What to Include in an Advanced Information Sheet
As an author, you will often find yourself promoting your books in multiple ways at the same time. You might send advanced reader copies to suitable reviewers to ensure a high number of positive online reviews are posted on launch week. At the same time, you might also pitch bloggers and podcast hosts for the opportunity to reach their audiences. You might also email, call or visit indie bookstores with an impassioned explanation as to why your titles would prove to be popular in their store to try and get it stocked on their shelves.
Initially, it might appear that you need to prepare unique pitches for each of these scenarios. However, the reality is that much of the relevant information overlaps and so can be organised in one place and attached to a succinct, tailor-made email. In traditional publishing, that place is the Advanced Information (AI) sheet – a one-page document that someone at a publishing house (usually the editor) prepares before a book’s launch. This can be used by marketers, distributors, salespeople and the author themselves as a handy reference of all the book’s necessary information. Creating one yourself could save you time re-explaining book details whenever you pitch industry experts and organisations.
If you want your AI sheet to be effective, however, remember that it needs all of the necessary information. It can be updated if anything changes – say, if the book becomes a New York Times bestseller – but that won’t take long. As long as you have a comprehensive template for each of your titles that covers most bases, your AI sheet will make promoting them far easier and more efficient. Read on for today’s blog post on which key details to include in an AI sheet.
Book Cover and Description
Certain details are vital to share, whether you’re selling the idea of your book to a potential reviewer, interviewer, bookseller or distributor. They need them to get a feel for the work and to be able to relay information about it without having to read it themselves. The cover is a good place to start. An effective one that fits the genre will sell itself and help industry experts make quick decisions about whether the work is something they want to represent. The answer could be “no” but that’s okay too because, by enabling a speedy path to a decision, you will allow yourself more time to focus on people who are excited about the project.
After the cover, you should also include standard publishing details like your pen name and the book’s sales description. Yes, if you’re sending a contact a pitch via email then you could direct the recipient to Amazon for these details. But not every contact – booksellers, for examples – will react favourably to seeing an Amazon link. On top of that, if your AI sheet is printed and handed over a bookstore counter, your contact might not have full internet access on their work computer and so wouldn’t be able to visit the website. Including the description in full will make it easier for them while selling the book on your behalf.
About the Author
Pitching is as much about selling you as your book. A potential podcast host or TV interviewer will want to know a bit about the content so they can chat about it confidently in front of their audience, but they’ll likely be more interested in what makes you uniquely equipped to write it. If you’ve written a police procedural, this is the section where you should include that you were a homicide detective for 20 years. Or if your book is about addiction, perhaps your personal recovery story could make an appearance.
Outlining your interesting experiences will hook your contact, but showing evidence that you can also talk captivatingly on your subject will make you stand out further. The easiest way to do so is to reference publications that have already interviewed you. Include links to video or audio interviews if you can to add even more gravitas. Something recognisable is best. An interview in Forbes magazine or on the BBC always catches attention. If booksellers are reading your AI sheet, knowing that you’ve made appearances on such credible platforms will cause them to take your work more seriously. A podcaster or YouTuber, meanwhile, will know that you have experience with the media and should come across well in a recorded environment.
Omitting your book’s admin details and metadata will only make the job of industry experts harder and could be a factor that leads to rejection. So don’t forget to include them. For example, if you’re pitching professional book reviewers then you’ll want to include your novel’s page or word count. That way, they will be able to gauge roughly how long it will take to read your ebook and can plan their schedule accordingly. And for interviewers, you might want to include the book’s ASIN so they can look it up on Amazon to see the reviews before deciding if they want to promote it to their audience.
To appeal to booksellers and librarians, you should note a paperback ISBN and some trade distribution channels through which they can purchase your book at a wholesale price. KDP and similar portals offer free ISBNs but you will need to buy your own to go down this route. That’s because these platforms don’t currently offer the standard 40% discount booksellers need to make a profit. Not only that, they don’t currently distribute to ecosystems that booksellers use to track and order stock. To maximise your chances of book trade professionals wanting to work with you, include a paid-for ISBN and show that your book is listed with trade distributors.
Some industry professionals prefer not to take a chance on books that don’t already have a proven track record. The way to win these people over is to show them key metrics that grab their attention: namely, social proof. This is just a jargon term that refers to any impressive facts or figures that indicate that something is already popular. Examples include sales figures, accolades, chart positions and glowing reviews. The more impressive the figures and accolades, the better.
Has your book sold 100,000 copies? This would be a good place to mention it. If it’s new, have you collectively sold 100,000 copies as an author? Are you a New York Times bestseller? Has the title ranked number one in the Kindle Store? Does it have 1000 glowing reviews on Goodreads? Could you share a few to show what readers are saying in terms of the story’s quality and tone? This strategy will work even better if the person reading your AI sheet recognises the name of a person or institution that provided a review. All of these eye-catching metrics for success can help to convert more contacts into ambassadors for your book.
Author Contact Details
Some people will never get back to you if they have to search for your contact details themselves. As such, at the very least, you should add your email address and website URL if you have one. If you have social media channels then include them too so that contacts can reach you on their preferred channel. This tactic will also double your efforts to provide social proof if you have a Facebook business page or Twitter handle with several thousand followers. Consider them a closing remark to improve your chances of scoring an active partnership.
You don’t have to include a phone number because most people in the industry work digitally these days. Plus, some authors like to separate their professional contacts on email from the personal friends and family they call so that they don’t get work calls at all hours of the day and night. A balance is necessary, for sure. You’ll want to offer enough options to make you easy to contact but few enough to maintain your own sanity. Strike the right balance and an effective AI sheet can sell your work on your behalf and expand your network at a rapid rate.
Adding an AI sheet to emails or handing them out in person will definitely improve the efficiency of your marketing and networking processes. Not only will it save you a considerable chunk of time writing long proposals, but by covering the basics it will also allow you to focus more energy on the few personal touches that build rapport, meaning you can build better relationships and spend more time writing.
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