Question: What are the benefits of having a sell sheet for a book, and what should be included?



All others should develop a sell sheet for their book to assist with placement in bookstores and libraries.A must-have marketing asset in any author’s toolbox is the sell sheet. Also called a one sheet or sales sheet, this document is used to summarize important information about your book. Just as its name signifies, a sell sheet promotes your book and/or you to key decision-makers. It also exemplifies professionalism while giving you a chance to highlight what is most compelling about your work. When done strategically, a sell sheet can be used to get your book placed in retail stores and libraries, secure speaking engagements, garner media attention, and more!

What is a Sell Sheet?

A sell sheet is a one or two-page (front and back), full-color document that includes all of the pertinent information someone needs when reviewing your book for an opportunity. These individuals can include bookstore owners, librarians, journalists, event planners, agents, and many others.

It can be designed as an 8.5” x 11” flyer, or as a bi-fold or tri-fold brochure, and should be easy to print or email a digital copy, depending on the opportunity. Software such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint can be used to create a sell sheet, making it a cost-effective tool that any author can develop. There are even free design platforms such as Canva that offer basic templates to get you started.

A sell sheet is the perfect visual to hand to someone that is looking for more information about you and your book. It is also an essential element of a media kit, and should be included on your website as a downloadable file.

What Should a Sell Sheet Contain?

Different from any other marketing asset in your toolbox, a sell sheet is a blend of both factual data (metadata) about your book and compelling marketing copy. There are certain elements decision-makers are looking for when they receive a sell sheet from an author. It’s likely you will end up with multiple versions that address different needs. For example, when using it to promote your book to a local retail store, you may want to remove where else your book can be purchased. You don’t want to highlight their competition. Or, when using it to secure a speaking engagement, you may want to include any speaking credentials in your About the Author section, or a summary of the topics you can speak about.

At a minimum, you’ll want to ensure your sell sheet includes the following elements:

Book Title / Subtitle: Your book’s title and subtitle (if you have one) should be very prominent on the sell sheet, and can usually be found near the top of the page.

Author Name: Your author name should follow the title/subtitle and can be in a smaller font.

Book Cover Image: A 3-D rendering of your book’s front cover will really make it pop, but a flat image can work as well. Just make sure the image is high resolution and isn’t pixelated or blurry.

Review or Testimonial Excerpt: You’ll want to include an excerpt from at least one stellar review, testimonial, or endorsement. Use this to grab attention and highlight the best parts of your book. If you have an endorsement from someone well-known, be sure to include a snippet.

Book Summary or About the Book: This is your opportunity to hook the person reviewing your sell sheet. Rather than using the book description from the back of your book that is meant to hook readers, focus the content on your elevator pitch and what is most compelling about your book. Who are your target readers, and what are the benefits of reading your book?

About the Author: You’ll want to highlight any credentials, relevant experience, awards or accolades, and other publications. Only include what is relevant to the book and to you as an author.

There are several elements that a book's sell sheet should contain.Book Metadata: This is a list of factual information about your book that is essential for booksellers, librarians, agents, and publishers. It includes your ISBN, LCCN (if trying to get placement in a library), page count, genre categories, format, publisher, publication date, retail price, and wholesale distributor.  

Marketing and Publicity: Most decision-makers will want to know what you are currently doing to promote your work, and what you plan to do to help drive traffic to their store, event, outlet, etc. Are you actively doing book signings, guest blogging, or hosting a podcast? Include at least a few bullet points with your key marketing initiatives.

Website, Socials, and Contact Information: If you have an online presence, be sure to add where you can be found. This includes an author website and any social media platforms where you are active. You’ll also want to include an email address and phone number so that you can easily be contacted about any opportunities.

Where to Purchase: Your book needs to be easy for readers to find and purchase a copy, so it’s important to include this information in all of your marketing materials. As noted above, when you are using your sell sheet for distribution opportunities, you may want to remove this information so that you are not highlighting the competition. They can inquire with you directly if they’d like to know where else it is for sale.

Author Headshot Photo (optional): You don’t have to include a headshot on your sell sheet, but if you have space to include one, make sure it is professional and high quality.

Sell Sheet Design Tips

A sell sheet includes a large amount of information in a limited space, so you must be strategic when determining what gets added and what gets removed. It’s important to go through several revisions before landing on a final design, as every word and element counts. Here are a few tips to make sure your sell sheet does its job effectively:

•  Ensure the layout is easy to read and not too cluttered
•  Use legible typefaces and font sizes for all copy
•  Reflect your branding or use elements from your book cover design and colors
•  Make the margins printable (no bleeds)
•  Don’t forget to thoroughly edit!

A sell sheet is an effective tool to spread the word about your book and secure opportunities to help you reach your goals. You should always have a few copies on hand because you never know who you might run into that will benefit from having a copy.

A sell sheet is a marketing tool that every author should have in their toolbox.Below is a basic Microsoft Word 8.5” x 11” sell sheet template we created to help get you started! It includes all of the pertinent information discussed above, and the colors, typefaces, font sizes, and content can all be customized to suit your specific needs. You can easily print copies from a home printer, use a printing service, or save as a PDF file.

ALC Sell Sheet Template.docx

Happy designing and selling!