PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2021
by Karen Pavlicin, Publisher, Elva Resa Publishing —
Communicate what’s special about your book to help sales reps and buyers better understand your market so they can make informed buying decisions.
An effective sales packet communicates what’s special about your book and helps sales reps and buyers better understand your market so they can make informed buying decisions. Trade sales conferences and national trade account meetings take place several months before a book’s publication date, so creating your sales packet is one of your first tasks in the sales cycle. Once you create your essential sheets as a foundation, your sales packet can easily be adapted for use in media kits and consumer sales materials.
Gather Your Information
Before you begin creating your materials, gather in one place everything you need to effectively represent each book, including:
About the Book
- Book overview (title, subtitle, author/illustrator/translator, log line, brief description)
- Book cover
- Book ID block (ISBN, publication date, category, audience, format, trim size, page count, price)
- Subsidiary rights (available or sold)
- Exceptional advance reviews
- Unique or special features (themes, illustrative elements, unique format, special uses or applications, other distinguishing features)
- Interior samples (table of contents, sample chapter/excerpts, illustrations, or sample spreads)
- If it is a new edition, what is new or updated from the previous edition
- Series or companion product information, if applicable
- Initial print run
About the Author
- Author photo
- Bio, expert credentials, awards
- Other publications, previous sales history
- Notable events
- Author platform, social media
About the Audience and Market
- Unique or interesting facts about your readers or community
- Interesting facts about your content, or facts that demonstrate a need/demand for your book
- Comparable and competitive titles, including sales of previous editions or books by same author
- Marketing and publicity plans (campaign info, author tour, marketing/advertising budget)
- Geographic regions, organizations, or special venues with high interest
About the Publisher and Distributor
- Publisher/imprint specialty, logo, website, social media
- Distributor ordering information
- Direct PR and sales contacts, phone, email, online store
As you gather your information, it’s helpful to create both a trade and consumer version of book descriptions, features, and bios. The trade version focuses on data to facilitate placement, trade orders, and key partnerships. The consumer version is used for catalog copy and online listings, focusing on what the book means to the reader. If you use a distributor, you’ll want to include both versions in your metadata so the trade copy will be seen by trade buyers in industry databases such as Edelweiss (the primary sales tool for trade accounts), and the consumer copy will feed to bookseller sites where end readers shop. In addition to uploading the information you’ve gathered to distributor and wholesaler databases, you’ll want to create a sharable sales packet for each book.
Understand How Essential Materials Will Be Used
Your sales packet should include standard sales materials, such as a sales sheet, as well as supplemental materials, such as summary sheets for comps, facts, and reviews, that differentiate your title and help a salesperson or buyer gain insight into your audience and market. Understanding how these sales materials will be used can help you create the most effective sales packet.
A sales sheet, also called a tip sheet, provides basic book, author, publisher, and distributor information, along with the book’s most compelling selling points. This one-pager forms the foundation of your sales packet. A sales sheet is universally used throughout the industry: distributors, major book reviewers, buyers, and media all use the sales sheet to consider preordering or reviewing forthcoming titles.
Trade buyers use your sales sheet to familiarize themselves with your book, its differentiating features, and where it fits in the market. Upload your sales sheet to your distributor portal or Edelweiss catalog, as well as your website. A sales sheet is often used alongside a press release, comps sheet, and other supplemental information as part of a full sales packet or media kit.
- See the March/April 2020 issue of IBPA Independent for details about creating and adapting a sales sheet.
Sales teams and trade buyers use comparable and competitive titles as a sales data point to inform initial preorders and anticipate replenishment inventory.
They look up sales history of comps in BookScan as well as how well those books sold in specific bookstores or markets, such as the education or library market. The goal is to make sure buyers place enough inventory of your book to meet demand at launch, with relative assurance they can sell through that inventory in the first 30-45 days to limit returns.
Since comps are used to set realistic expectations and inform an appropriate quantity to buy, it’s important to select comps that fit your book in spirit and anticipated performance. This is not the time to compare your book to the latest bestseller from a large New York publisher.
Selecting good comps is an art, but following a few guidelines helps:
- If your book has a previous format or edition, or is the next book in a series, list that as the first comp.
- If it’s a stand-alone new book, then list other similar books by the same author, or similar books published by your company
- Next, look for comps from other independent publishers of comparable size and position in the marketplace. Select
books published within the last three years, in the same format as your book and language, within $5 of your retail price, and in the same BISAC category as your book. List the most relevant comp first, as that may auto-feed into buyers’ databases. Include at least three comps, preferably six to 10, so the sales team has multiple data points to discuss with different types of buyers. On your comps summary sheet, list each comp book’s ISBN, title, author, publisher, format, price, publication date, and how it compares to your book.
A fact sheet with statistics about your book’s topic, primary reader, environmental factors, or current events influencing the need for your book can be used by the sales team to help buyers better understand your audience, content, and potential market for your book. Put the facts in context, show the relevance to your book, and be sure to list your sources.
Reviews influence more than readers online. Buyers want to know who is endorsing the book and what they found compelling about it.
Select reviews that point out the book’s key differentiators, emotional impact, or impressions not captured in the other sales materials. Highlight starred industry reviews. List the best or most relevant reviews first. In addition to industry reviews, you may want to include quotes from prominent influencers (include their credentials), key organizations, and popular authors of comp titles.
Use ellipses so you can quote the most relevant and compelling points in the reviews and present a variety of comments. The overall impression of this sheet should leave the buyer with a sense of excitement, endorsement, and why readers will buy this book.
Now that you’ve gathered all this amazing information and understand how it will be used with trade buyers, you can also adapt your sales materials for a variety of other marketing and business development uses, such as:
- Conference presentation slides
- Potential partner meetings
- Advance reviewer submissions
- Media pitches and press kits
- Website downloads
- Trade shows
- Subsidiary rights fairs
- Direct mailings
Additional information sheets can enhance and expand your sales packet to form a more comprehensive media kit. Examples of helpful additional sheets beyond the sales sheet, comps, facts, and reviews include:
- Book announcement/press release
- Reader profile
- Launch campaign details
- Author details sheet (expanded bio, FAQs, expert quotes that can be used in articles)
- Table of contents
- Excerpts or sample chapters that represent key features or illustration style
- Interior picture book or activity book spreads
- Additional fact sheets
- Current event facts that illustrate the timeliness, importance, and relevancy of the book
- Media story ideas, tips, and sidebars
- Media clips of author interviews or articles
- Upcoming events and media slots</li?
- Multimedia supplements, such as behind-the-scenes interviews or video book trailers
As these materials are developed, update your Edelweiss listing and let sales reps know about author events so they can make sure the book will be in stock near the event.
You’ve worked hard to create your best possible book. A compelling sales packet equips sales reps, buyers, booksellers, and other industry professionals with the right information to make informed decisions about the best way to sell it!
Karen Pavlicin is the publisher of Elva Resa Publishing, a traditional publisher specializing in resources for and about military families, and owner of Military Family Books, an independent bookstore and wholesaler specializing in bulk sales to the military and education markets. Pavlicin serves on the IBPA Board of Directors and Executive Committee.