Untangling the Knot: How Do We Approach Successful Sell-Through?

There’s a massive amount of planning and production that goes into publishing a book, but the work doesn’t stop once a title is launched and alive in the world. Ooligan’s latest release, Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity, was published at the end of February, and the project team behind the book is now working on the “sell-through” stage—ongoing promotion to raise awareness and help sell the books that are now sitting on shelves.

Untangling the Knot—an anthology of essays from twenty-six contributors and an editor—is blessed with an abundance of authors eager to participate in public events and readings that have become an important aspect of the book’s sell-through strategy. Aside from encouraging stores to stock and promote books, readings allow Untangling the Knot‘s authors to connect with their friends and communities while sharing the powerful essays they contributed to the collection.

The book’s launch party at Portland State University included readings from several authors, and with a topic and contributors that span beyond the Pacific Northwest, recent events have been held in cities across the country. During the 2015 Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in April, three contributors held a reading at Boneshaker Books in Minneapolis. Later that month, two contributors held a reading at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles. The geographic reach of readings is generally restricted to the home turf of a single author, making Untangling the Knot a lucky example of how readings can spread the word and help sell books.

But sell-through includes a lot more than readings. Getting books on the right shelf with the best profile can connect the title with readers who have somehow missed other promotions. Untangling the Knot has received just this kind of boost as a featured book on the New and Recommended Nonfiction shelf at Powell’s City of Books. This shelf, part of the highlighted browsing section on the first floor of the famous bookstore, provides ideal exposure for new titles, particularly from small publishers. Larger publishers have the ability to purchase this kind of exposure at national bookstore chains through their marketing budgets, but the support and recommendations of independent booksellers are a vital part of sell-through for all Ooligan Press titles.

And finally, now that the book has been released, the Untangling the Knot project team is pursuing literary award competitions to enter. Based on deadlines for different award submissions, this part of sell-through can take up to a year after publication, but this strong collection of essays on a topic of importance to LGBTQ and ally communities across the country has real potential for recognition. Sell-through is an ongoing process, and the awareness an award can raise for a title—even a year after publication—can have a significant impact on a book’s continued success.

So look for Untangling the Knot at readings and in bookstores across the country, and hopefully you’ll hear more about this book over the next year as readers and reviewers continue to learn and find inspiration in its essays. And if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, pick up a copy now from Powell’s or Amazon.

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