This section is scary for authors who, for one reason or another, had a book or two that didn’t sell well. Many times, this isn’t even the author’s fault, making weak numbers all the more tragic. However, facts are facts; and we must report them. Please don’t hide anything. No exceptions.
Need to Know
- Book title
- Date of Publication
- Lifetime units sold to date
The units sold to date can be an estimate if a firm number doesn’t appear on your royalty statement. Author Relations at your previous publisher can help you if you are unable to determine your numbers yourself. If your publisher has closed its doors, give your best estimate.
Will Publishers Understand?
Authors want to know if publishers will understand that the:
- Previous publisher discontinued a line.
- Previous publisher didn’t get behind their book because of in-house issues.
- Previous publisher is a small house.
- Author self-published several books.
- Author wrote poorly received books years ago but is writing differently now.
- Author wrote steamy books but is now writing for the Christian market.
There is no firm answer to any of these questions that I can share on a blog post. I listed them to let you know that if you are an author with these questions, you are not alone. My best advice is to be up front in the proposal; and when you make inroads in talking with an agent, ask your questions then. The agent can speak with you about strategy for your career. This is a talk you need to have when signing with an agent anyway.
Don’t include this category and leave it blank. Just omit it.
Though this section may take some time to compile, it’s essential. If the agent doesn’t ask for it (and all agents should), I assure you an interested editor will.
What tips can you offer for writing this section?
Did I leave anything out?
Steve Laube has a course on book proposals at The Christian Writers Institute that includes a one-hour lecture, a short ebook on the topic, and sample proposal templates. Click here for more information.