Publisher's Catalog

How a Publisher's Catalog Can Help You Sell 2400 Books

Since 2014, Mims House Books, my publishing company publishes two catalogs a year, and the catalog on the website received about 8% of my traffic in the last 90 days, and over half the downloads on the site were for the catalog.

Recently, I had a request for information for a special order of 2400 books. It was simple to send them a catalog because it included all ISBNs, prices, contact information and details about each specific book. The contact person appreciated the easy access to complete information. In a return email, she also mentioned the 2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Book Award for Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma. That wasn't one of the titles they were ordering, but the award added credibility to the rest of the titles in the catalog. Creating the catalog has been a good decision because it makes it easier to negotiate sales deals.

My list has recently been added to Overdrive, which delivers ebooks to 95% of the library market. To help build awareness on the platform, I sent out a press release to libraries and included links to the catalog. That way, information on individual titles didn't clutter up the press release, but interested libraries had easy access to full information. As a sales tool, my publisher's catalog is essential.

Creating a catalog

I'm not a graphic design whiz, so I often use inexpensive templates from companies such as, one of the Envato marketplaces. I use Indesign so I look for catalog templates that include an .indd file, but you can also find them to use with other software. Here's the template I used last year, Fashion Lookbook. Sometimes the templates are for European sized papers, but I need the US letter size; be sure to read the specs carefully before purchasing to be sure you have the right size and it works on your software. Also make sure the fonts are embedded or included in the price; or check your computer to make sure you have the required fonts. For this template, the catalog designers envisioned its use by a high-end fashion company, but it was versatile enough to adapt for my publishing catalog.

One of the most important parts of the catalog is the ordering form. I create a table with titles, ISBN numbers, and list prices. Full contact information is crucial, so customers can order easily.

I create two versions of the catalog, a low-resolution smaller pdf file that is easily downloaded and a high-resolution pdf to use when printing.

Since I publish 3-4 books per year, I update the catalog at least twice a year, generally a Spring and a Fall catalog. However, it's easy enough to update when there's something to add such as reviews, or awards, etc. While the general catalog is created twice, there are often updated versions available.

Using the catalog

  • Create a special page for catalog downloads and just name it Catalog. Be sure to add CATALOG as a menu link on your site.

  • Include the URL in all promotional materials such as postcards, flyers, etc.

  • Include the catalog URL in all press releases.

  • When you have inquiries about your books, send people to the URL.

  • Include the printed catalog when you send out ARCs.

For my business plan, a catalog is a perfect tool to represent my list of books. Would it work for yours?

Can a simple publisher's catalog help sell books? Yes! Mine helped me sell 2400 books. |