After a wonderful Q&A on twitter with the lovely Uclan Publishing Students – I was asked to do a slightly longer post on sales pack and my knowledge of them. Being a graduate of Uclan Publishing and currently working in Children’s book sales – I was delighted to help out. So below is just some of my knowledge of sales packs, the terms/materials and some things that will be helpful to consider if you are tasked to creating a sales pack of sorts. Where is was primarily asked of me by Uclan, I hope any Publishing Student (or someone who is just curious about sales) can benefit from this.
So first, just a few notes on publishers and customers think about before we get onto the sales pack:
I know this may seem obvious but just thought it was worth saying – since working with so many publishers it’s really surprised me just how different they can be – from size, methods, priorities, schedule and list. Every publisher will work differently, this makes learning “publishing” as an industry or topic extremely difficult. Adapting techniques and knowledge to embrace the differences is the challenge. You may learn how to make the perfect sales pack for this one publisher/customer but find the next experience you have of this to be completely different.
It’s also good to mention that not everything in a sales pack (or from a certain publisher) would suit each customer. This is where the difference between pack, presentation and kit comes into play. A kit or pack – is what I can create for the monthly (or periodic) releases containing all that is necessary to sell these titles. A presentation is what sales representatives create from this kit that is bespoke for each customer, as not all titles that month/period would suit every customer.
Another consideration is the type of customer – whether this be Wholesaler, bookshop, library supplier, special retailer or export. Not all customers run on the same schedule. Roughly, bookshops work +3 months, wholesaler/library supplier +5 months, export +4 months and specials work on a different schedule altogether. This makes the kits/presentations differ even more as the earlier you present the likelihood of finished materials being ready decreases.
This contains all of the below. AIs and Order form examples can be found on the Bounce website (if you need some inspiration).
By looking at all the AIs in the kits, you can see just how different they can be in the design. The majority all contain the same information: title, series, author info, pub date, dimensions, format, prices, key selling points, blurb, rights, selling info and publisher info. It is worth to also note that it does help for the big titles if there is a summary of proposed marketing and publicity to be included with the sale pack to supplement the AI – a little extra information to really highlight its features will make it stand out.
These are designed for use by both the sales representative and the customer, useful because you can showcase the backlist related to any new title. Order forms can be dynamic as they can be created for flyers, catalogues, whole publisher backlist or monthly (or periodic) new titles. Order forms should contain the title/purpose of the order form, all the information of the distributors (as these differ with different publishers), space for the customer’s information and space down the right-hand side where they can mark what titles they have ordered. This then can be processed to the distributor.
There are so many different types of materials that publishers can create. This depends on their schedule, key titles (more likely to proof and spend more money on), and type of book. For example, you don’t need a blad of a fiction book.
These can be digital or to be printed, really useful for a taste of the artwork and word to picture ratio. They can even be draft spreads and great if the customer wants this info earlier than the print schedule.
Where these aren’t the most useful, they can be used to show the size and dimensions of the product for a customer that is concerned with shelf/shop space or age-appropriate titles.
Basic Layout and Design. These are used for picture books and do what the name suggests. They show the basic layout and design that the customer can expect from the finished product – the artwork, story, and size. They aren’t usually bound but lots of papers folded together.
A bit like a blad but for a fiction title, these can give a taste of the writing style and age group of a title. They don’t have to be the product dimensions (can be A5/A4 and easy to print) and also can contain more than one book – great to showcase upcoming middle-grade titles for example.
These are useful for pretty much all titles. You can have a proof of a board book just as much as a proof of a fiction title. The cover wouldn’t necessarily be final but similar to that of the final product. If the board book has buttons, flaps etc these are usually included but again, they don’t have to be final. These don’t usually contain any barcode but can contain the sales info so a customer can get in contact if needed.
You might think this the best sales material you can get – but that isn’t always the case. If the final product is quite large, for example, it won’t be practical for a sales representative to carry multiple large hardback advances around with them. It is the best you can present to a customer though, as it is the final product and exactly what they would be buying. Advances are those that have come into the warehouse before the publication date, can be presented to customers and can be used in a simple way to proofs.
Flyers can be used to highlight the backlist (and new titles) that come together to cover a certain theme, celebrate an occasion or highlight the titles in a new season. Usually, a separate order form accompanies this. If a customer wants to do a summer window display or a section on BAME authors for example – these would be perfect!
POS (Point of Sale)
Bookmarks, postcards, activities, bunting, stickers, and standees there are lots of different types of POS. These are an excellent indicator of which titles a publisher really wants to push/highlight. If they spend money on creating these to get the title seen, it’s important to them. Where most publishers go with the usual bookmarks etc occasionally I’ve seen packs of Seeds, signed bookplates, badges. It really depends on what will match the title, the budget and how creative the team are! Just to also note, Libraries and school suppliers love a good poster – brightens up the library and gets the titles noticed!
There is a really important note on POS which I just want to mention: Practicality. Having huge dreams of giant standees in bookshops and heavy packs of activities come with a warning. Not all POS will be practical for all customers. Having a huge standee in a huge Waterstones or museum would be great for them, but then think of a tiny children’s bookshop where space is limited – not so great. Something else to consider is presenting this POS. Is it practical for an area sales representative to carry a 4ft standee around with them across the UK? No – an informative poster describing the POS and what to do to get it would be so much more practical!
Dream big but think practically!
Just a quick note on catalogues – these are so important but they do not belong in a sales pack. Catalogues are great for that first introduction to a customer or updating them on new products when a new catalogue is made. It is something that should be given separately and the customer should already have this by the time a presentation occurs. If you need some examples, the Bounce website is also a great place to look.
Given the current situation, many publishers have created digital activities (examples of these are also on the Bounce website). These are a type of POS that can be used to highlight the value of certain titles, a sample of what the product can be like and showcasing the selling points. Helping children stay entertained but also giving them a taste of publisher’s great products!
I really hope all this information helps – of course, this is all focused on Children’s publishing but hopefully some of this can be translated into other areas too! If you have any more questions – you know where I am!
Just for a bit of nostalgia – here is a picture of my Uclan Publishing Sales Pack in 2017 for Dolphins of the Deep (I remember my paintbrush breaking and I had to finger paint it at 1am – not recommended). My knowledge has progressed so much since then – I didn’t even use the same font!