Last weekend was a great collection of authors and illustrators at the SCBWI-Iowa fall conference. It was wonderful to start putting names with faces and learn more about the publishing industry. Steve Meltzer from Dutton and Dial had us do some activities to start thinking about ways to market our manuscripts, which in turn help editors market to the sales force, and the sales force to market to booksellers.

First, describe the book in one sentence. What are the hooks that make people want to buy and sell your book?

Then, come up with four selling points for your book. Do you have a unique platform or background? Is there potential for a sequel or series? Does the book appeal to reluctant readers? Does it use humor?

Thirdly, what makes you as an author special? Why are you the person to write and sell this book? Not all these points need to be in the query letter, but should be considered for future marketing.

After talking to attendees, the most surprising piece of advice from Steve was that authors need to know comparable titles published within the last three years as well as titles their book would be competing against. Know the market, read other books, and have comparison titles that sold well.