Getting ready for PubFight 2015

The 9th annual PubFight season is nigh. The catalogue of upcoming titles is being built, teams are practicing their war cries, and we are readying our spreadsheet fingers with tabletop aerobics. This is my first year on the BookNet team, and I am so terrified excited! I’m definitely NOT worried about competing with the people who invented the game. Not. At. All.

Last year, teams from Simon & Schuster Canada, Dundurn Press, Penguin Random House Canada, The Cooke Agency, Raincoast, Scholastic Canada, Indigo, Literary Press Group, and Figure 1 Publishing competed in our Trade league. Fun was had, friendships tested, and regrets accumulated.

Think you know a thing or two about publishing? Can you predict next season’s bestsellers? This is your moment, friend. Industry professionals with access to SalesData can email pubfight@booknetcanada.ca to sign up, and we’ll help you get your league ready.

Calling all lone warriors

If you don’t have an in-house league, or there just aren’t enough people in your organization to form one, you can still play (as long as you’ve got access to SalesData). Get in touch, and we’ll connect you with other friendly publishing types to form your own league. Email pubfight@booknetcanada.ca to get the ball rolling.

In the meantime, you may want to brush up on your PubFight skills. Past winners have already shared their secrets to success—including wielding the power of the comp title and spreadsheet magicks—and we’ve summarized these tips in an easy-to-follow series of instructions: 

This cannot be stressed enough. You don’t want to jump into the fray of a Fakefurt auction without first familiarizing yourself with the catalogue, and figuring out the maximum bids you’re willing to make for each title. Identifying comp titles and making educated guesses about how many units a title may sell during the season is key.

You may think it’s all fun and games until your co-worker outbids you for the new Jenny Lawson memoir and then ALL BETS ARE OFF. There are no friends in PubFight. (Though there is some crying.)

Once your frontlist is finalized, it’s time to manage your print runs. This is where the winners are separated from those who thought they could just print 50,000 copies at the start of the season and watch the dolla-dolla bills roll in. Make time every week to monitor your titles as the data goes live, and be equally wary of being overly optimistic about those “big” titles and neglecting your indie darlings. 

Okay, so all your titles are being published two weeks before December. Or, you printed 10,000 copies of that lovely book you were certain was going to fly off the shelves, just to watch five units get sold each week. Don’t panic. Remember that a single bestselling title, a surge during the Christmas season, or careful, week-to-week strategy (see: tortoise vs. hare) can make a king out of a peasant.