11 06 2021
Children’s books—young adult, middle grade, and picture books—have taken over the publishing industry (in a good way). Readers of all ages are devouring the books that used to mainly take up space in libraries, children’s bedroom bookshelves, or school classrooms. Now, children’s books are celebrated for their enchanting prose, their relatable characters, their beautiful illustrations, and their fantastic stories that transcend age categories and genres. The growth of the children’s book sector has been unprecedented this past decade—so how can you make your manuscript stand out in these crowded categories and genres?

In this Writer’s Digest Boot Camp starting June 22, the agents of P.S. Literary Agency will show you how to make your submission stand out. How do you write a children’s book with commercial appeal? How do you decide what category and genre your book belongs in? How do you find agents and publishers to submit your manuscript to? How can you attract both child and adult readers (and buyers)? The agent instructors will answer these questions—and more! They will also critique your work and answer any questions you have about writing and selling books for children.

As a registrant, you’ll have access to four children’s book-focused presentations: Publishing Picture Books; Publishing Middle Grade; Publishing Young Adult; and Writing Query Letters. Then, you’ll have the chance to submit your query letter plus your picture book manuscript or a sample from your middle grade/young adult manuscript’s first chapter for critique. Every critique submission will receive personal feedback from Maria Vicente or Eric Smith or Stephanie Winter. This program children’s book boot camp will cover the following topics:What the difference is between the picture book, middle grade, and young adult categoriesWhat the biggest genres are in picture books, middle grade, and young adult—and how to decide where your manuscript fits inHow to come up with a commercial idea that’s character- and plot-drivenHow to create engaging characters that agents, editors, and readers will loveWhere (and where not) to start your storyHow to inspire kids without writing heavy moralsWhy rhythm, not rhyming, is the key to success in picture booksHow visual thinking will improve your picture book manuscriptWhat to highlight in your pitch to sell your book to agents and publishersHow to avoid the most common mistakes found in submissionsWhat you can learn from your favorite published children’s books
Register NOW! Sells Out Fast!June 22-25, 2021
Maria Vicente-1
Maria Vicente is a literary agent at P.S. Literary, specializing in children’s fiction and nonfiction projects for readers of all ages. As an editorial agent, she provides support to her clients through all stages of the writing and publication process. Her publishing career began as an intern with Bree Ogden at D4EO Literary Agency, and she also interned at P.S. Literary before joining the agency as an associate agent. Maria holds a B.A. in English Literature from Carleton University and a B.Ed. from the University of Western Ontario. She has affinities for literary prose, diverse characters, original storytelling formats, and anything geeky.
Eric Smith-1
Eric Smith is a literary agent at P.S. Literary, with a love for young adult books, sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. He began his publishing career at Quirk Books in Philadelphia, working social media and marketing on numerous books he absolutely adored. Eric completed his BA in English at Kean University, and his MA in English at Arcadia University. A frequent blogger, his ramblings about books appear on Book Riot, Paste Magazine, Barnes & Noble’s blog, and more. As an author, he’s been published by Bloomsbury, Quirk, and Flux.
Stephanie Winter-1
Stephanie Winter is an associate agent at P.S. Literary. She first joined the agency as an intern before becoming the agency’s relations assistant. Stephanie holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto in English Literature and an M.A. in English: Issues in Modern Culture from University College London. She is looking for diverse, inclusive voices in fiction and graphic novels for adults and young readers. Stephanie particularly appreciates strong characters who bend stereotypes and genders, and works that champion the LGBTQ+ community, mental health, and women in STE(A)M. 
Register NOW! Sells Out Fast!June 22-25, 2021

How to Not Waste Money on Facebook and Instagram Ads

13 01 2020

How to Not Waste Money on Facebook and Instagram Ads

Reasons Why a Distributor May Turn Down Your Book

27 11 2019


There are many opportunities for book sales through non-bookstore retailers. These could be airport stores, supermarkets, discount stores, gift shops and many more. The good news is that you sell to them in ways in which you are already familiar: you get a distribution partner and they contact buyers for you. The bad news is that the distributors are inundated with books that they cannot take on and therefore must reject them. Even a good book may be declined if not submitted properly or has missing information.

The Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS, has a program to submit our members’ books to distribution partners, many of which specialize in selling to non-bookstore retailers. Years of experience has helped us develop solid information about what they may or may not accept – and why. There are many reasons why a well-written book may be turned down for purchase, but too often the books are rejected due to several common mistakes. Any one of these may be cause for it being declined. Here are some common reasons why a book might not be accepted by a distributor or wholesaler.

The book is not a good fit with them. Most book distributors specialize in certain genres and will not accept books outside them. For example, Cardinal Publishers Group (CPG) will provide distribution for adult non-fiction books (no fiction, inspirational or children’s books) to bookstores and other non-bookstore retailers across the United States and Canada. If you send them your children’s picture book it will be turned down. Check their websites before submitting books so you adhere to their guidelines.

No marketing plan is submitted. Demonstrate that you know your target audience, competitive titles and prices, and are willing to promote your book. Give detailed information about the pre-publication promotion you have done and the post-publication marketing you will do. Indicate the size of your platform and what you are doing to maintain and build it.

Not understanding the retailers’ hot buttons. Retailers want products that do three things for them. One, bring more people into the stores. Two, increase profit per square foot and three, increase inventory turns. Describe how your heavy promotion will help them meet those criteria. If not, your book won’t sell, will be returned for full credit and replaced by another product.

Not providing specifications. What is the size of your book? Case quantities? Number of pages? Photos or illustrations? Is it one of a series? List the ISBN and LCCN or CIP data. What other books have you published? How many did you sell?

Know the customer of your target retailers. Think of the types of people who frequent airport stores before submitting your book to the Hudson Group. For example. If your book is not appropriate for travelers, it will not be accepted. Think about how much different the customer is for a Hallmark gift store than those who go to Spencer Gifts.

What are the author’s credentials? The author must have credible credentials for writing a book on the topic, not just the fact that he or she has a special experience raising children or overcoming a particular illness. Certain subjects require the education and knowledge of experienced professionals. If fiction, has the author written other books? How many were sold?

Cover art and interior design look self-published. Chose an experienced book designer to produce your cover and page layout. Distributors can look at a book’s cover for just a few seconds and judge the book’s sophistication and professionalism. The cover design includes the spine and rear cover, too.

The book was not edited. If your book passes the initial design test, the acquisition people will read the first few pages and other pages chosen at random. If your content is rife with typos and grammatical errors, it will be declined.

Testimonials should be from people with impressive credentials. It is common to have a quotation from a businessperson on a business book, but unless that person has nationally recognized credentials it hurts the book’s chances more than it helps. The same concept applies to endorsements attributed to initials only (BJ, Avon, CT).

The format does not fit the age group. For example, a children’s picture book with pages that have large amounts of text no longer works as a picture book. If your target reader is in an older demographic category you might need a large-print edition.

The book is inappropriately priced. It is not difficult to research competitive prices before establishing the retail price. If the price of your book is outside the parameters for your category and format it may not be accepted. The price should also be shown on the rear cover.

To stay in the retail stores – including bookstores – your book should sell well in 60 to 90 days. It will remain there as only as it is more profitable than a replacement product. And you must keep up the heavy promotion over time to keep it selling, or your unsold books will be returned.

Retailers do not sell books, they display books. And they don’t want your book on their shelves, they want it at their cash register. They want products that can sell themselves in terms of design, content, fit, price and promotion. The easier you can make it for a potential distribution partner to sell you book, the more likely it is they will accept it. Make them confident that your book will be profitable for them by giving them the information they need to make a decision.


13 11 2019

Selling to Non-Bookstore Retailers
by Brian Jud
Bowker | Tue Aug 6, 2019

There are many non-bookstore, brick-and-mortar retailers through which you can sell your books. These include airport stores, supermarkets, gift shops, discount stores and others. Your current distributor may already be selling to them, so check with them before pursuing retailers on your own.

Otherwise, creating a retail-distribution channel is a good way to start your special-sales efforts because it is much like selling through bookstores. You work through distribution partners, the discount structure is similar, and books are displayed on shelves. Fiction usually outsells non-fiction in the retail setting. On the other hand, unsold books are returned, and you are paid in 90 – 120 days. Here are some things you can do to profit from selling through retailers.

1. Define your target readers. Who are they? The worst answer to that question is, “Everybody who likes (your genre).” If your target readers are in a low-income demographic then you want your book in Walmart, not Neiman Marcus. In what form will they buy it? If your target buyers are in an older demographic category, they may prefer a large-print version. Where do they shop? You want your book sold in those locations. Is your content seasonal in nature? That might dictate when they purchase your content.

2. Know the customer of your customer. You may have the best book in your category, but that category may not be important to a retailer’s customers. The customer of a Hallmark store is different from one at Spencer Gifts. Who shops at airport stores? Supermarkets? Discount stores? Understanding your target readers will direct your efforts to the appropriate retailers.

3. Know why retailers decide which books to carry. There are three major factors that influence the products chosen to place on the shelves. One is store traffic. Will your promotion help build the number of people who come to the store? More people shopping there should increase the other two criteria: profit per square foot and inventory turns.

4. The least important item in the decision process is your book. Buyers want to know your platform size and what promotion you have done and will do, thus increasing the factors described in point number three. If your book doesn’t sell, the retailer will replace it with another product and return your book to the distributor. They do not want your book on their shelves, they want it at their cash registers.

5. Know how the middlemen work before submitting your book for possible distribution. For example, Choice Books ( ) manages the title assortment on the displays it sets up and services in retail locations. Titles are tailored to store demographics and sales history, and they specialize is selling bibles (adult & children’s), cookbooks, devotionals, family living and fiction. If your content does not meet the needs of their customers, Choice Books will not accept your book.

6. Retailers don’t sell books per se, they display them. It is up to you to promote your book and drive prospective customers to the stores. Work closely with your distribution partners to support their salespeople and give them information about your upcoming promotion and sales tips about how your book is different from and better than competitive titles

7. Is your book produced to expected quality? Walk the stores so you understand the topics, pricing, colors and dimensions of the books sold there. Is your spine of sufficient width to be seen on the shelf? Does the rear cover identify the BISAC subject heading under which your book should be shelved? Does it show the bar code and price of your book?

8. Work with your distribution partners at all levels to offer creative solutions to increase their sales. Offer to conduct store events (vs. book signings) to increase store traffic. Give them ideas for cross merchandising. If your book is about cooking steaks, create a display to place on the supermarket counter near where the steaks are sold. Sell the same book in large quantities to Lowe’s for them give as a free gift to people who purchase a grill there.

Promote your book so your distribution partners (middleman and retailer) are more profitable selling your book than another one. If not, it will be returned since it is relatively easy to find a replacement product. But when two companies are linked by mutual value, what was purely a financial transaction becomes a co-created partnership fed by trust and loyalty.

The Art of the Book Review Query

26 02 2019
February 25, 2019
By Joel Friedlander

How to query book reviewers and bloggers in three easy steps.

Photo courtesy of the author.Joel Friedlander.

For indie authors, few free marketing efforts match the power of book reviews and blurbs. But many authors don’t pursue reviews and blurbs, and that’s a shame. Those who try are often disappointed with the results, and inexperience at querying reviewers is usually the cause.To make this process more approachable, I’ve tried to streamline it into three simple steps for indie authors, with an emphasis on crafting an effective query.

1. Identify Targets

This is the most important part of the process. You only want to approach reviewers who are at the “top of the mountain” in terms of the influence they have over potential book buyers and readers. That’s why it’s so important to know who potential readers are, and who influences them.

And you shouldn’t put limits on yourself. Instead, think of the perfect review or testimonial—the one that could really affect book sales—and what it would look like on the cover of your book or in the first paragraph of a press release. Then, go for it, and make sure to include the influencers identified on the list of reviewers and bloggers to contact.

What’s key is to only approach review sources or individuals who have a proven interest in the kinds of books you’re writing. Don’t send a book on flower arranging to a publication for kayakers—it will just waste everyone’s time.

2. Send a Well-Crafted Query

A query letter can make or break a review campaign, so it’s important to spend time on it. Here are some tips.

Keep it short. People are busy. A four-page letter explaining the book and marketing plan in detail won’t be read by many people. Make it as short as possible to get the job done—no more than one page.

Introduce yourself. Include information on who you are and why you’re qualified to write this particular book. But skip the résumé or list of accomplishments.

Why is it important? Describe, in a sentence or two, what the book hopes to accomplish and why other people should care.

Connect to a common cause. This is crucial. Try to establish a “community of interest” between yourself and the person being queried. If the person’s work is noted in the book, mention that.

“A query letter can make or break a review campaign, so it’s important to spend time on it.”

Be specific about what action should be taken. Include in the query exactly what outcome is desired. For instance, when requesting a testimonial, you might write: “If you enjoy the book, would you give me a quote that I can use in my book promotion?” When requesting a review, point out how the publication’s readers would benefit from reading the review.Set a deadline. For testimonials, you will receive many more responses if you establish a deadline. Say something like: “It would help tremendously to have your response by February 1, but of course I would be grateful for any responses that come in after that if your schedule doesn’t allow you to meet that date.” A deadline isn’t needed for reviewers, who are working to their editorial schedules.

Make it easy. Don’t send the book with the query letter, but do offer it in whichever formats are available. If there’s a print or print-on-demand version, offer the printed copy as well as a PDF. If there’s an e-book version, offer that as well. Although PDFs look just like the printed book, they are also the format most prone to piracy, so consider using a service such as BookFunnel or NetGalley to securely distribute books to reviewers.

3. Follow Up

Getting reviews is a numbers game. By approaching enough people who are interested in the subject with a quality book, you will gather reviews or testimonials. But many won’t respond, and that’s just the way it is. Don’t take it personally.

You should make sure that all the materials needed to follow up with respondents are on hand. If there are printed books, make sure they are in hand, along with the media kit or other press materials useful to book reviewers.

There is no better boost for a book than for it to be recommended by experts in the field and to have positive reviews right where the intended readers will see them. Far more effective than paid ads, reviews can be the lifeblood of an indie author’s marketing campaign.

And there’s no reason to stop looking for reviews after a book’s publication date. If you have written a solid, professionally produced book that delivers real value, reviewers will be happy to find out about it.

Joel Friedlander is a book designer and author; he blogs about book design, marketing, and the future of the book at the Book Designer.

Capitalizing on Book Publishing Trends in 2019

7 02 2019

Poetry Is Making A Big Comeback In The U.S., Survey Results Reveal

14 06 2018

Facebook Data Changes Creates Sales Opportunities for Publishers

9 04 2018

How Self-Publishing Made Today’s Small Independent Presses Possible

5 04 2018

My services can provide you with: editing, design, layout and a lower price than the big companies and I have the experience 29+ years to help you become a successful Independent Publisher!!!

This post was made possible by a sponsorship from Reedsy.

When you look around at the most beloved books of the past decade, the books that seem destined to be classics, one thing becomes clear:

Small presses are amazing.

Whether we’re talking about the more literary side of things (like Citizen or Grief Is A Thing With Feathers, both published by Graywolf) or weirder sci-fi projects (like Subterranean Press raising a $72,000 Kickstarter for John Crowley’s translation of The Chemical Wedding), some of the coolest things happening in the book world are happening by way of the small press.

Some of the coolest things happening in the book world are happening by way of the small press.

We’re also seeing some pretty crazy sales numbers in the indie book world, supporting the idea that small presses are riding a huge wave right now. Between February 2014 and May 2016, the percentage of eBook sales attributed to the Big Five publishers fell from just under 40% to below 25% In that same window of time, indie publishers went from producing under 25% of eBook sales to being responsible for just below 45%.

While the burst of small press publications we’ve seen over the last 10 years or so is undoubtedly a good thing, one thing that often gets overlooked is just how it came to be — and more specifically, how modern self-publishing made it all possible.

To understand all of this, you need to know what makes modern self-publishing different than the self-publishing of 10 years ago.

How Self-Published Authors Became Book Marketing Experts

In recent history, the only real marketplaces for books were controlled by major publishers. If you were an author who wanted to sell copies of your book, you needed major bookstores to carry it, and that could only happen if you went through a traditional publishing house. Self-publishing, as a result, was reserved for people who didn’t care about selling copies.

With the rise of the internet, and Amazon in particular, self-published authors found a way to sell books that didn’t involve negotiating with bookstores. And when a real sales channel opened up, dozens of book marketing strategies soon followed:

  • There was suddenly a premium on having a good author website, where you could blog or give away free writing to build a massive email list of readers.
  • Authors like Mark Dawson began using Facebook Ads to sell books, A/B test covers and to drive signups to their email lists.
  • Amazon released their own advertising platform (multiple, actually) that authors were able to use to boost their sales.
  • Authors began compiling “street teams” of their friends and colleagues, who could seed their book with reviews and social shares to get the ball rolling when a book debuted.
  • The position of “Freelance Book Publicist” was, for the first time, not just a job title you made up to sound employed.

Self-published authors were approaching book marketing the way a startup might approach marketing their company, and they were killing it.

Self-published authors were approaching book marketing the way a startup might approach marketing their company.

It didn’t take long for the success of self-published authors to trickle into the small press world. After all, most small presses are started by a couple of friends who’d like to publish other writers’ work — typically with the same processes self-published authors use.

From Self-Published Authors To A New Generation of Presses

Literary magazines, anthologies, and full-blown presses start popping up at an astounding rate, and some pretty amazing writing was published as a result.

The Adroit Journal, one of the most popular literary journals in America (especially among young writers), was started by a group of teenagers and originally published using a print-on-demand publishing service.

Through some popular events (like letting writers submit unlimited amounts of work to the journal for one weekend), they were able to create a massive subscriber list, and laid the groundwork for an insanely successful journal.

Sibling Rivalry Press, the amazing small press that published Ocean Vuong’s first chapbook, Burnings, uses Ingram — one of the biggest platforms used by self-published authors for book distribution — to distribute their books, and has built a massive community by publishing multiple literary magazines under the Sibling Rivalry umbrella.

And countless small presses use ecommerce platforms like Big Cartel, Shopify, and Squarespace to sell books directly to their readers — something that was previously only done by people who couldn’t get traditional publishing deals, i.e. self-published writers. Here’s an example from the amazing Two Dollar Radio, who recently published Hanif Abdurraqib’s They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, and host their entire store on Shopify:

All of this points to the same thing. What modern self-publishing has done — whether we’re talking about the small presses listed above or the new generation high-quality hybrid publishers like Bookouture and Mascot Books — is democratized our ability not just to publish books, but to market and sell them.

Modern self-publishing has democratized our ability not just to publish books, but to market and sell them.

As a result, some of the best writing of the last century has been published and championed by some of the coolest presses ever put together.

New Walmart Partnership Brings Retailer Into the E-Book Game

1 02 2018