Why and how AI sheets are used by publishers and buyers
An AI sheet is typically an A4 page used to help sell your books pre-publication, given to book buyers. It looks a bit like this (image courtesy of the London Book Fair).
As you’ll see, your AI contains straightforward, concise buyer information on your book as a product first and foremost.
Buyers are time-pressed, and though your cover thumbnail will be on the AI, there is minimal written information, just the essentials in a short, clear blurb, so your concept is everything, whether it seems desirable, ‘sellable’ to the bookseller.
The concept is what helps sell your work here.
Why AI sheets matter to you as writer
Publishers’ catalogues aren’t quite the same as AI sheets, but they’re not so very different.
If you browse any catalogue or AI sheet even a little, you’ll see that you have perhaps just 150 words about the book itself. That’s nothing. There’s nothing about your lovely sentences or your amazing characters or that astonishing plot twist on page 178.
If you want to see an example of a full publisher’s catalogue, then either try peeking at this from Little, Brown Group, or search (for instance) publisher catalogues in Google, looking for files.
When a sales team at a publisher talks to a retailer, they’ll sit with a catalogue and flip through pages, going through the entire catalogue in a meeting taking just an hour or two. The buyer is unlikely to have read your book before he or she buys it. That’s scary.
As such, you need a fabulous concept for the book.
It’s the only dependable way you can get a buyer to take books from the publisher.
It’s still a thing I (Harry Bingham) find hard, and I think most novelists do. If all this has scared you, too, I suggest you click through to more advice on elevator pitches.
Right now. This minute.
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