drop*. Frequently associated with delicious food.

Spiritual usage: “And that’s why we need to provoke one another in this season to keep our hearts tender before the Lord unto being effectual forerunners unto the fullness of the end of the age. Amen, let’s stand.” -Mike Bickle*

IHOPer usage: “Guess who scored free Chick-Fil-A today!! #amenletsstand

chikfila 2

*Quote may or may not be canon.

EDIT: This post has been getting so many views it’s ridiculous! Thanks for checking it out and sharing on Facebook and Twitter! I blog pretty regularly about a lot of different things, so be sure to subscribe with your email on the right side of this page. Grace and peace. 🙂

Nationwide Corporate HOP Fast

Recently, IHOPKC called a three-day time of prayer and fasting, to focus corporately on praying for breakthrough in our regions and nation. Many of the larger houses of prayer in the nation have committed to join them, and so for the past three days we’ve all been fasting together for God to move. Many of us are focusing specifically on breakthrough in the prayer movement. The corporate nature of this fast is so powerful (and so much fun!). The Prayer Room‘s leadership team and many of the staff are gathering in the prayer room 9am-5pm Monday,Tuesday, and Wednesday to cry out together. Also. I’ve been seeing many of my friends in Kansas City as well as at houses of prayer across the nation post pictures of their prayer rooms interceding together.

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly.” Joel 2:15

This is an unprecedented movement of unity within the prayer movement. Many of the leaders have been texting each other updates and encouragements from our respective prayer rooms. Private prayer is powerful, but there’s something unique about God’s people gathering together in unity to fast and pray.

I felt this fast impact my heart personally as well. On today, the final day, which is normally supposed to be my day off, I decided to come and do a full 18 hour day in the prayer room. The corporate fasting hours were from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm., but the prayer room opens at 5:00 a.m. and closes at 11:00 p.m, and today I was there for all 18 hours.

5:00 a.m. intercession for houses of prayer.

5:00 a.m. intercession for houses of prayer.

I arrived at about 5:05 a.m. (I know, boo, I missed the opening prayer!!) and was one of a whopping four people in the room for the morning intercession set (or rather “petition set”, which around here is like a mini intercession set). Shockingly, I had so much joy and grace in waking up at 4:00 a.m., and I loved the sweetness of “awakening the dawn with my song”–not because I had to, but because I chose to. I got to pray on the mic for the houses of prayer across the nation, and looking at the list of locations on the screen, I actually felt connected to many of them. I have friends in several locations and I’ve heard stories about almost all of them. Knowing that they were also praying and fasting with us during these three days made the connection all the sweeter.

Corporate prayer is a beautiful, beautiful thing. This fast has made me so grateful for the community I’m in – at TPR, at “home” in Kansas City, and more broadly in the global prayer movement as a whole. God really knew what He was doing when He told us to gather and do this thing together. There is a rich sweetness and power in lifting our voices and crying out to our Father together.

This 24/7 prayer movement is the dream of His heart. All of these houses of prayer belong to Him. He will build His house, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.”
Malachi 1:11

“These I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
Isaiah 56:7

Blog Remodel!

Hello, friends! This is just an update to draw your attention to certain new features on my blog.

The new Partner With Me page at the top provides details on why you should prayerfully consider partnering with me financially and how you can do so.

The new IHOPKC FAQ page at the top answers the most common questions I’ve gotten about IHOP. The individual IHOPU and OTI FAQs that used to be at the top are now housed underneath the IHOPKC FAQ. This just makes everything more streamlined and allows me to provide more information while being less overwhelming. Everybody wins!

Most excitingly, the brand new My Story page at the top contains my life testimony. I’ve shared pieces of this before, but this is the first time I’ve ever made the whole thing public. I hope it blesses you.

Grace and peace,


How to Buy and Sell Used Textbooks Online

How to buy used textbooks online

This isn’t the normal kind of thing I post on my blog, but it’s almost that time of year again, (and I did reference my textbook buying exploits a while ago) so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve found so helpful. I graduated from Azusa Pacific University two years ago after transferring in from community college, and am now doing summer online classes in preparation for attending ministry school at International House of Prayer University in Fall 2013. That’s three colleges, around 50 classes, and around 150 textbooks. My parents raised me to be thrifty, so I’ve developed a bit of a system for getting the best deal on books, both in buying and in selling. Here are a few of the tips that have helped me and my family save hundreds of dollars on textbooks:

  1. Shop early. As soon as you get your class list and know what books you’ll need, start looking. Prices go up the longer you wait. This also allows plenty of time for your books to arrive.
  2. Compare, compare, compare! Open a word document or an email to yourself where you can keep track of the books you need and their ISBNs (trust me, you’ll be copying and pasting those ISBNs often!), and all the prices you find with links so you can easily hop back to those pages.
  3. Bigwords.com is your new best friend. This website is pretty much all you need. It will automatically compare prices on all the major sites, plus a few you probably haven’t heard of before. I’ve tried several price comparison websites, and this one is truly the best.
  4. See if your college has an “Underground Bookstore” Facebook page. This will be a place where students post what they have to sell or what they’re looking for. You can meet up on campus to make an exchange!
  5. Find out if you reeeeaally need the newest edition of a book. For textbooks, probably yes, for classics, probably not. Just make sure it has all the material. (Some books you can even read online for free!)
  6. Don’t rely on your college bookstore, but DO factor it into your price comparison. Sometimes, wonder of wonders, their used prices are actually cheaper than online.
  7. Make sure you calculate in shipping! 9 times out of 10, online prices are low enough that shipping won’t deter you, but do check. Half.com’s shipping for books is $3.49, compared to $3.99 on Amazon. (Remember that if you buy something locally, either from a student or the bookstore, you won’t have to pay shipping at all.)
  8. Pay attention to seller stats. Look for good ratings, and if possible you want someone semi-local. I always feel more comfortable buying from a “real person” rather than a big company, because in my experience their description of the book’s condition will be more accurate and helpful.
  9. Be flexible on condition. Yes, you want a nice book, but how nice do you need it to be? I very rarely buy “Acceptable” books, but I’m perfectly comfortable with “Good.” Although, if it looks like a good book you might want to keep, splurge the extra dollar or so and get a “Very Good.
  10. Other options, which I have never tried, include renting textbooks, sharing with fellow students, and photocopying/scanning a textbook. I would not recommend renting. It will be cheaper on the front end, but you won’t be able to earn back your money by selling the book afterwards.

How to sell used textbooks online

Now it’s time to do it all in reverse! A few things you’ll want to remember:

  1. Plan your timing carefully. The best time to list is a few weeks before a new semester when everyone is shopping for textbooks and prices are competitive. BUT, you don’t want to wait so long that a new edition comes out and a $70 textbook now sells for $3. Don’t repeat my mistakes.
  2. Again, Bigwords.com is God’s gift to college students. Best of all, they offer comparisons on online buyback sites as well as sites like Half.com and Amazon! These buyback sites are great, but be careful. Don’t be tempted by fast cash if there’s a reasonable possibility that your book will eventually sell elsewhere for a lot more.
  3. Some buyback sites offer store credit. Don’t do it. Who knows whether you’ll ever actually use it? For example, ecampus.com might offer you $10.00 in store credit for a book, but only $8.00 in cash. Make sure you’re comparing the lower price, since Bigwords.com will only show you the higher price. Also, some buyback sites, such as Textbooks.com, only accept a $10 minimum buyback. It might be worth it to sell all your books through them to get over the $10, or it might not.
  4. The best thing about these buyback sites, though: FREE SHIPPING! They give you a label to print out and all you have to do is take it to the post office (or UPS store, on some sites like Textbooks.com).
  5. Most of the time, your choice of listing will come down to either Amazon or Half.com. Unless the price is widely different, my advice is to go with Half.com every time. Why? Amazon takes rather outrageous commissions, about 18%. Half.com takes only about 15-12%, depending on the price of your item.
  6. Most people only shop on the major sites, like Amazon and Half.com. You might be able to list for higher prices on more “fringe” websites, but keep in mind that pretty much everyone will have already looked at the lower prices on the big sites.
  7. Take a good look at your book’s condition, and assess whether it’s Like New, Very Good, Good, or Acceptable. Most of my books get listed as Very Good. Never go for Acceptable unless the book is falling apart and/or has a lot of notes inside.
  8. Write a brief description of your book’s condition. The goal is to be honest, but positive. Details are good. Be professional, but try to sound like a real person, not like a big company that sells used textbooks by the hundreds. I often describe my books with something like, “Great condition! Clean pages, tight binding. No notes or highlighting. Some shelf wear and sticker on back.” This sounds like I’ve examined it carefully, I’m confident in what I’m selling, and I’m not afraid to let you know of any minor defects that you probably don’t care about anyway. This builds trust with the buyer.
  9. Look at the other used prices for the item before you list. I always list my book for about 50 cents lower than the lowest price, unless it’s in exceptionally good condition and I think I can be competitive at a higher price.
  10. Once you make your sale, ship it promptly with the packing slip included, and then leave feedback on your buyer to encourage them to leave feedback for you! The better your ratings are, the more trust you’ll have earned for your next selling season.

What tricks have you learned to save money on books?

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