Conquer bookstores with the book wash slip

For many self-publishers, it is a big dream to be on display in bookstores.
Seeing your own book in the shop window and perhaps even starting longer cooperation with a branch are just a few wishes that you may also have. What is often relatively easy for large publishers can quickly become a challenge for you as a self-publisher. Therefore, we would like to show you today with the so-called “washing slip” away from how your book will soon be sold in bookstores. In addition, we offer you a template for a washing slip and explain what you should pay attention to when creating it.

How to get into bookstores!
Although your title is listed in the Directory of Available Books (VLB), it is rarely ordered directly and sold in the store.

In order for a bookstore to include your book in its assortment, your own initiative as an author is required – you have to take on the task of advertising in individual bookstores yourself. Such an application is usually made via so-called “washing slips”.
Below we show you how you can create such a washing slip for your book and what you should definitely consider.

What is a washing slip for your book?
A washing slip used to be a short profile that contained care instructions for textiles. Today, this term is coined as a marketing strategy, but it works in a similar way:

The washing slip is a short, tabular profile that contains all the important information about your book. With this, you apply in bookstores to be presented there on the sales floor.
Washing slips are presented and advertised by publishers a few months before they are published. Since you are your own publisher as a self-publisher, you can take on this task yourself and not only convince bookstores of your title but also win well-known journalists and reviewers.

That’s why you need a washing slip for your book
Authors who nowadays apply to local bookstores without the appropriate washing slips have a much harder time being noticed by bookstores. A washing slip is not a must, but it is highly recommended if you are looking for a professional appearance. Booksellers receive numerous recommendations every day, among which they have to decide on a few books that will later be available in the store. When choosing books, it helps if you as a seller can get a brief overview and get all the relevant information about the book at a glance. When you then present your book in the store, the bookseller quickly receives information about the ordering process and the remission rights, i.e. the rights to return an unsold title. This helps enormously in deciding whether the book should fit in the store and be displayed there.
An attractively designed washing slip will also be remembered after your visit to the store and gives all employees the opportunity to deal with your book in detail.

Tip: In Germany, about 75,000 books are published annually, which makes 200 books a day. It is impossible to place them all in the local bookstore. As with a classic application, you must therefore give good reasons why your book deserves a place on the shelves of booksellers.
Especially in self-publishing, many authors have to struggle with the prejudice of unprofessionalism and are therefore often not noticed or accepted in the book trade. A washing slip shows that you have a professional demand for your work and can compete with classic publishing titles. In addition, it can help you to make your appearance appealing and convincing and to set yourself apart from the mass of books.

How to design your washing slip
Below we have listed the most important information for a successful washing slip. Of course, you can adjust it accordingly, omit points or add creatively. In general, however, you should make sure that the washing slip represents the book, but also remains clear.

  • Basic information on the washing slip
  • Book title and subtitles
  • (if any) and an illustration of the cover

Bibliographic information
(author, genre, date of publication, number of pages, format, and equipment, selling price, and ISBN)

Target group
Be sure to think in detail about which target groups and which age you want to reach with your book. Especially with children’s books, detailed information can help.

A good blurb gives the first impression of your book and helps the bookseller orient himself.

  • Author name, vita, and contact details of the author In your vita you imagine, perhaps
  • write a few sentences about your previous career and your publications.
  • In addition to the biographical information, author photos are also welcome. Here you should attach particular importance to
  • high resolution and good lighting conditions. The bookseller can also use the photos in the long term to promote your books. In addition, you should enter the most important contact details for any queries.

Information on ordering
Booksellers want to know where and under what conditions they can order their book. Therefore, your washing slip should answer the following questions:

  • Is your book listed in the directory of available books, VLB for short?
  • Is there a bookstore discount?
  • Is the book fully remittable?
  • Which bar assortment is your book available through?

Optional information
Long text (excerpt)
In an excerpt, interested dealers get an impression of their writing style and certain figure ratios. You can also go into special aspects of the book well in a detailed excerpt.

Special features
Perhaps your book has a special connection to the city or the bookstore? If possible, write why the book should be in this branch of all places.

Press praise, recommendations, or prizes
a short opinion or an excerpt from the review (also: Blurb) of another author, a journalist, or blogger can make the decision to include your title in the program even easier. Even if your book has won a prize (for example, the German Self-Publishing Prize), you should definitely mention this.

Information on social networks The presence on social networks
is becoming increasingly important for authors. If you maintain one or more accounts on the social networks, you are welcome to include them.

Illustrations are an eye-catcher. If you have designed or had some designed for your book, you can attach them, for example, as background elements or additional pages.

More titles
Have you already published some books? Then feel free to share this as well. Maybe your current book doesn’t fit into the assortment, but another title sounds interesting and is laid out stationary.

The look of the washing slip
Once you have written down all the relevant information, be sure to think about an appealing design for the washing slip. In addition to an easy-to-read font, pleasant font size, and color, you should also keep the genre of your book in mind and design your washing slip accordingly. A fantasy novel doesn’t necessarily fit the pink tones that you might use for a romance novel. If necessary, work together with a professional who can tell you exactly what to look for when addressing the optics.