TITLE INFORMATION PROFILE PROCESS
from New England Publishing Associates.
Along with a book proposal (non-fiction) and/or manuscript (fiction), Roger Williams Agency also works with clients to produce a project document called a Title Information Profile. Some publishers call this document a “TIP sheet” (S&S), a “TI” (Random House), or “Fact Sheet” (HarperCollins). There are other names, and some publishers have this process completely automated, but most every publishing house uses a TIP in some form or another. TIPs are “executive summaries”. They are used to present titles to all internal stakeholders, and to industry book buyers. Roger Williams Agency uses TIPs for three reasons.
- A TIP sheet is a basic document we use in all of our internal management of each of our agency projects. We will send TIPs to coAgent to scout dramatic sales (film and TV), or foreign coAgents for sales overseas.
- A TIP presents a project to an acquisitions editor in a format that is familiar to their internal process. It will provide an acquisitions editor with all of the salient information they will need to present a project to their colleagues.
- To get an offer in today’s market, an acquisitions editor has to complete a rigorous Profit and Loss analysis. A TIP will provide us with all of the information we need to present our business case for an acquisition.
Preparation of a TIP sheet is a collaborative process. For a nonfiction TIP, most of the information comes from the book proposal. For fiction, the TIP’s Book Description is similar to the traditional “query” letter. After our clients complete the first draft of a TIP for their project, Roger Williams Agency will review and make changes or recommendations.
Given today’s marketplace, we have found that having TIPs can be a very useful tool in setting your work apart and give you an edge to launching successful projects. A TIP can help to set the tone for the sales and marketing discussions with our partner publishers. As editorial staffs have been trimmed, there are fewer assistants to do this sort of work. While much on the TIP sheet process has become digitized internally, the process remains the same. There is a lot of “homework” we have to do to work collaboratively with our publisher to have a successful launch. A TIP will give you your best chance to “brand” yourself, and “position” your “product” to our audience (acquisitions editors and their colleagues!).
INSTRUCTIONS FOR FILLING OUT A TITLE INFORMATION PAGE
We provide our clients with a template, and examples, for TIP sheets. This template mimics what many publishers use internally, (either digitally, or in print) to present titles to their sales, marketing, publicity and rights departments. What follows is a sample of the TIP Sheet instructions that we provide our clients.
- TITLE: Always remember that ALL titles are “tentative”. The publisher has the final say on the ultimate title. If you feel strongly about your title, we can discuss, but the industry standard is that publishers must have the flexibility to change a title.
- Sub-Title is for non-fiction, and occasionally fiction.
- Catalog Line A Catalog Line is a “branding slogan” EXTREMELY short, a few words, like a teaser line on a movie poster. One vehicle that has become popular of late, is called “X meets Y” or “Three Beat” e.g. “Sherlock Holmes meets Romeo and Juliet”
- Author Name: As you would like it to appear on the book.
- BISAC / BISAC Catagory (http://www.bisg.org) is an industry code number that is input into computers to identify what section in the store a book will be placed. You can just fill in the “Subject” field. We can do the put in the actual BISAC #
- SPECS/ILLUS: Specs include word count and number of expected photos or illustrations. Editors need to know word count to make cost projections. If you have completed your manuscript, word processing programs will count your words. If you are submitting a proposal, you need to give your best estimate on the length of your work. You can use the Standard Format of this graph as a basic guide for estimation.
- MS Delivery: What is your projected date for the completion of your manuscript
HANDLE, (or “Elevator Pitch”): One or two sentences that sell your book that is directed to, other persons inside the publishing house, (other editors, marketing staff, publicity, etc. Catalog copywriters sometimes refer this to as “the lead”. Generally, an editor, publisher’s rep, or bookseller has literally about only ten (10) seconds to sell a book to buyers; This is also true for a publicist to media producers and booksellers to consumers.
DESCRIPTION: Two to four paragraphs explaining the content to consumers. You can start from your original query letter. Given thirty seconds (30) to describe your book, what 250 words would you use to describe the content? There are three examples of how this content might be used; jacket flap copy, online marketing assets, or a press release. When writing the description, consider search engine optimum (SEO) language for online, that is, what key words do you want to have included in a message to consumers that may be searching online for information or entertainment that is contained in your book.
SELLING POINTS Selling Points are bullet points that describe the market for this book and its unique features. What features will help publishers present your book to the marketplace. What you know about the audience; demographics, marketing analysis, membership organizations, publicity opportunities, markets in which you are known, etc. Anything that you think could be exploited to increase sales and any ideas you might have about marketing and publicity). If there are recognizable persons from whom we can get quotes, endorsements, or reviews, you should list them at the end.
PLATFORM: “Platform” is a mantra that has permeated the psyche and lexicon of today’s business world. Given the explosion of social media, marketing, publicity and promotional efforts of products rely on a plethora of outlets, both traditional and online. The question that is being asked of Acquisitions Editors is what will the writer, or author, be doing to promote their own work. How adept are they at initiating and generating consumer sales. This might include speaking engagements, media connections, connections with booksellers, and your virtual self-promotional savvy.
BIO: A concise professional timeline of your writing credentials, articles. Professional positions, alumni associations, organizations of which you are a member; also locations of relatives or others that will be looking for your book (sales will want to tell buyers of stores in those locales). Write this bio in the third person, but don’t be shy. Tell the truth, but list all your achievements and credentials ~ anything newsworthy that a publicist can use to promote you and your work. We may edit this section down to what we need to tell an editor or publicist. In a TIP sheet the more background you can give me the better. Even if we edit out some bio information, we may use the information as talking point when discussing the project with editors.
PRIOR TITLES: List each of your prior titles. You can include any sales information in the comments box. Also, anything you may want to explain about the sales of your prior books, for example, “translation rights sold in France and Japan”,”special bulk sales to Disneyland”, or “my editor was fired the same month I turned in my manuscript and I was assigned to an editor that did not like my book!” . If you have dozens of books, let me know, and I will run a BookScan “POS” report spreadsheet. We will just attach the POS report to the TIP. If you have no prior books, we will delete this box.
COMPRATIVE TITLE INFORMATION: Generally this is the most difficult section for writers, but it is VERY, VERY IMPORTANT!! For a TIP sheet, you need at least three good comparative titles. What titles should you use to compare your project? This does NOT mean, choose the latest greatest bestseller and say your book is better because… This is realistic information for the editor to use to explain to her/his internal colleagues how your book compares from a content and/or sales perspective. So for newer writers, you want to go back into others writers of your genre or topic and choose their one of their earlier book(s). It is important that you focus on titles that have been published within the past three (3) years, and the titles you present should be listed chronologically with the most recent title listed first. You should Include:
- TITLE and Author: Use the following format: MAIN TITLE: Sub Title in Headline by FirstName Surname
- ISBN13: This is the 13 digit International Standard Book Number, or ISBN. Every book has an ISBN. You should put as many ISBNs for the book that you can find. If the book was published in both “Hardcover” (HC) and “Trade Paper” (TP) then include ISBNs for both editions in this box.
- Publication Date
- Comments: You should explain your thoughts on the comparative title. Again, not the latest best seller. Every writer has their own voice, but put yourself in the position of being a bookseller in a bookstore. How would you finish this sentence…? “When I read (insert the title of your book here), I felt the author has the same sort of style as? when s/he wrote ????, or perhaps ???? When s/he wrote This is what a sales rep is going to say to a bookstore buyer. So the name should be recognizable, but not unrealistically out of the realm of reality in terms of sales. For debut, or early books, think of early the debut, or earlier books of your comparative author. In the comment section, if you can say something about the professional reviews for the comparative title, that would be helpful. Professional reviews, means a journal, media, or peer comments (not bookseller reviews, like on amazon.com). If you happen to know of any extra ordinary sales that were made outside the normal channels of distribution, you should make a comment in the comment field. While BookScan numbers only show part of the sales picture, publishers all look at BookScan and extrapolate the potential for your book. All of this information will be shared not only with internal sales people, but with bookseller buyers as well.
So an example of a “Comp” Title listing on a TIP for the book PALE HORSE: Hunting Terrorists and Commanding Heroes with the 101st Airborne Division, would look like this:
NO WAY OUT: A Story of Valor in the Mountains of Afghanistan, by Mitch Weiss and Kevin Maurer, 978-0425245262, Berkley, 12/10, This is the story of a Special Forces mission in some of the most challenging terrain in Afghanistan. This book is about Operation Commando Wrath. I mention this battle in my book because it had just occurred when I visited Afghanistan for a site survey. The book did not receive a lot of attention, which is unfortunate since it’s a rather amazing story.