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Pitching a book with a selling sheet

July 3, 2022
Posted by:
Ron Seybold

Once your book has arrived at proofreading, it’s time to be pitching it for discovery. You use a selling sheet, something that turns the crank on your pitches for promotion and review. Think of it as a kind of press release. It’s got a block for book description copy (your summary that you created) plus a block for the advance praise (your endorsements) a bio block, and a book metadata block. The selling sheet always includes the cover and often an author photo.

The selling sheet will go out with the Ingram physical copies you’ll send send to Booklist, Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal. You can add Foreword magazine to your list. Those are the Big Five of mainstream pre-publication sources; they’re worth a shot.

Everybody wants to be discovering a book that’s a few months away from release. I get notices from Big Five publicity campaigns at least a couple of months in advance of release. The editors who get these book pitches from authors and publishers need time to read the book, so four months out is a good target.

Pitching the majors

Fresh Air gets 300 books a week to consider. Listeners hear from maybe two authors a week. Even if we say three, that’s 150 books a year against 15,000 submitted. It’s always worth a shot at the one percent. Few Fresh Air books are author-published. Yours can be the exception.

The Washington Post and the New York Times carry some weight and they run many more reviews. They have a massive tilt toward traditionally-published books. They’d be worth a shot. That four-month mark matters there.

Pre-publication reviews from the mainstream are rare for author-published books. You never get a hit for the times you don’t go up to bat, though. And working up your pitch pays off in many places besides the mainstream. You could land a podcast guest slot.

No matter where you’re at in the process, or whether you’ve got a publisher or not, you’ll be building a pre-publication target list for your discovery pitches. People sometimes call this promotion. Think up some places where a book like yours would get its notice.


Photo by Jose Francisco Morales on Unsplash

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