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The Author's Publicity Form

At about the same time as your contract is sent out, you will usually be sent an author’s publicity form (it may get overlooked, so do be sure to ask for one).

An advance notice (or advance information sheet/forthcoming title sheet)

The name of this document varies from house to house, but it is a constant throughout the industry.

An advance notice is routinely produced for each new book and will be sent to all who need to know about it (bookshops, reps and wholesalers, international offices, and so on).

This is the first public information on the forthcoming title; it usually appears six to nine months pre-publication, and will be heavily used in persuading bookshops to support your book.

The usual format is a single sheet, with the subject matter broken down under a series of headings (author, title, short piece of information on the title, publication details such as format and price). It will be available as both hard copy and an electronic document.

The basic differences between this document and the house database information are that this is for external, not internal use; it will also include a sales prediction. The advance notice should feature any information that gives an idea of how many copies are likely to be sold, thus encouraging the retailer to stock the book.

This could include:

• The sales of the author’s last title

• Any key trends in the media/in society that highlight the subject matter with relevant audience/population figures

• Publicity/promotion already arranged to support demand

• Brief details of the location of story or author which may help persuade local stockists to take more.

If you are asked to help

As the advance notice gets heavily used in the process of persuading booksellers to stock your title, ensure that your publisher has the most up-to-date information on you, your previous titles, and how they have sold (particularly important if you have changed publisher since your previous book).

EPOS (or electronic point of sale – a till-point recording of what has been sold) will give them a strong idea, but any additional information you have should be passed on. For example:

‘At a recent book signing in the USA, at the Romance Writers of America national conference, I sold 50 books, even though my titles hadn’t been released or publicised in the USA, purely through contacts I had made through my blog. That’s only a very small slice of the people who read the website, and I imagine the impact is much greater than I can see.’ Julie Cohen, author

In particular, be sure to pass on any information if the book has now changed its title. If there has been any change since the contract was issued, it’s important to pass on the information formally (by email or letter), rather than relying on a conversation/discussion.

A title that changes its name between initial announcement to the trade and appearance of the book can cause endless confusion, and result in lower stock.

If you found this article useful, you might want to look at the other articles in our section on Marketing & Publicity.