April 5

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What is a Sell Sheet and Why Do Authors Need One?

By Nancy Cavillones

April 5, 2022

#authorskills, #indieauthors, book marketing, book selling, one-sheet, sell sheets

Sell sheets provide details about your book to help you encourage retailers, libraries, wholesalers, and others to add it to their ordering plans. 

Other names for sell sheets you might hear are: 

  • Info Sheet
  • Fact Sheet
  • One-Sheet
  • Dealer Sheet
  • Pub Sheet

The sell sheet is a tool that helps retailers see how your book can help them reach, engage and satisfy their customers. The sell sheet can help us achieve our goals for sales, reviews and promotion, but it is also a powerful tool for working with retailers and buyers.

We recently gathered with our Ingenium Books authors to talk about sell sheets and answer all their questions about using them! Take a listen to our conversation, and keep reading for the major take-aways. (You can also watch a recording of our session at the end of this blog post!)

As authors, we are often reluctant to talk up our books, and ourselves. Sell sheets help us get over this discomfort and give retailers what they need to know in order to position your book in their store. Retailers are in the business of giving readers what they want, and this sell sheet helps retailers in that endeavour. 

Sell sheets are also validating! Not every author has one, so having a sell sheet, and one that is well-designed, makes you stand out. It also shows a level of professionalism that buyers and retailers will appreciate and respect. 

This sales document is a beautiful “leave behind” that builds relationships and strategic partnerships and extends the conversation. 

What Should You Include On Your Sheet?

A sell sheet must contain all the information that a potential book buyer needs in order to add your book. 

  • Book cover image: This should be a high resolution, high quality JPG of the front of the book. This can be a flat image or 3D rendering of the cover. 
  • Description of the book: This can be a brief synopsis or drawn from the actual sales copy of the book. 
  • About the Author: Your bio should be brief, and including an author photo is optional. 
  • Endorsements and Awards/Accolades: You can think of this as your social proof that your book has garnered positive attention. 
  • Marketing information: It is helpful to include details about targeted promotions or activities that have a wide reach, to let the retailer know that word about your book is getting out there, and you can drive traffic to bookstores. 
  • Contact information: besides your email address, be sure to include your social media handles. If you have a publicist, you may want to include their contact information as well. 
  • Comp titles: it’s helpful to include a few comp titles as well, to help the retailer think about where the book would be placed in their store. 
  • Purchasing information: Be sure to include all the information that will help retailers find and order your book. 
    • Publishing imprint
    • Publication Date
    • ISBN numbers for all formats in which your book is available
    • Trim size
    • Page count
    • Retail price for all formats
    • Whether a bulk discount is available
    • Ordering information. If your book is sold to the trade via a distributor, show that. Otherwise, let retailers know your book can be ordered from IngramSpark or include the phrase “Available Wherever Books are Sold.” 

But here’s an important tip for sell sheets: Do not tell retailers that your book is available on Amazon. That is a sure-fire way to shut down a relationship with an independent retailer! You’ll also want to note whether your book is returnable, and what the wholesale discount is, keeping in mind that most retailers expect a discount of 50% to 55%.

Tanya Hackney, the award-winning author of Leaving the Safe Harbor, says she also staples her business card to the sheet, and keeps some on hand to provide to potential retailers, which is a great way to make the interaction more personal.

How To Use Your Sell Sheet

Don’t let your sell sheet gather dust in a box! Beyond bringing them with you to speak to a store’s book buyer, here are some ideas:

  1. Did you know that most libraries will accept patron recommendations, even your own? Stop into your local library with a copy of your sell sheet and let the librarian know you’d like to recommend a book for purchase. You can even do this while you’re travelling, if you have a chance to stop in to a library wherever you happen to be. 
  2. When sending a copy of your book to a potential reviewer, include your sell sheet in your mailing. Just fold it up and stick inside the front cover. 
  3. Bring your sell sheet along when attending a professional conference designed for your target audience. This is a brilliant strategy for non-fiction authors, especially. We don’t recommend just papering every surface with your sell sheet — instead, when you connect with someone, and they ask about your book, you can hand them a sell sheet. 
  4. Don’t forget about your launch team! They need accurate information about your book, and your sell sheet is a great way for them to have all that information in one place. 
  5. Add your sell sheet to your website as a downloadable, for anyone that is interested in taking away information about you and your book. 

Another tip: you can also create versions of your sell sheets for specific purposes. For example, for speaking opportunities, you can include your speaking topics, leave off much of the purchasing information and include the sell sheet with your pitch.

Need a sell sheet of your own? Grab our template, free! Just fill out the form below:

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