grayscale photo of man standing while writing in book

The Sell Sheet: Why You Need a Resume for Your Book

What’s a Sell Sheet and why do you need one?

One of the ways people get to know authors is through our resumes. When dealing with large book shows, retailers and library lists authors are fortunate that we can develop resumes for our books, as well.

Just like a ‘help wanted’ posting can generate a great deal of incoming correspondence there are times that bookstore owners and other large buyers receive a major inflow of catalogs and other information about new releases. A good sell sheet is a whole lot easier to scan through than an entire catalog and, as with any sales effort, our job is to make the buyer’s job as easy and hassle-free as possible.

The author sell sheet is an important tool in your book sales arsenal. Sometimes called a one-sheet or a sales flier, it contains — on a single page —  all a bookseller (or buyer) needs to know about your book.

Of course that’s something that could come in handy for individual readers, too. You might consider creating two versions: one for booksellers that has a broad, industry focus, and another for consumers that has a slightly different approach for individual readers at book festivals, book clubs and other general uses.

In any case, this is a place to put your best foot forward. Sometimes authors are reluctant to engage in their own marketing so we will remind you to include a clear call to action.

The purpose of either version of your sell sheet is to encourage the reader to order the book.

What information helps book buyers to make a decision?

Your sell Sheet Should include…

  • Overview: book title, subtitle, author and/or other contributor, logline, and a brief description (no more than 150 words)
  • High resolution book cover image
  • Book identification information: ISBN, category, formats available with price information for each, trim size and page count of print version, publication date, rights available, distributor or direct sales information
  • Reviews: one or two short quotations from your best reviews
  • Comparables: any competitive information to help show where your book fits into the market (particularly helpful for bookstore managers and agents)
  • Author bio and high resolution headshot: Include credentials, awards or other information that supports your work and/or subject area expertise
  • Marketing: Events, tours or advertising campaigns from which a bookseller could benefit
  • Publisher, logo and contact information

assorted-title novel book lot

What if your Sell Sheet works?

What if they like it? Of course they’re going to like it — so getting ready for when your sell sheet draws some interest is your next step.

You may be contacted and asked for additional information. For this happy occasion, you should be ready with a packet of more detailed information including:

  • A more detailed author bio
  • Audience profile: Who is your ideal reader? Include gender, age, geography, prevalence, etc. Whatever you do, please do not pitch your book as one “for everybody.” That most often leads to “for nobody.”
  • Excerpts from the book that are representative of its style and content
  • Reviews: 5 or 6 of your best listed on a single page
  • Book press release or announcement
  • Media clips, such as author interviews and event coverage
  • Links to your website and social media profiles

The Amelia Indie Authors private library contains some member Sell Sheet samples that you may use to help you create your own. If you haven’t yet joined us and you use MS Word, look in the templates as a starting place. Photoshop also has them. There is a crisp and clean resume template designed by MOO as well as several in Pages for Mac. Any one of these could be adapted easily.

If you’d like help, our co-op encourages members to provide critique to one another. And, if you’re still reluctant? Amelia Indie Authors can recommend a trusted provider create one for you.

##

 

Go ahead. Tell the little birdie — you know you want to.

 

What’s a Sell Sheet and why do you need one? Click To Tweet

A good sell sheet is a whole lot easier to scan through than an entire catalog and our job is to make the buyer’s job as easy and hassle-free as possible. Click To Tweet

Sometimes authors are reluctant to engage in their own marketing so we will remind you to include a clear call to action. Click To Tweet

You Can’t Launch in a Pandemic: 2 Disagree

textCan you still launch a book during a pandemic?

We’ve got two accomplished indie authors who show it can be done.

After spending all the time, effort, and money required to publish a book, no author wants to release it to the public when it’s likely to land with a silent thud. Promoting a book during a pandemic might seem like a non-starter in terms of drawing an audience. But that doesn’t have to be true if you’re smart about your timing, and use your contacts and technology to your advantage.

Two authors associated with Amelia Indie Authors launched their books successfully during 2020. Co-op member Esther Jantzen released her children’s book, and Donna Overly, a client, released the first book in her second ‘Knot’ series. Both found their efforts worthwhile, and shared their experiences with us.

Contacts from Around the World

Esther’s book, WALK: Jamie Bacon’s Secret Mission on the Camino de Santiago, is a travel adventure mystery written for grades 5 – 9. It’s a tale about the missteps, adventures, and heroism of an 11-year-old American boy who walks the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain with his home-schooling family.

Her book launch relied largely on Zoom — the platform many of us have come to know well over the past several months. She wisely had two people helping her with content and technology, and invited her contacts from all over the world, resulting in 54 participants.

I had a very good Mistress of CeremoniesLinda Heiderera long-time friend who loves to be on stage, teach and communicate. We have Camino connections; her enthusiasm and respect for the book really carried the day,” Esther said. “Linda insisted on a script for the launch—which at first I resisted, but in the end, I found it really helped the flow and allowed me to say what I wanted to say. We went through three or four drafts to get it to the place where it was presentable.”

Tech Support to the Rescue

She also hired a technical helper so that she and Linda could focus on content. “It’s wonderful to have someone admit people to the Zoom space, conduct the poll, spotlight other speakers, call on participants with raised hands, put up visuals, and make sure there’s a recording. That was invaluable!

Esther thought about how to keep the event engaging and involve participants. This included having her grandkids do the readings—appropriate since it is a children’s bookand a Two Truths and a Lie’ Q&A game which people responded to via Zoom’s polling feature. This broke up the speaker parts while transferring information about her book, and it gave participants something to do.

I actually hired a very, very expensive coach because I really had no idea how to do a launch. She’s the one who came up with the idea of having my grandchildren read, and helped me figure out the things I needed to communicate up front. The game was my idea, and if there’d been more time, it would have been fun to play more.

Esther provided all participants with a graphic poster to share, and asked them to support her efforts by promoting the book to their own contacts.

Drama, Suspense, Romance

Donna’s book, The Shackle, continues the King family saga from her first trilogy, and is also a stand-alone novel mixing the elements of drama, suspense, and romance against a backdrop of human trafficking.

She struggled with the timing of her book launch, thinking that if she delayed her launch until the pandemic was under control via a vaccine, she’d be able to benefit from direct sales during a book tour.

red and white UNKs restaurantWithout knowing how long the pandemic would last and knowing that I have goal to release one book a year, I honored my timeline. Studies show that people are reading more with the pandemic and the stay-at-home, isolation, quarantine, and social distancing.

By proceeding with her launch plans, she could make her book available online to those readers much sooner than if she had decided to wait.

Donna also used technology to advantage during a limited launch event at a local bookstore. Only 20 people could attend, wearing masks and social distancing, but the event was live-streamed on Facebook for virtual participants, and was recorded for later use in promotions.

Goodreads Give-away

Meanwhile, she continued her list of traditional marketing activities, which included her website, blog posts, e-mail newsletters, and Facebook posts. “I launched a give-away through GoodReads, promoting it 10 days ahead. I chose the dates and the number of copies I would be giving away. There were three winners. I got 800 people to sign up, so that is marketing to 800 folks,” Donna said.

She also attempted a book signing at a local bookstore on a main thoroughfare. “I feel that the mask limits interaction with people on the street, making it harder to initiate a conversation. I did this one day and sold no books, but I will be doing it again.

More people have bought my book online since they realized that I could not get to them on a tour. I still hope to be able to tour in Pennsylvania and Texas with my book in 2021. Maybe waiting until the fall I will have another book to market as well.”

Lessons from Our Pandemic Launchers

And so, what are the lessons we learned from these wise authors?

1. Life goes on, and readers continue to read. Stick to your plans, but be flexible and adjust them according to current situations.
2. Be prepared. Both Esther and Donna did extensive planning and preparation before launching their book.
3. Don’t give up. Even if your book sales aren’t what you hoped for, keep reaching out to your audience, and get to work on the next book.
##

Indies: Does a Personal Brand Help Reach Readers?

How can you create a personal brand and use it to your advantage?

Just as corporations build brands to promote specific products, you can build a brand based on what do you love, why do you do what you do, and the values and aspects about that connect you to your audience.

Your Personal Brand Communicates a Strong Identity

The structure of a personal brand is much the same as corporate branding. First, a strong identity is developed that represents the entity and suggests black and yellow ringed target with dart at the centerthe value a customer would want. If the entity commits to that value and consistently delivers it, customers learn to recognize and trust the entity. Over time, the symbol of the entity can by itself trigger a feeling of trust. And trust, in turn, generates more business.

Corporations typically generate many products. They may have whole families of brands that fall under one overarching brand, like Microsoft or Kraft. As an author, you also may be selling multiple products, but in truth, you are always selling yourself—who you are. You are the creator, the manager, and the face of your brand.

As an author, you may be selling multiple products, but in truth, you are always selling yourself. Click To Tweet

How can a personal brand help you?

Selling books is not easy for independents. You need to reach a lot of people. As much as you might want to or try to, you can’t physically meet thousands of customers and talk to them directly, right?

Your personal brand helps communicate who you are more quickly, broadly and efficiently to the people you do meet. It also makes it possible for your brand to go places you cannot: a poster in a window, an ad in a magazine, your business card, your website and all across the various social media accounts.

When readers approach you at a book signing or book festival, they won’t ask about your book so much as they will ask about you. Maybe they’ll ask why you chose your genre or settings, what led you to write, what is your work style, your inspiration or heritage. They may try to find something quirky in your personality. This is your brand persona, and what readers are looking for to make a personal connection.

Selling books is not easy for independents. You need to reach a lot of people. Click To Tweet

On the basis of your values and personality, and the qualities you bring to your work, readers might give one of your books a try. If they like it, they may buy anything published in your name to continue reading your voice, your style and your command of storytelling. The next thing you know, they’ll be asking you when the next one’s coming out. It’s the consistency of quality that will keep them coming back because they trust that you will deliver.

Personal Brand: it’s not about a logo

Personal branding does not mean that you sit down and design a logo for yourself. I know, designing a logo seems like the fun, easy part of branding. But believe me, good logo design is not easy. What makes a logo effective is the meaning that is embedded in it. The design comes only after the meanings are clearly defined, understood and supported.

The imagery of your brand should be based on serious soul searching and groundwork. Click To Tweet

The imagery of your personal brand should be your last consideration. When properly developed it will be based on serious soul searching and groundwork. Once that is done, the rest of your brand elements fall into place more easily and naturally. You will have a basis on which to make solid decisions and follow them consistently.

And in truth, for an author, your name is your logo. You may choose a pen name, and you may choose a special typeface to consistently show your name in a recognizable way, but remember, it is always yourself you are selling.

##


Nancy Blanton’s award-winning handbook, Brand Yourself Royally in 8 Simple Steps, will guide you through the process of creating your own personal brand. She also provides occasional author workshops and presentations.